Weekend links 416

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Cover art and design by Arien Vallzadeh, Dan Kuehn, Mati Klarwein & Taska Cleveland.

• At Bandcamp: “Jon Hassell collages the past on his absorbing new record”. The new album, Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One), was released last week, and it joins the rest of Hassell’s catalogue in sounding unlike any of his other albums while still being recognisably the work of the same artist. Musical collage is a familiar technique today but was much less common thirty years ago; it’s almost a constant in Hassell’s work, however, going back to Possible Musics (1980), with its tape-looped rhythms and layered recordings, to the later Magic Realism (1983), an album which was in the vanguard of digital sampling, and which still sounds like nothing else.

• “We’re supposedly in the middle of a vinyl revival, streaming services are hoovering up all the coin, and everyone seems to have a cassette column. But, argues James Toth, it’s the humble compact disc that we should be celebrating.” No argument here, I’ve long favoured CDs over vinyl even before the current fad for overpriced antique (or not-so-antique) discs and equally overpriced new pressings.

• “Reading [Robert] Aickman’s strange stories is to glimpse a reality you would prefer to forget,” says John Gray. Among the other writers mentioned in Gray’s piece is the excellent (and under-recognised) Walter de la Mare; Wormwoodiana’s Mark Valentine reviews a previously unseen de la Mare story.

• At The Wire: Greetings Music Lover: The premiere of Steve Urquhart’s new audio documentary exploring the life and work of BBC Radio Lancashire broadcaster and Wire contributor Steve Barker.

• Out in November: k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004–2016).

• “European cinema embraces the vagina—what’s taken Hollywood so long?” asks Anne Billson.

Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded by Jason Heller.

• “Avoid all systems”: Ex-Can vocalist Damo Suzuki is interviewed at Dangerous Minds.

• “A new room in the Great Pyramid”: lost 1963 John Coltrane album discovered.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 656 by Mor Elian, and 6 by The Ephemeral Man.

• An introduction by Erik Davis to The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson.

Pyramid Of The Sun (1960) by Les Baxter | The Giant Pyramid Sitting At The Bottom Of The Sea Of Bermuda And The Ancient People (1979) by Isao Tomita | The Obsidian Pyramid (2005) by Eric Zann

Weekend links 411

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The Temple of Love (1911–24) by Herbert E. Crowley.

• My film viewing in the 1980s involved a considerable amount of backtracking: watching any film noir that turned up on the TV while chasing the early works of David Cronenberg, and various “New Hollywood” classics on television or at repertory cinemas (when such things were still plentiful). Contemporary fare by comparison was often a lot less attractive, although I’d be waiting for new work from David Lynch and Nicolas Roeg while pursuing obscurities (usually the banned or censored) on videotape. Popular films seldom generated actual loathing but throughout the decade I nurtured a persistent hatred for the works of John Hughes, an animus that can still return today when I read yet another nostalgic article about his oeuvre.

The monoculture of the 1980s was writ large on American cinema of the decade. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscle-rippling actioners to John Hughes’s adolescent confections, bombastic, generally upbeat films characterised the decade of the yuppie.

Christina Newland offers a welcome riposte to the pastel-hued retrospectives in a piece entitled “Reagan’s bastard children: the lost teens of 1980s American indie films”. While not exclusively teen pictures, I’d have mentioned three low-budget films written by Eric Red: The Hitcher (1986), Near Dark (1987) and Cohen and Tate (1989).

The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Works & Worlds of Herbert Crowley is a lavish (and costly) study of the strange comic strips and incredibly detailed drawings of Herbert E. Crowley (1873–1937). Mark Newgarden interviewed Justin Duerr about rescuing Crowley’s art from undeserved neglect. I missed an earlier interview by Steven Heller with Temple of Silence publisher Josh O’Neill. There’s more: The Wiggle Much a Tumblr devoted to Crowley’s comic strips and other artwork. (Ta to Jay for the tip!)

Pandemic is an interactive film by John Bradburn for The Science Museum. “A pandemic is causing heart failure–how far will you go to create a pig/human hybrid to provide donor organs?” The multiple choice begins at YouTube; there’s also a behind the scenes feature at the Museum blog, and a trailer. Anyone who remembers a certain scene in Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! may hesitate before playing.

Given the plain palette of so much 1969–70 rock—jammed-out bluesy boogie in the Canned Heat and Allman Brothers mode, nasal pseudo-country harmony singing à la CSN&Y and their afterbirth—it is tempting to imagine an entirely alternative history for rock. It’s a parallel world where Fifty Foot Hose’s Cauldron, United States of America’s self-titled album and synthedelic oddities from Syrinx, Silver Apples, Beaver & Krause and Tonto’s Expanding Head Band were just the run-up to a giant leap into the electronic future.

Simon Reynolds in an excellent piece on one of my favourite musical sub-genres, electronic psychedelia

• The week in animated film: Emerald Rush, a video for an extract from Jon Hopkins’ new album, Singularity; Awaken Akira, a short homage to Katsuhiro Otomo’s graphic novel/film by Ash Thorp and Zaoeyo; Extra (1996), a video by one of the Akira animators, Koji Morimoto, for music by Ken Ishii.

Tenebrous Kate on The Powers of Darkness & The Powers of the Mind: The Legacy of Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon. Related: a look at the film’s shooting script and pressbook.

• At Dangerous Minds: John Gray, the pre-Bosie lover of Oscar Wilde, and the man whose surname is memorialised in Wilde’s most famous creation, Dorian Gray.

• Skewing the Picture: China Miéville posts the full text of an essay from 2016 about the rural weird.

• Share a pastrami sandwich with TED Klein in Episode 65 of Eating the Fantastic.

• More Hodgsoniana: The Land of Lonesomeness, a short story by Sam Gafford.

• At The Quietus: Barry Miles on William Burroughs’ years in London.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Curtis Harrington Day.

Night Of The Assassins (1977?) by Les Rallizes Dénudés | Night Of The Earth (1980) by Chrome | Night Of The Swallow (1982) by Kate Bush

Weekend links 347

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Dream Animal (1903) by Alfred Kubin.

• The week in Finland: A set of Finnish emojis includes icons for notable cultural exports such as Tom of Finland and Moominmamma. Tove Jansson’s creations have received fresh attention this month with the debut release of the electronic soundtrack music for The Moomins, an animated TV series made in Poland in 1977, and first broadcast in the UK in 1983. Andrew Male talked to Graeme Miller and Steve Shill about creating Moomins music with rudimentary instrumentation.

• Russian company Mosfilm has made a new copy of Andrei Tarkovsky’s science-fiction masterpiece, Stalker (1979), available on their YouTube channel. Tarkovsky’s films have been blighted by inexplicable flaws in their home releases, as Stalker was when reissued on a Region B Blu-ray last year. The new Mosfilm upload looks better than my old DVD so for the moment this is the one I’ll be watching.

• Before straight and gay: the discreet, disorienting passions of the Victorian era. Deborah Cohen reviews A Very Queer Family Indeed by Simon Goldhill. Related: Kevin Killian reviews Murder in the Closet: Essays in Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall, edited by Curtis Evans.

• “How many graphic designers owe their introduction to typography to a teenage encounter with the typefaces and lettering found on album covers?” asks Adrian Shaughnessy.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 210 by Ascion, FACT Mix 587 by Seekersinternational, and The Séance, 4th February 2017.

Pankaj Mishra on Václav Havel’s lessons on how to create a “parallel polis”. Related: The Power of the Powerless by Václav Havel.

Hans Corneel de Roos on Dracula‘s lost Icelandic sister text: How a supposed translation proved to be much more.

• “I live outside the world in a universe I myself have created, like a madman or a holy visionary.” — Michel de Ghelderode.

• The Metropolitan Museum of Art makes 375,000 images of public art freely available under Creative Commons Zero.

Richard H. Kirk on Thatcherite pop and why Cabaret Voltaire were like The Velvet Underground.

Emily Gosling on what David Lynch’s use of typography reveals (or doesn’t).

White Noise Sounds of Frozen Arctic Ocean with Polar Icebreaker Idling.

John Gray on what cats can teach us about how to live.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Day of the Mellotron (Restored).

The Warburg Institute Iconographic Database.

Sastanàqqàm by Tinariwen.

Tanz Der Vampire (1969) by The Vampires of Dartmoore | Dracula (1983) by Dilemma | Vampires At Large (2012) by John Zorn

Weekend links 232

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Forget Me Not (no date) by Caitlin Hackett.

• Halloween brings out the articles about weird fiction: “No one would now write of [HP Lovecraft] as the critic Edmund Wilson did, in the New Yorker in 1945: ‘The only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art.’ The true horror was in fact that of judging Lovecraft by the standards of a defunct literary culture,” says John Gray. At The Atlantic there’s Jeff VanderMeer on the uncanny power of weird fiction, while Matt Seidel at The Millions explores the mysteries and attractions of Robert Aickman’s “strange stories”.

The Witching Hour is a video essay by Pam Grossman “examining the many different faces of witches in film”. Pam’s video opens with a scene from Suspiria; over at FACT, Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti talks about the creation of Suspiria‘s peerless soundtrack.

• David Rudkin and Alan Clarke’s uncanny television film, Penda’s Fen, is given a 40th anniversary screening later this month at the Horse Hospital, London. For those who can’t attend (and those who haven’t already read it) there’s my post from 2010.

Nabokov sees each day’s weather as a palette: “The weather this morning was soso: dullish, but warm, a boiled milk sky, with skin – but if you pushed it aside with a teaspoon, the sun was really nice, so I wore my white trousers”. He listens carefully to the sound of the rain, which his letters brilliantly orchestrate. He provides fantastic descriptions of puddles, some of which contain shifts in perspective reminiscent of the nearly cinematic transitions found in the novel he would write shortly afterwards, King, Queen, Knave:

“I looked out of the window and saw: a red-haired housepainter caught a mouse in his wheelbarrow and killed it with the stroke of a brush, then he tossed it in a puddle. The puddle reflected the dark-blue sky, quick black upsilons (reflections of swallows flying high) and the knees of a squatting child, who was attentively studying the little grey round corpse.”

Eric Naiman on Vladimir Nabokov’s Letters to Véra

• Occult rock: Peter Bebergal talks to Expanding Minds about his new book, Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. There’s an hour-long film of Black Sabbath saving rock and roll in Paris, 1970, here.

• Mixes of the week: Burning The Existence, “a three-hour sonic exploration of the outer fringes of Goth”, and a horror soundtrack mix by Death Waltz.

• “‘Capital loathes the old,’ [Gareth] Evans said, ‘for anchoring us in the reality of the lived.'” Iain Sinclair on London’s lost cinemas.

Desirina Boskovich, co-editor of the Steampunk Users Manual, offers “7 Reasons Why Steampunk Is Totally ‘Now'”.

• Penguin has new collage covers by Julian House for The Cut-Up Trilogy by William Burroughs.

Hear a homemade synthesizer turn weather into music.

• Grotesque doodles by William Makepeace Thackeray.

full fathom five is Thom’s new blog.

Weird Dream (1976) by Harmonia 76 | Weird Caravan (1980) by Klaus Schulze | Weird Gear (1991) by Ultramarine

Weekend links 219

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Grendel Monster (2013) by Anna & Elena Balbusso.

Rick Poynor looks at the Guide de la France mystérieuse (1964), a fantastic (in every sense) doorstop of a volume whose collage alphabet by Roman Cieslewicz can be seen on the cover of Carnival In Babylon (1972) by Amon Düül II.

• Boolean mathematics, Charles Howard Hinton, The Voynich Manuscript, and the effects of surveillance on the political process: Adam Curtis firing on all cylinders as usual.

• At Strange Flowers: The Picture of John Gray, remembering the minor fin de siècle figure who gave Oscar Wilde a surname for his most famous creation.

In “32 Cardinal Virtues of Dennis Cooper,” Wayne Koestenbaum remarks: “Cooper’s quest for the unseeable is virtually religious. I mean: sedulous, abstract, perpetual, unrewarded, unreasonable.” There’s much more to be said of Gone, its power, its pain, its odd intrigues, but perhaps it will suffice to say that it is revealing: unlike Burroughs’ scrapbooks hidden away by some private collector, never to see the light of day, Gone (and its sister texts at the Fales Library) illuminate in perpetuity Cooper’s obscure quest for the unseeable.

Diarmuid Hester looks at Dennis Cooper’s scrapbooks

The Sallow Tree, a single by Lutine. More music: An hour of Julia Holter‘s St John’s Sessions performance.

• At Dangerous Minds: Christian televangelists listen to Stairway To Heaven forwards.

• Cathy Camper reviews Fearful Hunter, a graphic novel by Jon Macy.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 452 by Claude Speeed.

Roman Cieslewicz at Pinterest.

The Adobe Illustrator Story

The House of Julian

Unofficial Britain

• Amon Düül II singles: Rattlesnakeplumcake (1970) | Between The Eyes (1970) | Light (1971) | Lemmingmania (1971)