Weekend links 648

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The Twittering Machine (1922) by Paul Klee.

• “Thinking of ‘writer Twitter’ as more important than writers themselves is an insult to the profession. People have been trading words for money for thousands of years. They will continue to do so after the death of a platform built on manufactured outrage, social hierarchy, unfunny jokes, stale memes, pornography, and spam. I mention this Atlantic essay only because it echoes what so many people are saying in the ether right now, not to pick on its author. The piece reads like a parody of how writers overestimate the importance of Twitter to their work and careers. It’s frankly a little embarrassing. Your work is the product you sell! Not the shitty jokes you tell with people you want to impress.” Freddie deBoer on the kerfuffle du jour. For “writer” see also “artist” or anyone else working at the intersection between commerce and creativity. From what I’ve read this week about potential technical problems at the pestilential birdcage I’d be less sanguine about its immediate survival. Since I retreated from the place as an active user two-and-a-half years ago all I get from it is the inflated subscriber number you see on the right-hand side of this page, a combination of Twitter followers plus email subscribers. The latter currently stand at some 270 individuals so if you’re among that number you can consider yourself part of a more exclusive group. And thanks for subscribing!

• “…the books of the past, besides adding to our understanding, offer something we also need: repose, refreshment and renewal. They help us keep going through dark times, they lift our spirits, they comfort us. Which means that I also strongly agree with the poet John Ashbery, who once wrote, ‘I am aware of the pejorative associations of the word “escapist,” but I insist that we need all the escapism we can get and even that isn’t going to be enough.'” Michael Dirda makes a case for reading classic, unusual and neglected books. Kudos for the mention of Anthony Skene‘s Monsieur Zenith, a character few of Dirda’s readers will have heard of.

• “While Haeckel’s paintings turn the floating phantoms into baroque spectacles of colour and flowing form, Mayer’s medusae are more sober, their tentacles subdued, their umbellate bells transparent.” Kevin Dann on the jellyfish and other “floating phantoms” described in AG Mayer’s Medusae of the World (1910).

• “The passing of time has added potency to the images, giving this interpretation of the Dracula story the feel of a distant fairy tale, a myth emerging from the mists of time, erupting across the world of cinema, its shadow reaching everywhere.” Martyn Bamber on 100 years of Murnau’s Nosferatu.

• At AnOther: Camille Vivier talks about shooting nude models in the treasure-filled home of HR Giger.

• New music: In Concert & In Residence by Sarah Davachi, and Anglo-Saxon Androids by Moon Wiring Club.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Kimono portraits were popular souvenirs for sailors visiting Japan in the 1800s.

• Mix of the week: Saturnalia: Deep Jazz for Long Nights, 1969–1980 at Aquarium Drunkard.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Clouds.

Dark Clouds With Silver Linings (1961) by Sun Ra | Obscured By Clouds (1972) by Pink Floyd | Firmament (Cloudscape) (1995) by Main

Weekend links 588

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Gerry Barney’s logo for British Rail. A page from the British Rail Corporate Identity Manual (1965).

• RIP Russ Kick, writer, editor, and founder of many websites/blogs such as Rare Erotica, Books Are People Too and (notoriously) the several iterations of The Memory Hole, a space dedicated to keeping visible information that successive US governments would have preferred to remain unseen. I’d known Russ remotely for many years, initially as a reviewer of the Savoy comics in Outposts. Savoy Books later helped find him a publisher for Psychotropedia: A Guide to Publications on the Periphery, a wide-ranging overview of alternative/underground print culture in the late 1990s. In 2004 his information activism gave him a fleeting taste of world-wide attention when he forced the Bush administration to make public the photos of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq. The scandal put his name on the front pages of newspapers that should have been finding those photos for themselves instead of cheerleading the war. A run of books for Disinformation presented his archival researches for the general reader, then in 2012 he edited The Graphic Canon, a massive three-volume collection of comics and illustrations based on classic works of literature. I was among the many contributors to the latter with an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and would have worked on the follow-up collection of crime stories if I hadn’t been busy with other things. I had hoped that we might work together again in the future.

• “‘The new mainstream has attempted to erase the innovations of the avant-garde from jazz history,’ the film declares.” Geeta Dayal reviews Fire Music, a documentary about the jazz innovations of the 1960s.

• I don’t have the hardware to play this but Sable is a new computer game from Raw Fury whose design owes much to the desert landscapes seen in comics by Moebius.

• New/old music: Stealing Sheep and The Radiophonic Workshop reimagine the score for René Laloux’s animated science-fiction film La Planète Sauvage.

• At Spine: Savannah Cordova on how to perfect your book cover’s typography. Having recently designed an all-type cover design this is timely.

• Mixes of the week: Isolatedmix 113 by Sunju Hargun, XLR8R Podcast 714 by Soela, and Holograficzne Widmo ze Bart De Paepe by David Colohan.

• “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Gerry Barney, designer of the British Rail logo, doesn’t like the green reworking of his design.

• Scottish lord goes blood simple: a teaser for The Tragedy of Macbeth by Joel Cohen and some bloke called William Shakespeare.

• “It’s unmanageable.” Ellen Peirson-Hagger on how the vinyl industry reached breaking point.

Macbeth (1973) by John Cale | Rail (1994) by Main | Logotone (2013) by Steve Moore

Weekend links 575

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La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1921) by George Barbier.

• “Organic Music Theatre goes beyond jazz into something else entirely—an ecstatic, openhearted melding of cultures. It is the first live recording of Don and Moki’s ‘organic music’ concept, a holistic blend of the arts and education. It is an album that everyone should own, an absolute marvel.” Geeta Dayal on Don and Moki Cherry’s Organic Music Theatre: Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon 1972.

DJ Food continues his dig into the history of London’s Middle Earth venue with an account of a Magical Mystery Tour that ended up being more mystery than magic.

The Lamp Magazine is running a Christmas Ghost Story contest with a first prize of publication in the Christmas issue of the magazine, plus $1000.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of 2021 so far. Thanks again for the link here!

• From sport to sex: Louis Staples on how the jockstrap became part of gay culture.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on the weird fiction of AE Coppard.

• “How vinyl records are trying to go green.” Trying…

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 701 by 40 Winks.

• New music: Rushes Recede by Sarah Davachi.

Lisa Gerrard‘s favourite music.

• RIP Peter Zinovieff.

Organic (1982) by Philip Glass | Core (Organic) (1995) by Main | Organic Mango (1996) by HAT

Weekend links 568

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Dragon Rising to the Heavens (1897) by Ogata Gekko.

• “Electronic music of the past is often portrayed in a dreamy, magical light—a hazy historical landscape filled with misty, otherworldly sounds. But while the music of a bygone era may seem ineffable, it is not inaccessible.” Geeta Dayal reviews Reminded by the Instruments: David Tudor’s Music by You Nakai.

• Modular Therapy: Mute Records boss Daniel Miller and former snooker champ turned kraut-psych powerhouse Steve Davis discuss their love of modular synthesisers, ill-fated Jools Holland collaborations, commandeering Elton John’s ARP 2600 and more.

• “Some contemporary art is a little bit like an intellectual game…I’m not a big fan of this kind of stuff, because I’m a musician.” Ryoji Ikeda presents: point of no return.

One of the tunnels that Turrell has completed is 854 feet long. When the moon passes overhead, its light streams down the tunnel, refracting through a six-foot-diameter lens and projecting an image of the moon onto an eight-foot-high disk of white marble below. The work is built to align most perfectly during the Major Lunar Standstill every 18.61 years. The next occurrence will be in April 2025. To calculate the alignment, Turrell worked closely with astronomers and astrophysicists. Because the universe is expanding, he must account for imperceptible changes in the geometry of the galaxy. He has designed the tunnel, like other features of the crater, to be most precise in about 2,000 years. Turrell’s friends sometimes joke that’s also when he’ll finish the project.

Wil S. Hylton on an exclusive visit to James Turrell’s astronomical art complex at Roden Crater, Arizona. Related: 147 Orbiting 1 Through 6 for 5, Music for Roden Crater by Paul Schütze (with free download of an excerpt from the 5-hour piece)

• New music: The Black Mill Tapes, Volume 5 by Pye Corner Audio, and Interreferences by Richard Chartier.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Dense pencil drawings of retro-future worlds by Yota Tsukino.

“‘I’m bursting with fiction’: Alan Moore announces five-volume fantasy epic”.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Lindsay Anderson Day.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s favourite music.

Volcano Diving (1989) by David Van Tieghem | Crater Scar (1994) by Main | Eye Of The Volcano (2006) by Stereolab

Drone month

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October is drone month. July is often drone month as well, if the heat rises to a degree that I can’t bear to listen to anything more taxing than Main, On Land, or the Paul Schütze recordings that feature thunderstorms. But October owns the drone because it also owns Halloween, as I noted in this Halloween playlist. The first entry there, Zeit by Tangerine Dream, is such a perennial favourite that it’s one of the few albums I can imagine writing about for the 33 1/3 books. But this year Zeit has been competing for haunted airtime with the Cthulhu album from Cryo Chamber, a label devoted to the darker end of the ambient spectrum, where choral throngs in colossal chambers are scoured by the katabatic winds that howl through vast subterranean chasms while Thrones of Darkness brood with Amorphous Abominations in the Illimitable Void etc etc. The Cthulhu album is the first in a series of Lovecraft-themed collaborations by Cryo Chamber artists, with each release taking a Cthulhu Mythos god as its subject. I still find this one to be the best of the series so far, not least because the character of Lovecraft’s tentacled monstrosity is more clearly defined than the other gods which lends more definition to the musical illustration. There are no separate tracks on these albums, all the pieces are mixes that cover the sides of one or more compact discs, blending the contributions of the different artists into a single work. The Cthulhu drones are suitably sub-oceanic, like Eric Holm’s Barotrauma with added cosmic horror, a suite of restless stirrings from the Thing that lies dreaming at Point Nemo. Towards the end the Thing awakens to wreak havoc upon the upstart human world, but not before we’ve heard a mutant voice daring to speak aloud the invocation from The Call of Cthulhu.

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