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

Allegro Non Troppo

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Having watched Disney’s Fantasia (1940) recently, I had to search out this as a palliative. There’s a lot I like about the Disney film but the explanatory interludes for the Great Unwashed are tiresome, I’ve always loathed Mickey Mouse’s voice (although the Sorceror’s Apprentice sequence is fine), and, for a film that aspired to artistic seriousness, the Pastoral Symphony episode has all the aesthetic gravitas of a packet of fizzy sweets.

Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro Non Troppo (1976) was a feature-length animated riposte to Disney’s pretensions. The concept is identical—well-known pieces of classical music illustrated by animation—but in place of inadvertent vulgarity there’s a heavy helping of deliberately crude behaviour. Bozzetto replaces the coyness of the Pastoral Symphony with the erotic melancholy of an ageing satyr set to Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. The laboured explanations of Fantasia become a series of live-action slapstick moments supposedly featuring the animator, conductor, and members of the orchestra, all of which explain nothing at all.

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The one thing everyone remembers from Allegro Non Troppo is the Bolero sequence in which Bozzetto satirises Fantasia‘s evolutionary Rite of Spring. A departing spacecraft leaves a Coke bottle on the surface of a planet. The dregs left in the bottle give birth to a slime creature which crawls away and evolves along with Ravel’s music into a train of animals marching (and eating each other) across a treacherous landscape. The animation may lack Disney’s technical finesse but it’s a lot more memorable than his cartoon dinosaurs. Watch the whole sequence here.

Dorothea Tanning: Early Designs for the Stage

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Monstre from The Witch (1950).

If this squid-headed costume design by Surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning isn’t a unique creation in the history of ballet then I’d like to know what challenges it. These paintings form part of an exhibition of Tanning’s designs for ballet companies which go on display at The Drawing Center, New York from April 23–July 23, 2010. The press release mentions her collaborations as being with George Balanchine but The Witch was choreographed by John Cranko after a score by Maurice Ravel.

Dating from 1945–1953, the designs will be shown together for the first time, and will be accompanied by archival photographs and ephemera related to the staged productions.  This series explores the dynamic intersections of dance, performance, visual art, and costume, while drawing important parallels to Tanning’s early discoveries in both painting and sculpture. (More.)

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The Butlers from The Witch (1950).

Via BibliOdyssey.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism
Surrealist women

Autobahn animated

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The Düsseldorf maestros are treated to some animated illustration in this 1979 film by Roger Mainwood which takes Kraftwerk’s Autobahn as its soundtrack. Mark at Strange Attractor provided the tip and he compares the animation style to René Laloux and Roland Topor’s Fantastic Planet (1973). The purple humanoid floating through surreal landscapes is certainly reminiscent of Laloux’s film, but Autobahn also reminds me of Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro non troppo (1977) and, given that Mainwood’s animation comes a couple of years later, it may well have been inspired by it. Bozzetto’s film is a feature-length “adult” response to Walt Disney’s Fantasia which takes the Fantasia format—well-known classical themes illustrated by animated sequences—but does so in a slightly more grotesque or risqué fashion. Much of Bozzetto’s film seems less daring today than it was in 1977 but the best sequence still works well and happens to be as science fictional as Mainwood’s Autobahn, an entire cycle of planetary evolution set to Ravel’s Bolero. Follow the links below.

• Roger Mainwood’s Autobahn pt. 1 | pt. 2
Ravel’s Bolero from Allegro non troppo

Previously on { feuilleton }
Sleeve craft
Who designed Vertigo #6360 620?
Old music and old technology
Aerodynamik by Kraftwerk
The genius of Kraftwerk

The Fabulous Fifties

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Okay, so it’s not all Fifties’ design—the Moog album is from 1974—but these are more choice Flickr postings from a set devoted to album sleeves of the Easy Listening variety. Much of the music would no doubt erode my patience very quickly but there’s some nice (uncredited) design work going on. Viva! Percussion! has a distinct Saul Bass quality while The Sound of Chris Cross looks like something from the Designers Republic 20 years before its time. The Bolero album I picked solely out of shameless nostalgia. My mother used to have this among her collection of light classical albums and I’d completely forgotten about it until today. This recording would have been the first I heard of any of Ravel’s works. My sister and I used to find the cover slightly rude due to the red points on the ends of the model’s steel brassiere.

Lots more great sets at the same Flickr account; go and lose yourself. Thanks to Thom for the tip!

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Exotica!