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 502

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The Byrds (1967) by Wes Wilson.

• RIP Wes Wilson, one of the first of the San Francisco psychedelic poster artists of the 1960s, and also one of the more visible thanks to the popularity of his compressed type designs, some of which were derived from a style developed by Alfred Roller for the Vienna Secession circa 1900. When Playboy magazine wanted a cover that reflected the psychedelic art trend in late 1967 it was Wilson they called. Related: Wes Wilson’s posters at Wolfgang’s.

• “In the ’70s, New Age music offered listeners, trapped in the urban rat-race, audio capsules of pastoral peace to transform their homes into havens. Today the Internet and social media form a kind of post-geographic urban space, an immaterial city of information whose hustle ‘n bustle is even more wearing and deleterious to our equilibrium.” 2010–19: Back To The Garden: The Return Of Ambient And New Age by Simon Reynolds.

• “This pointed-finger symbol goes by many names: mutton fist, printer’s fist, bishop’s fist, pointer, hand director, indicule, or most unimaginatively as ‘a hand’. Scholarly consensus has pretty much settled on the word ‘manicule’, from the Latin maniculum, meaning ‘little hand’.” John Boardley on the typographic history of the pointing hand.

Tales Of Purple Sally (1973) by Alex. All instruments by Alex Wiska apart from bass by Holger Czukay, and drums by Jaki Liebzeit. The latter pair also produced the album. Related: Jah Wobble talking to Duncan Seaman about working with Czukay and Liebeziet.

• “On Jan 25, 2020, tired of negative film lists on Twitter, I asked people for ‘obscure [or] underseen films you adore and think more people should know about.’ This was the result.”

Flash Of The Spirit by Jon Hassell & Farafina “hails from a time when the possibilities of music seemed less well-defined, and borders felt more open,” says Geeta Dayal.

The Art Of Computer Designing: A Black and White Approach (1993) by Osamu Sato. There’s more of Sato’s print work at the Internet Archive.

• At the Morgan Library: Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect. Drawings from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

• New from Strange Attractor: Inferno: The Trash Project: Volume One by Ken Hollings.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Storm de Hirsch Day.

Celeste by Roger Eno & Brian Eno.

Ben Watt‘s favourite music.

The Inferno (1968) by The Inferno | Inferno (1990) by Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart | Inferno (1993) by Miranda Sex Garden

Weekend links 443

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• Yet more Gorey: Mark Dery’s biography of the artist prompted The New Yorker to unearth a piece of cover art that Edward Gorey submitted 25 years ago. In the same magazine Joan Acocella reviews Dery’s book and examines Gorey’s life and art. At Expanding Mind, Erik Davis talks with Mark Dery about Surrealism, the gay voice, Penny Dreadfuls, and the occult and Taoist influences in Gorey’s work.

Moving Through Old Daylight: Mark Fisher, Jim Jupp & 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.

• “A radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos, reinventing the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar.” The Space Oracle by Ken Hollings.

There was a deliberate, almost prickly quality to Fisher’s writing and thinking that is rare nowadays, when criticism is more likely to involve open-minded rationalizing than steadfast refusal. He was not one to frolic in ambiguity or irony. “Just because something is current doesn’t mean it is new,” he writes in K-Punk, as he wonders if a time traveller from the nineties would find any contemporary music as radical as post-punk or jungle had once seemed to him. When everything is cheerfully “retro,” Fisher argued, we lose our grasp on history—and, without a sense of why the past happened the way it did, our anything-goes embrace of “happy hybridities” is an empty gesture. “What pop lacks now is the capacity for nihilation, for producing new potentials through the negation of what already exists,” he writes.

Hua Hsu on Mark Fisher’s K-Punk

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Wind Protect You (1946), a novel by Pat Murphy which Mark describes as a forgotten precursor of Watership Down.

• “At once tiny and huge: what is this feeling we call ‘sublime’?” Sandra Shapshay explores the Romantic aesthetic.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of 2018. Thanks again for the link here!

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 572 by Nastia, and FACT Mix 683 by Casino Versus Japan.

A Child’s Voice (1978) by David Thomson, an overlooked ghost story starring TP McKenna.

• Jean Cocteau’s Orphée returns from the underworld via BFI blu-ray next month.

Rated SAVX: The Savage Pencil Scratchbook

Orpheus (1967) by The Walker Brothers | Orpheus (1987) by David Sylvian | Overture To Orpheus (2003) by Colin Booth

Weekend links 265

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The White House, Washington DC, on the evening of June 26, 2015.

I can remember that after the cops cleared us out of the bar we clustered in Christopher Street around the entrance to the Stonewall. The customers were not being arrested, but a paddy wagon had already hauled off several of the bartenders. Two or three policemen stayed behind, locked inside with the remaining members of staff, waiting for the return of the paddy wagon. During that interval someone in the defiant crowd outside called out “Gay Power”, which caused us all to laugh. The notion that gays might become militant after the manner of blacks seemed amusing for two reasons—first because we gay men were used to thinking of ourselves as too effeminate to protest anything, and second because most of us did not consider ourselves to be a legitimate minority.

At that time we perceived ourselves as separate individuals at odds with society because we were “sick” (the medical model), “sinful” (the religious model), “deviant” (the sociological model) or “criminal” (the legal model). Some of these words we might have said lightly, satirically, but no amount of wit could convince us that our grievances should be remedied or our status defended. We might ask for compassion but we could not demand justice. Many gays either were in therapy or felt they should be, and the words gay liberation would have seemed as preposterous to us as neurotic liberation (now, of course, Thomas S. Szasz in the United States, RD Laing in Britain and Felix Guattari on the Continent have, in their different ways, made even that phrase plausible enough).

What I want to stress is that before 1969 only a small (though courageous and articulate) number of gays had much pride in their homosexuality or a conviction that their predilections were legitimate. The rest of us defined our homosexuality in negative terms, and those terms isolated us from one another. We might claim Plato and Michelangelo as homosexuals and revere them for their supposed affinities with us, but we could just as readily dismiss, even despise, a living thinker or artist for being gay. Rich gays may have derived pleasure from their wealth, educated gays from their knowledge, talented gays from their gifts, but few felt anything but regret about their homosexuality as such. To be sure, particular sexual encounters, and especially particular love relationships, were gratifying then as now, but they were explained as happy accidents rather than as expected results.

Edmund White writing on The Political Vocabulary of Homosexuality (1980). Reprinted in The Burning Library: Writings on Art, Politics and Sexuality (1994).

• “…after seeing Don’t Look Now, The Wicker Man looked just so dull and flat. What Don’t Look Now has that The Wicker Man doesn’t is a complete mastery of cinema. Don’t Look Now is almost a silent movie, a brilliant, coherent, original and fantastic film that has an enormous emotional impact.” Bernard Rose emoting at length about Nicolas Roeg. Related: Wild Hearts Run Out Of Time, the Roy Orbison video that Rose mentions directing.

• “The male sex organ is depicted not so much as a body part, but more as a fetish object in its own right—a thing independent of the male body, worthy of intense, delirious veneration.” Jason Farago reviewing Tom of Finland: the Pleasure of Play. Related: Same-sex desire through the ages at the British Museum.

• “Sphinx is a typical love story only in the way that it’s the tale of two people who have fallen in love, and things don’t go smoothly. Beyond that…as reader, you have no idea of the gender of either half of this romantic equation.” Chris Clarke reviewing Sphinx, a novel by Anne Garréta.

• “To give space to the musical elements was really a thrill—how far can you get without using too much stuff?” Moritz von Oswald on “the sounds of emptiness”.

• “The problem is not always Helvetica but that Helvetica is all too often the default, the fall-back, the I-really-can’t-be-arsed choice,” says John Boardley.

• Mix of the week: Shaft’s Old Man: An Imaginary Soul Jazz Soundtrack by Aquarium Drunkard.

• “What is the Cut-Up Method?” Ken Hollings explains in a BBC magazine piece and radio feature.

• Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass, the final TV serial, will be released on Blu-ray next month.

• Relevant to the week’s reading: an archived Italo Calvino site.

Drÿad: a Tumblr.

Sphinx (1989) by Syd Straw | The Sodom And Gomorrah Show (2006) by Pet Shop Boys | Pattern 1 (2009) by Moritz Von Oswald Trio

Stone Tapes and Quatermasses

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Quatermass paperbacks from Jovike’s Flickr pages.

This may be another occasional series in the making since there’s already been a post about Roadside Picnic/Stalker music, and one about music inspired by the cosmic horror of William Hope Hodgson. I was going to write something earlier this year about music derived from the works of Nigel Kneale after rewatching all of Kneale’s major works. The reappraisal was prompted by the publication in January of The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, an excellent anthology of essays/speculations (and a China Miéville interview) about Kneale’s film and TV dramas. The delay in writing was a result of having to wait several months after ordering a CD of the Tod Dockstader album (see below) which for some reason the distributors couldn’t manage to get in the post.

In the Twilight Language book there’s a piece by Ken Hollings about electronic music, some of which has material connections with Kneale’s work, notably the Radiophonic Workshop’s creation of sound effects for Quatermass and the Pit. Early copies of the book came with a bonus cassette tape of Kneale-inspired music; more about that below. The men and women of the Radiophonic Workshop are the godparents of the following Kneale soundworks, most of which are British, and inevitably tend towards the grinding, droning and doom-laden end of the electronic spectrum. Given the enduring influence of Kneale’s work, especially the Quatermass serials and their film equivalents, it’s surprising there isn’t more Knealesque music to be found. (I’m avoiding the obvious film soundtracks, and any bands such as Quatermass who may be named after Kneale’s work but whose music doesn’t reflect it.) If anyone can add to this list then please leave a comment.

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Quatermass (1964) by Tod Dockstader

The American master of tape manipulation here processes hours of recordings of cymbals, pipes, tone generators, a vacuum hose and rubber balloons to create what he calls “a very dense, massive, even threatening work”. Dockstader hadn’t seen any of the Quatermass films or serials when he chose the name but he said that it sounded right. It certainly does, as does the unnerving, shrieking morass of sound he manages to craft using the most primitive equipment. The Starkland CD containing the Quatermass suite includes two further edits of the source material entitled Two Moons of Quatermass.

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The Séance At Hobs Lane (2001) by Mount Vernon Arts Lab

Mount Vernon Arts Lab is Drew Mulholland and various collaborators. The Séance At Hobs Lane is an abstract concept album based on Mulholland’s lifelong obsession with Quatermass and the Pit (an idée fixe he writes about in the Twilight Language book), plus “Victorian skullduggery, outlaws, secret societies and subterranean experiences”. Among the collaborators are Coil, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Barry 7 of Add N to (X), and Adrian Utley of Portishead. The album was reissued in 2007 on the Ghost Box label.

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Ouroborindra (2005) by Eric Zann

And speaking of Ghost Box… This album has been mentioned here on several occasions, a one-off release that’s the most consciously horror-oriented of all the works in the Ghost Box catalogue. The artist “name” and track titles reference Lovecraft and Machen but it’s included here for the dialogue quote in the insert from Kneale’s ghost drama The Stone Tape. In addition to the Mount Vernon reissue other Ghost Box references to Kneale can be found in the samples from Quatermass and the Pit (TV version) on The Bohm Site from We Are All Pan’s People by The Focus Group, and the title of the track which follows: Hob’s Rumble. Continue reading “Stone Tapes and Quatermasses”