Weekend links 653

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The Snow Queen (1916) by Harry Clarke.

• “…blogging remains my favourite format precisely because the writing so rarely feels like labour. Liberated from the need to pitch an idea or wield credentials, blogging—for a professional writer—frees you up to address topics outside your perceived expertise. It feels like a leisure activity because it’s leisurely—a ramble across fields of culture and knowledge, during which you sneak short cuts and trespass into areas you are not meant to go. A post doesn’t have to have a destination, a point. You can bundle or concatenate several different topics, push into adjacency things that don’t obviously or naturally belong together—like oddments inside a Cornell box. You can start somewhere and end up somewhere completely different, without any obligation to tie things up neatly.” Simon Reynolds reflecting on 20 years of the blogging thing, and neatly summarising the attractions of the medium. For some of us, anyway…

• At Smithsonian Magazine: “Structural colour was first documented in the 17th century, in peacock feathers, but it is only since the invention of the electron microscope, in the 1930s, that we have known how it works.” Tomas Weber on Andrew Parker’s nanotechnology developments which are creating some of the brightest hues in the world.

• “Bring back the Cailleach, beloved Scottish goddess of winter, shaking out the snow on the land. Bring back Mother Holda, with her wild geese and her snowflakes landing on the tongue like a gift from the sky…” Yvonne Aburrow would like to see the festival of Yule returned to its anarchic origins.

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, an extract from a recent audience-less concert by Ryuichi Sakamoto which he says is liable to be his last.

• At Unquiet Things: S. Elizabeth posts some of the pictures that couldn’t be fitted into The Art of Darkness.

• Mix of the week: A Tribute to Manuel Göttsching by Low Light Mixes.

• It’s the end of December so it must be time for Alan Bennett’s diary.

• RIP Mike Hodges.

Vale Berfrois.

Snow (1985) by Takashi Toyoda | Snowfall (2000) by Haruomi Hosono | Snowfall (2005) by Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd

A.R.T. art

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Some Manuel Göttsching-related graphic ephemera. This 1971 flyer for Ash Ra Tempel seems to be a rare item, the only place I’ve seen it being inside one of the inserts for The Private Tapes, a series of six CDs limited to 1000 copies each that Manuel Göttsching released in 1996. I was lucky to buy these when they were first released. A double-disc selection from the series followed two years later but neither this nor the rest of the set have been reissued since, despite containing a wealth of previously unreleased recordings from Göttsching’s archives, including many live concert recordings of Ash Ra Tempel. The flyer was the work of Bernhard Bendig who also drew the sleeve art for the group’s first two albums.

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Not as scarce, but not very visible either, is this painting of another somewhat wonky temple by P. Praquin for a 1975 reissue of two Ash Ra Tempel albums: Inventions For Electric Guitar (which isn’t really ART), and Seven Up, the ramshackle studio jam which is mostly spoiled by the bellowings of Timothy Leary and friends. Discover Cosmic was a short-lived series of double-disc reissues of albums originally released on Cosmic Music, an imprint of Barclay Records that repackaged releases from Ohr and Kosmische Musik for the French market. There were three volumes of Discover Cosmic, the other two showcasing Popol Vuh and “The Klaus Schulze Sessions”, this being the first Cosmic Jokers album plus Join Inn by Ash Ra Tempel. The mysterious P. Praquin was responsible for all three cover paintings of which this is the best, wonky or not, a variation on the church-as-spaceship idea that may have been borrowed from the Roger Dean cover for Space Hymns by Ramases. This is one of those graphic contrivances that I usually expect to find repeated elsewhere, although to date the only other example I’ve seen was a Viennese museum poster. But there are more than enough churches that resemble spaceships to give people ideas, especially recent constructions like the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. If you know of any other steeples blasting off then please leave a comment.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Manuel Göttsching, 1952–2022
The kosmische design of Peter Geitner
Raising the roof

Manuel Göttsching, 1952–2022

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Cover design for the French release by Peter Butschkow.

Another post about the recently deceased; my apologies. In an unhappy coincidence, Angelo Badalamenti’s death was also announced today. 2022 has been one of those years when you wish the good people could stick around for a while longer.

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upper left: Ash Ra Tempel (1971) by Ash Ra Tempel; upper right: Inventions For Electric Guitar (1975) by Ash Ra Tempel/Manuel Göttsching; lower left: New Age Of Earth (1976) by Ashra; lower right: E2–E4 (1984) by Manuel Göttsching.

If I had to make a choice, these discs are my four favourite Göttsching-related releases, although I’m partial to just about everything he was involved with, whether under his own name, in Ash Ra Tempel, Ashra or The Cosmic Jokers, the fake group concocted by Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser. The Ash Ra Tempel debut is a power trio on a Kosmische voyage, and remarkably assured considering that two of the players were still in their teens. Inventions For Electric Guitar is really Göttsching’s first solo album, a demonstration that you could create music that sounded “electronic” (in the Tangerine Dream sense) with nothing more than an overdubbed guitar, an echo unit and a four-track recorder. As for New Age Of Earth, if you can look past the hippyish title you’ll find one of the finest synthesizer albums of the decade, one that just happens to be made by a guitarist. E2–E4 is the album that took these explorations further while also predicting future developments. There was nothing else like it in the mid-1980s. The techno-heads who contribute to its inflated reputation only ever listen to vinyl but on CD it’s a single piece of music that runs for 59 minutes.

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Attention from those techno-heads has ensured that there’s a lot of live footage of Göttsching’s Ashra line-ups in later years. There’s very little from the 1970s or 80s, unfortunately, but Göttsching, Lutz Ulbrich and Harald Grosskopf did make this appearance on Musical Express for Spain’s Televisión Española in 1981. This was the same programme that filmed Vangelis improvising in his studio, embracing opportunities missed by the BBC. ¡Gracias!

• “Manuel Göttsching laid the groundwork for generations of electronic musicians,” says Brian Coney.
• From 2017: “Everything was in the moment.” Manuel Göttsching discussing his career with Robert Barry.

Weekend links 619

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A Moog on the Moon by P. Praquin, 1977. And a space helmet reflection to add to the list being accumulated by 70s Sci-Fi Art.

• RIP Klaus “Quadro” Schulze. I’ve owned many of his solo albums over the years, and while they’re historically important for the part they played in developing the kosmische sound in the 1970s I’ve never been very enthusiastic about the music. The albums I prefer are the ones where he was working with others, whether as a drummer in Ash Ra Tempel, an inadvertent member of the fake Cosmic Jokers supergroup, or part of the genuine Cosmic Couriers supergroup that made Tarot. The Tonwelle album credited to “Richard Wahnfried” benefits considerably from the presence of Manuel Göttsching and Michael Schrieve (also a rumoured Carlos Santana); I recommend it. For a taste of the synth-doodling Schulze, here he is in analogue heaven.

• Next month, Luminous Procuress, a film by Steven Arnold (previously), is released for the first time on blu-ray by Second Run: “Exploding out of San Francisco’s vibrant late-60s counter-culture, Luminous Procuress is a psychedelic odyssey of unabashed hedonism. The only feature film by artist, mystic and polymath Steven Arnold, the film celebrates gender-fluidity and pan-sexuality in a voyeuristic phantasmagorical journey towards spiritual ecstasy.”

• “Whereas [Bernard] Herrmann worked predominantly with strings and [John] Carpenter with synths, Anderson wanted to evoke a similar atmosphere with guitars.” Greg “The Lord” Anderson talks to Dan Franklin about making an album of night music.

I am troubled by how often people talk about likability when they talk about art.

I am troubled by how often our protagonists are supposed to live impeccable, sin-free lives, extolling the right virtues in the right order—when we, the audience, do not and never have, no matter what we perform for those around us.

I am troubled by the word “problematic,” mostly because of how fundamentally undescriptive it is. Tell me that something is xenophobic, condescending, clichéd, unspeakably stupid, or some other constellation of descriptors. Then I will decide whether I agree, based on the intersection of that thing with my particular set of values and aesthetics. But by saying it is problematic you are saying that it constitutes or presents a problem, to which my first instinct is to reply: I hope so.

Art is the realm of the problem. Art chews on problems, turns them over, examines them, breaks them open, breaks us open against them. Art contains a myriad of problems, dislocations, uncertainties. Doesn’t it? If not, then what?

Jen Silverman on the new moralisers

• “The website is colorful and anarchic, evoking the chaotic sensory experience of exploring a crammed, dusty shop.” Geeta Dayal explores the Syrian Cassette Archives.

• New music: The Last One, 1970 by Les Rallizes Dénudés; Untitled 3 by Final; Blinking In Time (full version) by Scanner.

• Why was erotic art so popular in ancient Pompeii? Meilan Solly investigates.

• You’ve been reframed: Anne Billson explores the history of split-screen cinema.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Japanese era names illustrated as logos.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 745 by Wilted Woman.

Fun type

Split, Pt. 4 (1971) by The Groundhogs | Split Second Feeling (1981) by Cabaret Voltaire | Splitting The Atom (2010) by Massive Attack

Weekend links 470

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A rail station in ruins by Tokyo Genso. From a series of views of Tokyo showing a ruined and abandoned city.

• Old music technology of the week: The EKO ComputeRhythm, a programmable drum machine from 1972 used by Chris Franke (who didn’t like the sounds so he used it to trigger other instruments), Manuel Göttsching (the rhythms on New Age Of Earth), and Jean-Michel Jarre (on Equinoxe); and Yuri Suzuki‘s digital reconstruction of Raymond Scott’s Electronium.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Ishmael Reed Mumbo Jumbo (1972), and DC’s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of the year so far. Thanks again for the link here!

• “Pauline told her to shove her shyckle up her khyber.” Philip Hensher on the origins and revival of Polari, the secret gay argot. Related: a Polari word list, plus other links.

In Star, Mishima fuses his major theme of the mask, the public role all humans are destined to play out, with the theme of suicide, an act which Mishima considered a work of art. All of his work is punctuated by suicide, and it is peopled with masks, with people knowing they are nothing but masks, who are aware that the center doesn’t hold because there is no center, that character is a flowing fixture, a paradoxical constancy and a definite variable, always.

Jan Wilm on Star, a novella by Yukio Mishima receiving its first publication in English

• “How have these places managed to transform from monuments to atrocity and resistance into concrete clickbait?” Owen Hatherley on the popularity of spomeniks.

• The late George Craig on translating the scrawl of Samuel Beckett’s letters (written in French) into coherent English.

• Outsider Literature, Part 1: a Wormwoodiana guide by RB Russell.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 291 by Arturas Bumsteinas.

Symbiose, a split album by Prana Crafter and Tarotplane.

Robby Müller’s Polaroids

Apollo 11 in Real-time

Tokyo Shyness Boy (1976) by Haruomi Hosono | Tokyo (1979) by Jean-Claude Eloy | Tokyosaka Train (2002) by Funki Porcini