Weekend links 407

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Cover art by Alonso for a 1929 Spanish edition of The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde.

• Major music news of the week is the announcement, after a hiatus of nine years, of a new Jon Hassell album. Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) will be released on Hassell’s new label, Ndeya, in June. Meanwhile, Paul Schütze has a new album (also his first in a long while), The Sky Torn Apart, released at the end of this month by Glacial Movements. For those impatient for new sounds, Red Goddess (of this men shall know nothing) by Hawthonn is out now, and very good it is too.

Ghost Story (1974): a British film directed by Stephen Weeks, and starring (among others) Marianne Faithfull, Penelope Keith, Murray Melvin and (in a rare appearance) Vivian MacKerrell, the real-life model for Withnail from Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I. Also from 1974, a TV adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost starring David Niven.

Nandini Ramnath on how an Indian film distributor in London (Mehelli Modi of Second Run DVD) is helping rescue forgotten classics from obscurity.

Simon Reynolds explains why he thinks Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children is the greatest psychedelic album of the ’90s.

• At I Heart Noise: an interview with Dylan Carlson about his forthcoming solo album, Conquistador.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: David Ehrenstein presents…Donald Cammell Day.

• Photos by David Graham of Mexico City’s “gay subway”.

Circuit Des Yeux‘s favourite albums.

The Gospel of Filth: a book list.

Fountain Of Filth (1974) by Devo | The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (1995) by David Bowie | Filthy/Gorgeous (2004) by Scissor Sisters

Weekend links 368

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Piazzetta San Marco by Moonlight (no date) by Friedrich Paul Nerly.

• RIP Heathcote Williams (Guardian obit, NYT obit): poet, playwright, actor, artist, anarchist, stage magician, and no doubt many other things besides. Being a product of the counter-culture, and one of Britain’s foremost anti-establishment writers (his polemics against the Royal Family were unceasing), Williams was a regular in the early publications produced by my colleagues at Savoy Books; in fact there’s a piece by him in The Savoy Book itself. Consequently, Williams always felt like a distant relative even though we never met. Of his many film appearances, which ranged from low-budget independent productions to Hollywood junk, he was ideally cast as Prospero in Derek Jarman’s film of The Tempest, and he audaciously steals a scene from Tilda Swinton in Sally Potter’s wonderful Orlando. Elsewhere: Jeremy Harding on Williams’ run-ins with the gatekeepers, and Why D’Ya Do It?, a song by Marianne Faithfull with lyrics by Williams.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 226 by Chihei Hatakeyama, and SydArthur Festival 2: Summer of Love Edition by Head Heritage.

Geeta Dayal on composer and musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry whose death was also announced this week.

Jonathan Meades reviews Vinyl.Album.Cover.Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue by Aubrey Powell.

• “Brutal! Vulgar! Dirty!” Polly Stenham on Mae West and the gay comedy that shocked 1920s America.

Hannah Devlin on religious leaders getting high on psilocybin for science.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…In Transit (1969) by Brigid Brophy.

• At Bibliothèque Gay: Matelots (1935) by Gregorio Prieto.

SD Sykes on reconsidering Venice, crumbling city.

Letters and Liquor

This Ain’t The Summer Of Love (1976) by Blue Öyster Cult | Orlando (1996) by Trans Am | Transit (2004) by Fennesz

Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon

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Nigel Finch was a key member of the team of producers and directors working on the BBC’s Arena arts documentaries throughout their golden run during the 1980s and 1990s. The films he directed himself—among them studies of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography, and a history of the Chelsea Hotel in New York—gave him an opportunity to push some gay content into the TV schedules at a time when Britain’s gay population were seen as enough of a public threat to be legislated against. Some of that proselytising impulse can be found in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (1991), an hour-long documentary which alternates the life and work of the filmmaker with readings and enactments of the lurid episodes recounted in Anger’s scandal anthologies, Hollywood Babylon and Hollywood Babylon II. Finch at one point asks whether Fireworks, the first film in Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle, should be regarded as a pioneering piece of gay cinema; Anger’s says he’s happy if people take it that way but says little else about its evident homoerotic atmosphere. He remains as resistant to identity politics as he’s always been. (See the unauthorised biography by Bill Landis for details.)

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Between the readings and interview sections Finch shows Anger being chauffeured around Beverly Hills in a hearse which stops occasionally at some locus of bygone scandal. Most of the Anger anecdotes are familiar ones from subsequent interviews but there is a bonus for Angerphiles with the appearance at the end of Marianne Faithfull who talks a little about their relationship before singing Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. The picture quality of this YouTube copy could be better but it’s watchable enough.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Lucifer Rising posters
Externsteine panoramas
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

Externsteine panoramas

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Lucifer Rising (1973).

The first time I saw Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising (1983, at a film club) I recognised all the ancient monuments apart from the peculiar group of rocks where we see a line of robed and cowled torchbearers ascending a stairway at night. These shots are intercut with a caped Marianne Faithfull making the same ascent in daytime until she reaches an alcove where she’s given a vision of an Egyptian sunset. It took a few more years to discover the location was the Externsteine rock formation in northwest Germany, one of those singular outcrops which—like Glastonbury Tor—was a focus of pagan ritual before being co-opted by the Christian church.

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Photo by Markus Krueger.

360cities.net has a number of panoramic views of the area, the best being the one above which shows Marianne’s alcove as well as allowing views of the surrounding countryside. Photos such as the one below are far more common. While these give some idea of the unusual nature of the site they don’t show just how isolated the rocks are. For an older view, the Library of Congress has this Photocrom print.

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Photo by Wilfried Pinsdorf.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The panoramas archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Kenneth Anger on DVD again

Derek Jarman’s music videos

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Duggie Fields in It’s A Sin

A hidden Derek Jarman film lies scattered among a handful of music videos from the 1980s, something you can pretend you’re seeing flashes of in the promo shorts the director was making whilst trying to raise money for his last few feature films. A recent re-watch of Caravaggio reminded me of these, recalling a remark Jarman made that his video for the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin was the first time anyone allowed him to use 35mm film. Among other things, that promo features artist Duggie Fields with a gilded face, one of a number of little in-jokes that Jarman aficionados can retrieve from these shorts. Running through them in sequence you get a skate through familiar visuals, from the masks and mirrors flashed into the camera in Broken English, to the Super-8 fast-forwards of The Smiths and Easterhouse films, with plenty of flowers and ritual fires along the way.

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Broken English

This isn’t a complete list since not everything is on YouTube. Even if it were I wouldn’t link to anything by the wretched Bob Geldof for whom Jarman made two promos. Needless to say some are more sympathetic to Jarman’s obsessions than others: Marianne Faithfull’s film is a fascinating short that provides a link via the singer between Jarman and Kenneth Anger. The Bryan Ferry film, on the other hand, is a bland piece for a bland song. Suede and The Smiths seemed to have let Derek do what he liked. Well done, boys.

Broken English (1979) by Marianne Faithfull (featuring Witches’ Song, The Ballad of Lucy Jordan and Broken English).

Dance With Me (1983) by The Lords of the New Church.

Willow Weep For Me (1983) by Carmel.

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Broken English

Dance Hall Days (1983) by Wang Chung.

Tenderness Is A Weakness (1984) by Marc Almond.

Windswept (1985) by Bryan Ferry.

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The Queen Is Dead

Panic (1986) by The Smiths.

Ask (1986) by The Smiths.

The Queen Is Dead (1986) by The Smiths | Long version

1969 (1986) by Easterhouse.

Whistling In The Dark (1986) by Easterhouse.

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So Young

It’s A Sin (1987) by the Pet Shop Boys.

Rent (1987) by the Pet Shop Boys.

So Young (1993) by Suede.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Derek Jarman’s Neutron
Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee
The Tempest illustrated
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman at the Serpentine
The Angelic Conversation
The life and work of Derek Jarman