Weird metal

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Weird metal isn’t A Thing, is it? I reckon it ought to be A Thing, especially when so much black/death/doom/drone metal intersects with The Weird. I mentioned last month that British doomsters The Wounded Kings had used my De Profundis piece for the gatefold and poster insert in their reissue of The Shadow Over Atlantis. My copy of the album arrived this week; it’s a handsome production that sounds tremendous so I’m very pleased to be associated with it. The relationship to Cthulhu isn’t as overt as more well-known compositions such as The Call of Ktulu by Metallica or Cthulhu Dawn by Cradle of Filth. But those are one-off pieces whereas The Shadow Over Atlantis sustains its atmosphere of cosmic dread throughout. It’s available from Ván Records, and I recommend it highly.

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All of which reminded me that my Lovecraftian art has featured sporadically in the metal world over the past few years. In the margins of my discographic work you’ll find the following releases.

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Thought-Cathedral (2000) by Of Trees and Orchids.

The perennially popular view of R’lyeh is featured on the cover of the second album by a German death metal band who later changed their name to Ingurgitating Oblivion. Inside the CD there’s also a detail from a Cthulhu drawing of mine.

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Azathoth (2007) by Azathoth.

There are many bands named after Lovecraft’s chaotic deity. This group is from the US, and this EP is their only substantial release to date.

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Demonstration 1998 (2009) by Portal.

And there are many groups named Portal. This lot are Australian, and have been going longer than most. Demonstration 1998 is a reissue on 7-inch vinyl of a cassette demo from 1998; the sleeve art shows a fuzzy detail from my R’lyeh spread from The Call of Cthulhu. Nobody asked permission to use the artwork, I only discovered this release since I get a credit for it on Discogs. So there may well be other releases out there that I haven’t seen yet. If you know of one then leave a comment or send an email.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Shadow Over Atlantis by The Wounded Kings
Rock shirts
De Profundis

Weekend links 272

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No Passing (1954) by Kay Sage.

• More Lovecraftiana: She Walks In Shadows, an illustrated all-woman Lovecraftian anthology, will be published in October. Related: “The octopus genome and the evolution of cephalopod neural and morphological novelties“, a study that’s been filtering through the press as “Do octopuses have alien DNA?”

• “The right to ‘subject each others’ fundamental beliefs to criticism’ is the bedrock of an open, diverse society,” says Kenan Malik in his TB Davie Memorial Lecture.

Sunn O))) with Attila Csihar at the Berlin Heimathafen. Related: Here’s what you missed at Sunn O)))’s sold out Berlin gig.

Caillois is fascinated by these “beveled buildings,” truly abundant in the Fifteenth, along with an unusually high incidence of blind walls, false façades, and merely ornamental windows, each beloved of his phantoms. In the parts of the arrondissement developed during the postwar period, Caillois’s attention is drawn instead to the ventilator shafts and drainage grates that dot the streets. These structures, built to clear away rainwater or aerate underground garages, have a secret function, according to him. Noting their uncanny similarity to some of the settings in the Weird Tales of HP Lovecraft, he speculates that they may have been constructed to provide the entry points for an extraterrestrial invasion of our planet.

Ryan Ruby on Roger Callois and the phantoms of the Fifteenth Arrondissement

• “I’m really into big moments,” says Julia Holter whose new album, Have You In My Wilderness, is released next month.

Adrian Utley talks to Peter Zinovieff, co-inventor of the EMS synthesizer. Related: What the Future Sounded Like.

• “Tarkovsky’s Solaris is the anti-2001: A Space Odyssey,” says Marissa Visci.

• Mix of the week: Gizehcast #17 by Rutger Zuydervelt.

Modernist architecture on film.

Thaumaturgy at Tumblr

The Call of Ktulu (1984) by Metallica | Cthulhu Dawn (2000) by Cradle of Filth | Cthulhu: A Cryo Chamber Collaboration (2014) by Various Artists

Weekend links 223

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Step Up (2014) by Angelica Paez.

• Lots of attention this week for Kevin Martin whose latest album as The Bug, Angels And Devils, is out now on Ninja Tune. The previous Bug release, London Zoo (2008), was a fierce collection that stood apart from the Grime pack not only for its guest vocalists but also for being informed by Martin’s broad range of influences: industrial and extreme electronics, heavyweight dub, metal and avant-garde jazz. Martin was interviewed by The Quietus and FACT who also asked other musicians to choose their favourite Martin recordings. Elsewhere, The Wire has Swarm, a track not included on the album.

Related: Martin’s four superb compilation albums for Virgin Records have been deleted for years but are worth seeking out: Ambient 4: Isolationism, Macro Dub Infection Volume One & Volume Two, and Jazz Satellites Volume 1: Electrification (Virgin cancelled volume 2). From the NME, 1995: Kevin Martin’s Ten Commandments For All Time.

• “…it never becomes quite clear why two grown men would want to write to each other in the guise of a horse and a cat.” Henry Giardina reviews The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, edited by Katherine Bucknell.

Shufflepoems: A Deck of Poetry by Lydia Swartz. “100 cards, four suits, one stanza per card. Shuffle for a new adventure every time.” The project needs a last-minute push to gain Kickstarter funding so if this sounds interesting go, go, go!

The Haxan Cloak’s favourite heavy metal albums. Metallica’s Master Of Puppets still gets my vote. More from The Quietus: David Stubbs on the Werner Herzog soundtracks of Popol Vuh.

• At Strange Flowers: Waking the witch, a remembrance of occult artist Rosaleen Norton and other characters from Sydney’s Kings Cross area, with news of a planned Norton documentary.

• A nine-note motif has for decades signalled “Asian” in popular music. Kat Chow looks at the history of a musical stereotype.

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is the subject for entrants in the Folio Society’s latest illustration competition.

• Irradiating the Object: Rhys Williams talks to writer M. John Harrison.

Does the Sea Serpent Really Look Like an Art Nouveau Oar-fish?

Schrödinger’s cat caught on quantum film.

70s sci-fi art: a Tumblr.

Demodex Invasion (1995) by Techno Animal | Piranha feat. Toastie Taylor (2001) by Techno Animal | Poison Dart feat. Warrior Queen (2008) by The Bug

Weekend links 53

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Ancient Egyptian capitals from The Grammar of Ornament (1856) by Owen Jones at Egyptian Revival.

• Golden Age Comic Book Stories has been pulling out all the stops recently with entries for Will Bradley, Alphonse Mucha’s Documents Decoratifs (a companion volume to Combinaisons Ornementales), and pages from My Name is Paris (1987) illustrated by Michael Kaluta, an Art Nouveau-styled confection which features scenes from the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Related: Alphonse Mucha in high-resolution at Flickr.

The Sinking Of The Titanic by Gavin Bryars at Ubuweb, the first release on Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975. Bryars’ Titanic is an open composition which has subsequently been reworked and re-recorded as more information about the disaster has come to light. The accompanying piece on that album, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, is the only version you need unless you want Tom Waits ruining the whole thing in the later recording.

• Hayley Campbell claims to have the worst CV in the world but she has a better way with words than most people with bad CVs. She’ll be giving a talk with Tim Pilcher entitled Sex, Death, Hell & Superheroes at The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, Bethnal Green, London, on April 8th. Just don’t shout “Xena!” if you attend.

Monolake live at the Dis-Patch Festival Belgrade, Serbia, 2007; 75 minutes of thumping grooves. Related: A video by Richard De Suza using Monolake’s Watching Clouds as the soundtrack.

• “I preached against homosexuality, but I was wrong.” Related: Gay Cliques, a chart, and Sashay shantay épée at Strange Flowers, the last (?) duel with swords fought in France.

• Mixtapes of the week: Electronica from John Foxx and Benge at The Quietus, and Ben Frost mashing up early Metallica, Krzysztof Penderecki, and late Talk Talk for FACT.

• A 40 gigpixel panorama of the Strahov Philosophical Library, Prague, described by 360 Cities as the world’s largest indoor photo.

How Hollywood Butchered Its Best Movie Posters; Steven Heller on Saul Bass.

• Back issues of Coilhouse magazine are now available to buy in PDF form.

Absinthe minded: The ruin of bohemians is back in all the best bars.

Fade Into You (1993) by Mazzy Star.

Maximum heaviosity

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Left: Comets on Fire at the Arthurfest,
Los Angeles, 2005.

Bassoons, flamenco, monks’ cowls…
welcome to the new rock underground

Julian Cope explains why heavy metal, so often maligned, is at the heart of today’s rock avant-garde

Julian Cope
Friday August 18, 2006
The Guardian

IN APRIL THIS YEAR, after my half-hour stint as a guest vocalist for the US doom metal band SunnO))), I left the stage at Brussels’ Domino festival and removed my burka. Backstage, I remarked to the band’s biographer, Seldon Hunt, how open-minded heavy metallers had become: they were accepting, as festival headliners, a band without a drummer, a bass player or guitars, and with every bearded, long-haired musician among them clad in the habit of a Christian monk. Percipiently, Seldon commented that because the support acts had contained all of those ingredients (except the habits), SunnO))) considered it their duty to reject every metal cliche, replacing each of the archetypal rock instruments with Moog synthesizers, downtuned enough to bring the plaster off the theatre’s ceiling.

SunnO))) are taking metal to places you never imagined. Their music inhabits the territory that once was the preserve of meditative, ambient and experimental music alone. And they are doing it through the most critically reviled music of all. More remarkably, they are not alone. Across the world, underground scenes are using the shell of heavy metal—the volume, the grinding riffs, the imagery, the nomenclature—to test rock’n’roll perceptions and explore boundaries, all the while shamelessly subsuming other vastly different musical styles into their own work.

In a worldwide underground music scene that encompasses artists playing improvisatory music, folk, psychedelic and free jazz, metal is the common thread. You don’t hear much about this music in the mainstream press, especially in Britain, where the kingmakers of the music press have inadvertently created generations of musical whores, all doing their utmost to produce what they think the NME will want, rather than the music they want to make. But why is metal the link? Because the avant-garde musicians in the vanguard of today’s experimental underground scene grew up on it. They spent their late childhoods/early teens playing noisy computer games, watching 24-hour news of the first Gulf war and listening to grunge and metal. As they are mostly in their late 20s and early 30s, their strongest cultural landmarks are the suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994, and, before it, the overwhelmingly loud sludge of Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. Therefore the “inner soundtracks” of the new avant gardists are informed by grinding metal bands, just as the sound of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray informed that of my own punk generation. Older readers who equate the term heavy metal with the brash, stupefying 1980s anthems of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi will do well to remember that these bands are long out of the equation, having been at their height over 20 years ago.

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