Through The Gates Of Yesterday

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Here at last, the two Broadcast reissues and the album of officially released radio sessions. I already had much of the music so these purchases are mostly for reasons of cult completism and the Julian House cover designs. Mr House had already designed the rest of the Broadcast discography, as well as collaborating with them in his Focus Group guise, so this continuity was essential.

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Also essential, music-wise, is the Mother Is The Milky Way EP even though it’s only 20 minutes long. This was originally limited to 750 copies sold during the 2009 tour so it’s always been hard to find. Musically, it’s of a piece with the Witch Cults Of The Radio Age album, and just as beguiling, a dreamy mélange of song fragments and sound samples—Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate colliding with Jonathan Miller’s Alice in Wonderland—that’s more genuinely “psychedelic” than many attempts to conjure these qualities by mimicing old musical styles. The overlaid images on the cover may be alluding to the layered sounds…and are those magic mushrooms in one of the squares? Answers on a lysergic sugarcube.

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The two Microtronics EPs were intended to be functional works rather than entertainments, “Music for links and bridges”, although I don’t know if they’ve ever been used as such outside Broadcast mixes. These were also sold on separate tours as mini CDs but they now come packaged together, including a first-time release on vinyl which will keep the fetishists happy despite the format seeming like overkill for a collection of 21 very short squawks and drum loops.

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Maida Vale Sessions will also be essential for some listeners, comprising the group’s three sessions for John Peel’s show (1996, 2000, 2003) plus one from 1997 for Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session, 54 minutes in total. Being a collector of Broadcast bootlegs I already had most of these but they sound so much better coming from the original recordings. The final session, which I hadn’t heard before, is a fantastic set, and includes one of their few covers, a version of Sixty Forty by Nico. John Peel was an enthusiast, unsurprisingly, who may be heard on a bootleg of a Birmingham concert introducing the group as “one of the nation’s great bands”.

And if any of the above has stimulated your interest, Warp Records wisely commissioned The Gaslamp Killer to create an hour-long mix from the new records which may be heard here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Esoterica 49
Peter Strickland’s Stone Tape
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
The Ghost Box Study Series

Weekend links 478

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Poster by Tadanori Yokoo for The Trip (1967).

• Post of the week is this long-overdue introduction by Warren Hatter to the French rock and electronic music of the 1970s and 80s, a variety of Continental culture which has never commanded the same level of interest in the Anglophone world as its German equivalent. The music made in Germany in the 1970s became popular in Britain thanks to record labels UA and Virgin, and support from enthusiasts like John Peel, but the label “Krautrock” demonstrates how even a favourable form could be promoted in a manner not much better than a tabloid slur. French underground music, as Hatter notes, was never recognised enough to be explicitly labelled although the term “Eurorock” was common for a while in the UK music press, useful for avoiding the slurs while also ignoring national boundaries. Now that German music of the period has been thoroughly explored, resurrected and plundered, more attention may be given to the musicians across la Manche.

Related: Eurock, the long-running distributor/publisher/website/podcast; David Elliott’s Neumusik fanzine, 1979–82; Richard Pinhas: Electronique Guerilla – A Profile by Tony Mitchell; and (linked here before) a Discogs list, French Underground Rock—1967/1980.

• More music: The Flower Called Nowhere, a previously unreleased instrumental version by Stereolab, and Midsummer’s Queen by Meadowsilver.

• Hard Time for the Hardcore: Nick Pinkerton on the pleasure of long feature films, and a decent article once you’re past the stupid sub-heading.

• Coming soon from Strange Attractor Press: Bass, Mids, Tops, An Oral History of Sound System Culture by Joe Muggs & Brian David Stevens.

Anthony Quinn reviews It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track, Ian Penman’s collection of music essays.

Bajo el Sigo de Libra on the art of Touko Valio Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland.

• Territory of Dreams: Becca Rothfeld on the world of Bruno Schulz.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 601 by Sa Pa.

• RIP Richard Williams, master animator.

A trailer for The Trip. RIP Peter Fonda.

The Trip (1966) by Donovan | Trippin’ Out (1967) by Something Wild | The Trip (1968) by Park Avenue Playground

Weekend links 460

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Black Hole (1987) by Suzanne Treister.

• “Most people who are considered heroes are always to be found messing about in someone else’s affairs, and I don’t think that’s very heroic.” Robert Altman talking in 1974 to Jan Dawson about The Long Goodbye.

• “Tea is calming, but alerting at the same time.” Natasha Gilbert on the science of tea’s mood-altering magic.

• Alien spaceship, Hammer horror? Philip Hoare on the pulsating visions of Harry Clarke.

“…world cinema, particularly European cinema…hasn’t shied away from sex and, in fact, has often found ways of using sex to tell a story. Movies like The Duke of Burgundy or Sauvage or BPM gracefully integrate eroticism into the narrative—even when the sex itself is far from graceful. Even the American films that have focused on sex tend to do it with a leer and luridness, regarding sex with a certain narrative fetishism, as opposed to matter-of-factly.”

Rich Juzwiak talking to Catherine Shoard about the current state of sex in the cinema

• Chernobyl again: photographs by David McMillan from inside the exclusion zone.

Lasting Marks: the 16 men put on trial for sadomasochism in Thatcher’s Britain.

• Before Tarkovsky: Michael Brooke on the Russian TV adaptation of Solaris.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 588 by Rouge Mécanique.

• Dustin Krcatovich on The Strange World of Mark Stewart.

• Your Surrealist literature starter kit by Emily Temple.

John Peel’s Archive Things (1970)

5fathom: Things rich and strange

Hole In The Sky (1975) by Black Sabbath | Thru The Black Hole (1979) by Metabolist | Black Hole (1993) by Total Eclipse

Weekend links 423

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The Miracle (Genet’s Dream) (2001) by Delmas Howe.

• “Zachary Lipton, an assistant professor at the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, watched with frustration as this story transformed from ‘interesting-ish research’ to ‘sensationalized crap’.” Oscar Schwartz on how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong.

• The Aesthetics of Science Fiction: what does SF look like after cyberpunk? Very Brutalist if you ask Rick Liebling, although the first example shown in his piece—the Brunel University Lecture Centre—appears briefly as future architecture in A Clockwork Orange.

• At Expanding Mind: Erik Davis talks with philosopher and religious studies professor Dustin Atlas about ancient skepticism, Madhyamaka Buddhism, the taste of honey, Montaigne, Robert Anton Wilson, and the path of doubt.

• At Muddy Colors: Part 1 of their choices for best fantasy book covers of the year so far, a list which includes my cover for Moonshine by Jasmine Gower. Thanks!

• Soundtracking with Edith Bowman, episode 84: director Todd Haynes on the music of Wonderstruck, I’m Not There, Carol and Far From Heaven.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 663 by Space Afrika, Secret Thirteen Mix 262 by Mieko Suzuki, and Black Minimalism, a playlist by David Toop.

• Two minutes, eight barrels: drone and GoPro footage of surfer Koa Smith riding the waves of the Namibia shoreline.

• David Lynch’s Sacred Clay: Shehryar Fazli reviews Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna.

Charlotte Higgins on myths, monsters and the maze: how writers fell in love with the labyrinth.

• Monstrous Geometries in the Fiction of HP Lovecraft by Moritz Ingwersen.

Listen to the mournful wails of planets and moons.

• A Peel Session by Laika

Surf Ride (1956) by Art Pepper | Surf (1976) by Tim Blake | Surfside Sex (1982) by Patrick Cowley

From The Furthest Signals

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It’s been a busy year so far for A Year In The Country with two themed compilation albums being followed this month by a third, From The Furthest Signals. The latest theme is an intriguing one, taking as its starting point the erasing of broadcast tapes by British TV companies in the 1960s and early 1970s which destroyed hundreds of hours of dramas, concerts and other programmes. This was done as a money-saving measure (tape being expensive and reusable) at a time when the output of the BBC and the independent stations was regarded as mostly ephemeral and of little value. There was also a patronising class aspect to the practice: John Peel used to bitterly remind people that the BBC had saved its tapes of gardening shows while wiping concerts by the likes of Captain Beefheart.

Track list:
1) Circle/Temple – The Séance/Search for Muspel-Light
2) David Colohan – Brass Rubbings Club (Opening Titles)
3) A Year In The Country – A Multitude Of Tumblings
4) Sharron Kraus – Asterope
5) Time Attendant – The Dreaming Green
6) Depatterning – Aurora In Andromeda
7) Sproatly Smith – The Thistle Doll
8) Field Lines Cartographer – The Radio Window
9) Grey Frequency – Ident (IV)
10) Keith Seatman – Curious Noises & Distant Voices
11) Polypores – Signals Caught Off The Coast
12) The Hare And The Moon – Man Of Double Deed
13) Pulselovers – Endless Repeats/Eternal Return
14) Listening Center – Only The Credits Remain

All those wiped broadcasts may be lost down on Earth but they still exist somewhere in the halo of television and radio signals which is expanding into space. From The Furthest Signals is a speculation about the content of these remote signals, a tuning in to decayed transmissions and imagined broadcasts (that word—”broadcast”—being examined here in its widest possible sense). Some of the entries nod to fictional analogues: The Séance/Search For The Muspel Light by Circle/Temple is a reference to A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay’s unique and remarkable science-fiction novel. Other entries like Brass Rubbings Club (Opening Titles) by David Colohan are suggestions for imaginary theme tunes. This is an excellent collection, one of the best to date from A Year In The Country with pieces ranging from the folk-oriented balladry of Sproatly Smith to the deteriorating electronics of Grey Frequency. The album ends with a number by Listening Center, Only The Credits Remain, whose weightless harmonies wouldn’t be out of place on Apollo by Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois.

From The Furthest Signals is out now in the familiar range of hand-crafted monochrome formats.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Restless Field
The Marks Upon The Land
The Forest / The Wald
The Quietened Bunker
Fractures