Weekend links 457

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Imagination of Letters by Ikko Tanaka.

Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980–1990 is the latest compilation from Light In The Attic, and another excellent package both musically, physically and design-wise. The album was compiled by Spencer Doran of Visible Cloaks who talked to The Quietus a couple of years ago about his favourite Japanese (and other) music. Simon Reynolds reviewed Kankyo Ongaku last month, and drew attention to Spencer Doran’s Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo mixes which may be heard here and here.

Michael O’Shea playing his home-made musical instrument (an old door, paintbrushes, etc) on RTÉ in 1980. Shea’s one-and-only album has been deleted for years but was reissued in January. The story of O’Shea’s surprising involvement with Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis of Wire (which led to the recording of his album) is recounted here.

Lou Thomas suggests five reasons to watch Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man on its 30th anniversary.

…Topor generates a world in which the great unsaid realities of human life are painfully laid bare, amplified through a series of confrontations with “le sang, la merde et le sexe” (“blood, shit, and sex”). While few of his texts have been made available in English, they are nevertheless representative of his wider body of work, in which the reader constantly trips over these same themes as if stumbling upon a naked corpse in a darkened room. They predicate an oeuvre of carnivalesque and necrophilic eroticism, and draw out the pungent, animalistic core hidden within the norms of our everyday existence. Topor’s narratives are shot through with macabre irony, orgiastic scatology, and physical and psychological cruelty, which constitutes a fundamental reframing of the characteristics of human interaction with others.

Andrew Hodgson on Roland Topor’s neglected writings

An anciente mappe of Fairyland: newly discovered and set forth (1920) by Bernard Sleigh.

Maggot Brain: an impromptu Funkadelic cover by Albatross Project.

Anne Billson on purr evil: cinematic cats with hidden agendas.

Sayonara: one of the most Japanese words in the dictionary.

• Painting the Beyond: Susan Tallman on Hilma af Klint.

• RB Russell on bookseller’s labels: part one & part two.

Christopher G. Moore on The Immortals and Time.

• Fuck the Vessel,” says Kate Wagner.

• Japanese Farewell Song (Sayonara) (1957) by Martin Denny | Sayonara: The Japanese Farewell Song (1976) by Haruomi Hosono | Sayonara (1991) by Ryuichi Sakamoto

Six Into One: The Prisoner File

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Patrick McGoohan.

Network DVD had a sale recently so I finally capitulated and bought the blu-ray set of The Prisoner which I finished watching this weekend. The picture quality is so outstanding it might have been made yesterday, and many of the extras are also essential for Prisoner obsessives, not least a restored print of the original cut of the first episode, something that was believed lost for years.

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Episode 9: Checkmate.

There’s no need to enthuse about the series when I’ve done so already; this time round I’ll note that while the Cold War background is thoroughly outmoded some of the themes of particular episodes seem more relevant than ever. The model of total surveillance seen in the Village has for some time seemed to be one that Western governments and tech corporations would love to emulate. (“The whole world as the Village?” asks The Prisoner. “That’s my hope,” says Number 2.) The Prisoner isn’t the only drama to deal with authoritarian control, of course, but it also deals with the soft tyranny of closed communities, ideology and group-think. Episode 12, A Change of Mind, concerns a process whereby disobedient Villagers are confronted by their peers, declared “unmutual” then bundled off for corrective therapy; when they return they repent their antisocial crimes in public. In 1967 such a scenario would have seemed reminiscent either of McCarthyite America, or Soviet Russia and Maoist China; in 2015 you can be declared “unmutual” for minor infractions every day on the internet, and find yourself rounded upon by a sanctimonious horde.

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The allegorical and symbolic qualities of The Prisoner have kept the series fresh for almost 50 years while the character who launched the genre that gave rise to series—James Bond—has required several overhauls in order to keep up with changing times. Bond may bicker with his superiors but he’s always been a tool of the status quo, an agent of the Control virus in Burroughsian terms. In episode 8, The Dance of the Dead, The Prisoner is lectured by a judge in a kangaroo court on the importance of “the rules”. “Without rules, we have anarchy,” she says. The Prisoner, who happens to be dressed in a Bondian dinner jacket, replies “Hear, hear.”

Continue reading “Six Into One: The Prisoner File”

Dune designs

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Currently racking up the bids at eBay (again) is an early draft of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s script for his ill-fated film of Dune. Aside from some diverting glimpses of dialogue and plot elaboration, what’s most interesting about the draft is the character and scene sketches, some of which are sampled below. I’ve still not seen the documentary about the unmade film so I can’t say whether any of these have appeared in public before but if they have they’re new to me. No artist is credited but the naive style rules out both Moebius and HR Giger (who arrived late to the project in any case). Best bet is either Jodorowsky himself—in 1967 he was writing and illustrating a comic strip, Fabulas Panicas—or Jodorowsky’s colleague from the Panic Movement days, Roland Topor. In the early 70s Topor was working with René Laloux on the animated SF film Fantastic Planet.

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Many of the conceptions differ radically from the more graceful designs that Moebius produced later on. Also of note are details such as the anal entrance to the Emperor’s throne room, a Harkonnen orgy and an insemination scene viewed from inside Jessica’s vagina. By the time Giger joined the production team the instruction was not to create anything too erotic or adult since the film needed to reach a large audience.

There’s more from the Dune script (and larger copies of these images) here. (Thanks to Jay for the tip!)

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Continue reading “Dune designs”

The Captive, a film by René Laloux

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The feature films of French animator René Laloux are the closest thing to cinematic equivalents of comics magazine Métal Hurlant. Laloux’s collaboration with Roland Topor, Fantastic Planet (1973), is familiar to Anglophone audiences but fewer people are aware of Time Masters (1982) and Gandahar (1988), two more science fiction films made with Moebius and Philippe Caza respectively. Time Masters looks marvellous but the story (based on a novel by Stefan Wul) lacks the strangeness of Fantastic Planet. Gandahar,  based on a novel by Jean-Pierre Andrevon, I’ve yet to see but anyone searching for it should be aware that the version dubbed into English (and retitled The Light Years) dumped Gabriel Yared’s score, and had a sexual encounter censored by the usual rabble of prudish American producers.

The Captive (1988) continues the collaboration with Philippe Caza being a 7-minute adaptation of Caza’s comic story Equinoxe (1982). The music for this one is also by Gabriel Yared, and this copy at YouTube includes English subtitles. For comparison, the comic story is here. Of the two I prefer the comic but then I’ve always enjoyed Caza’s work.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Les Temps Morts by René Laloux

Weekend links 214

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San Francisco Sound (1967). Art by Wallace Studio, Seattle.

• RIP gay porn pioneer Peter de Rome. BUTT posted de Rome’s surprisingly daring Underground (1972), a film in which two men have an unfaked sexual encounter on a New York subway train. That film and others are available on the BFI’s DVD collection. Related: Brian Robinson remembers a director of films whose supporters included Andy Warhol, William Burroughs and John Gielgud.

• “My stuff is implicitly critical of television as it is now,” explains Jonathan [Meades], “Television used not to be as openly moronic as it has become…” A lengthy and typically pugnacious Meades interview with Remy Dean.

Thurston Moore remembers the Burroughs-themed Nova Convention staged in New York in 1978. William Burroughs 100—Nova Convention is a retrospective exhibition running at Red Gallery, London, next month.

How are we expected to take seriously…any work which appears to have engaged less than the whole passionate attention of its author? To be fobbed off, at the last, with something which we feel to be less true than the author knew it to be, challenges the importance of the whole art of writing, and instead of enlarging the bounds of our experience, it leaves them where they are.

Katherine Mansfield was also a book reviewer.

• JG Ballard’s Crash is reissued in August by Fourth Estate with an introduction by Zadie Smith. There’s a tantalising extract from the intro at the NYRB or you can read the whole thing if you’re a subscriber.

• “Between 1959 & 1980 Shirley Collins changed the course of folk music in England & America. Thirty years after disappearing, she’s back.”

Photos by Anne Billson of one of the more attractive Parisian arcades. Related (in a flâneur sense): Christina Scholz‘s Vancouver dérive.

• “Why did Borges hate soccer?” asks Shaj Matthew. Related: George Orwell on the same subject.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 447 by Forest Swords, and Programme 13 from Radio Belbury.

• At Dangerous Minds: Roland Topor’s cheerfully violent illustrations from Les Masochistes.

• Rainy Day Psychedelia: Ben Marks on Seattle’s neglected 1960s poster scene.

• Strange Flowers looks at Oskar Schlemmer‘s Triadic Ballet designs.

• A Journey to Avebury: Stewart Lee interviews Julian Cope.

It’s All Over Now (1963) by The Valentinos featuring Bobby Womack | It’s All Over Now (1964) by The Rolling Stones | It’s All Over Now (1974) by Ry Cooder