The new album by Sarah Davachi, Cantus, Descant, reminded me I have a predilection for organ drones. The others here are Hymns Spheres (1976) by Keith Jarrett, Nine Songs From The Garden Of Welcome Lies (1997) by Paul Schütze, and Ceremony (2012) by Anna von Hausswolff.
The Reverse of a Framed Painting (between 1668 and 1672) by Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts.
• New music with a cinematic flavour: Disciples Of The Scorpion (Main Theme) Heavy Mix by The Rowan Amber Mill is a taster for the group’s forthcoming imaginary soundtrack, Disciples Of The Scorpion (also a sequel of sorts to The Book Of The Lost); The Quietened Dream Palace is this year’s final themed compilation from A Year In The Country. The subject this time is abandoned cinemas, past and present.
• San Francisco Moog: 1968–72 by Doug McKechnie, a collection of early synthesizer music using a modular instrument that was later bought by Tangerine Dream. “The quiescent, meditative pulse of the music has much more in common with what would come to be known as the Berlin school of German electronic music than anything coming out of the US at the time,” says Geeta Dayal.
• Sarah Davachi released a new album recently, Cantus, Descant, so The Quietus asked her to discuss her favourite albums. Related: XLR8R has a mix of the music that Davachi regards as influences. Kudos for the choice of Why Do I Still Sleep by Popol Vuh, an overlooked piece from the end of the group’s career.
When I use relevance as a filter for determining what books to read, I’m failing to make myself available for an authentic encounter with otherness, something genuine art always offers. I’m presuming that I can guess, from the barest plot summary, whether a book will be useful in my life. But how can I know what I will find relevant about a work before I have submitted myself to the experience? I don’t think we are likely to be transformed by art if we try to determine that encounter in advance. Part of the vulnerability necessary for transformation is the recognition that I am, to a great extent, a mystery to myself. How could I know what I need?
Garth Greenwell on the idea that a novel is only worthwhile if it is somehow “relevant”
• “For a long time I had been encouraged by the world of fine art to remove references to the spiritual from my work,” says Penny Slinger in a piece by Hettie Judah exploring the resurgence of interest in occult art. Good to see S. Elizabeth and her book on the subject receiving a mention.
• Arriving on Region B blu-ray later this month is Spring (2014) by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, which 101 Films describes as Richard Linklater channeling HP Lovecraft. I enjoyed Benson & Moorhead’s Resolution (2012) and The Endless (2017) so this one is on pre-order.
• Topical books dept: The Man in the High Chair and Other Tyrannies by Kurt Fawver, a benefit publication for the California Coalition for Women Prisoners.
• We never know exactly where we’re going in outer space: Caleb Scharf on the difficulties of aiming for distant objects in an ever-changing universe.
• Submissions open soon for the contemporary Dada journal Maintenant 15, with a theme of “Humanity: The Reboot”. Details here.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Harry Smith, Filmmaker Day.
The Wagnerites (1894) by Aubrey Beardsley.
• “Part of my problem with influence is that the concept is too univocal; most of us are impacted by many others during our lifetimes, but often in oblique ways. So many of the most interesting bits of cultural transmission happen nonlinearly, via large groups of people, and in zigzag mutations. Assigning influence can also have the unintentional effect of stripping artists of their own originality and vision.” Geeta Dayal reviewing Wagnerism by Alex Ross.
• “Buñuel stubbornly refused to have any group affiliation whatsoever. Even though critics always tried to categorize him, he never wanted to explain the hidden meanings of any of his films and often denied that there were any.” Matt Hanson on the surreal banality of Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel.
• Next month Soul Jazz release the fourth multi-disc compilation in their Deutsche Elektronische Musik series devoted to German music from the 1970s and 80s. The third collection was the weakest of the lot so I wasn’t expecting another but this one looks like it may be better.
• James Balmont chooses the five best films by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who he calls “cinema’s master of horror”. I’ve yet to see any of these so I can’t say whether the label is warranted or not.
• Power Spots: 13 artists choose favourite pieces of music by Jon Hassell. A surprising amount of interest in his first album, Vernal Equinox.
• At Spine: George Orwell’s Animal Farm receives new cover designs for its 75th anniversary.
• “Pierre Guyotat’s work is more relevant now than ever,” says Donatien Grau.
• Mix of the week: FACT mix 775 by Sarah Davachi.
• May 24th by Matthew Cardinal.
Rawmarsh Road, Rotherham, 1975 by Peter Watson.
• Steel Cathedrals (1985), a composition by David Sylvian (with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Kenny Wheeler, Robert Fripp & others) was originally available only on the cassette release of Sylvian’s Alchemy: An Index Of Possibilities, and a video cassette where the music accompanied views of Japanese industry by Yasuyuki Yamaguchi. The video hasn’t been reissued since but may be viewed here.
• “If, as Arthur C Clarke famously observed, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, then can we accept that any sufficiently advanced magic is also indistinguishable from technology?” asks Mark Pilkington.
• “I didn’t like the idea of cartoons as just funny jokes, they had to have some relevant piece of observation in them to do with the society we are living in,” says Ralph Steadman.
I listen to music all the time, and I’ll often seek connections across quite disparate genres of that whatever I’m looking for. Sometimes it’s an aesthetic or a feeling, sometimes a pattern or structure, but it tends to cut across genres. The thing I liked about black metal and doom metal is the slowness and weightiness of it, it’s like deep time but in music. Sunn O))), Xasthur, and other bands captured this black gravity of sound. And they also tend to eschew the traditional vocal-lead guitar set-up, and everything is in the slow-moving wash and texture of sound.
I found that in other genres like noise music (especially Keiji Haino), the European avant-garde with composers like Ligeti, Scelsi, and Dumitrescu, dark ambient artists such as Lustmord or vidnaObmana, and contemporary works like Chihei Hatakeyama’s Too Much Sadness, Rafael Anton Irisarri’s A Fragile Geography, or Christina Vantzou’s No.4. There’s a lot to talk about in terms of music and forms of sorrow or grief, certainly every musical tradition has that—the funeral dirge, requiem, lamentation, or whatever.
• The fourth edition of Wyrd Daze—”The multimedia zine of speculative fiction + extra-ordinary music, art & writing”—is out now.
• The Library of Congress has opened its National Screening Room, an online service for viewing films in the library’s collection.
• The London Library discovered some of the books that Bram Stoker used for research when he was writing Dracula.
• “Oscar Wilde’s stock has never been higher,” says John Mullan, reviewing Oscar: A Life by Matthew Sturgis.
• David Lynch directs a video for A Real Indication by Thought Gang.
• “Edward Gorey lived at the ballet,” says his biographer, Mark Dery.
• A new version of Blue Velvet Blues by Acid Mothers Temple.
• Photos of cooling-tower interiors by Reginald Van de Velde.
• Aaron Worth on Arthur Machen: “the HG Wells of horror”.
• The Strange World of…Barry Adamson.
Table-Tipping Workshop at Rev. Jane’s House, Erie, Pennsylvania, 2014 by Shannon Taggart.
• Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind may now be released by Netflix. (I’m restraining my excitement for the moment since this one has been a long time arriving.)
• Making sense of The Weird and the Eerie: Roger Luckhurst reviews the final book from the late Mark Fisher.
• Pye Corner Audio has been very productive this year (I’m not complaining); the latest release is The Spiral.
• “I don’t like acceptance,” says Cosi Fanni Tutti, “it makes me think I’ve done something wrong.”
• Jon Brooks on the Continental inspiration for his next album, Autres Directions.
• Séance: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm by Shannon Taggart.
• Corny and clichéd: Matthew Bown on bad painting in the twentieth century.
• At Wormwoodiana: Douglas A. Anderson on Borges and a forgotten book.
• At the BFI: Samuel Wigley chooses 10 great films set in the jungle.