Weekend links 563

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Cover art by Jeffrey Schrier for the 1975 reissue of Zero Time by Tonto’s Expanding Head Band.

• RIP Malcolm Cecil, electronic musician, and producer of Stevie Wonder, among many others. The term pioneer is over-used when discussing electronic artists, but it’s an accurate one when applied to Cecil and his partner in Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Robert Margouleff. The first Tonto album, Zero Time (1971), was a collection of fully-realised all-electronic compositions recorded in the days when “electronic music” in the rock sphere usually meant rock-band-plus-synth-burbles. As I said in a post about Tonto’s debut album a few years ago, “Jetsex sounds like an outtake from Kraftwerk’s Autobahn (albeit three years early) while Timewhys wouldn’t have been out of place on The Human League’s Travelogue album almost a decade later”. Cecil may be seen in this short film showing off the bespoke synth gear that comprised The Original New Timbral Orchestra (aka TONTO), while he talks at length about his career in issue 4 of Synapse magazine here. Cecil and Margouleff parted company in the mid-70s shortly after releasing a second album, It’s About Time (1974), a collection of jazzy instrumentals that’s overdue a proper reissue.

• “Every film production company they showed it to said it was ‘too weird’ to ever be made. ” Next month Strange Attractor publishes The Otherwise, a script by Mark E. Smith and Graham Duff for an unmade horror film.

• More horror: Predator’s Ball by Uni; music video as horror scenario in which you can play spot-the-reference: Alice in Wonderland, Rocky Horror, Leigh Bowery (?), Pasolini’s Salò (?)…

• At Bibliothèque Gay: Narkiss by Jean Lorrain, another homoerotic classic newly translated into Spanish, and with new illustrations.

• The week in Gary Panter: Nicole Rudick on Gary Panter’s Punk Everyman, and the man himself writing about his life and art.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine investigates the connections between Charles Williams and Sax Rohmer.

• At Dangerous Minds: New Age Steppers, “the only ever post-punk supergroup”.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 689, a feast of funk compiled by Steve Arrington.

• At Public Domain Review: Agostino Ramelli’s Theatre of Machines (1588).

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Pier Paolo Pasolini Day.

Valentina Magaletti’s favourite music.

Louvre site des collections

Narcissus Queen (1958) by Martin Denny | Narciso (1974) by Pierrot Lunaire | Narkissos (2006) by Sadistic Mikaela Band

Weekend links 483

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Fantastic Sea Carriage (1556) by Johannes van Doetecum the Elder.

• I’ve grown increasingly tired of Kubrick-related micro-fetishism (despite contributing to it myself with previous posts) but this piece at Film and Furniture about the history of David Hicks’ Hexagon carpet design is a good one.

• “In hindsight, we can see how rarely one technology supersedes another…” Leah Price on the oft-predicted, never arriving death of the book.

• From Rome To Weston-Super-Mare: Eden Tizard on Coil’s Musick To Play In The Dark.

“It is,” the editor of the London Sunday Express had written nine years earlier, sounding like HP Lovecraft describing Necronomicon:

the most infamously obscene book in ancient or modern literature….All the secret sewers of vice are canalized in its flood of unimaginable thoughts, images and pornographic words. And its unclean lunacies are larded with appalling and revolting blasphemies directed against the Christian religion and against the name of Christ—blasphemies hitherto associated with the most degraded orgies of Satanism and the Black Mass.

Regarded as a masterpiece by contemporary writers such as TS Eliot and Ernest Hemingway, celebrated for being as difficult to read as to obtain, Ulysses had been shocking the sensibilities of critics, censors, and readers from the moment it began to see print between 1918 and 1920, when four chapters were abortively serialized in the pages of a New York quarterly called The Little Review. Even sophisticated readers often found themselves recoiling in Lovecraftian dread from contact with its pages. “I can’t get over the feeling,” wrote Katherine Mansfield, “of wet linoleum and unemptied pails and far worse horrors in the house of [Joyce’s] mind.” Encyclopedic in its use of detail and allusion, orchestral in its multiplicity of voices and rhetorical strategies, virtuosic in its technique, Ulysses was a thoroughly modernist production, exhibiting—sometimes within a single chapter or a single paragraph—the vandalistic glee of Futurism, the decentered subjectivity of Cubism, the absurdist blasphemies and pranks of Dadaism, and Surrealism’s penchant for finding the mythic in the ordinary and the primitive in the low dives and nighttowns of the City.

Michael Chabon on the US trial of James Joyce’s Ulysses

• Mix of the week: Through A Landscape Of Mirrors Vol. III—France II by David Colohan.

• Another Not The Best Ambient And Space Music Of The Year Post by Dave Maier.

Sarah Angliss and friends perform Air Loom at Supernormal, 2019.

• Out next month: The World Is A Bell by The Leaf Library.

Amy Simmons on where to start with Pier Paolo Pasolini.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Candy Clark Day.

• Uccellacci E Uccellini (1966) by Ennio Morricone | Liriïk Necronomicus Kahnt (1978) by Magma | Ostia (The Death Of Pasolini) (1986) by Coil

Weekend links 335

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The Expectation (1936) by Richard Oelze.

Richard Oelze, 1900–1980 is an exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Michael Werner Gallery, London, which runs until January 2017. More Surrealist works by Oelze may be seen at But Does It Float and Ubu Gallery.

Will McMorran on the problems of translating the Marquis de Sade’s most obscene work. Related: Jay Sina on Sexistential Horror: HP Lovecraft and the Marquis de Sade as perverse peers.

• Mixes of the week: More Halloween horror at No Condition Is Permanent, Secret Thirteen Mix 200 by JK Flesh, and a mix for The Wire by Botany.

The Chronicles of Clovis (1911), a story collection by Saki (HH Munro) who died 100 years ago this week.

• “Jack is 24, sometimes he’s a drag queen named Sabrina.” The Queen (1968).

• The Mindset of the Macabre: An interview with Abigail Larson.

• “The world is full of bloviators,” says MAD cartoonist Al Jaffee.

Ginette Vincendeau on how the French birthed film noir.

• How to throw a dinner party like Salvador Dalí.

Sastanàqqàm, another new song by Tinariwen.

• At A Year In The Country: more Quatermass.

• Photographs by Klaartje Lambrechts.

Paul Bailey on Pasolini’s lost boys.

Adam Shatz on Leonard Cohen.

Subterranean London

Joan Of Arc (1986) by Jennifer Warnes with Leonard Cohen | Who By Fire (1986) by Coil | The Future (1992) by Leonard Cohen

Weekend links 328

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Feathers and Weights (2016) by Susan Jamison.

• The latest release from A Year In The Country is No More Unto The Dance, “a reflection of nightlife memories and the search for the perfect transportative electronic beat”.

Depero Futurista (1927), the bolted book showcasing the artistic work of Fortunato Depero, returns in a facsimile edition.

• This week in the occult: Sam Kean on 21st-century alchemists, and a second volume of The Occult Activity Book.

How could so many jazz critics have overlooked Davis’s powerful trumpet playing on Bitches Brew, and its continuities with his previous work? The reason for their bewilderment was, in large part, the brew, the music’s muddy electric bottom, which bore no resemblance to the jazz they knew. Davis had never been a pure bopper, but his music had always made allusion, however oblique, to the grammar of Parker and Gillespie. On Bitches Brew, Davis decisively broke with his roots in bop. As [George] Grella argues, building on the pivotal work of Greg Tate and Paul Tingen, the more revealing points of comparison were no longer to be found in jazz but in the psychedelic guitar of Jimi Hendrix, the warbled vocals of Sly Stone, and the bass lines of James Brown.

Adam Shatz on Miles Davis

Daniel Wenger on Bob Mizer, “the obsessive photographer behind America’s first gay magazine”.

The Hauntings at Tankerton Park, a book of words and very detailed drawings by Reggie Oliver.

• A 40-minute performance by Pentangle for Norwegian television in 1968.

Maisie Skidmore on ten things you may not know about René Magritte.

• Shirley Collins is the secret queen of England, says Nick Abrahams.

Eighth Climate: ethnographic recordings from the imaginal world.

Pasquale Iannone on five ways to recognise a Pasolini film.

The greatest record sleeves, as chosen by the designers.

Cosmic Horror, new comics work by Ibrahim R. Ineke.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 569 by S U R V I V E.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 47 unmade films.

Cosmic Dancer (1971) by T. Rex | Cosmic Slop (1973) by Funkadelic | Cosmic Tango (1973) by Ash Ra Tempel

Ostia, a film by Julian Cole

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One of Derek Jarman’s many unfilmed projects was PPP in the Garden of Earthly Delights, a study of the last days in the life of director Pier Paolo Pasolini seen through a prism of references to the director’s cinematic work, and also the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. Jarman’s proposal exists as a synopsis rather than a screenplay, presenting a series of isolated scenes: the film set for the final scene from Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975); an expensive restaurant; a street at night where Pasolini is cruising for sex; a cheap restaurant; a petrol station; an area of waste ground where Pasolini is killed by the rent boy he’s picked up. The foreground events parallel moments from Pasolini’s life and death, while the background would have featured characters from his earlier films, and various Boschian figures or motifs. The synopsis was printed in the Derek Jarman issue of Afterimage in autumn 1985, and it’s likely that the outline contributed to Julian Cole’s film, Ostia, which was made as a final-year student project a year later.

Ostia is unusual for being a film in which Derek Jarman is the lead actor, although when you see his acting it’s not so surprising that he kept himself out of his own films; Cole says on a commentary track for Ostia that some of Jarman’s performance was so bad it had to be cut. There is the curiosity value of seeing him playing the part of Pasolini, something that Jarman suggested when they were discussing the film.

The title refers to the name of the Tyrrhenian resort near Rome where Pasolini was murdered in November 1975, and the narrative favours the theory that Pasolini wasn’t so much murdered as assassinated by an establishment for whom he was a continual thorn in the side. The unforgettable Salò uses De Sade as a frame to explore the worst period of Italian Fascist brutality at the end of the Second World War. Many of those who were complicit in wartime atrocities were still active in Italian society in 1975, and even without the film’s other excesses they wouldn’t have been impressed by Pasolini’s dwelling on the crimes committed during the period of the Salò Republic, or his allusion to the Marzabotto massacre. Pasolini was also a vocal Marxist, of course (Jarman’s synopsis throws some barbs at this), and heavily critical of the deleterious effects of consumerism on post-war Italian society. The assassination theory carries some weight, in other words, even if the face-value explanation—a rough-trade assignation gone awry—seems just as likely. Philo Bregstein’s documentary, Whoever Says the Truth Shall Die (1981) explores the theory in a roundabout fashion, while Ostia (The Death of Pasolini) (1986) by Coil looks at the tragedy through a symbolic lens. “Kill to keep the world turning.”

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Julian Cole was working with a micro-budget so beyond the token presence of an Alfa Romeo like the one Pasolini drove (and which was driven over him on the beach) there’s no attempt at verisimilitude. All the scenes are shot in London locations circa 1986, and the dour skies of the metropolis are no match for the perfect blue of Italy. Cole’s film can’t help but be less ambitious than Jarman’s project but at least it got made. Viewed today Ostia has an unavoidable melancholy quality; Cole says that Jarman had just been diagnosed with HIV when they were making the film, and he refused to kiss actor David Dipnall because of this; at the time little was known about the infectiousness of the illness. Dipnall himself, in an unrelated chain of circumstances, died of AIDS a few years later. Ostia is also a reminder of how Pasolini’s death has gained a martyr-like quality among a certain group of gay men, making it a kind of cinematic equivalent to the martyrdom of Oscar Wilde 70 years earlier. It can be seen as an extra on the BFI’s Derek DVD or watched here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Derek Jarman In The Key Of Blue
The Dream Machine
Jarman (all this maddening beauty)
Sebastiane by Derek Jarman
A Journey to Avebury by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s music videos
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