Weekend links 577

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Black Lake (1904) by Jan Preisler.

• Upcoming releases on the Ghost Box label will include a new album by {feuilleton} faves Pye Corner Audio, plus the surprising appearance of figures from Bruegel on a Ghost Box cover design.

Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard pay tribute to the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini. (Or to Pasolini’s costume designer, Danilo Donati.)

• New music: Spectral Corridor by The House In The Woods, and Re:Moving (Music for Choreographies by Yin Yue) by Machinefabriek.

• At Spoon & Tamago, Technopolis gets all the good things: “Giant kitty now greets commuters at Shinjuku Station.”

Anil Ananthaswamy on the ways in which psychedelics open a new window on the mechanisms of perception.

• Mixes of the week: Isolated Mix 112 by Suna, and GGHQ Mix #56, “An Unfortunate Kink”, by Abigail Ward.

• In this week’s impossible task, Alexis Petridis attempts to rank The Velvet Underground’s greatest songs.

• DJ Food unearths more flyers for London’s Middle Earth club, plus covers for the East Village Other.

• Global signals: Aki Onda on Holger Czukay and radio’s power to connect.

• At The Paris Review: Paintings and collages by Eileen Agar (1899–1991).

Will Sergeant’s favourite albums.

The Babel Tower Notice Board

Shaking Down The Tower Of Babel (1983) by Richard H. Kirk | Pärt: An Den Wassern Zu Babel (1991) by Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Paul Hillier | The Black Meat (Deconstruction Of The Babel-Tower of Reason) (1994) by Automaton

Weekend links 568

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Dragon Rising to the Heavens (1897) by Ogata Gekko.

• “Electronic music of the past is often portrayed in a dreamy, magical light—a hazy historical landscape filled with misty, otherworldly sounds. But while the music of a bygone era may seem ineffable, it is not inaccessible.” Geeta Dayal reviews Reminded by the Instruments: David Tudor’s Music by You Nakai.

• Modular Therapy: Mute Records boss Daniel Miller and former snooker champ turned kraut-psych powerhouse Steve Davis discuss their love of modular synthesisers, ill-fated Jools Holland collaborations, commandeering Elton John’s ARP 2600 and more.

• “Some contemporary art is a little bit like an intellectual game…I’m not a big fan of this kind of stuff, because I’m a musician.” Ryoji Ikeda presents: point of no return.

One of the tunnels that Turrell has completed is 854 feet long. When the moon passes overhead, its light streams down the tunnel, refracting through a six-foot-diameter lens and projecting an image of the moon onto an eight-foot-high disk of white marble below. The work is built to align most perfectly during the Major Lunar Standstill every 18.61 years. The next occurrence will be in April 2025. To calculate the alignment, Turrell worked closely with astronomers and astrophysicists. Because the universe is expanding, he must account for imperceptible changes in the geometry of the galaxy. He has designed the tunnel, like other features of the crater, to be most precise in about 2,000 years. Turrell’s friends sometimes joke that’s also when he’ll finish the project.

Wil S. Hylton on an exclusive visit to James Turrell’s astronomical art complex at Roden Crater, Arizona. Related: 147 Orbiting 1 Through 6 for 5, Music for Roden Crater by Paul Schütze (with free download of an excerpt from the 5-hour piece)

• New music: The Black Mill Tapes, Volume 5 by Pye Corner Audio, and Interreferences by Richard Chartier.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Dense pencil drawings of retro-future worlds by Yota Tsukino.

“‘I’m bursting with fiction’: Alan Moore announces five-volume fantasy epic”.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Lindsay Anderson Day.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s favourite music.

Volcano Diving (1989) by David Van Tieghem | Crater Scar (1994) by Main | Eye Of The Volcano (2006) by Stereolab

Weekend links 565

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The Labyrinth of Crete from Turris Babel (1679) by Athanasius Kircher.

• “My self appointed tutors were, in the order I discovered them, Robbe-Grillet, Borges, Nabokov, and Burgess. All of them associable in one way or another with labyrinths, all practitioners of non-linearity, all happy not to explain, all precursors of Godard’s celebrated and liberating ‘a beginning a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order.’ Burgess, of course, also came from the provincial lower middle class, and gave the address at Benny Hill’s funeral.” Jonathan Meades talking to Owen Hatherley about (what else?) the tastes and opinions which were always to the fore in his long-running series of TV films about architecture, art, food, and culture in general. This time last year I rewatched Meades’ TV oeuvre thanks to downloads from MeadesShrine and YouTube. It’s no surprise to learn that he won’t be making any more of these films now that the increasingly useless BBC has decided that the arts-oriented BBC 4 will be an archive channel only. The days are long past when someone like Meades would be given a new six-part series, or an artist like Leonora Carrington 50 minutes of BBC 1 airtime.

• Food and film: “As with so much else in his life, [Alfred] Hitchcock’s accomplice in this peculiar gastronomic odyssey was Alma Reville, his wife, best friend, longest-serving creative collaborator, and, to quote Hitchcock, ‘as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen.'” Edward White on Alma Reville and the status of food in the Hitchcock household.

• Food and books: “The supply of hides for parchment was always dependent on the dietary preferences of the local population… For hundreds of years, the transmission of knowledge had depended on carnivorous appetites and good animal husbandry.” Ross King on the laborious process of bookmaking in the 15th century.

• At Wormwoodiana: Sphinxes & Obelisks, a new collection of essays “on rare books and recondite subjects” by Mark Valentine.

• New music: crystallise, a frozen eye by James Ginzburg, and Multiverse by Gadi Sassoon.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Amos Tutuola The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952).

• At Spoon & Tamago: Step inside the miniature worlds of Tatsuya Tanaka.

• Mixes of the week: 30 years of People Like Us, and Fact Mix 803 by oxhy.

And all that jazz: innovative album covers from the 1950s on.

• In praise of Edward Gorey, style icon.

Labyrinthe (1995) by Zbigniew Preisner | Labyrinth (2010) by Chrome Hoof | The Seventh Labyrinth (2018) by Pye Corner Audio

Weekend links 551

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Bystander #16 (2016) by Mari Katayama.

• “In her prickly, misanthropic stories, her obsession with obsession is on display, big feelings and bad habits redirected to gruesome ends.” Carmen Maria Machado on the brilliance, difficulty and eccentricities of Patricia Highsmith who was born on 19th January, 1921. This reminds me that I have an unread copy of Highsmith’s The Two Faces of January that I ought to move to the reading pile.

Saint Laurent—Summer of ’21: Gaspar Noé’s new promo for the fashion house features Charlotte Rampling and a group of models in a vaguely Argento-like scenario that’s all crimson light, sumptuous decor and a creditable cover of I Feel Love by SebastiAn.

• I’ve been listening to a lot of Magma recently so this is timely: all three of the live Retrospektïw albums from 1980 gathered together for the first time in a single package and with a bonus recording.

• At Spine: Vyki Hendy collects some recent book covers that use optical illusions (or negative space) to catch the attention. Tangentially related: William Hogarth’s Satire on False Perspective (1754).

• RIP David Larkin, art director at Granada and Pan who also edited one of my favourite series of art books.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Crop Encircled Boy presents…Alejandro Jodorowsky Day.

• Mix of the week: Subterraneans 1, a Bowie mix by The Ephemeral Man.

• At Wormwoodiana: A Secret Book of Ghost Stories.

• “Reality is plasticine,” says Eloghosa Osunde.

Cats On Synthesizers In Space

Subterraneans (1993) by Philip Glass | The Subterranean (1994) by Soma | Subterranean Lakes (2018) by Pye Corner Audio

Unearthly tones

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Design, as always, is by Julian House.

“…we shall only be delivered from our afflictions by sayings and doings that are altogether irrational, paradoxical, and magical: the wild songs of fairyland, sung to unearthly tones, are the only medicine for the heartache and the headache of humanity.”

Arthur Machen, A Note on Asceticism (The Academy, 27th May, 1911)

This quote from the Apostle of Wonder, which will appear on the forthcoming album from Belbury Poly, is one I hadn’t seen before; serves me right for not subscribing to Faunus where the piece was reprinted in 2017. It’s been a while since Machen’s name has appeared in association with Ghost Box even though the label originates from the same area of South Wales that was the writer’s birthplace, a detail that gave the early Ghost Box releases additional resonance. One of the attractions of the Ghost Box recordings was the intersection between quotes and titles from weird literature with electronic music derived from library albums and theme tunes from the 1960s and 70s; Witch Cults Of The Radio Age, as Broadcast & The Focus Group memorably put it. It was a beguiling mix which the label’s more recent releases have increasingly diluted: the rear-view musical themes are still in evidence but the weird quotient has been diminished, giving the listener a box without a ghost. (Pye Corner Audio, whose last album was an exploration of subterranean realms, is a notable exception.) I feel uncomfortable drawing attention to this since it’s tantamount to saying “Please don’t change!”. But it’s also the case that a label devoted solely to Basil Kirchin pastiches might never have attracted my attention in the first place.

The description of new Belbury Poly album, The Gone Away, reaffirms the label’s commitment to its weirder side:

The Gone Away’s 11 tracks are inspired by British fairy folklore, especially its recurrent themes of things that always seem on the point of leaving or vanishing. Also there’s the notion of things that can’t be seen head on but are only glimpsed from the corner of the eye. A scorned and neglected corner of folklore, beguiling and bonkers in equal measure. Of course, this being a Ghost Box record, these themes are received through the prism of old TV soundtracks, and the credulous beliefs and childhood obsessions of a pre-digital age.

Anyone who’s read Arthur Machen’s The Shining Pyramid will know that fairy folklore in his stories conceals a darker and more malevolent manifestation of the supernatural. His comment about “unearthly tones” suggests a different point of view. The Gone Away will be released on 28th August.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The White People by Arthur Machen
Ghost Box