A mix for Halloween: Teatro Grottesco

Teatro Grottesco by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Presenting the tenth Halloween playlist, and another mix of my own. This year the compilation honours the recent Penguin collection of stories by Thomas Ligotti, hence the title and dedication. Whether a Ligotti theme can be perceived in the arrangement depends on the familiarity of the listener with Ligotti’s brand of weird fiction, but even if the mix communicates little in this direction having something to aim for helped me narrow the focus. The presence of David Lynch-related pieces is justified by Ligotti’s inclusion in a collection of fiction inspired by Lynch’s films.

As to some of the other selections: French composer Igor Wakhévitch is a {feuilleton} favourite whose orchestral works are unique, bizarre and often disturbing; Jean-Claude Eloy is another French composer who (like Tod Dockstader) has used electronics to create doom-laden dronescapes; and the piece by Sinoia Caves is an extract from the nightmarish bad-trip sequence in Beyond the Black Rainbow, a film directed by Panos Cosmatos.

Recent changes at Mixcloud mean that listeners can no longer see a tracklist before playback so here’s the detail:

Alan R. Splet, David Lynch, Ann KroeberTextured Night Wind Gently Rises And Falls (2000)
Igor WakhévitchErgon (1970)
CoilCardinal Points (1988)
Tod DockstaderMyst (2005)
Julee CruiseInto The Night (1989)
Jean-Claude EloyFushike-e (1er Extrait) (1979)
Mica LeviLonely Void (2014)
Stars Of The LidTaphead (1996)
Belbury PolyA Thin Place (2005)
Einstürzende NeubautenArmenia (1983)
Igor WakhévitchAmenthi (Attente De La Seconde Mort) (1973)
Sinoia Caves1966 – Let The New Age Of Enlightenment Begin (2014)
Angelo BadalamentiDark Mood Woods/The Red Room (2007)
Bohren & Der Club Of GoreThe Art Of Coffins (2002)

Previously on { feuilleton }
A mix for Halloween: Unheimlich Manoeuvres
A mix for Halloween: Ectoplasm Forming
A playlist for Halloween: Hauntology
A playlist for Halloween: Orchestral and electro-acoustic
A playlist for Halloween: Drones and atmospheres
A playlist for Halloween: Voodoo!
Dead on the Dancefloor
Another playlist for Halloween
A playlist for Halloween

Bohren & Der Club Of Gore

bohren.jpg

Black Earth by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

How to sustain the atmosphere of something you’ve enjoyed without flogging the work itself to death by repeated viewing? In the case of Twin Peaks, the subject of yesterday’s post, you can indulge yourself with spin-off merchandise like this Garmonbozia T-shirt. Or you could try playing the Twin Peaks Murder Mystery Board Game. I own the latter and while it provides some amusement the reduction of the first season’s enigmas to a set of board game rules doesn’t really work that well. Better by far are the two soundtrack CDs by Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me, and the first Julee Cruise album, Floating Into The Night. And if that’s still not enough, there’s always Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

Bohren… are a German “doom jazz” outfit whose origins in the hardcore scene and their enthusiasm for Black Sabbath explains both their name and the appearance of CD covers like the one for Black Earth (2002). But the music within contradicts all expectations. I was first alerted to them a few years ago when I saw them described as being “like the Twin Peaks soundtrack”. An initial “yeah, sure…” scepticism crumbled upon hearing their third album, Sunset Mission (2000), which really does sound like a continuation of Angelo Badalamenti’s slow, dark jazz scores. The fourth album, Black Earth, is better in many ways since it sounds less derivative, further reducing the rhythms to a slow crawl in the manner of doom metal band Earth. In place of the riffs of the doom-meisters you get a sullen saxophone wailing in the dark. Black Earth was followed by the even more minimal Geisterfaust (2005) which happens to have a blue flower on its cover. Coincidence or not? Their most recent album, Dolores (2008), lets some light return with an organ and vibraphone augmenting the slow evolution of each piece. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore are a great band who deserve wider recognition. If you’re a Lynch enthusiast then Sunset Mission and Black Earth are the ones to go for, I’ve been playing them continually all week.

MySpace page
Prowler | Midnight Black Earth

Previously on { feuilleton }
Through the darkness of future pasts
Earth in Manchester

Through the darkness of future pasts

peaks1.jpg

Having spent the past two weeks re-watching the whole run of Twin Peaks, and following that with David Lynch’s 1992 prequel, Fire Walk With Me, I feel I owe the producers of these works a note of apology. Being a long-time Lynchophile I eagerly watched every episode of Twin Peaks when it was first screened by the BBC in 1991, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the first fifteen episodes I grew increasingly dismayed with the series as the principal writer and director wandered off halfway through and the whole thing lost focus. There was a return to form with the very last episode, and Fire Walk With Me is great despite some flaws, a film I much prefer to the later Lost Highway, but that disappointment meant I’d never tried watching the whole series again until now, courtesy of a very reasonably-priced Gold Box Edition (thanks, Fopp).

peaks2.jpg

Kyle MacLachlan and Michael J. Anderson.

There were a number of surprises: first of all the main story hangs together better than I remembered, starting with the investigation into Laura Palmer’s death, grading to the cat-and-mouse game with rogue FBI agent Windom Earle, then looping back via the Black Lodge business in the final episode and Fire Walk With Me to Laura Palmer again. The sub-plots in season two are still a mix of the annoying (all the Dick Tremayne stuff) or the pointless (the unconvincing attempt to put James Hurley into a Black Widow ménage)—and the episode directed by Diane Keaton is positively amateurish—but if you stick with Agent Cooper all is well. Aside from the content lapses the quality of the whole thing was a delight, having watched the series originally with mono sound on a TV with a fuzzy picture. There are many great performances which benefit from the DVD mastering, among which I’d choose Kyle MacLachlan, Sherilyn Fenn, and especially Ray Wise as Leland Palmer whose role is by turns comic, terrifying, and ultimately tragic when he comes to terms with the horror of his predicament.

The best episodes are all Lynch-directed, of course, and I hadn’t realised before that the climax of the first story arc, the murder of Maddy Ferguson, is episode 15, right in the middle of the run. And I had the opportunity this time to do something I’m sure many Lynch-heads have done already, namely watch Fire Walk With Me after the final episode as though it’s episode 31. Seeing the film this way deepens the whole experience despite obvious disjunctions such as the slightly older cast and Donna Hayward being played by a different actor altogether. (In a David Lynch film this perhaps doesn’t matter too much.) What’s most thrilling is the realisation that Lynch has done something here which seems almost unique by joining the end of his otherwise unfinished story to its beginning; Laura Palmer’s life and death becomes a Möbius strip in which questions of ends or beginnings are negated. And why not when the Red Room is an apparently timeless space?

peaks3.jpg

Sheryl Lee.

I could enthuse at length about the musical moments which are always a high spot in Lynchland—Julee Cruise’s appearances, Audrey’s dance, Little Jimmy Scott (!) in The Black Lodge—but if you’ve seen these you’ll know to what I refer. If you haven’t, well…your life is a hollow sham. Now that we’re in the month of the Gift Apocalypse I’d thoroughly recommend the Twin Peaks box as a purchase for anyone who likes the weird stuff. A feast of garmonbozia awaits.

Previously on { feuilleton }
David Lynch window displays
Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner
David Lynch in Paris
Inland Empire

Weekend links 38

lovecraftbaw.jpg

Arriving in the post this week was Lovecraft Black & White, an Italian book whose contents are spelled out in the title, black-and-white illustrations based on the work of the Providence master. Among the featured works is my 1999 rendering of Azathoth. There’s more about the book here and here.

Also on the work front, one of the books I designed interiors for a couple of months back was The Search for Philip K. Dick, a sombre biography and memoir by Anne R. Dick, the author’s third wife. Ms Dick discussed the book with the NYT a few days ago. The design was mostly straightforward layout but I did make a quick ASCII portrait of PKD from one of Anne Dick’s photos.

Farewell, the documentary film about Lady Grace Drummond-Hay’s flight around the world in the Graf Zeppelin, can be viewed here.

• “I personally think that the pages look better on the iPad than they do in real life.” Artist Tom Phillips again on the Humument iPad app.

The Birds Are Flying Elsewhere: singer/songwriter Linda Perhacs. Related: Parallelograms – A Short Film About Linda Perhacs.

St Eia, guitar improvisations by Zali Krishna, “Keywords: jazzgazing; entropy circus; st ives; cornwall; psychogeography”.

Moon Wiring Club and DD Denham: music for children, by children. Related: Moon Wiring Club’s Jayston Mix.

kirkland.jpg

The 1970s was another country, they did things differently there. One of a number of illustrations for science textbooks by Phil Kirkland at A Journey Round My Skull.

• “Fellatio has become a recurrent theme in your work hasn’t it, I say.” Alan Bennett sheds some inhibitions.

Talking To The Sci-Fi Lord: Regenerations & Ruminations With Michael Moorcock.

Time and the Gods (1906) by Lord Dunsany, illustrated by Sidney Sime.

City of Silence, a calendar for 2011 by Thom Ayres.

Scientists glimpse universe before the Big Bang.

• Photography by Josef Sudek (1896–1976).

Aurora photo gallery, November 2010.

The Last Tuesday Society.

Parallelograms (1970) by Linda Perhacs | Six AM (1979) by Thomas Leer & Robert Rental | Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart (1989) by Julee Cruise.