Weekend links 406

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Ways Of Seeing will be the next release by The Advisory Circle on the Ghost Box label, and with metallic gold cover art by Julian House.

• “The structure came to Argento while he was tripping on some good acid, a fevered dream logic piecing everything together. […] ‘People came running out, screaming, telling people in the queue “Don’t go in! Don’t go in! It’s all witches!” It just made everyone in line want to get in even more… it was amazing.'” Ben Cobb talks to Dario Argento about the making of a horror masterpiece, Suspiria.

• Mixes of the week: The Wire Playlist by Mary Halvorson, XLR8R Podcast 535 by Sofie, and Out of the Wood Show 93 by Robin The Fog.

• Death by Balloon: Chris Mautner on the horrifying and hilarious world of comic artist Junji Ito.

Look, any honest estimation of the new translation, by Michael Hofmann, of Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz from NYRB Classics is bound to begin with duteous piety, lauding it, since it is a one-and-done masterpiece that’s basically impossible to oversell, as (why not) the single biggest event in publishing in a lifetime, a crucial refurbishment of something English-language readers have been missing out on for a century, and a long-missing piece of Modernism’s ponderous jigsaw. All of which is the case of course. But when we’re talking about a dense, all-but-untranslatable Weimar-era novel, whose only point of reference for Anglophone audiences until now has been Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s meticulous fifteen-hour adaptation from 1980 (one heck of a tease) it feels important to attempt a slight rescue from its own forbidding reputation, because Alexanderplatz is less a book than a living thing, and one that joyously resists the dust heap of bourgeois literary scholarship with its every line.

JW McCormack on the new translation of Alfred Döblin’s Modernist classic

Section 28 protesters 30 years on: “We were arrested and put in a cell up by Big Ben”.

Angelique Kidjo talks reinventing Talking Heads’ Remain In Light on new LP.

• The hidden lives of gay men in the Middle East: photographs by Hoda Afshar.

Al Pacino’s journey with Wilde’s Salomé.

Tenebrous Kate

• Are You Seeing (1969) by Ora | Seeing Out The Angel (1981) by Simple Minds | Sine Seeing (2014) by The Advisory Circle

Weekend links 315

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The Deluge (1920) by Winifred Knights.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, nonfiction, film, music, art & internet of 2016 so far. (Thanks again for the nod to this blog!)

• At Literary Hub: Jonathan Russell Clark on Jorge Luis Borges, and Jon Sealy on why indie presses [in the US] are opening bookstores.

• “It’s not just about the music.” A conversation on the occult practices in the arts between poet Janaka Stucky and Peter Bebergal.

• Daisy Woodward talks to Andreas Horvath about Helmut Berger, Actor, a documentary about Visconti’s muse and lover.

• More Fritz Leiber: Brian J. Showers on his decision to republish Leiber’s horror novel, The Pale Brown Thing.

• Mixes of the week: Sextape 4 by Drixxxe, and Radio Oscillations #96 (Richard Pinhas/Heldon) by Iron Blu.

• The 5th Young One: Pay No Attention to the Girl Behind the Sofa; John Reppion on a television mystery.

• More reading suggestions: Cheerless beach reads for gloomsters and saddies by S. Elizabeth.

• Never the same film twice: Seances by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson.

• How painter Winifred Knights became Britain’s “unknown genius”.

• The Journey & The Destination: An interview with Hawthonn.

Robert Latona goes in search of the grave of Constance Wilde.

• Invisible by Day: photos by Mikko Lagerstedt.

• A Queer Lit Q&A with Evan J. Peterson.

• RIP Michael Herr and Bernie Worrell.

Bridget Riley: The Curve Paintings.

• The typography of Blade Runner.

Japanese matchbox labels

SOS by Portishead

A Rainbow In Curved Air (1969) by Terry Riley | The Great Curve (1980) by Talking Heads | Dangerous Curves (2003) by King Crimson

The South Bank Show: Talking Heads

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Like many UK arts documentaries, The South Bank Show seldom repeated its films so you had to watch them when they were broadcast or you might never see them at all. This Talking Heads feature from 1979 is one that I missed, a great portrait of the band shortly after the release of their third album, Fear Of Music. Shots of the group performing songs from the first three albums are intercut with interviews and montages of American TV. You also get to see a very young-looking David Byrne writing (or attempting to write) some lyrics. The most revelatory aspect of the film now is the discussion of the ordinariness of both the band and their lyrics. In 1979 being resolutely mundane had become a radical position.

Ear to the Ground

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The name of percussionist David Van Tieghem won’t be familiar to most people, but if you’ve ever heard Eno & Byrne’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Speaking In Tongues by Talking Heads, any of Laurie Anderson’s early albums or Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians then you’ve heard some of Van Tieghem’s session work.

For Ear to the Ground, a four-minute video piece by John Sanborn & Kit Fitzgerald, Van Tieghem leaves the recording studio to play the city streets of New York: pavements, fences, doorways, etc. This may be a typical product of the NYC art crowd of the late 1970s but it also seems prescient for the way it predicts the urban percussion/performance that would flourish a couple of years later in Europe, a micro-genre exemplified by Einstürzende Neubauten, 23 Skidoo, Test Department, the Bow Gamelan Ensemble and others. Watch Ear to the Ground at Ubuweb.

The Catherine Wheel by Twyla Tharp

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The music links this weekend were all related to my favourite Talking Heads period, 1979–1982, which not only encompasses the release of the band’s Fear Of Music and Remain In Light albums but also saw the individual group members produce some great solo records. I’d been playing one of these, the first Tom Tom Club album, all week while the sun was out. Now the temperature has dropped again, and we’re back to this summer’s default setting of perma-rain, the music doesn’t feel quite so appropriate. In 1981 while Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz were exercising their funk muscles David Byrne was recording My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts with Brian Eno. The score Byrne produced immediately prior to this for the Twyla Tharp Dance Company often sounds like My Life… avant la lettre, with similar musicians (Eno included), sounds and rhythms. This is one reason I favour Songs From The Broadway Production Of “The Catherine Wheel” over Byrne’s subsequent solo albums.

The Catherine Wheel was a seventy-two minute dance film choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp. The film was part-produced by the BBC and as far as I’m aware was only ever broadcast the once in Britain in 1983. Byrne’s score runs continuously as on the CD and cassette versions, the vinyl release being a re-sequenced editing of the tracks favouring the handful of songs. In dance terms the film was very innovative for the time, employing some subtle video effects and a couple of sequences where a duet is danced with a wire-frame CGI figure. A long end sequence, The Golden Section, predates The Catherine Wheel, and was apparently the origin of the project. Since I hadn’t seen any of this in nearly thirty years my search for Tom Tom Club videos at the weekend made me wonder whether YouTube had any Catherine Wheel clips, only to find that the entire film can be viewed here in a recording from Italian TV. (That copy was removed, link now goes to another one.) I’m so familiar with Byrne’s album it’s been fascinating seeing this again, especially since I only saw it on a small black-and-white TV originally and recalled very little of the performance. All the music works well enough on its own but seems completed when heard in this context, especially during The Golden Section. The film is also available on DVD from Kultur so this is another item for the shopping list.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Moonlight in Glory
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts