Weekend links 492

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Cover art by Gahan Wilson for Monster (1980) by Herbie Hancock.

• RIP Gahan Wilson, a great cartoonist with a flair for horror, the macabre and grotesque. Many of his best cartoons are buried in back issues of The New Yorker, Playboy and National Lampoon but book collections of his work are worth seeking out. He also wrote regularly, and for several years was a film reviewer and columnist for The Twilight Zone Magazine, back issues of which may be found at the Internet Archive. Related: Gahan Wilson and the Comedy of the Weird, an interview with Wilson by Richard Gehr; The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons of Gahan Wilson by Michael Maslin.

• The Unanswered Question: Irmin Schmidt, the last surviving member of Can, interviewed by Duncan Seaman. The conversation is mostly about his solo work but he also mentions plans to release a collection of live Can recordings next year.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970), the Surrealist fable directed by Jaromil Jires, receives a welcome region-free blu-ray release by Second Run in January.

At its best, the true psychedelic experience is an analogue of psychotherapy: you are encouraged to lean in to something potentially rupturing or even disturbing, in an attempt to achieve deep personal resolution rather than simply mind-scrambling hedonism or entertainment (which, to be fair, the group can provide as well). […] Despite clear and longstanding links with the extreme worlds of black metal, power electronics, industrial, sludge metal and doom, Sunn O))) have created a space that now stands beyond any obvious scene signifiers. This zone of pure affect—and what they hope will be a healing experience—is welcome to all.

John Doran on the vibrational power of Sunn O)))

Neuland is an electronic collaboration by two ex-members of Tangerine Dream, Peter Baumann and Paul Haslinger.

• Flying teapots and electric Camembert: the story of Gong, prog’s trippiest band by Simon Reynolds.

• Conversations with Ursula: Clive Hicks-Jenkins answers some questions about his art.

• Mix of the week: Test Transmission Archive Reel 38 by Keith Seatman.

• Limitation of Life: Tim Pelan on John Frankenheimer’s Seconds.

Anthony Madrid on the most famous coin in Borges.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jacques Tati Day.

Dutch Graphic Roots

The Magic Yard (1970) by Lubos Fiser | Valerie (2003) by Broadcast | Introduction (2007) by The Valerie Project

Weekend links 461

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Le Stryge (The Vampire) (1853) by Charles Méryon.

Notre-Dame-de-Paris in art and photography. Related: Chris Knapp on the Notre-Dame fire, and John Boardley on the print shops that used to cluster around the cathedral. Tangentially related: Mapping Gothic France.

The Bodies Beneath: The Flipside of British Film & Television by William Fowler and Vic Pratt will be published next month by Strange Attractor. With a foreword by Nicolas Winding Refn.

• “In his new biweekly column, Pinakothek, Luc Sante excavates and examines miscellaneous visual strata of the past.”

I also gathered underland stories, from Aeneas’s descent into Hades, through the sunken necropolises of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and the Wind Cave cosmogony of the Dakota Sioux, to accounts of the many cavers, cave-divers and free-divers who have died seeking what Cormac McCarthy calls “the awful darkness inside the world”—often unable to communicate to themselves, let alone others, what metaphysical gravity drew them down to death. Why go low? Obsession, incomprehension, compulsion and revelation were among the recurrent echoes of these stories—and they became part of my underland experiences, too.

Robert Macfarlane on underworlds real and imagined, past, present and future

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 703 by Mary Lattimore, and The Colour Of Spring by cafekaput.

• A witty appraisal by Anna Aslanyan of a lipogrammatic classic and its smart translation.

• “Unseen Kafka works may soon be revealed after Kafkaesque trial.”

• “Why do cats love bookstores?” asks Jason Diamond.

Sunn O))) pick their Bandcamp favourites.

Le Grand Nuage de Magellan

Cathedral In Flames (1984) by Coil | The Cathedral of Tears (1995) by Robert Fripp | Cathedral Et Chartres (2005) by Jack Rose

Weekend links 459

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• “Their graves were covered with cement tiles to block the radiation emanating from their corpses.” Sophie Pinkham reviews three books about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

• At Dangerous Minds: Julius Eastman: The resurrection of the visionary minimalist composer continues; at The Quietus: The Strange World of Julius Eastman.

• Mixes of the week: a Dune-inspired Secret Thirteen Mix 286 by Coeden, and ’94–95 Mirrorverse by The Ephemeral Man.

Nabokov had meanwhile acquired a literary agent in New York. She made no headway placing translations of his Russian novels. His latest, she informed him, was “dazzlingly brilliant” and hence wholly without promise for the American market. She suggested something more topical, an idea that left her client hyperventilating. “Nothing,” he would roar later, “bores me more than political novels and the literature of social unrest.” He was, he enlightened his representative, neither Sinclair Lewis nor Upton Sinclair. (Ultimately he tossed the two over the cliff together, as “Upton Lewis.”) Weeks later, in the bathroom of a Paris studio apartment, he began — “a champion figure skater switching to roller skates,” as he complained, speaking for whole cadres of displaced professionals — to write in English.

Stacy Schiff on Vladimir Nabokov, literary refugee

Iain Sinclair on Ghosts of a Ghost: William Burroughs, time surgery and the death of the image.

ST Joshi remembers Lovecraftian writer Wilum Pugmire (RIP).

The Conspirators: A Borgean Tribute to Jorge Luis Borges.

Jasper Sharp on where to begin with Japanese cyberpunk.

Greg Anderson on the new Sunn O))) album, Life Metal.

Drew Daniel of Matmos picks his Bandcamp favourites.

• The Kraken surfaces for Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

• An interview with Brian Eno by Suite (212).

Apocalypse Now: Final Cut

The Book of Weirdo

Conspiracy Of Silence (1994) by Cypher 7 | The Vodun Conspiracy (1996) by The Sidewinder | Machine Conspiracy (2010) by Conforce

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 437

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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.

Eugene Thacker listing a few favourite musicians and composers during a discussion with Michael Brooks about Thacker’s new book, Infinite Resignation

• 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.

• Mixes of the week: RA Podcast 648 by Sarah Davachi, and Secret Thirteen Mix 269 by Sstrom.

• 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.

Glass And Steel No. 1 (1983) by Marc Barreca | Death Is The Beginning (1996) by Steel | Painless Steel (2000) by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore