Do You Have The Force?

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Forget all the Disco Sucks bollocks, this was where the creativity was. Many of the qualities of Disco that were so derided were mirror images of those qualities that were celebrated in Punk: an annihilating insistence on sex as opposed to puritan disgust; a delight in a technology as opposed to a Luddite reliance on the standard Rock group format; acceptance of mass production as opposed to individuality. It was the difference between 1984 and Brave New World: between a totalitarian nightmare or a dystopia accomplished through seduction. […] Disco’s stateless, relentlessly technological focus lent itself to space/alien fantasies which are a very good way for minorities to express and deflect alienation: if you’re weird, it’s because you’re from another world. And this world cannot touch you.

— Jon Savage

Don’t let that title fool you into expecting more blather about Space Nazis or belligerent muppets, these are not the Droids you’re looking for. Do You Have The Force? is catnip for this listener, being a compilation of electronic/dance obscurities that’s also another album compiled by the very authoritative Jon Savage. One of Savage’s curatorial hallmarks is a wandering from the beaten path in search of previously unnoticed trails and connections. This 80-minute collection continues the trend with an eclectic mix of energetic space disco and post-punk futurism, together with an extended ambient interlude by The Sea Of Wires, the British cassette world’s answer to the Berlin School of synthesizer music. I’d only heard a couple of these selections before, and the ones I had heard are all unpredictable choices: tracks by Suicide (Mr Ray) and The Flying Lizards (Steam Away) from each group’s less popular second albums; also Invocation, an obscure piece by Cabaret Voltaire from their post-Rough Trade, pre-Virgin recordings for the Disques du Crépuscule label.

Most of the unknown quantities here are all stimulating enough to warrant further investigation, even Droids (Fabrice Cuitad & Yves Hayat) whose Star Wars-themed dance groove may be excused its attachment to the wretched Lucas mythos by virtue of there having been a lot of similar opportunism at work in the late 1970s. In the notes to his album Savage mentions two chart-topping singles that might have warranted inclusion: I Feel Love by Donna Summer (previously), and the majestic Magic Fly by Space. The latter may be heard on the first Cosmic Machine collection of French electronic music, together with another track by Droids. Both of the Cosmic Machine collections make excellent companions for Do You Have The Force?, as does the four-disc Close To The Noise Floor collection, another exploration of the byways of Britain’s post-punk electronic scene which also includes an instrumental by the enigmatic Sea Of Wires. Savage ends his collection with a Mexican mix of tracks by the great Patrick Cowley, a producer who pointed the way to an electronic future he didn’t live long enough to experience for himself.

Do You Have The Force? is out now on Caroline True Records. Kudos to the label for making a CD available. Some of us still prefer to shoot lasers at spinning silver discs, and will support those who continue to produce them.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Just the ticket: Cabaret Voltaire
Summer of Love
Queer Noises

Weekend links 271

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Environment Transformer/Flyhead Helmet by Haus-Rucker-Co (1968). From Hippie Modernism at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

• From 2006: Weird Tales: The Strange Life of HP Lovecraft. Geoff Ward examines Lovecraft’s life and work for BBC Radio 3 with contributions from Neil Gaiman, ST Joshi, Kelly Link, China Miéville and Peter Straub. Meanwhile, Ned Beauman wonders whether Ford Madox Ford is “as scary as Lovecraft”.

• Alexei German’s years-in-the-making feature film, Hard to be a God (previously), receives a UK release this week. Paul Duane reports on an overwhelming viewing experience, while Nigel Andrews says it “may be the greatest film since the millennium began”.

• Mixes of the week: Adventures In Sound And Music, 30 July 2015, hosted by Joseph Stannard, and RCMIX9 by worriedaboutsatan.

As Nabokov insisted, “Literature is invention. Fiction is fiction. To call a story a true story is an insult to both art and truth.” The genre thrives because its deceptions are liberating. For Wood, the thrill of reading fiction is intimately connected with the awareness that fiction constitutes “an utterly free space, where anything might be thought, anything uttered.” The excitement comes when, as readers, we’re allowed to participate in this freedom and experience the fiction imaginatively, without being required to believe that it is true.

Joanna Scott on The Virtues of Difficult Fiction

• “Writing used to be a solitary profession. How did it become so interminably social?” asks Meghan Tifft.

• The original, real-life dystopian cityscape of Kowloon Walled City, and the artwork it inspired.

• The Long, Lonely Walk: Nick Ripatrazone on hallways in horror films.

New cover designs for the Essentials range from Penguin Books.

Lemi Ghariokwu: “How I designed Fela Kuti’s album covers”.

• “Do CDs sound better than vinyl?” asks Chris Kornelis.

• Magic Fly (1977) by Space | Human Fly (1978) by The Cramps | I Am The Fly (1978) by Wire

Weekend links 163

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Le Cadavre Exquis by Yukio Michishita. As featured in The Purple Book: Sensuality & Symbolism in Contemporary Art & Illustration by Angus Hyland & Angharad Lewis.

• ” Like Polo’s magic cities, which in the end all turn out to be Venice, fantasy finally refers us back to reality and the challenge of everyday social engagement.” Jonathan Galassi on The Dreams of Italo Calvino. In the same edition of the NYRB, Anna Somers Cocks on The Coming Death of Venice?

• Mix of the week: Solid Steel Radio Show 7/6/2013 Part 3 + 4: Peter “Look Around You” Serafinowicz compiles 70 minutes of Boards of Canada-inflected ambience.

• “Magic and art tend to share a lot of the same language. They both talk about evocation, invocation, and conjuring.” Alan Moore talks to Peter Bebergal.

The gay rights movement around the world has promoted a basic idea: we want to show society that we are human beings like everyone else. The problem is that the train driver at the Kashirskaya train station doesn’t necessarily think that those few dozen passengers in whose face he closes the doors are a priori inferior and deserve such treatment. He feels that he becomes superior to them by means of using his power over them. This sense of superiority can be trumped only by some higher superiority.

On the Moscow Metro and Being Gay by Dmitry Kuzmin.

• “I went from being a very promising young writer to being completely ignored in two novels.” Madeleine Monson-Rosen on Angela Carter.

Sequence6, another excellent sampler from Future Sequence: 40 new pieces of music as a free download.

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The Arrival on Mars, an illustration from The Ship That Sailed to Mars (1923) by William Timlin.

• At PingMag: An Icon for Everyone: Shoryu Hatoba, Japanese Crest Artist.

• More Japanese weirdness at Sardines Bizarres.

• Larry Nolen on Bruno Schulz.

Magic Ritual (1976) by Black Renaissance | Magic Fly (1977) by Space | Magic Vox (1981) by Ippu-Do