Weekend links 313

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The Sullen Son (1921) by Rose O’Neill from her Sweet Monsters series (also here).

10 hours of Popcorn (1972) by Hot Butter. Related (and linked here before) 79 different versions of Gershon Kingsley’s original. If that’s not enough, there’s at least 100 more out there.

• Mixes of the week: Touristica Mystica Sigillistica by Gregg Hermetech, FACT Mix 554 by The Body, and Secret Thirteen Mix 187 by Dalhous.

• Another electronic cover version: Trans Europe Express by Cobby & Mallinder.

In the 1950s people like Pierre Schaeffer and John Cage were saying: “But there are all these sounds in the world, and if you listen to them carefully enough you will hear the music that they speak.” This immediately opened up a new world; it’s enriching once you’ve educated your ear to that, because when you’re annoyed by the sound of the street you can make music out of it. You can make music out of almost everything!

Eliane Radigue discussing her career with Paul Schütze

Patricia Highsmith’s Snail Obsession and Two Weird Tales of Monstrous Mollusks.

Youth and Alex Patterson remember the making of Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb.

Strange Flowers pursues Sheila Legge and other Phantoms of Surrealism.

• Revealed: Cambodia’s vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle.

Alan Moore describes the cover of epic novel Jerusalem.

Ashgabat: the city of the living and the city of the dead.

• In praise of the tram by Christian Wolmar.

Taxidermists at DC’s

Brian The Snail (1982) by Pigbag | Slow Loris Versus Poison Snail (1996) by David Toop & Jon Hassell | Popcorn (2000) by Gershon Kingsley

Weekend links 240

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The Death of Chatterton (2014) by Kehinde Wiley.

• Mixes of the week (and the week before that): The Conjurer’s Hexmas: Second Rite by SeraphicManta; Secret Thirteen Mix 140 by Deaf Center; Best of 2014: A Highly Opinionated Mix by Robin The Fog.

• Never mind Music for Airports, how about Music for Neurosurgery? The Tegos Tapes Edits are extracts from “12 hours of unheard Vangelis music soundtracking films of various surgical operations”.

• “It was one of the first magazines that, with science-fiction and comics together, proposed comics for adults.” Aug Stone on 40 years of publisher Les Humanoïdes Associés and Métal Hurlant.

• Zinesters Do It on the Photocopier: Stephanie Schroeder on the Queer Zine Archive Project. Related: Holy Titclamps by Larry-bob Roberts.

A Year In The Country reached the end of its 365 posts. The archive is well worth a browse.

• “These people love to collect radioactive glass. Are they nuts?” asks Ben Marks.

• Think before you share: 86 viral images from 2014 that were totally fake.

• The Anti-Tolkien: Peter Bebergal on Michael Moorcock.

• Extracts from Alan Bennett‘s diary for 2014.

John Cage 4’33” Autotune

Alpha (1976) by Vangelis | Reve (1979) by Vangelis | L’Enfant (1979) by Vangelis

Subterranean Modern: The Residents, Chrome, MX-80 Sound and Tuxedomoon

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Subterranean Modern (1979). Sleeve art by Gary Panter.

As often happens, one post leads to another, and the next thing you know there’s a themed week happening, so here’s something more about Tuxedomoon. Subterranean Modern was a compilation album released by The Residents on their Ralph Records label in 1979. The idea was to showcase The Residents along with three other groups from contemporary San Francisco, all of whom were underground acts, hence the “subterranean” title. Three of those groups—Chrome, Tuxedomoon, The Residents themselves—have since developed cult followings; hard-rock outfit MX-80 Sound seem a little ordinary and out-of-place in this unique company but then that’s the nature of the compilation album. The Residents wanted each group to provide an interpretation of I Left My Heart In San Francisco but none of the others were very interested; Chrome’s offering, which lasts all of 27 seconds, is hilariously contemptuous of the idea, a squall of riff and vocals that fades in then quickly fades away. Cartoonist Gary Panter illustrated the cover which is also given the Rozz Tox seal of approval. For more about Rozz Tox, whose enigmatic presence can be found on other Ralph Records releases, see this.

I’d already heard Chrome and The Residents when I bought Subterranean Modern but this was first place I encountered Tuxedomoon’s music. Chrome, who appear on the back cover wearing their Clockwork Orange droog outfits, contribute two tracks that are as good as anything on their early records, Anti-Fade and the chugging Meet You In The Subway for which they made a video filmed on the city’s BART platforms. I listened to those tracks, and the Tuxedomoon ones, much more than the rest of the album. With the exception of the pieces by MX-80 Sound, everything on the album has since been reissued on other compilations (Tuxedomoon’s tracks are on the Pinheads On The Move collection).

The following is a two-page feature about the album and the four bands from the NME for 17th November, 1979. I don’t know whether this was Tuxedomoon’s first UK interview but it says it’s the first interview given by Chrome which gives it some vague contemporary relevance. Helios Creed recently re-formed Chrome, and played a show in London earlier this month. There’s also a new Chrome album, although for me Chrome proper requires Damon Edge, and he died in 1995. (Thanks to Gav for saving the pages!)

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I LEFT MY ART IN SAN FRANCISCO

Checking out the West Coast’s Avant Garde by Michael Goldberg

ralph.jpgSAN FRANCISCO—The true avant-garde is never accepted, barely tolerated. The public has no use for ideas which challenge society’s preconceptions.

Certainly the outright hatred which was heaped on The New York Dolls and, later, The Ramones and Sex Pistols—all groups who spat on the status quo of their times—attests to the difficulty of pushing a radical concept on the public. And those groups were merely returning to the basic, raw values which great rock and roll has always maintained.

So imagine the difficulty of developing and maintaining a style of music which has little, if any, solid tradition to fall back on. In San Francisco, a city where the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship and Steve Miller can sell out the largest of stadiums, an avant-garde underground has been hanging on, etching out the meagrest of niches so that it can continue a dogged pursuit of rock experimentation.

Carrying the torch for “outre” music is San Francisco’s Residents and their parent companies, Ralph Records and the nebulous Cryptic Corporation. For nine long years, the Residents have relentlessly persisted, bowing to no one as they explore a sonic universe of their own devising.

In the wake of The Residents’ relative success—though the group is still practically unknown in their hometown, they have been received by a rather large cult spread out across the U.S. and Europe—other equally unique and esoteric groups have been attracted to San Francisco.

Realising that there is strength in numbers, Ralph Records gathered together three of the most uncompromising bands in San Francisco (and possibly on the West Coast): Chrome (with roots in L.A.), MX-80 Sound (who migrated from Bloomington, Indiana, last year), and Tuxedomoon (whose core members came from Denver, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois), and convinced them to join The Residents (originally from Shreveport, Louisiana) in a joint project. The project is a compilation album, Subterranean Modern (Ralph).

Continue reading “Subterranean Modern: The Residents, Chrome, MX-80 Sound and Tuxedomoon”

Weekend links 175

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Heartbeat of the Death – Queen Elizabeth the First (2013) by Haruko Maeda.

• “The casual mixing of people from across the world at The Garden broke down many barriers. Its rich, beautiful, smart, and successful people were confident enough to exercise the kind of sexual freedom that would land you in jail elsewhere in the country.” Kate Webb on Alla Nazimova’s Hollywood estate, The Garden of Alla.

• “…from 1956 to 1970 Borges taught English literature at the University of Buenos Aires, and now, over half a century later, one of his courses is finally available in English in a slim, delightful volume.” Will Glovinsky on Professor Borges. Related: Jacob Mikanowski says “To Tlön: Let’s Invade Reality”.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 084 by Koen Holtkamp—Alice Coltrane, Alan Watts, John Cage, Popol Vuh, Faust and others—and Sequenze E Frequenze, “the rarefied outer limits of ‘stare at the sun, outsider peaked’ Italian music”.

Consider the fate of the concept of ‘futuristic’ music. The ‘futuristic’ in music has long since ceased to refer to any future that we expect to be different; it has become an established style, much like a particular typographical font. Invited to think of the futuristic, we will still come up with something like the music of Kraftwerk, even though this is now as antique as Glenn Miller’s big band jazz was when the German group began experimenting with synthesizers in the early 1970s.

Where is the 21st-century equivalent of Kraftwerk? If Kraftwerk’s music came out of a casual intolerance of the already-established, then the present moment is marked by its extraordinary accommodation towards the past. More than that, the very distinction between past and present is breaking down. In 1981, the 1960s seemed much further away than they do today. Since then, cultural time has folded back on itself, and the impression of linear development has given way to a strange simultaneity.

Mark Fisher on the present cultural moment, and the weirdness of Sapphire and Steel.

• At Front Free Endpaper: A Gay Library Thing and French Line Gay Pulp Cover Designs. Callum is also giving away books by Frederick Rolfe/Baron Corvo to anyone who asks. The proviso is you write a short review for his blog.

• Film director Ben Wheatley on Don’t Look Now: “I felt a great panic come over me”. Elsewhere it was announced this week that Wheatley is planning a film of JG Ballard’s High Rise.

• Brits may remember the wonderful Laurie Pike from the Manhattan Cable TV show in the early 1990s. These days she’s writing an online guide to the city of Paris.

Ben Frost has made three previously unreleased recordings available at Bandcamp.

The Media History Digital Library: 800,000 pages of film and radio periodicals.

• The results of three derives in London by Christina Scholz here, here and here.

• The late Seamus Heaney reads his own translation of Beowulf here and here.

High Rise (1979) by Hawkwind | Pop Sicle (1994) by High Rise | High Rise (2005) by Ladytron

Dreams That Money Can Buy

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Max Ernst.

The posts this week have all followed a Surrealist theme so I feel compelled to draw attention to the DVD-quality copy of Hans Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947) at the Internet Archive. As mentioned before, Richter’s film is one of the key works of Surrealist cinema, made at the time when the art movement had been overwhelmed by the war in Europe but was finding a brief resurgence of interest in the United States. Hitchcock had drafted Salvador Dalí to design the dream sequences in Spellbound two years earlier which may have helped Richter to raise the funds for a colour feature film. The budget was low but the production values are a lot higher than other experimental films of the time, and Richter was able to find in New York a roster of world-class collaborators including Max Ernst, Paul Bowles, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and Alexander Calder.

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The seven artists provide (and in Ernst’s case, perform in) the dreams that lead character Joe is selling to cover his rent. Fernand Léger’s contribution is a song sequence, The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart, about love among the showroom dummies, while Marcel Duchamp’s spinning discs are given another outing accompanied by music from John Cage. Dreams That Money Can Buy is a fascinating film that’s essential viewing for anyone interested in the art of this period. It’s also a film to which Kenneth Anger owes a small debt: the sleeping woman in Ernst’s Desire sequence is seen at one point swallowing a golden ball that hovers above her mouth, a trick that Anger later borrowed for Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.

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Also at the Internet Archive are three further Richter films: two short works, Rhythmus 21 (1921) and Filmstudie (1925), and also Ghosts Before Breakfast (1927), an inventive experimental piece using cut-up imagery, simple animation and trick photography.

Previously on { feuilleton }
La femme 100 têtes by Eric Duvivier
Entr’acte by René Clair