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

Weekend links 351

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Herald on Griffin (1516-1518) from The Triumphal Procession of Emperor Maximilian I series by Hans Burgkmair the Elder.

• My design and illustration work for Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling continues to gain favourable comments, a novelty when reviewers often pass over the visual component of the books under their consideration. One of the most recent examples is in the latest edition of Locus Magazine; this can only be read in full by subscribers but the Tachyon Tumblr has an extract.

Paul La Farge on the complicated friendship of HP Lovecraft and Robert Barlow. Related: The Night Ocean, a short story by Barlow & Lovecraft. Meanwhile, Lovecraft enthusiasts are still raising money for a Providence statue (spot my art and design work in the photo of the Lovecraft Art and Sciences Council).

• At The Quietus this week: Children Of Alice talk to Patrick Clarke about audio collage and English Surrealism, Lottie Brazier enters The Strange World of Annette Peacock, and Manuel Göttsching tells Robert Barry how Ash Ra Tempel became the loudest band in Berlin.

• “Mind the doors!” Eight reviewers pick ten films featuring the London Underground. Not a bad list but choosing a Doctor Who film while ignoring the great Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is an error.

• Mixes of the week: Swedenborgian Hobos by acephale, Secret Thirteen Mix 214 by Fabio Perletta, and a mix for NTS by Six Organs Of Admittance.

• More Surrealism: Leonor Fini, Surrealist Sorceress, a lecture by Dr Sabina Stent, will take place at Treadwell’s Bookshop, London, on 19th May.

• “Michael Chapman’s road-weary guitar resonates with a new generation,” says Joel Rose.

A Journey Round my Room (1794), a book by Xavier de Maistre.

Lyrical Nitrate (1991), a film by Peter Delpeut.

The Sorcerer (1967) by Miles Davis | Impressions Of Sorcerer (1977) by Tangerine Dream | Venom Sorcerer (2014) by Cultural Apparati

Weekend links 287

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Cover by Valentine Hugo for Contes Bizarres (1933) by Achim d’Arnim. See Hugo’s interior illustrations here.

• “In spite of the blood-drinking pursuits of Rollin’s protagonists, there’s very little in the way of body horror to be found. His undead are sensual, romantic creatures that are frequently delicate of mind and body. These movies attempt to evoke nuanced emotional responses with their mixture of romance, loss, eroticism, and tragedy.” Tenebrous Kate on Sex, Death, and the Psychedelic Madness of Jean Rollin.

• “Late at night, [Melville] ‘turned flukes’ down Oxford Street as if he were being followed by a great whale, and thought he saw ‘blubber rooms’ in the butcheries of the Fleet Market.” Philip Hoare on Herman Melville’s time in London.

Haunted by Books, a new collection of writings by Mark Valentine, “explores the more curious byways of literature.” Full details at the home of the esoteric, Tartarus Press.

I am completely an elitist, in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense. I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness. I love the spectacle of skill, whether it’s an expert gardener at work, or a good carpenter chopping dovetails, or someone tying a Bimini hitch that won’t slip.

Art critic Robert Hughes quoted in a review by Siri Hustvedt of The Spectacle of Skill: Selected Writings of Robert Hughes

• “Art, art – I couldn’t give a crap about art.” Oscar Wilde’s nephew, Arthur Cravan, puts in another appearance at Strange Flowers.

• “The Tarot is utterly fascinating,” says Evan J. Peterson discussing his Tarot-inspired writing with Tarot Poetry.

Manuel Göttsching: “A lot of crazy music happened at the end of the ’60s, very strange, and very curious…”

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 169 by Chra, and 28th November 2015 by The Séance.

Czech Artists’ Radical Book Designs of the Early 20th Century

• Ten things you might not know about Yayoi Kusama.

• More megaliths: Francis Pryor on ritual landscapes.

Peaches gets wild in the desert: Rub (uncensored).

Irmin Schmidt‘s favourite records (this week)

Mount Etna erupts

Rituals (1981) by Bush Tetras | Ballet For A Blue Whale (1983) by Adrian Belew | Etna (2006) by Boris & Sunn O)))

Opening the Seven Gates of Transcendental Consciousness

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Wilburn Burchette Opens The Seven Gates Of Transcendental Consciousness (1972). Art by Caren Caraway.

For the next two weeks I’ll be playing out the end of the year with a 2-CD compilation from Light In The Attic, I Am The Center (Private Issue New Age Music In America, 1950–1990), 20 tracks of ambient/meditation music, most of which has never been widely distributed before. The “New Age” label is a thing I’ve loathed for years so buying this has meant trashing a decades-long embargo; it helps to examine your prejudices now and then.

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New Age in the 1970s referred, among other things, to the oft-promised, seldom-evident “Age of Aquarius”, a term vague enough to be used on albums by Steve Hillage, Manuel Göttsching and others without referring to anything specific. In the 1980s it was taken up by publishers as a marketing label, a catch-all for anything “spiritual” or mildly occult. (I can’t imagine the Goetic Demons ever being called New Age, even if you sprayed them pink.) Out went all the witchy strangeness of the occult boom of the 1970s—spiky typefaces, magical primers sold like Dennis Wheatley novels—in came a profusion of pastel shades, airbrushed pyramids and sparkly, crystal things. Having a fondness for the witchy strangeness I wasn’t impressed. I was even less impressed when New Age became a prevalent label for a style of instrumental music which was too obtrusive to be ambient (in the Brian Eno sense of the word), and also too bland and unassertive to be either jazz or electronica. The popularity of labels such as Windham Hill meant that the large record chains started using New Age as another catch-all label, this time for anything that wouldn’t fit the rock, jazz or folk categories: along with Windham Hill releases you’d find Eno’s ambient recordings, Harold Budd, Jon Hassell, various Krautrock things like Cluster, and anything else that resisted easy labelling. The way the music business tries to hammer everything into a small number of boxes has always been annoying but this seemed like a major insult, hence my loathing of the term.

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I Am The Center is a curious album in that it embraces both the recent New Age music label whilst also harking back to the spiritual yearnings of the 1970s. The general effect is of an impossible collision between the Harold Budd of Pavilion of Dreams, Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick, and the lighter moments of Alice Coltrane. Many of the tracks are so good I’ve been searching through Discogs.com to discover more about the artists which is how I came across this album art from Wilburne Burchette. Witch’s Will is Burchette’s track on I Am The Center, from his Guitar Grimoire (1973) album. Looking through his discography, with its attention-grabbing titles and cover art, it’s surprising that his albums haven’t yet been reissued. This will no doubt change soon, especially when his music is like an American equivalent of Achim Reichel’s spacey guitar improvisations. The sleeve and booklet art for Wilburn Burchette Opens The Seven Gates Of Transcendental Consciousness is by Caren Caraway, and the album also features notes by the indefatigable UFO/paranormal researcher Brad Steiger. They really don’t make them like this any more.

Joe Muggs enthused about I Am The Center last month for FACT. As I said about the Outer Church album earlier this year, compilations provide an invaluable service in concentrating the attention on overlooked or under-examined areas of music. I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges in the wake of this one.

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