Weekend links 526

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La Cathédrale Engloutie (1952) by Ithell Colquhoun.

• Many of the recent lists of “where to start with the music of [x]” aren’t filling an urgent requirement, but in the case of Sun Ra—whose discography runs to 95 albums—any guide is a useful one: Sean Kitching chooses 10 recordings from the Ra galaxy. I’m not unacquainted with Sun Ra’s music but there’s so much of it that almost all these suggestions are news. Related: Namwali Serpell on the life and work of a cosmic visionary.

• Coming soon from Strange Attractor, Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of The Fern Loved Gulley by Amy Hale, the first book-length study of the life and work of the British Surrealist and occult artist.

• I doubt I’ll get to see it but I’m pleased to know that the prematurely shuttered Aubrey Beardsley exhibition is returning to Tate Britain. You’ll need a Decadent face-mask.

• And speaking of music lists, Alexis Petridis compiles a ranking of all the songs by a little-known post-punk band from Manchester.

The Last Arcadian (Process Mix): more psychotropic nougat from Moon Wiring Club.

• Kill Me Again… Ken Hollings on Ennio Morricone and the music of the future.

Mervyn Peake‘s visual archive has been acquired by the British Library.

Anitra Pavlico on the fantastic world (and music) of Maurice Ravel.

Stanley Stellar‘s photos of the New York gay scene in the 1980s.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Fetish.

• RIP Judy Dyble.

Wikidelia

Chelsea Morning (1968) by Fairport Convention | I Talk To The Wind (1968) by Giles, Giles & Fripp feat. Judy Dyble | Morning Way (1970) by Trader Horne

Weekend links 330

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Summer Passing (2013) by Laura Battle.

• The Marquis de Sade’s enduringly contentious The 120 Days of Sodom has been republished by Penguin Books in a new translation by Will McMorran and Thomas Wynn. “[De Sade] described his novel as ‘the most impure tale ever written since the world began’ and, for all the hyperbole, his description still holds true even now,” says Will McMorran, exploring the history and reputation of the book.

• From the Cutting Room Floor: Rick Klaw talks to Bruce Sterling about the current state of US (and world) politics. Sterling’s Futurist novel Pirate Utopia (which I’ve designed and illustrated) will be published by Tachyon next month.

• New from Strange Attractor: In Fairyland: The World of Tessa Farmer, edited by Catriona McAra, and Of Shadows: One Hundred Objects from The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic by Sarah Hannant and Simon Costin.

• Mix of the week: Programme No. 16 in the long-running Radio Belbury series is a guest presentation by The Pattern Forms (Jon Brooks, Edward Macfarlane and Edward Gibson).

The Book of Three Gates by Simon Berman, “An Esoterica of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos”, is seeking funding.

• Occultist Phil Hine discusses Richard Payne Knight and phalluses at the Conway Hall, London, later this month.

• “My goal is to make music that is transcendent and isn’t specific of a certain time,” says Earth’s Dylan Carlson.

• Kiss the sky: psychedelic posters of the 60s and 70s from the collection of the late Felix Dennis.

Radionics Radio: An Album Of Musical Radionic Thought-Frequencies.

Madeleine LeDespencer on the occult bookshops of London.

Unknown Pleasures waveform gif generator

Sade Masoch (1968) by Bobby Callender | Confessional (Give Me Sodomy Or Give Me Death) (1991) by Diamanda Galás | The Sodom And Gomorrah Show (2006) by Pet Shop Boys

Weekend links 248

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The Dreamers (2013) by Kate Baylay, from Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen.

• RIP composer and musique-concrète pioneer Tod Dockstader. “I didn’t have the money for electronic sounds…I had to have things like bottles, or anything that would make a noise. It didn’t matter what it was; if it sounded interesting, or I could make it interesting, I’d go for it.” Geeta Dayal talked to Dockstader for Wired in 2012. Dockstader’s film credits included Fellini’s Satyricon and Tom and Jerry cartoons. He also wrote the story for one of the latter, Mouse into Space, in 1962. Ubuweb has some early Dockstader recordings.

• “…anyone who has ever sat in a cafe, or in the bath, with a paperback owes a debt to Aldus and the small, cleanly designed editions of the secular classics he called libelli portatiles, or portable little books.” Jennifer Schuessler on Aldus Manutius, and the roots of the paperback.

• “At Chernobyl, we made ‘the world’s first radioactive nature preserve.’ We made black rain. We made the Red Forest, which was green when the day began, and is dead.” Mary Margaret Alvarado reviews The Long Shadow Of Chernobyl by Gerd Ludwig.

Prison was often the fate of those caught circulating samizdat in the Soviet Union—not only the “high” samizdat such as Solzhenitsyn, but the crude and lowly joke books as well. The official rationale for the prohibition was in context no less reasonable than the rationale given more recently for condemning Charlie Hebdo or R. Crumb. There is always a perception that the very serious project of perfecting society is being undermined. But society will not be perfected, and it is a last resort of desperate perfecters to go after the subtle-minded satirists who understand this.

Justin EH Smith on why satire matters

• “You have to do your research, and you’ll find treasures that you couldn’t even have begun to sit down and draw until you saw them in front of your eyes,” says Annie Atkins, graphic designer behind The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Tales of Hoffmann: exclusive materials from the making of Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece. The film will be released on Blu-ray by the BFI later this month.

• The illustrated score for Irma, the opera offshoot of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, is now available from Lulu.

Mellifluous Ichor From Sunless Regions, a free album of Hauntological electronica by The Wyrding Module.

Kraftwerk at the controls: what the group’s live instrument setup looks like today.

• Booze, Blood and Noise: The Violent Roots of Manchester Punk by Frank Owen.

• Mix of the week: 14th February 2015 by The Séance.

Vintage logo designs

Transmission (1979) by Joy Division | Radioactivity (William Orbit mix, 1991) by Kraftwerk | Bellstomp/Pond Dance (Mordant Music remix, 2012) by Tod Dockstader

Atmospherics

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Listening to Joy Division over the weekend prompted another of those idle speculations that are immediately answered these days (so to speak…) by a few seconds of web searching. While Atmosphere was playing I’d remembered a conversation with a friend about the identity of the painting of a cowled figure that appears on the original Atmosphere/Dead Souls single for the Sordide Sentimental label. Neither of us had a copy of the Holy Grail of JD collectors, nor did we know anybody who owned one, so the discussion wasn’t very fruitful.

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Licht Und Blindheit (1980) by Joy Division.

Sordide Sentimental were (and still are) a French company run by Jean-Pierre Turmel and Yves von Bontee whose speciality was limited releases of exclusive material often by bands with a cult following. The typical Sordide Sentimental release would be a 7-inch single in a numbered edition, packaged in an A4-sized sleeve with inserts and an idiosyncratic essay by Monsieur Turmel. Licht Und Blindheit, as the Atmosphere single was called, sold out immediately, and since 1980 has been one of the most collectible (and costly) releases of the era: the cheapest of two copies currently for sale at Discogs is over £1,500. (Many bootleg copies also exist: beware.)

As to the Licht Und Blindheit packaging, the cover collage was by Jean-Pierre Turmel while the enigmatic painting on the back turns out to be an untitled work by Jean-François Jamoul (1925–2002), not Caspar David Friedrich as my friend suspected, although it is very Friedrich-like. Jamoul was evidently a friend of Turmel who used more of his paintings on other Sordide Sentimental releases. During the 1970s Jamoul had been a regular contributor to French SF magazines, both as cover artist and essayist. In 2006 Sordide Sentimental released Temps Incertains, a DVD/book devoted to Jamoul’s art and writings.

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Rite de Passage (1968) by Alexei Panshin.

It’s interesting looking at some of Jamoul’s other art in light of all this: one painting on the cover of Galaxie magazine looks distinctly Lovecraftian while another piece was used by a publication named Nyarlathotep. Back in 2008 journalist Jon Savage was corresponding with my colleagues at Savoy Books prior to writing a piece for the Guardian about Ian Curtis’s reading material. (The Savoy bookshops in Manchester during the 1970s and 80s were notable for their comprehensive stock of Burroughs, Ballard and other essential material.) One of the questions was whether Curtis had read (or bought) any HP Lovecraft, something that neither Dave nor Mike could answer. These French magazines at least show one very tenuous connection (which Curtis wouldn’t have known about, of course) via Jamoul’s paintings. Savage’s Guardian piece has since been expanded into an introduction for the recent Faber book of Ian Curtis lyrics; HP Lovecraft receives a passing mention there during discussion of Licht Und Blindheit‘s B-side, Dead Souls.

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Continue reading “Atmospherics”

Odilon Redon and Magazine

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Shot By Both Sides (1978). Design by Malcolm Garrett. Art: La Chimere regarda avec effroi toutes choses (1886) by Odilon Redon.

The first two albums by British post-punk band Magazine have been soundtracking the inner landscape here for the past couple of weeks. Looking at some of their cover art on Discogs reminded me that two of their early singles came dressed with drawings by Symbolist artist Odilon Redon (1840–1916) so these covers may well have been the first place I saw any of Redon’s work at all. This was an unusual choice at the time which makes it typical of a group that stood slightly apart from much of the music around them, often being regarded as too proficient and too clever. (Pop music and politics are the only places where incompetence and stupidity are virtues.)

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Give Me Everything (1978). Design by Malcolm Garrett? Art:The Cactus Man (1881) by Odilon Redon.

Magazine’s golden era runs from 1978 to 1980 and for me their music and that of fellow Mancunians Joy Division remains inextricably connected to memories of Manchester in the late 1970s, a place I visited sporadically before moving here in 1982. The city then was a lot more grimy and run-down, filled with the disused mills and warehouses of the collapsed cotton industry, blighted by the failed architecture of the 1960s and polluted by endless convoys of orange buses. This photo from 1978 fixes the mephitic ambience, as does some of M. John Harrison‘s fiction from the period, notably his short story Egnaro. Unlike Joy Divison, Magazine haven’t been burdened with an increasingly inflated reputation which makes revisiting their works all the more enjoyable. They pull you back to those gloomy times then take you off elsewhere, into the cajoling and neurotic imagination of that Nosferatu-in-a-leather-jacket, Howard Devoto.

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No Thyself (2009). Designer unknown. Art: Le polype difforme flottait sur les rivages, sorte de cyclope souriant et hideux, Les Origines (1883) by Odilon Redon.

The band reformed in 2009 although I’m not convinced the current incarnation is for me, I’m generally sceptical of such moves and the absence of ace guitarist John McGeogh (who died in 2004) and bassist Barry Adamson means it won’t be the same. No Thyself did refer back to their origins, however, literally so in the title of the Odilon Redon picture on the cover, while the Chimera from the first single turned up on a recent tour poster. Howard Devoto talked late last year to The Quietus about the recent album.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Odilon Redon lithographs
The eyes of Odilon Redon