Weekend links 590

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Understanding Mu (1970) by Hans Stefan Santesson. Cover art by Ron Walotsky. Via.

• “I have never believed Chariots of the Gods?—it takes faith, so what I mean is that I’ve never believed in it—but it has still held my affection for decades.” Patrick Allington on ancient aliens, unidentified aerial phenomena, and the unhinged pleasures of speculative nonfiction. I still have a stash of paperbacks in what I call “The Crank Box”, a collection of the more far-out titles that proliferated in the 1970s in the wake of the bestselling (and very egregious) Erich von Däniken. There aren’t many books about ancient astronauts or flying saucers in the box because they were so plentiful, I was always on the lookout for more outlandish volumes: lost continents, yes, but not the all-too-common Atlantis; Lemuria or Mu were more like it. So too with Hollow Earths and mysterious realms as detailed in Shambhala: Oasis of Light by Andrew Tomas, or The Lost World of Agharti: The Mystery of Vril Power by Alec MacLellan. The attraction wasn’t that any of this speculation might be true, more that these books operate as bargain-basement equivalents of the Borges conceit in which metaphysics is regarded as a branch of fantastic literature. Weird fiction by other means.

Collecting these books was a fun thing to do in the 1980s when the crank publications of the previous decade had washed up on the shelves of secondhand bookshops. The shine began to wear off in the 1990s when the emergence of the internet empowered a new breed of hucksters (and worse) pushing all of this stuff as though it was “hidden knowledge”. It’s hard to get excited about a battered paperback brimming with pseudo-science and pseudo-archaeology when similar ideas proliferate on YouTube channels catering to credulous hordes.

• Absolutely elsewhere (and linked here on a regular basis): An archive of the endlessly fascinating Absolute Elsewhere, a website created by the late RT Gault in order to present “a bibliography of visionary, occult, new age, fringe science, strange and even crackpot works published between 1945 and 1988”. The listings are accompanied by an informed, sceptical and often enlightening commentary, and also include a fair amount of weird fiction. Mr Gault had the right attitude.

• New music: Raum by Tangerine Dream, a preview of the new album, Probe 6–8, which will be released next year; new/old music: a reissue of Marine Flowers (Science Fantasy) by Akira Ito.

• “He had been honest about himself, and shockingly honest about his parents, but about his work he had spun me a tale.” Carole Angier on the elusive WG Sebald.

• At The New Criterion: Two stray notes on Moby-Dick by William Logan; on contemporary reviews of Moby-Dick and Melville’s journey on the Acushnet.

• “Perhaps what’s most extraordinary about Kollaps is that it was made at all.” Jeremy Allen on Einstürzende Neubauten’s thrilling debut album.

• At Culture.pl: a podcast about Czech film director Vera Chytilová and her masterpiece of Surrealist anarchy, Daisies.

• At Perfect Sound Forever: Part 2 of a Jon Hassell tribute which talks to friends and musical collaborators.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…William S. Burroughs The Ticket That Exploded (1962).

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine unearths a medieval recipe for gingerbread.

• Mix of the week: Death’s Other Dominion by The Ephemeral Man.

MU-UR (2000) by Coil | Mu (2005) by Jah Wobble | Mu 1 (2015) by Acronym

Weekend links 431

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Postcard collage by Alex Eckman-Lawn.

• “He deserves to be a major figure not only in the history of Japanese music, but in popular music writ large.” Geeta Dayal on Haruomi Hosono, a musician whose solo albums from the 1970s are reissued this month by Light In The Attic.

Erica X Eisen reviews Black Light: Secret Traditions in Art since the 1950s, an exhibition of occult art at the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre. Related: Gary Lachman‘s talk from the same exhibition.

• Mixes of the week: Jesús Bacalão’s Light Entertainment Programme 2, Secret Thirteen Mix 265 by Alexander Tucker, and FACT Mix 672 by Rian Treanor.

Whenever horror is criticised, it is criticised for staging a dark carnival of physicality. Perhaps the only sort of media we moralise more than we do horror is that other mainliner of bodily response, pornography.

Horror’s historical ghettoisation has meant that weightier, smarter horror reliably gets labelled as something else. The finest films of our current golden age have been dubbed “elevated horror” and “post-horror”. In literary circles, works of horror seen as sufficiently cerebral get relabelled “Gothic”. It’s certainly true that great horror is always about more than gore. But we should be careful not to gentrify the genre by cleansing it of everything but the philosophy.

MM Owen on the perennial attractions of a perennially despised genre

• “Netflix is a woeful service,” says Jeremy Allen who prefers DVD/Blu-ray to streaming video (as do I). Related: The problem with film aspect ratio on Netflix.

• The Thought Gang album, a Twin Peaks-related collaboration between David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti from 1993, will be released next month.

Tangerine Dream: Sound From Another World: a TV documentary from 2016. In German but with auto-translated subtitles.

The Thing’s Incredible! The Secret Origins of Weird Tales by John Locke.

Haute Macabre Staff Favorites: Tarot Decks

First Light (1980) by Harold Budd & Brian Eno | Blue Light (1993) by Mazzy Star | Black Light (1994) by Material

Weekend links 395

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Love is a Martyrdom (1965) by Stephanie Godwin. See Joscelyn Godwin’s Flickr pages for more.

David Shire’s synthesizer score for Apocalypse Now was the first music recorded for the film but was abandoned when Shire was fired due to other commitments. 39 years later, his score has been released by La-La Land Records.

Moon Safari by “French band” Air was released in the UK on January 16th, 1998. Jeremy Allen looks back at an album that was more successful here than elsewhere.

• On the occasion of the US publication of Iain Sinclair’s The Last London, Geoff Nicholson presents an A to Z of the author and his works.

This is the story of how two artists fell in love with each other, with Kelmscott Manor, and with William Morris, the poet, craftsman, and socialist who had made it his home. As Kelmscott’s first tenants afer the Morris family, Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell rented the historic Oxfordshire house throughout the Second World War. There they created an aesthetic and erotic paradise based on a fantasy land called ‘Thessyros’, and produced a body of figurative painting unique for its time. Much of this was done under the influence of a legally-obtained drug they called ‘Starlight’, making many of their paintings  early examples of psychedelic art.

The Starlight Years is a book by Joscelyn Godwin about his artist-parents and their strange relationship

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 634 by Minor Science, Secret Thirteen Mix 243 by Moa Pillar, and XLR8R Podcast 524 by Burnt Friedman.

• At The Smart Set: Marian Calabro pays a visit to the Brussels apartment where René and Georgette Magritte lived from 1930 to 1954.

Hormone Lemonade, a new album by Cavern Of Anti-Matter, will be released in March. The Quietus has a preview.

• At the Internet Archive: QZAP, the Queer Zine Archive Project; 551 downloadable publications from 1974 to 2015.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Briefly recounting Tim Buckley‘s short, inconvenient stylistic trajectory.

• Musician and bookseller Richard Bishop recommends a handful of rare occult volumes.

• At Kickstarter: Arsgang, a short psychological horror film by Harry Edmundson-Cornell.

• “A Sloppy Machine, Like Me”: Michael Grasso on the history of video synthesizers.

• At Flashbak: 27 Snapshots of Manchester in the 1960s.

• At Strange Flowers: 18 books for 2018.

Love Is Strange (1956) by Mickey & Sylvia | Love Is Peace (1970) by Amon Düül | Love Is The Drug (1980) by Grace Jones