A playlist for Halloween: Drones and atmospheres

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Cover painting by Edgar Froese.

I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge or lustre or name.

HP Lovecraft, The Haunter of the Dark, 1935.

It’s become traditional to do this each Halloween so here we go again with another music list, ten releases to soundtrack your way into another world. Should you be curious, a number of these works are probably difficult to find but a couple of the Discogs links have YouTube clips on the pages. Some of the selections were featured on an earlier list but this time they’re grouped with similar recordings.

Zeit (1972) by Tangerine Dream
All you need is Zeit. I was tempted to write an entire post extolling the virtues of my favourite Tangerine Dream album, to note how I’ve been listening to it for thirty years and will never tire of it, to mention how much I love Edgar Froese’s Black Sun cover painting (which ties it to another pet obsession of mine), how much I relish its pretentious subtitle “A largo in four movements” and the cello drones which open Birth Of Liquid Plejades then grade to Moog doodles by Popol Vuh’s Florian Fricke; the endless rumbling, howling minimalism of the whole enterprise… This was an enormously audacious album for its time which predicts many of the subsequent recordings on this list. One of the Kosmische masterworks, and so far out there that every move made by the group thereafter could only be a retreat.

Nature Unveiled (1984) by Current 93
Much as I respect David Tibet for his championing of esoteric culture I’ve never much liked the music he produces. The first Current 93 album was an interesting collage work, however, created by a kind of supergroup from the Industrial music scene of the time which included members of Coil, Nurse With Wound and 23 Skidoo. The second side provides an ideal Halloween piece with The Mystical Body of Christ in Chorazaim, a blending of Gregorian loops and guitar feedback over which Annie Anxiety rants in Spanish about…penises? I still don’t know. The whole thing sounds like something you’d expect to be playing over the landscapes in Wayne Barlowe’s Inferno.

Soliloquy For Lilith (1988) by Nurse With Wound
As for Nurse With Wound, this collection of eight electronic (?) drones achieves the typical NWW state of being simultaneously fascinating and irritating in equal measure.

Nunatak Gongamur (1990) by Thomas Köner
The master of what he calls “grey noise” made his first album by “miking-up gongs, then rubbing, scraping and electronically treating the sounds to the point where their origin is unrecognisable.” (More.) The result very effectively conjures the icy wastes alluded to by its title, and would make a perfect soundtrack for reading Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness or The Terror by Dan Simmons.

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How To Destroy Angels. Cover painting by Derek Jarman.

How To Destroy Angels (Remixes and Re-Recordings) (1992) by Coil
Coil created a similar effect to Köner by treating the sounds of their first 12″ release from 1984 to electronic processing, stretching metallic noises into reverberant shudders. One of the remixes is by Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound, while track title Dismal Orb will always make me think of the cover of Zeit.

The Monstrous Soul (1992) by Lustmord
Almost everything released by Lustmord could be labelled “drones and atmospheres” and choosing one doom-laden work over another is a difficult matter. I opted for this one on account of its occult track titles and the well-chosen dialogue samples from The Night of the Demon.

Treetop Drive (1994) by Deathprod
One from the 2006 list. I couldn’t say it any better than I did four years ago: Helge Sten is a Norwegian electronic experimentalist whose solo work is released under the Deathprod name. “Electronic” these days often means using laptops and the latest keyboard and sampling equipment. Deathprod music is created on old equipment which renders its provenance opaque leaving the listener to concentrate on the sounds rather than be troubled by how they might have been created. The noises on the deceptively-titled Treetop Drive are a disturbing series of slow loops with squalling chords, anguished shrieks and some massive foghorn rumble that seems to emanate from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker. Play it in the dark and feel the world ending.

Night Passage (1998) by Alan Lamb
Not music at all but treated sounds made from recordings of a length of telegraph wire vibrated by the wind somewhere in Western Australia. Night Passage Demixed was a collection of remixes by artists including Thomas Köner and Lustmord’s Brian Williams.

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Design by Julian House.

Ouroborindra (2006) by Eric Zann
Another from the 2006 list and the most deliberately horror-oriented work on the Ghost Box label. An artist name borrowed from HP Lovecraft and track titles from Arthur Machen.

The Air Is On Fire (2007) by David Lynch
David Lynch’s friend and genius of a sound designer Alan Splet created the template for many of the works listed here with his groundbreaking soundtrack for Eraserhead in 1976. Following his death in 1994 Lynch’s films have never had quite the same feel of visceral menace despite their considerable qualities in other areas. This CD was created by Lynch himself for an exhibition of his paintings and other artwork, and if it doesn’t possess the uncanny otherness of Splet’s rumblings it still makes for some very disturbing listening. Far better than recent Lynchian musical excursions like the Blue Bob album, and well worth seeking out.

Previously on { feuilleton }
A playlist for Halloween: Voodoo!
Dead on the Dancefloor
Another playlist for Halloween
White Noise: Electric Storms, Radiophonics and the Delian Mode
The Séance at Hobs Lane
Thomas Köner
A playlist for Halloween
Ghost Box

Forbidden volumes

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Forbidden in the sense that these books can’t be bought or borrowed from any library other than Borges’ Library of Babel. The designs are by Julian House and can be seen along with other work “exploring memory as trace and fragment” at the Architect’s Gallery, Teddington, UK, until 20th November. Via Belbury Parish Magazine.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Strange Attractions
Strange Attractor Salon
The Séance at Hobs Lane
Ghost Box

Weekend links 18

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Rogomelec (1978) by Leonor Fini. Via.

Moving Through Old Daylight: A recording of Mark Fisher, Jim Jupp and Julian House of Ghost Box Recordings and Iain Sinclair in conversation at the Roundhouse, Camden, London, 5 June 2010. Topics under discussion included Nigel Kneale, TC Lethbridge, John Foxx, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, alchemies of sound, the homogenisation of culture, imagining space and the impersistence of memory.

The Surreal House, “a mysterious dwelling infused with subjectivity and desire” at the Barbican, London.

Ars Homo Erotica at the National Museum of Warsaw. Related: “(Gothenburg) Museum stops exhibition about homosexuality in religion“.

• A lot of people still arrive here looking for art by Zack aka Oliver Frey. Bike Boy, 96 pages of Frey’s exuberantly homoerotic comic strips, is published in August by Bruno Gmünder.

• “EM Forster was a virgin until the age of thirty-nine, when he had his first ‘full’ sexual experience (a ‘hurried sucking off’, Wendy Moffat informs us) with a passing soldier on a beach in Alexandria.”

• JG Ballard’s archive is accepted by the British Library, or “saved for the nation” as they rather grandiloquently describe the process. Samples from the documents to be preserved at the BBC and the Guardian.

• Shades of Ballard’s singing sculptures, Sun Boxes is a solar-powered audio installation by Craig Colorusso. There’s more at Designboom.

• Nathalie visited the MAXXI, Rome’s new museum of contemporary art designed by Zaha Hadid.

Stephen Pinker wants everyone to stop fretting over the alleged distractions of electronic media.

• “It basically comes from love”: John McLaughlin in conversation with Robert Fripp, 1982.

• More collections of print ephemera: Agence Eureka and Ephemera Magica.

The Serpent and the Sword, an Alan Moore rarity from 1999.

Gulliverovy Cesty (1968) at A Journey Round My Skull.

Within the Without: a new Thombeau Tumblr.

The Hidden Posters of Notting Hill Gate.

The Letters of Sylvia Beach reviewed.

• It’s Kubrick Season in St Albans.

Riot In Lagos (1980) by Ryuichi Sakamoto still sounds futuristic thirty years on.

Weekend links 11

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Panneaux decoratifs (1900) by Manuel Orazi at NYPL.

Ghostsigns: “a collaborative national effort to photograph, research and archive the remaining examples of hand painted wall advertising in the UK and Ireland.”

• Golden Age Comic Book Stories posts some Alphonse Mucha.

Voyage Fantastique – An illustrated guide to the body and mind at A Journey Round My Skull.

The gallery of the International Exhibition of Calligraphy.

Trevor Wayne Pin-Up Show, a new photo collection of the tattooed Mr Wayne which includes photos and a foreword by Clive Barker.

Phallophonies, a gallery exploring the penis in religious art. Related: “Churchgoers are outraged over a crucifix in a Catholic church that they say shows an image of genitalia on Jesus.”

Hollingsville: “Expect live and unscripted wanderings around voodoo science parks, examinations of cities as battle suits and thoughts on pods, capsules and world expos.”

Phantom Circuit #33 is a Ghost Box special featuring an interview with Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Julian House (The Focus Group). Related: Ghost Box films at YouTube.

Eldritchtronica and Wyrd Bliss, a mixtape by Simon Reynolds.

• Avant garde music and cinema meet at The Sound of Eye.

• Make your own newspaper with Newspaper Club.

Drawdio: A pencil that lets you draw music.

Yoko Ono collects rare books.

KittehRoulette.

• Song of the week: The Four Horsemen (1972) by Aphrodite’s Child.

Strange Attractions

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Giant Squid of the Newfoundland Banks. From a painting by Herbert B Judy.

Today’s Giant Squid comes to you courtesy of the University of Washington’s Digital Collection and their Freshwater and Marine Image Bank. This book plate is from Sea-shore Life; The Invertebrates of the New York Coast and the Adjacent Coast Region (1905) by Alfred Goldsborough Mayor, and the Internet Archive happens to have copies of the entire book.

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Which facts have nothing whatsoever to do with Ken Hollings’ photos of the Strange Attractor Salon which is in its final week at Viktor Wynd Fine Art, London. I was pleased to see the picture above which shows my pieces on the same wall as work by Julian House whose covers for the Ghost Box CDs I’ve enthused over in the past. Strange Attractor curator Mark Pilkington has posted further photos on his Flickr pages as has artist Ali Hutchinson whose beautiful work is also featured there.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Strange Attractor Salon
Readouts
Welcome to Mars
The Séance at Hobs Lane
SAJ again
Strange Attractor Journal Three
Ghost Box
The Major Arcana