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 474

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AS11-40-5877 (1969).

• A minimum of Moon-related links this week because this is a subject I always return to. Previous links to NASA’s photo archives are now redundant after they changed their website but the archive of photos from the Apollo missions are currently hosted on Flickr…while Flickr lasts, anyway. The Albums section features whole film rolls from each of the missions.

• Mixes of the week: Stephen O’Malley presents In Session: Richard Pinhas (a re-posting of a mix from last year), and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XVII by David Colohan.

• Living With The Human Machines: experimental artist Sarah Angliss speaks to Matthew Neale about the cyborgs, dummies and ghosts that populate her work.

• On And On And On: A Guide to Generative Electronic Music. Related: Deconstructing Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jesse Bransford presents…A List of Grimoires for the Twilight of the Age of the Book.

A Dandy in Aspic exclusive: Paul Gallagher interviewed cult author Derek Marlowe in 1984.

• From Ted Hughes to HG Wells: Jeanette Winterson picks the best books about the Moon.

• Tate acquires vast archive of British surrealist Ithell Colquhoun.

• At Greydogtales: Ten supernatural stories which stay with you.

• Emptyset turn to machine learning on new album Blossoms.

• Paul Grimstad on the absolute originality of Georges Perec.

• Valerie Stivers on cooking with Bruno Schulz.

• Blown out ’77: in the studio with Suicide.

Astronauts on record covers.

Back Side Of The Moon (1991) by The Orb | Moonshot (1999) by Hallucinator | Under The Moon (2019) by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno

Weekend links 444

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Visions Cosmiques—Improvisations Dédiées À L’équipage D’Apollo 8 (1969) by Jean Guillou. No designer credited.

• 50 years ago this weekend Apollo 8 was on its way to the Moon. Jean Guillou’s album of organ improvisations took the mission as its inspiration although his turbulent music seems more suited to the near-disaster of Apollo 13 than the weightless drift of space travel. The album has been out-of-print for decades but may be heard in full here and here. Related: the Discogs listing for the Philips’ Prospective 21e Siècle series of avant-garde music. Most of the other albums in this series remain unreissued, and are now very collectible, not least because of their metallic “Heliophore” sleeves.

• Christmas cheer be damned: the spook season extends from Halloween to the end of the year. At These Unquiet Things, Sarah Chavez offers a list of favourite seasonal vampires, witches and ghosts. For those who prefer something televisual that isn’t more MR James, The Lorelei (1990) is a feature-length supernatural drama written by Nick Dunning. And speaking of the unavoidable James, Sarah K Marr presents an annotated analysis of A Warning to the Curious embellished with her excellent photos of the area of the Norfolk coast where the story is set.

• At Bandcamp: Voltaic Liturgies: “A symbiosis of flesh, machinery and umbral cosmic mysticism” by Primitive Knot and The Wyrding Module; and In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses by Rowan : Morrison (Rowan Amber Mill with Angeline Morrison): “The album explores themes of our beautiful natural surroundings, and how the pursuit of profit guides us to learn ‘the cost of everything and the value of nothing’, paving the way for the scarring of the landscape with fracking, HS2, retail parks, and so on…”

• “Influential Manga Artist Gengoroh Tagame on Upending Traditional Japanese Culture”. Tagame is also a prolific gay porn illustrator, a part of his career the headline avoids although it is acknowledged in Anne Ishii’s interview.

• Mixes of the week: Dream Perception Mix by Moon Wiring Club, Strange Great Snow: A Conjuror’s Hexmas by Seraphic Manta, December’s Reverie by Cafekaput, and Secret Thirteen Mix 275 by CoH.

• On the Scary Thoughts podcast: Erik Davis on philosophical pessimism, cosmic horror, police procedurals, serial killers, gnostic notions, and Louisiana as featured in the first season of True Detective.

• Manuscripts, letters and other documents by HP Lovecraft are now digitised and available for browsing at Brown University Library.

• William Hope Hodgson—The Essex-born Master of Horror: a biographical essay by Peter Berresford Ellis.

• The best ambient releases of 2018 according to FACT.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Donald Sutherland Day.

Sandspiel

Rocket USA (1977) by Suicide | Ticket To The Moon (1981) by Electric Light Orchestra | From Ape to Apollo (1994) Thomas Fehlmann

Weekend links 319

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The Sapphic Sleep Web by Oliver Hibert.

• “Google isn’t willing to say whether or not it’s censorship. That they don’t have to even address this is what’s so shocking, It seems like cowardice.” Dennis Cooper talking to Andrew Durbin at Frieze about Google’s unexplained deletion of his long-running blog. Cooper’s case has been covered by arts sites and some newspapers but I’ve yet to see any mention at all on the main US gay news sites despite Cooper being a notable gay author. I’ve cast aspersions at those sites in the past for their obsession with terrible pop acts and off-topic trivia (one site still reports every last fart of Britain’s Royal Family as “news”); this recent issue only reinforces their irrelevance.

• Creating Jerusalem: Alan Moore on the most important book he has written. Related: Alan Moore uses nine-year-old’s fan letter on new book’s cover.

• “Whatever side of the aisle you’re on, HL Mencken is as relevant as ever,” says Paula Marantz Cohen.

To say that Goodbar is an obsessive and symbolically overdetermined film would be an understatement: the film compulsively reiterates themes, visual motifs and parallel narratives, a relentless and repetitive reiteration of ideas that lends that film the aspect of a Freudian dream landscape, a baroque, Boschian sequence of fantasies, projections and illusions.

Bruce LaBruce on Richard Brooks’ film of Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Mare Teno by Michel Redolfi, performed by Thomas Bloch, Susan Belling & Michel Redolfi.

• From 2015: Suicide’s Alan Vega Talks Fiery Record With Big Star’s Alex Chilton.

• Mix of the week: The Takeover with Front & Follow & The Geography Trip.

• Psychic Spaces & Neon Nirvana: The Art of Oliver Hibert by S. Elizabeth.

• How William Burroughs‘s drug experiments helped neurology research.

Yello, absurdist Swiss pop pioneers, return with a new video, Limbo.

• Morphologies Masterclass: Ramsey Campbell on HP Lovecraft.

Cliff Martinez on horror, homage and The Neon Demon.

• A City of Dust: photos of London by Lewis Bush.

Dust To Dust (1986) by Ginger Baker | Neon Sisters (1992) by Thomas Dolby | Limbo (1992) by Sandoz

Weekend links 247

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Encounter with the Priestess by Robert Buratti.

• “We were gothy, we loved the New York thing and people like Suicide, Dave loved Throbbing Gristle, we both loved the Sheffield bands…we loved the darkness to that kind of electro.” Marc Almond talking to Simon Price. Also at The Quietus, Cat’s Eyes choose their favourite soundtracks.

• “When he reveals that all he wants is to deliver a breakfast sandwich, the enigma of his desire is not so much dispelled as redoubled—why on earth would anyone want to do that?” Adam Kotsko on the unheimlich nature of old Burger King ads.

• “…commercial design is full of politics, to be a commercial designer is a political decision.” Jonathan Barnbrook talking to Katrina Schollenberger.

You need to know who Billy Wilder was. You need to know the names of people who are no longer alive. Because it’s very important—it’s what our history is made of. You need to see the movies the way they were—with the racism, the violence, and the censorship. All the things that let you see what the movie past had been so you understand where we are! But really nobody’s interested in that right now. Their interests are so bifurcated.

Joe Dante discussing film production past and present with Michael Sragow.

• From 1983: The Encyclopedia of Ecstasy, Vol. 1, a publication which creator Alistair Livingston describes as a “psychedelic goth punk fanzine”.

• Mixes of the week: No One’s There, a collection of post-punk electronica by Abigail Ward, and Secret Thirteen Mix 146 by Te/DIS.

• Frans Masereel’s My Book of Hours is “a crucial example of the power of stories without words,” says Stefany Anne Golberg.

Miles Davis and band in concert, 18th August, 1970. Pro-shot, 45 minutes.

• Lots of good reading and cultural connections at Celluloid Wicker Man.

A world map of micro-nations

Tokyo in dense fog

Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go? (1981) by Soft Cell | Tainted Love (1985) by Coil | Titan Arch (1991) by Coil with Marc Almond