Weekend links 258

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Simon Stålenhag‘s SF artwork will be published in book form if funding is secured. In the future everything will be crowdfunded for 15 minutes.

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 494 is a fantastic dub selection by Colleen; Secret Thirteen Mix 151 is by Sally Dige; Stephen Mallinder‘s return to the doom-laden Industrial music of the 1980s suits the post-election mood. Mallinder’s mix is helping promote Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay, a documentary by Amélie Ravalec.

• “…it felt more like real life to me than the average hour-long television show.” Sopranos creator David Chase on what he enjoyed about Twin Peaks. Related: Twin Peaks Tarot cards.

Sound & Song in the Natural World edited by Tobias Fischer & Lara Cory. A book about animal music and communication with a 60-minute CD of field recordings.

• “The psychedelic renaissance has already begun, and for the most part I welcome it,” says Erik Davis in a wide-ranging interview with Sean Matharoo.

• It rumbles on: Brown Pundits on “An Embarrassment at PEN”. A useful collection of stories, reactions and polemic from the past two weeks.

Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story, a play by Glenn Chandler about Victorian London’s scandalous pair of cross-dressing men.

• Artist Charles Ray causes a problem for the Whitney Museum of American Art with his sculpture of a naked Jim and Huckleberry Finn.

• “Don’t believe Orson Welles,” says his biographer Simon Callow, “especially when he calls himself a failure.”

• A return to Adolph Sutro’s Cliff House features several photos I’d not seen before.

• More Tarot: Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology is looking for funding.

• At Dangerous Minds: The ancient magic of the record label.

Foreign Movie Posters

Tarot (Ace of Wands theme, 1970) by Andy Bown | Distant Dreams (Part Two) (1980) by Throbbing Gristle | The Devil In Me (1982) by Stephen Mallinder

The original Cabaret Voltaire

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Cabaret Voltaire #1 (1916). Cover by Hans Arp.

Richard H. Kirk’s announcement that he’ll be performing at the Berlin Atonal festival as Cabaret Voltaire caused some raising of eyebrows recently, although if Stephen Mallinder isn’t involved I won’t be getting too excited myself. The last few releases under the Cabaret Voltaire name were credited to Kirk/Mallinder but from Plasticity (1992) on they don’t sound very different to Kirk’s solo releases from the same period. That’s not to say the music suffers but you have to wonder why the group name is being perpetuated if there’s nothing unique attached to it.

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Dune, parole in libertà by Filippo Marinetti.

The group, old or new, will be the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the name Cabaret Voltaire, something that might have surprised Hugo Ball who founded the original Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich almost a century ago. Cabaret Voltaire (the group) named themselves after Ball’s project, their intentions in the mid-1970s being similarly Dadaist. Early Cabs performances were more audience provocations than anything to do with entertainment; the music came later, and only after several years of very uncommercial tape experimentation, some of which can be heard on Methodology ’74–’78: Attic Tapes (2003). Thanks to Switzerland staying out of the war the original Cabaret didn’t get wrecked by bombs or destroyed by the Nazis, and is still active today. Ball also published a Cabaret Voltaire journal, two pages of which can be seen here. If this doesn’t look very dramatic to our eyes it needs to be remembered that everyone who first saw it would have been born in the 19th century so the contents would have seemed a lot more radical. A slim publication but with a formidable list of contributors: Guillaume Apollinaire, Hans Arp, Blaise Cendrars, Wassily Kandinsky, Filippo Marinetti, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Tristan Tzara and others.

Also at Ubuweb (where else?) there are several recordings of Hugo Ball’s Dada poetry including a recital of Karawane by (of all people) Marie Osmond. Who knew there was a connection between the Osmonds and Cabaret Voltaire?

Previously on { feuilleton }
Cabaret Voltaire on La Edad de Oro, 1983
Doublevision Presents Cabaret Voltaire
Just the ticket: Cabaret Voltaire
TV Wipeout
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire

TV Wipeout

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Another of the videocassette releases on Cabaret Voltaire’s Doublevision label, TV Wipeout was released in 1984 as a “video magazine”. This and Johnny YesNo were the two Doublevision releases I was most interested in, and I did get to see some of the former release when Cabaret Voltaire’s first appearance at the Haçienda in 1983 was preceded by an hour of “Doublevision Presents…”. The most memorable sights from that screening were the weird and scary Renaldo & The Loaf film and the video for Terminus by Psychic TV, a very Wild Boys-esque piece directed by Peter Christopherson. The Cabs’ Stephen Mallinder explained why the contents of the tape tended to be more commercial than other releases on the label:

Q: The next Doublevision was the TV Wipeout video which was a sort of disposable magazine compilation. It contained a fairly wide variety of contributors, from people like The Fall and Test Dept to some more mainstream groups like Bill Nelson and Japan.

Mal: The point was that Virgin Films were quite happy to work with us; they even gave us money in the form of advertising revenue for using some film clips from the Virgin catalogue. We were then able to camouflage them into the whole set-up and make them look as if they were part of the whole nature of the video compilation.

Q: One of those clips was a particularly inane interview with David Bowie. Was its inclusion merely a selling point?

Mal: Yes, it was purely that. There are a lot of people who will buy anything with David Bowie on it. So we said “Fuck it, why not use that as a selling point!” Actually the interview is appalling, it’s terrible. Our including it was almost like a piss-take. We were saying “you really will buy anything with David Bowie on it if you buy this”.

From Cabaret Voltaire: The Art of the Sixth Sense by M. Fish and D. Hallbery

Unlike some of the other Doublevision releases this one doesn’t seem to have been uploaded anywhere but since much of the content was music videos it’s possible to compile an incomplete playlist. The Paul Morrissey films (Heat and Flesh), Eating Raoul and Plan 9 from Outer Space were cult items that weren’t being screened on TV so this was an opportunity to see them outside a cinema. Some of the other selections—the Chel White, Steve Binnion and Space Movie—are still a mystery. Lost Possibilities Of Modern Dreams was footage of a painting exhibition by Phil Barnes soundtracked by the Cabs. The Claude Bessy piece is the only one from the original tape, a short film of the Haçienda’s VJ shot by Ikon Video’s Malcolm Whitehead in the basement of the club.

Bill Nelson: Flaming Desire
Bill Nelson interview
Plan 9 from Outer Space excerpt
Clock DVA: Resistance
Chel White: Industrial Park
Cabaret Voltaire: Just Fascination
Steve Binnion: Mediaevil
Renaldo & The Loaf: Songs For Swinging Larvae
David Bowie interview for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
Andy Warhol: excerpt from Heat
The Fall: Live at The Venue (1983) with documentary footage
Space Movie excerpt
The Box: Old Style Drop Down
IKON FCL advertisement featuring various groups on the Factory label
Japan: excerpt from Oil On Canvas
Andy Warhol: excerpt from Flesh
Test Dept: Shockwork
Dieter Meier interview
Yello: excerpt from Jetzt Und Alles
Eating Raoul excerpt
Psychic TV: Terminus
Phil Barnes featuring Cabaret Voltaire: Lost Possibilities Of Modern Dreams
Marc & The Mambas: Caroline Says
Claude Bessy: Operating Instructions

Previously on { feuilleton }
Seven Songs by 23 Skidoo
Elemental 7 by CTI
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire
Network 21 TV

Downside Up

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Downside Up (1984)

For a long time I didn’t know which came first, Downside Up, a 16-minute short by experimental filmmaker Tony Hill, or Sensoria, the Cabaret Voltaire music video directed by Peter Care. Both were made in 1984 and both employ the same technique of a camera fixed to a special rig that allows shots to begin at ground level, rise parabolically into the air then descend to the ground again showing a reverse angle. Thanks to this Quietus interview with Peter Care last year we now know that Tony Hill’s film came first and that Care borrowed the rig for his video. Both are memorable pieces of work. Hill starts out with a series of slow shots accompanied by sounds that imply the camera is passing through the earth. This is contradicted later (and with gathering speed) when some of the shots are rotated through ninety degrees so they materialise out of building walls. Care stripped the technique down using faster shots that he cut with stop-motion footage of Richard Kirk and Stephen Mallinder. It’s the best of the promo videos made for the group.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire

The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire

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I mentioned yesterday Richard H. Kirk’s announcement that Cabaret Voltaire’s albums on the Virgin label are to be reissued next year by Mute Records. The news gives me a topical excuse to write something about the first album in that series, The Crackdown, which happens to be my favourite of all their releases. Cabaret Voltaire, like 23 Skidoo, benefited a great deal from their association with designer Neville Brody in the early 1980s, and this post mostly concerns Brody’s design for The Crackdown and its accompanying singles. The Crackdown was released in 1983 with the advance from Virgin having allowed them to buy new equipment and add a degree of polish to their recordings which earlier albums had lacked. Brody had been designing their covers for the past two years, and continued to do so for the next few releases before leaving the music business to concentrate on magazine and other design work.

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What I liked about this sleeve was the way it gets the most out of the careful arrangement of a few simple elements. The front photo showing Stephen Mallinder and Richard Kirk posing with video equipment (monitoring the viewer) is enlarged and cropped to provide backgrounds elsewhere. The sleeve photos wrap around front and back while the shape made by the titles determines the layout of track titles and credits. (The various CV graphics are credited to Phil Barnes.) The type wasn’t set digitally but was applied by hand using Letraset rub-down lettering which makes me wonder how much planning was required to get the track titles to perfectly fit their intended shape.

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