Weekend links 506

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• The late David Roback was a musician who would have been called “enigmatic” for his refusal of the interview treadmill, preferring instead to let his music speak for itself. I wouldn’t label myself a “fan” (a word I dislike at the best of times) but over the years I’ve collected just about everything that Roback was involved in, from the early Rain Parade albums (he co-wrote my favourite song of theirs, No Easy Way Down), to Opal (his collaboration with Kendra Smith and others), and Mazzy Star (with Hope Sandoval), the group whose songs perfected the somnolent blend of blues, country and rock that Roback had been aiming at all along. Some concerts:

Mazzy Star, The Black Sessions, Maison De La Radio, Paris, October 25, 1993
Mazzy Star at the The Metro, Chicago, November 12, 1994
Mazzy Star, KROQ Radio, Los Angeles, December 10, 1994

• “Like other early-modern architects, Lequeu’s drawings explore analogies between bodies and buildings and the erotic, multisensory dimensions of architectural design. In his annotations, he often describes in compulsive detail not only how buildings look but also how they feel, smell, and even taste.” Meredith Martin on the architecture of Jean-Jacques Lequeu.

• “She talks avidly about using pigs’ heads, plastic doll parts, fake blood, and real blood, recollecting with relish a performance where she transformed into a Statue of Liberty that projectile-vomited gore onto the audience…” Geeta Dayal on the performance art of Johanna Went.

Schütte teases out the many ambiguities in these concepts: trains, autobahns, radioactivity, men-machines. All have distinct negative connotations within Germany in particular. Yet Kraftwerk proposed a positive view. Their rigorous determination to deny autobiography forced listeners to focus on the ideas and the music, where apparent contradictions—local/global,  human/machine, past/future—were resolved in a sparkling, crystal-clear sound-world. This was not submission but interaction: as they said, “we are playing the machines, the machines play us”.

Jon Savage reviews Kraftwerk by Uwe Schütte

• “…it was clear that Miles wasn’t sure what he wanted…but he knew what he didn’t want. He didn’t want anything like what he had done before.” John McLaughlin on the recording of Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.

• “His panels are littered with figures standing on the edge of crowds, watching.” Toby Ferris on the paintings of Pieter Bruegel.

Alex Barrett on 100 years of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

A Boy Called Conjuror by Teleplasmiste.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Fires.

Smithsonian Open Access

• Picture P. Brueghel “Winter” / Solaris (1972) by Edward Artemyev | The Dream Dance Of Jane And The Somnambulist (1981) by Bill Nelson | St. Elmo’s Fire (1998) by Uilab

Weekend links 431

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Postcard collage by Alex Eckman-Lawn.

• “He deserves to be a major figure not only in the history of Japanese music, but in popular music writ large.” Geeta Dayal on Haruomi Hosono, a musician whose solo albums from the 1970s are reissued this month by Light In The Attic.

Erica X Eisen reviews Black Light: Secret Traditions in Art since the 1950s, an exhibition of occult art at the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre. Related: Gary Lachman‘s talk from the same exhibition.

• Mixes of the week: Jesús Bacalão’s Light Entertainment Programme 2, Secret Thirteen Mix 265 by Alexander Tucker, and FACT Mix 672 by Rian Treanor.

Whenever horror is criticised, it is criticised for staging a dark carnival of physicality. Perhaps the only sort of media we moralise more than we do horror is that other mainliner of bodily response, pornography.

Horror’s historical ghettoisation has meant that weightier, smarter horror reliably gets labelled as something else. The finest films of our current golden age have been dubbed “elevated horror” and “post-horror”. In literary circles, works of horror seen as sufficiently cerebral get relabelled “Gothic”. It’s certainly true that great horror is always about more than gore. But we should be careful not to gentrify the genre by cleansing it of everything but the philosophy.

MM Owen on the perennial attractions of a perennially despised genre

• “Netflix is a woeful service,” says Jeremy Allen who prefers DVD/Blu-ray to streaming video (as do I). Related: The problem with film aspect ratio on Netflix.

• The Thought Gang album, a Twin Peaks-related collaboration between David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti from 1993, will be released next month.

Tangerine Dream: Sound From Another World: a TV documentary from 2016. In German but with auto-translated subtitles.

The Thing’s Incredible! The Secret Origins of Weird Tales by John Locke.

Haute Macabre Staff Favorites: Tarot Decks

First Light (1980) by Harold Budd & Brian Eno | Blue Light (1993) by Mazzy Star | Black Light (1994) by Material

Weekend links 267

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Black Fever (2010) by Polly Morgan.

• “She was something of an Auntie Mame figure for me. We spent years haunting secondhand bookstores in Berkeley, Los Angeles, and New York, talking for hours over ever more bizarre dishes of Chinese Hakka cuisine in a hole-in-the-wall eatery at Stockton and Broadway in San Francisco, watching Kenneth Anger flicks and the surrealistic stop-motion puppet masterpieces of Ladislas Starevich, which Tom Luddy would screen for us at the Pacific Film Archive, over and over again until our eyeballs nearly fell out.” Steve Wasserman remembers Susan Sontag.

California Dreams is “the first career-spanning compendium of Mouse’s work; it includes his recent landscapes and figurative paintings. Taken as a whole, the work is a weird, gilded, space-age, flame-licked way to chart the rise of late-twentieth-century youth culture”. Jeffery Gleaves on the psychedelic art of Stanley Mouse.

• “Not only does moral preoccupation corrupt the artfulness of fiction, but fiction is an inefficient and insincere vehicle for moralizing,” says Alice Gregory, joining Pankaj Mishra to address the question: “Do Moralists Make Bad Novelists?”

Nabokov’s posthumously published Lectures on Literature reprints a corny magazine ad that Nabokov liked to show to his students at Cornell, as an example of a certain kind of sunny American materialism and kitsch (or poshlost, in Russian): it’s an ad for flatware featuring a young housewife, hands clasped, eyes brimming as she contemplates a place setting. Nabokov titled it “Adoration of Spoons,” and it undoubtedly played a significant role in his creation of the suburban widow Charlotte Haze. From such strangely endearing trash was a masterpiece born.

John Colapinto reviewing Nabokov in America by Robert Roper

• “How many typefaces is too many typefaces?” asks Adrian Shaughnessy. “What happens to our ability to discriminate and exercise good judgment when we have a near-infinite number of possibilities?”

• At BUTT: a clip from one of the more dreamlike scenes in Wakefield Poole’s gay porn film, Bijou (1972). Poole’s “sensual memoir”, Dirty Poole, is published by Lethe Press.

John Banville reviews The Prince of Minor Writers, selected essays of Max Beerbohm edited by Phillip Lopate.

• My thanks once again to Dennis Cooper for featuring this blog on his list of cultural favourites.

• More Moogery: Sarah Angliss, Gazelle Twin and Free School in the Moog Sound Lab.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 394 by Francesca Lombardo.

Atlas Obscura gets to grips with the enormous Devil’s Bible.

Feel You, a new song by Julia Holter.

Spoonful (1960) by Howlin’ Wolf | Spoon (1972) by Can | Spoon (2013) by Mazzy Star

Weekend links 188

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The Baron in the Trees (2011), a book-cut sculpture by Su Blackwell.

Kurt Andersen at Vanity Fair examines the latest claims that Vermeer used a combination of lenses and mirrors to aid the creation of his remarkable paintings. David Hockney caused a considerable fuss in 2006 when he made similar assertions. Andersen recounts how Tim Jenison (who isn’t an artist) decided to test the hypothesis by building a replica of the room from Vermeer’s The Music Lesson (1662–65) which he then painted with the assistance of a lens-and-mirror apparatus. I’m agnostic on this issue, and don’t regard it as a devaluing of the work of Vermeer (or any other artist) if some special apparatus was used to help create the paintings; artists for centuries have been using whatever technology was available.

One point which isn’t mentioned in the article: lens optics were being developed to a high standard in the Netherlands during Vermeer’s time. One of the developers of the microscope, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, was a contemporary of Vermeer’s in Delft, and is even alleged to be portrayed in some of the artist’s paintings.

• Before Alfred Hitchcock’s film and Daphne Du Maurier’s short story, The Birds was an “eerie yet satirical and rather metaphysical novel” by Frank Baker, inspired in part by Arthur Machen. Michael Dirda reviews a new edition. Related: “The Day of the Claw: A Synoptic Account of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds“, an essay by Ken Mogg examining avian menace through the ages.

Kevin Brownlow and Carl Davis on how they brought Abel Gance’s 270-minute silent masterwork, Napoleon (1927), back to the screen.

Finally, he was asked about the growth of surveillance and the militarization of the police.

“The phenomenon itself shouldn’t be surprising—the scale was surprising—but the phenomenon itself is as American as apple pie,” Chomsky said. “You can be confident that any system of power is going to use technology against its enemy: the population. Power systems seek short-term domination and control, not security.”

Matthew Robare on “American Anarchist” Noam Chomsky in (of all places) The American Conservative.

• “Why the hell wouldn’t I?” Evan J. Peterson on reading/performing his poetry in public, and his new book, The Midnight Channel.

The adversaria of Google Books: captured mark of the hand and digitization as rephotography.

• No surprise that the rabies-haunted town of Scarfolk is soon to have its history fixed in print.

Mazzy Star made a rare TV appearance last week, playing a song from their recent album.

The Sorcerer Blog is obsessively devoted to William Friedkin’s cult film.

• Unexpected Artefacts: Pushing the envelope with Bristol’s Emptyset.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 097 by Lee Gamble.

• At PingMag: Ryokudo—Tokyo’s Green Roads.

Norman Records’ Top 50 albums of 2013.

Birds Of Fire (1973) by Mahavishnu Orchestra | Attack Of The Killer Birds (2006) by Émilie Simon | One Thousand Birds (2012) by Six Organs of Admittance

Weekend links 169

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Cover illustration by Gray Morrow, 1967. One of the less exploitative examples from a collection of hippy book covers.

• Ten Photographs by Alain Resnais: Mise en scène of Memory, Aesthetics of Silence by Ehsan Khoshbakht. In the comments to that post someone shows an old Penguin book with cover photos by Chris Marker. This confirms that the “C. Marker” whose name I found on the back of another Penguin book was indeed Monsieur Chat.

• There’s more (there’s always more…): Cornelius Castoriadis interviewed by Chris Marker in 1989, the complete footage of an interview edited down for Marker’s TV series L’héritage de la chouette (The Owl’s Legacy). Watch the series itself at YouTube.

• “A generation of innovators want to change the way we have sex and consume porn, but Google, Apple, and Amazon won’t let them,” says Andrea Garcia-Vargas. Related: Sam Biddle on how Tumblr is pushing porn into an internet sex ghetto.

• Mix of the week: the Chop Quietus Mix, “a jagged journey all the way from Broadcast to the uneasy thrum of Suicide, kosmische flavours from Popol Vuh and Cluster, Alexander Robotnik and many more.”

Strange Flowers looked back at The Student of Prague: “the first art film, the first horror film and the first auteur film”, and now a century old.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins talked to animator Barry Purves about the pleasures and difficulties of creating animated films for adults.

• Mazzy Star released a song, California, from their new album which arrives in September. Can’t wait.

Suzanne Ciani, “American Delia Derbyshire of the Atari Generation” explains synthesizers, 1980.

Christer Strömholm‘s photos of Parisian transgender communities in the 1950s.

What are These Giant Concrete Arrows Across the American Landscape?

• How Kiyoshi Izumi built the psych ward of the future by dropping acid.

Alan Moore: The revolution will be crowd-funded.

Fuck Yeah Mazzy Star

• Suzanne Ciani: Lixiviation | The First Wave—Birth Of Venus (1982) | The Eighth Wave (1986)