Weekend links 408

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Kujaku (2018) by Yasuto Sasada.

• “The Ernst picture [Of This Men Shall Know Nothing] has also been interpreted as depicting sexual alchemy, which also ties in with much of Peter Grey’s writing on Babalon and the goddess’ connection to sexual magic and the three ‘Fs’: f(e)asting, flagellation and fucking!” Hawthonn’s Phil & Layla Legard talk to Folk Horror Revival about their superb new album, Red Goddess (of this men shall know nothing).

• South London “Psychic Circuit”: A walk with London writer Iain Sinclair inspired by cult writer Steve Moore—from Shooter’s Hill and the Shrewsbury burial mound to Charlton House then Maryon Park and the locations used in Antonioni’s Blow Up.

• Czech filmmaker Juraj Herz, director of The Cremator (1969) and Morgiana (1972), died last week. One of his later films, The Ninth Heart (1978), featured an animated title sequence by Jan Svankmajer and Eva Svankmajerova.

• The week in psychedelic visuals: Ben Marks on Bill Ham’s San Francisco light shows (a piece from 2016), and Dangerous Minds on Astralvision’s Electric Light Voyage (1979), a light show on Betamax tape.

• “From glaciers to nuclear bunkers, photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews descends into the dark heart of the Swiss mountains that inspired Mary Shelley.”

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 250 by Sote, and XLR8R Podcast 537 by SNTS.

When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves, new music by Dylan Carlson.

Emily Temple on Edward Gorey’s illustrated covers for literary classics.

Hidden Hydrology: Coil’s Lost Rivers studio sessions.

Tube: Minimalist YouTube search

Sukhdev Sandhu is In Wild Air

• Lost Roads (1988) by Bill Laswell | Lost Sanctum (1994) by Lull | Lost Ways (2016) by Pye Corner Audio

Weekend links 279

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Untitled painting by Jen Ray.

• Lots of architecture links this week so it’s fitting that one of them is director Ben Wheatley talking to David Fear about his forthcoming film of JG Ballard’s High-Rise: “I was just thinking about this the other day, how hard it was to get a hold of stuff before the Internet. You really had to hunt down stuff or have someone who knew what was up to say, ‘You gotta read Naked Lunch, mate. You gotta read Crash.’ […] They were secretive things you had to ferret out, those books. It was the same with music and certain movies. And drugs.” Related: Souvenir d’un Futur, photographs by Laurent Kronental of the high-rise banlieues of Paris.

• “In Ancient Egypt, if a lowly official received the glyph of an owl from the Pharaoh, it was understood that the recipient should take his own life.” Carey McHugh in a brief history of the owl.

• I’d always thought the red buildings seen briefly in Blow-Up (1966) had been painted to Antonioni’s orders. Not so, says Another Nickel In The Machine.

He belongs right up there with Poe and Kafka. The best writer of weird fiction in the past half century. And the reason he belongs there is Ligotti’s both visceral and intellectual, formally experimental and able to tell a traditional horror story with equal ease. He’s also modernized the weird tale, from his early work on. The later workplace stories complete that process. The other thing he brings is a very dark sense of humor and a sense of the absurdity of the world—and a critique of that world that serves as subtext. All of these elements in harmony—symbiosis and contamination—equal genius. I read his work in a continuum that includes Kafka, Poe, Angela Carter, Bruno Schulz, Rikki Ducornet, and the great Caitlin R. Kiernan, but also absurdists and realists and flat-out surrealists. I appreciate that Ligotti stories can be revisited and reveal new dimensions.

Jeff VanderMeer on Thomas Ligotti

David Ferry talks to the people trying to excavate the remains of sets from Cecil B. DeMille’s first film of The Ten Commandments.

• As part of the ongoing vinyl reissue deluge, Crammed Discs are releasing a 10-disc box of albums by the great Tuxedomoon.

• At Strange Flowers: I see for it is night, remembering Marie Cermínová, better known as Surrealist artist Toyen.

Blue Sun Chiming, an animated video by Elisa Ambrogio for the song of that name by Six Organs of Admittance.

• At BLDGBLOG: Occult Infrastructure and the “Funerary Teleportation Grid” of Greater London.

• Enigmatic music makers Watch Repair are now selling their works at Bandcamp.

• Video by Harald Albrigtsen of whales basking under the Northern Lights.

• The urban explorations of Russian photographer Ralph Mirebs.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 164 by Discipula.

The lost rivers that lie beneath London

Egypt (1985) by Tuxedomoon | Whales Tails (1986) by Cocteau Twins | London’s Lost Rivers (1996) by Coil

Wavelength

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Thanks be to YouTube for once more resurrecting moments of underground cinema which would otherwise be very difficult to see. Wavelength (1967) is Michael Snow’s experimental masterwork, a 45-minute zoom across a New York loft that ends on a photograph of waves that fills the screen. This recipe for ennui is not without incident: we see a bookcase being installed, someone plays a Beatles record—Strawberry Fields Forever—a man breaks into the apartment and collapses. (He may be dead but we never find out.) Throughout this, the film is subject to flashes of colour filtering, moments of negative inversion and sudden flares of light. For at least half the running time the sound is replaced by a droning oscillator tone which rises inexorably the closer the camera brings us to its destination.

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Between these events there’s plenty of time to meditate upon the meaning of the title: the various wavelengths of sound and light, the distance across the room to the view of the waves, the waves themselves. It’s a fascinating film which is linked for me (and may have influenced) two other takes on the long take: JG Ballard’s short story The 60 Minute Zoom (1976), in which a man monitors his wife’s infidelity from a hotel balcony, and the celebrated shot at the end of Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975) when Jack Nicholson’s character is assassinated off-screen in another hotel room while the camera floats miraculously through the iron bars of the window. You can see Wavelength in full here. I’d recommend watching it full-screen, it requires immersion.

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() by Morgan Fisher
La Région Centrale
Downside Up

CQ

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A belated shout of appreciation for this film whose distribution appears to have been so limited that everyone missed it, me included. That’s a shame as Roman Coppola’s debut (he’s the son of Francis) has a lot to commend it although it helps if you’re familiar with pulpy European spy/science fiction/horror movies of the late Sixties and the po-faced works of auteurs such as Jean-Luc Godard and Michelangelo Antonioni. CQ pays loving homage to both styles of filmmaking which probably explains why the studio didn’t know what to do with it.

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Michelangelo Antonioni, 1912–2007

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Another one bites the dust… What are the odds against two of the last surviving big names of cinema expiring in the same week? I could never get fully behind Antonioni the way I could with Bergman, I didn’t think much of the Neo-Realist school that Antonioni began as a part of and his later Italian films such as La Notte (1961) and L’Eclisse (1962) seemed like vacuous stylistic exercises. He divided opinion even among his peers—Orson Welles couldn’t bear his work whereas Stanley Kubrick put La Notte in a “ten best” list in 1963. I always enjoyed Blow Up (1966) even though it seems fatuous next to Performance while Zabriskie Point (1970) is a joke. But I like The Passenger (aka Professione: Reporter, 1975) very much.

A simple story—reporter in the Sahara swaps identities with a dead arms dealer then goes on the run—featured Jack Nicholson giving one of his last good performances before his descent into gurning self-parody. Also Ian Hendry, Steven Berkoff (between Kubrick films) and Jenny Runacre shortly before she was in Jubilee for Derek Jarman. The film works as an extended travelogue, ranging from Africa to England then into Spain as Nicholson’s character picks up student Maria Schneider on his travels and is pursued by his wife (who doesn’t believe he’s dead) and men intent on killing him. Events are resolved during a celebrated seven-minute single take where the camera passes miraculously through the iron bars of a hotel window. One of Antonioni’s finest qualities was his appreciation of architectural and cinematic space and the final shot of the film is a perfect example of this. The Passenger was out of circulation for years but is now available on DVD.

Guardian obituary | David Thomson appreciation

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Further Back and Faster