The kosmische design of Peter Geitner

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Cyborg (1973) by Klaus Schulze.

More German music design. Once you start delving into the music produced in Germany between 1969 and 1975 you eventually notice that a) the good albums generally have decent cover designs, and b) there are many justly forgotten albums with astonishingly tasteless artwork. Most of the well-known names were smart enough to craft a visual identity: Kraftwerk’s efforts have been explored here recently but there was also the Gothic Surrealism of Falk-U Rogner’s photo montages for Amon Düül II (worthy of a post in themselves); Neu! followed the lead of Kraftwerk with strikingly minimal presentation; Faust’s debut album was released on transparent vinyl in a clear sleeve while their second album was an all-black sleeve with a series of strange pictures inside, one for each song. Can are a notable exception in having no clear identity.

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Peter Geitner is unique in this scene in being the only graphic designer you can find who was creating any kind of consistent identity for a label and a group of artists. Almost all the work here is for Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser’s short-lived Kosmische Musik which replaced the earlier Die Kosmischen Kuriere. Both labels were offshoots of Ohr Records (Tangerine Dream’s original home), and catered mostly to the musicians based in Berlin, with a later detour to Switzerland. All the releases feature Geitner’s recurrent motifs of radiating stars and sunburst graphics. I think one of the reasons I like Geitner’s design is because I have a tendency to use similar spiky sunbursts in my own work. Whatever Geitner did after the collapse of Kosmische Musik I’ve yet to discover.

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The standard design for the vinyl labels. Many of the albums were released as quadrophonic mixes so the star logo also signifies multi-directional sound. Klaus Schulze’s album is nothing if not cosmic, four sides of treated strings and swirling synth noise.

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Seven Up (1973) by Timothy Leary & Ash Ra Tempel.

This is a reissue design that replaces the more common sleeve with its Walter Wegmüller doodles and poor layout. I didn’t used to like the music very much either, two sides of bluesy jams with Tim Leary and cohorts bellowing over the top. But it’s a historical oddity, a rare connection between the US psychedelic scene and the German music which took psychedelia in new directions.

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Weekend links 193

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A Problem Glyph by Eliza Gauger. Problem Glyphs are “symbolic illustrations … drawn in response to problems sent in by tumblr users”.

Kosmische Night takes place at the Museum of Bath at Work, Bath, Somerset, on January 25th (Rescheduled to February 22nd).  “…a celebration of all things Teutonic for anyone who enjoys Neu!, Can, Tangerine Dream, Stockhausen and Kraftwerk,” say the organisers. Also on the bill, The Electric Pentacle, a Carnacki-esque collaboration between Narco Lounge Combo and The Levels.

• Shock Headed Peters’ Fear Engine II: Almost As If It Had Never Happened. Joe Banks on Karl Blake, “…one of the most fascinating and colourful characters to emerge from the fertile loam of the post-punk scene”.

• “The great question in the film and the tale is not the existence of the ghosts but the way the governess understands their no-longer-lived lives and desires.” Michael Wood on The Innocents.

Nobody, however, is a greater authority on the intersection of porn and alternative spirituality than Annie Sprinkle. Beginning as a prostitute in the 1960s and 70s, she entered porn in the pre-AIDS era and made over two hundred films. She then jumped into a career as a sex-positive author and educator, which brought her into close conflict not only with feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, but also right-wing patriarch Jesse Helms, who denounced one of her sex magick performance pieces on the floor of the Senate. For Sprinkle, both sexuality and performance are explicitly spiritual and magical, part of her role as a cultural shaman.

In the Valley of the Porn Witches by Jason Louv.

Stars of the Lid and Wordless Music Orchestra playing for two hours last month at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Rick Poynor on the late Martin Sharp’s contributions to People, Politics and Pop: Australians in the Sixties (1968) by Craig McGregor.

Maggie Greene on The Woman in Green: A Chinese Ghost Tale from Mao to Ming, 1981–1381.

• “TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment,” says Benjamin H Bratton.

Geoff Manaugh on how corpses helped shape the London Underground.

Tony White on Eduardo Paolozzi at New Worlds by David Brittain.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 102 by Frank Bretschneider.

• At Dangerous Minds: film of Syd Barrett‘s first psychedelic trip.

NYPL Wire: a New York Public Library Tumblr.

Microbial art by Eshel Ben-Jacob and others.

Interstellar Rock: Kosmische Musik (1974) by The Cosmic Jokers | I, Bloodbrother Be (1984) by Shock Headed Peters | Obscene and Pornographic Art (1991) by Bongwater