Weekend links 604

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Poster by Chris Ware for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010).

• “He is a proponent of “slow cinema,” which is to say, movies that inspire reflection because they are unhurried but fluid, clear but framed by mystery.” Hilton Als on the metaphysical world of Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

• “You could take off your clothes and lay in the sun, nude, with other guys looking for sex, right in Manhattan. And the police didn’t care. It was safe…” Stanley Stellar on his photographs of New York’s “Gay Piers”.

• At Wormwoodiana: An interview with RB Russell who talks about his new book, Robert Aickman: An Attempted Biography.

• New music: Mysterium by Held By Trees; A Journey by Hinako Omori; Waves by The Soundcarriers.

• Get some cosmic perspective with an updated version of Charles & Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten.

• You Cut Your Hair and Made a Friend: Richard Conway on Ladytron’s 604 and Light & Magic.

• At Unquiet Things: The Tawdry Technicolor Horrors of Vicente B. Ballestar.

• Alexis Petridis compiles a list of the late James Mtume’s greatest recordings.

• Steven Heller’s Font of the Month is Valvolina.

Slow Motion (1978) by Ultravox | Slow And Low (1995) by Tetsu Inoue | Slow Burning Ghosts (1996) by Paul Schütze

Weekend links 516

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Bats in space: an illustration by Henrique Alvim Corrêa from a 1906 edition of The War of the Worlds.

• Auf wiedersehen to Florian Schneider. Until he left Kraftwerk in 2009 (or 2006 or whenever it was), Schneider had been the group’s longest-serving member, keeping things running for the few months in 1971 when Ralf Hütter was absent. The brief period when Kraftwerk was Schneider plus soon-to-be-Neu! (Michael Rother, guitar, and Klaus Dinger, drums) fascinates aficionados over-familiar with the later albums. The music they produced was a wild and aggressive take on the rock idiom but Scheider maintained the link with Kraftwerk before and after, not only instrumentally but with his ubiquitous traffic cones, as noted in this post. There’s no need for me to praise Kraftwerk any more than usual, this blog has featured at least one dedicated post about them for every year of its existence, and besides, the group itself is still active. Elsewhere: Simon Reynolds on how Florian Schneider and Kraftwerk created pop’s future; A Kraftwerk Baker’s Dozen Special; Dave Simpson attempts to rank 30 Kraftwerk songs (good luck getting anyone to agree with this); Jude Rogers with ten things you (possibly) don’t know about Kraftwerk; Dancing to Numbers by Owen Hatherley; Pocket Calculator in five languages; Florian Schneider talks about Stop Plastic Pollution.

Intermission is a new digital compilation from Ghost Box records featuring “preview tracks from forthcoming releases and material especially recorded for the compilation during the global lockdown”. In a choice of two editions, one of which helps fund Médecins Sans Frontières.

• How groundbreaking design weirdness transformed record label United Artists, against all odds. By Jeremy Allan.

Sex in an American suburb is not quite the same phenomenon as sex in, say, an eastern European apartment block, and sex scenes can do a great deal to illuminate the social and historical forces that make the difference. All of which is to say that sex is a kind of crucible of humanness, and so the question isn’t so much why one would write about sex, as why one would write about anything else.

And yet, of course, we are asked why we write about sex. The biggest surprise of publishing my first novel, What Belongs to You was how much people wanted to talk about the sex in a book that, by any reasonable standard, has very little sex in it. That two or three short scenes of sex between men was the occasion of so much comment said more about mainstream publishing in 2016, I think, than it did about my book. In fact, in terms of exploring the potential for sex in fiction, I felt that I hadn’t gone nearly far enough. I’ve tried to go much further in my second novel, Cleanness. In two of its chapters, I wanted to push explicitness as far as I could; I wanted to see if I could write something that could be 100% pornographic and 100% high art.

Garth Greenwell on sex in literature

James Balmont‘s guide to Shinya Tsukamoto, “Japan’s Greatest Cult Filmmaker”.

• A Dandy’s Guide to Decadent Self-Isolation by Samuel Rutter.

Maya-Roisin Slater on where to begin with Laurie Anderson.

• The Count of 13: Ramsey Campbell‘s Weird Selection.

Adam Scovell on where to begin with Nigel Kneale.

When John Waters met Little Richard (RIP).

RB Russell on collecting Robert Aickman.

Weird writers recommend weird films.

Campo Grafico 1933/1939.

Ruckzuck (1970) by Kraftwerk | V-2 Schneider (1977) by David Bowie | V-2 Schneider (1997) by Philip Glass

Weekend links 509

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The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic by S. Elizabeth. The book will be published in September by White Lion Publishing, and includes some work of mine.

• “The structure of the film as a memory palace consists of scenes intercutting different movies, depicting similar situations lived by the same actors in similar locations and, yes, similar sexual positions building over the course of its run-time.” Memory Palace: on Ask Any Buddy and the Golden Age of Gay Porn. Caden Mark Gardner writes on a kaleidoscopic, experimental archive piece of gay pornography. • Related: Paul P., the artist making dreamy paintings from vintage gay erotica.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Terry Southern The Magic Christian (1959), and Bill Hsu presents…High Anxiety: tense, dark films from 2010-2019 (for fans of Robert Aickman and Brian Evenson).

Green (1986) by Hiroshi Yoshimura, a welcome reissue of an album of minimal electronica. More green: The Green Fog by Guy Maddin has been on Vimeo for a while.

• Mixes of the week: Time is on our hands by Beautify Junkyards, and Textural Hominini Cognition by The Ephemeral Man.

• How John Waters and Mink Stole made Pink Flamingos, and Mink Stole on the inside story of John Waters’ greatest films.

Viktor Wynd: “I was offered a mummified arm—but I didn’t have €2,000 on me”.

• At Dangerous Minds: the solitary Surrealism of Gertrude Abercrombie.

Cats and Domino

Webcam in Italia

The Green Chinese Table (1988) by Seigen Ono | Green Water (1996) by Coil | Green Evil (1997) by Paul Schütze

Picturing On Land

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The ruined tower of All Saints Church, Dunwich, 1919.

I became interested in inventing places for sounds. I often listen to music and get a picture of a certain time of day, a certain type of light. I did that with On Land: for each piece I had an image of a time of day. On Land is specifically dedicated to the idea of creating places in music. — Brian Eno

My recent reading has included a couple of novels by the Strugatsky Brothers, and The Rings of Saturn (1995) by WG Sebald, a book I’d been intending to read for many years. The Sebald is a semi-fictionalised account of the author’s walking tour through Suffolk in the early 1990s, an account interleaved with extended detours into personal memory, history and literature, with the text being augmented by grainy and often indistinct pictures or photographs. The book has acquired something of a cult reputation in recent years, and its digressions touch on a couple of cult areas of my own, notably Jorge Luis Borges (via his story, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) and, less directly, the music group Coil, whose Batwings (A Limnal Hymn) is evoked via a description of Thomas Browne’s catalogue of imagined objects, the Musaeum Clausum. Coincidentally, Thomas Browne is mentioned in the Borges story although Sebald cleverly leaves this as something for the curious reader to discover.

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Suffolk is itself a curious county, in the sense of being strange, verging on the weird. The place is rich in British history—its situation on England’s eastern shore made it a site of various invasions—and weird enough to almost be considered Weird in the literary sense, even without fictional resonances from MR James (“Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”, A Warning to the Curious), Robert Aickman (Ringing the Changes) and, tangentially, HP Lovecraft, who took the name of the sea-devoured town of Dunwich for one of his Massachusetts settings.

Sebald doesn’t mention weird fiction and he also doesn’t mention (and quite possibly never heard of) Brian Eno, but Eno’s fourth album in his Ambient series, On Land, was continually in my mind while reading, owing to the intersection of the places that Sebald visits with the titles of several of Eno’s pieces. The most obvious of these is the last track on the album, Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960, but equally Suffolkian are Lantern Marsh, and Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills), the latter being a wood situated between Woodbridge and Melton, two of the places that Sebald passes through. Eno was born in Woodbridge, and On Land is as much concerned with unreliable (or semi-fictional) memories as The Rings of Saturn, something that Eno compares in his notes to Fellini’s semi-fictional film about his own childhood, Amarcord. Sebald’s descriptions sent me searching for pictures of Eno’s localities, especially the less familiar ones like Lantern Marsh and Leeks Hill. (Suffolk’s Dunwich is much more familiar to Britons owing to its long history of being eaten away by coastal erosion.) This in turn gave me the idea of trying to find a collection of suitably Sebaldian pictures for each track on the album, pictures that would be generally accurate but might equally be vague enough to suggest something more than the place or (in the case of painter Pierre Tal-Coat) the person in question.

Continue reading “Picturing On Land”

Weekend links 488

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Poster by Zdenek Ziegler for Marketa Lazarová (1966), a film by Frantisek Vlácil.

• I’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching a number of films by Béla Tarr, including his 432-minute masterwork, Sátántangó (1994). The latter was based on a novel by László Krasznahorkai, an author who not only worked with Tarr on the screenplay but helped with several of his other features. So this piece by David Schurman Wallace, about a more recent Krasznahorkai novel, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, arrives at just the right moment.

The Paris Review unlocked its Art of Fiction interview with Italo Calvino. William Weaver and Daniel Pettigrew ask the questions. And at the same site: Ivan Brunetti on the deceptive simplicity of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts.

• Halloween approaches so Sudip Bose suggests 10 pieces of orchestral music to set the mood. I made a similar list of my own in 2011. Related: Adam Scovell on 10 lesser-known folk horror films.

I thought, “When I grow up, I’m going to be in a group making this kind of music.” Slowly and Shirley, I did grow up and found myself in a group but they weren’t making that kind of music. It was a hole of longing in my guts that I needed to fix.

Andy Partridge, aka Sir John Johns, on his love of psychedelic music and the remixed reissue of the Dukes Of Stratosphear catalogue

Faye Lessler on how the Internet Archive is digitizing LPs to preserve generations of audio.

• Photographing the Dark: Allison C. Meier on Nadar’s descent into the Paris Catacombs.

• At Wormwoodiana: Go Back at Once, Robert Aickman‘s unpublished second novel.

• Queen of the Flies: Mica Levi talks to Charlie Bridgen about her soundtrack music.

• At Dangerous Minds: Sex, Nazis, and classical music: Ken Russell’s Lisztomania.

• The first new Ghost Box recording artist of 2020 will be…Paul Weller.

• Mix of the week: There’s No Going Back by The Ephemeral Man.

• The Dead Travel Fast: The Gothic Ballad of Lenore in paint.

Catacombs/Cum Mortuis In Lingua Mortua (1980) by Mussorgsky (George Solti/Chicago SO) | Fade In Hong Kong (1981) by Video Liszt | La Ballade De Lenore (1986) by Shub-Niggurath