Jóhannssonia

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Looking around at the weekend for Jóhann Jóhannsson concerts turned up a few freely available recordings plus a two-hour mix by the composer that I hadn’t come across before. I must have about three quarters of the Jóhannsson discography on disc by now but a handful of rarities remain stubbornly out of reach. Discoveries like this help me resist the temptation to consider spending £150 on a secondhand copy of End Of Summer, a CD/DVD recording of a Jóhannsson collaboration with Hildur Gudnadóttir and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. Given Jóhannsson’s reputation, and that of Hildur Gudnadóttir who worked with him on other albums, I’d be surprised if some of these scarce recordings weren’t reissued eventually.

KEXP (2010).
Jóhannsson with the Acme String Quartet in a 36-minute session for the Seattle radio show. The ensemble perform five pieces which include a version of Flight From The City six years before its appearance on the Orphée album. Also two compositions that are only available on singles or compilation albums, Tu Non Mi Perderai Mai and Corpus Camera.

FatCat Podcast #66—The Miners’ Hymns live at Winter Gardens (2012).
The Miner’s Hymns was a score for a Bill Morrison documentary about the mining communities of North East England for which Jóhannsson used a range of brass instruments like those found in colliery bands. This is a live performance of the entire score by the Wordless Music Orchestra that accompanied a screening of the film in New York.

FACT Mix 527 (2015).
Linked here before, an 55-minute mix which includes a number of unsurprisingly sombre orchestral selections from Mihaly Vig, Gloria Coates and Witold Lutoslawski, together with two pieces by Meredith Monk. The latter point the way to the Monk-inflected vocalisations on the score for Arrival.

KEXP (2016).
A 50-minute session on video which includes more selections from the Orphée album. During the discussion interlude with Kevin Cole, Jóhannsson talks about his soundtrack work, including his score for Arrival.

Electronic Explorations 461 (2017).
A two-hour mix which repeats some of the FACT mix—Lutoslawski’s Funeral Music was evidently a favourite—and which also shows Jóhannsson’s sense of humour. Of all the many pieces he might have chosen by the early music historian David Munrow, the two recordings that open and close this mix are from Munrow’s unreleased score for John Boorman’s Zardoz. Then a third of the way through there’s an abrupt transition from the droning doom of Sakrifis by Mohammad to Au Suivant by Jacques Brel, a song better known to Scott Walker and Alex Harvey listeners in its Mort Schuman translation, Next.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Last and First Men

Weekend links 458

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Photo by Dezo Hoffmann, 1968.

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about the late Scott Walker it’s that his career was not only improbable but almost impossible in its range and trajectory. My mother saw the Walker Brothers perform in Blackpool 52 years ago, headlining a touring bill that featured Cat Stevens (the artist she most wanted to see) and the soon to be very famous Jimi Hendrix. She enjoyed good pop songs and big orchestras, so even though she’s never expressed a preference for the Walker Brothers or Walker solo I’m sure she could listen to an album or two. But she wouldn’t be able to stand more than a minute of Walker’s output from Tilt (1995) onwards, and even the four watershed tracks on Nite Flights (1978) would be deemed unacceptable. Walker’s progress inverted the stereotype of the 20th-century pop career, the all-too-common descent into blandness and irrelevance, by following a course closer to that taken by painters and literary artists. He walked the walk.

• When Scott Walker’s Climate Of Hunter was announced in 1984, Richard Cook persuaded its introverted creator to talk to the press for the first time in many years. Cook and Walker met again in 1995 when Tilt was released. From 2008: Sean O’Hagan talking to Scott Walker two years after the release of The Drift; at The Wire again: a recording of Rob Young discussing Walker’s career; at the BFI: Scott Walker’s selection of some favourite films; at The New Yorker: Amanda Petrusich on the weird and vast and periodically devastating music of Scott Walker.

• At The Paris Review: Jane Alison suggests meanders, spirals, radials, fractals and cells as alternative to the narrative arc, while Peter Bebergal argues for seeing belief and disbelief in a superposition when it comes to art and the occult.

Sarasota Half in Dream, a feature-length documentary by Derek Murphy and Mitchell Zemil about a decaying Florida suburb.

• Chris Marker, Always Moving: Max Nelson on a Paris exhibition, Chris Marker, les 7 vies d’un cinéaste.

• There’s a little more Scott Walker, inevitably, in this interview with Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))).

Michael Moorcock talking to The Austin Chronicle about his long association with Hawkwind.

M. John Harrison chooses favourite stories for Jonathan Gibb’s Personal Anthology series.

• Rat Cunning and Bloodshed: An interview with Simon Sellars by Lee Rourke.

In Search of the Seas of Pleiades, a free download by Jenzeits.

• Rammstein are back with a video epic: Deutschland.

Sex Magick is Satanic doo-wop by Twin Temple.

Time, Forward! by Georgi Sviridov.

Orpheus (1967) by The Walker Brothers | Lullaby (By-By-By) (2000) by Ute Lemper | Darkness (2006) by Scott Walker

Weekend links 396

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Cover art for Outer Dark (1994) by Bill Laswell. Photography by Thi-Linh Le.

• “In an era where music, among other creative endeavors, has been devalued as mere ‘content,’ freely accessed through the new digital medium, the very survival of those who create music and art and culture has been threatened. Bassist, iconic producer, and sonic visionary Bill Laswell becomes the latest legendary talent to fall victim to the vagaries of these crazy times. Beset by health problems while trying to navigate this harsh and uncertain economic landscape, Laswell is struggling to maintain Orange Music, the legendary New Jersey studio that he as helmed for the last 20 years. He is putting the call out to all fans, friends, and fellow artists alike: If you can help, please do so now. No contribution is too small.”

A Perspex Town is a video by Ian Hodgson (aka Moon Wiring Club) for Applied Music Vol.2: Plastics Today, a new album by Jon Brooks (aka The Advisory Circle).

• The strangeness in the land: Adam Scovell on the BBC’s Play for Today adaptation of Red Shift by Alan Garner. I’d recommend reading the novel as well.

• “My last album was pretty perfect,” says Scott Walker. Sundog, a book of his lyrics, is out now from Faber.

Popular Graphic Arts at the Library of Congress, a new resource of free-to-use, high-resolution scans.

• At The Quietus: LoneLady & Stephen Mallinder offer playlists of music they’ve enjoyed recently.

• Another Green World: Lewis Gordon on how Japanese ambient music found a new audience.

• The discography of Drew Mullholland (aka Mount Vernon Arts Lab) is now at Bandcamp.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 635 by Riobamba, XLR8R Podcast 526 by DJ Sports.

The occult roots of higher dimensional research in physics.

• Animated Britain: a YouTube playlist from the BFI.

Pye Corner Audio remixes Knightstown.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: John Waters Day.

• A World Of Different Dimensions (1979) by Tomita | Into The Fourth Dimension (Essenes In Starlight) (1991) by The Orb | New Dimensions In (2010) by The Advisory Circle

Films by Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert

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Tempestarii.

Another tip from Ibrahim R. Ineke (thanks again!). Gast Bouchet’s photography will be familiar to anyone who’s seen the cover of Soused, last year’s minatory release from Scott Walker and Sunn O))). Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) has been collaborating recently with Bouschet and partner Nadine Hilbert, providing live soundtracks to screenings of the pair’s occult-inflected short films. The examples linked here are mostly brief but they give a flavour of the oeuvre which is encapsulated on Bouschet & Hilbert’s website with the legend “Sorcery, Politics and the Ecstasy of Dust“. A new version of Tempestarii will be screening at the Bozar Electronic Arts Festival, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium on October 9, 2015, with live music from Stephen O’Malley.

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Metamorphic Earth.

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Preparatory sketches and notes for Metamorphic Earth.

Weekend links 231

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Design by Julian House.

Always good to hear of a new release on the Ghost Box label, and a new album by The Advisory Circle (due on 5th December) is especially welcome. From Out Here is described thus: “Exploring darker territory than 2012’s more pastoral As The Crow Flies, The Advisory Circle hint at a Wyndham-esque science fiction story, where bucolic English scenery is being manipulated and maybe even artificially generated by bizarre multi-dimensional computer technology.” The Belbury Parish Magazine has extracts.

• Jon Hassell’s Fourth World Music Vol. I: Possible Musics receives a long-overdue reissue next month. Possible Musics was a collaboration with Brian Eno, and Eno has some of his own albums reissued again in expanded editions. Most notable is the first official release of My Squelchy Life, an album that was withdrawn in 1991 to be replaced by Nerve Net.

• Some Halloween theatre on Friday (the 31st) at the Museum of Bath at Work with a dramatisation of Ringing the Changes by Robert Aickman. There’s a repeat performance the following week (8th November) with added spectral atmospherics from the Electric Pentangle. Free admission.

The value of these books wasn’t anything wholesome they contained, or any moral instruction they offered. Rather, it was the process of finding them, the thrill of reading them, the way the books themselves, like the men they depicted, detached you from the familiar moral landscape. They gave a name to the palpable, physical loneliness of sexual solitude, but they also greatly increased your intellectual and emotional solitude. Until very recently, the canon of literature for a gay kid was discovered entirely alone, by threads of connection that linked authors from intertwined demimondes. It was smuggling, but also scavenging. There was no internet, no “customers who bought this item also bought,” no helpful librarians steeped in the discourse of tolerance and diversity, and certainly no one in the adult world who could be trusted to give advice and advance the project of limning this still mostly forbidden body of work.

Smuggler: A Memoir of Gay Male Literature by Philip Kennicott

• Getting in before the Mixcloud Halloween rush, mix of the week is Samhain Seance 3: Better Dead Than Never by The Ephemeral Man. My Halloween mix for this year is almost finished; watch the skies.

• For those who can’t wait until December for From Out Here, there’s a new Howlround album, Torridon Gate, out this week from A Year In The Country.

• Last week, Yello’s Boris Blank was choosing favourite electronic albums, this week he runs through a list of thirteen favourite albums.

Altered Balance: A Tribute to Coil by Jeremy Reed & Karolina Urbaniak. Richard Fontenoy reviewed the book for The Quietus.

Cut-Ups: William S. Burroughs 1914–2014, an exhibition of Burroughs’ typescripts at Boo-Hooray, NYC, from 7th November.

Brando, a film by Gisèle Vienne for the song by Scott Walker & Sunn O))).

NASA has a Soundcloud page

The art of leaves

Cobra Moon (1979) by Jon Hassell | Moon On Ice (1987) by Yello feat. Billy MacKenzie | Moon’s Milk Or Under An Unquiet Skull Pt. I (1998) by Coil