Weekend links 515

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A pair of Huysmans covers from 1978 designed by Gérard Deshayes.

• Friends of the great composer/musician Jon Hassell set up a GoFundMe account a few days ago to help raise money for Jon’s medical costs. It’s always dispiriting having to link to these fund-generators when they shouldn’t be required at all but until America sorts out its health situation this is how things are. For those who’d prefer to help Jon by buying his music, there’s a Bandcamp page with a handful of releases, and more available at Bleep, the online distributor of Warp Records who helped produce his last release, Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One). Related: Words With The Shaman: Jon Hassell interviewed by Chris May.

• Every time I think I must have heard all the best of the early Kraftwerk concerts another one turns up. This new posting at YouTube is taken from a recent file upload at the concert-swapping site Dimedozen, and is believed to be a radio recording of the group playing in Vancouver, Canada, in 1975. It’s very good quality (some slight bleed from other stations) and features excellent versions of their concert repertoire at that time. The version of Autobahn is especially good.

• in 2009 Dana Mattocks built a machine he called Steampunk Frankenstein, a construction which was attended by a frame containing my first piece of steampunk art. Dana’s latest creation is TILT, the Robot with Rocket Jet-Pack.

• RIP Tony Allen, the drummer about whom Fela Kuti said “without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat”. Allen was interviewed by John Doran in 2012. Related: Tony Allen: the Afrobeat pioneer’s 10 finest recordings.

• “Robert Fripp’s ‘Music for Quiet Moments’ series. We will be releasing an ambient instrumental soundscape online every week for 50 weeks. Something to nourish us, and help us through these Uncertain Times.”

• How to avoid Amazon: the definitive guide to online shopping – without the retail titan; Hilary Osborne & Poppy Noor have some suggestions. I favour eBay for many of my purchases, large or small.

Adam Scovell on A Cinematic Lockdown: Confinement in the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Liberty Realm, a book of art by Cathy Ward, is coming soon from Strange Attractor.

• One Great Reader: Luc Sante talks to Wes del Val about his favourite books.

• Oscar Wilde and the mystery of the scarab ring by Eleanor Fitzsimons.

Unica Zürn at Musée D’art Et D’histoire De L’hôpital Sainte-Anne.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 302 by Avizohar.

• Another concert: Tuxedomoon live in Rome in 1988.

Rarefilmm | The Cave of Forgotten Films.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Ghosts.

Ghost Song (1978) by Jim Morrison & The Doors | Ghost Song (2000) by Air | Ghost Song (2005) by Patrick Wolf

The Gods of HP Lovecraft

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Yig for Rattled by Douglas Wynne.

Presenting one of this summer’s bigger projects, these are my drawings for The Gods of HP Lovecraft, a collection of 12 all-new stories edited by Aaron French for JournalStone. After I’d begun work I was asked whether I could illustrate all 12 stories but since I was already busy with The Monstrous it wasn’t possible. My drawings occupy the second half of the book, with the first half being filled out with suitable illustrations by Paul Carrick and Steve Santiago. The contents are as follows:

Call the Name by Adam LG Nevill (Cthulhu)
The Dark Gates by Martha Wells (Yog-Sothoth)
We Smoke the Northern Lights by Laird Barron (Azathoth)
Petohtalrayn by Bentley Little (Nyarlathotep)
The Doors that Never Close and the Doors that Are Always Open by David Liss (Shub-Niggurath)
The Apotheosis of a Rodeo Clown by Brett J. Talley (Tsathoggua)
Rattled by Douglas Wynne (Yig)
In Their Presence by Christopher Golden & James A. Moore (The Mi-Go)
Dream a Little Dream of Me by Jonathan Maberry (Nightgaunts)
In the Mad Mountains by Joe R. Lansdale (Elder Things)
A Dying of the Light by Rachel Caine (Great Race of Yith)
Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves by Seanan McGuire (The Deep Ones)

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Mi-Go for In Their Presence by Christopher Golden & James A. Moore.

Despite having produced a fair amount of Lovecraft-related illlustration there’s still some areas of his work that I haven’t touched, especially where creature portraits are concerned. So this collection features my first attempts at rendering one of the Mi-Go and one of the Yithians from The Shadow Out of Time. The latter are often represented as fearsome monsters which always strikes me as erroneous when so much description in the story is devoted to their book reading and archive building. Aliens, yes, but monsters they are not. There was some concern when I delivered the artwork that the fine lines and detail might not print so well on paperback stock but the printing is excellent throughout. I recommend this collection for anyone in the mood for some new Lovecraftian fiction.

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Night-Gaunt for Dream a Little Dream of Me by Jonathan Maberry.

Continue reading “The Gods of HP Lovecraft”

Art that transcends

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Late last year, US design magazine Communication Arts asked me to write a piece about psychedelic art, past and present. The resulting feature has been out for a couple of weeks in the May/June issue (no. 56) but I hadn’t seen it in print until a copy turned up today. Attempting to wrangle discussion of a very wide-ranging and amorphous field into 1500 words isn’t an easy task but I managed to sketch a history of psychedelic art beginning with Aldous Huxley and Humphrey Osmond’s mescaline experiments in the 1950s. Art that can be considered psychedelic goes back into prehistory but Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954) is the first book that considered art in general from a psychedelic viewpoint. That book, and the later Heaven and Hell (1956), are still valuable for their aesthetic meditations however much Huxley’s optimism may have been tainted by the ferment of the 1960s.

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Primitive And Deadly (2014) by Earth. Art by Samantha Muljat.

The psychedelic art of the 60s isn’t exactly overlooked so I paid more attention to tracing the influence of the psychedelic style, and also mentioning painters such as Ernst Fuchs, Alex Grey, Martina Hoffmann and Mati Klarwein. Among the more recent artists, I was pleased that Samantha Muljat‘s album cover for Earth was featured. I’ve been listening to this album a great deal over the past few months, and loved that cover as soon as I saw it. One of the other contemporary names, Brazilian artist Duda Lanna, works in a very different style: bold, vivid, and often abstract. There seems to be a lot of this kind of work around at the moment, so much so that I kept spotting new examples after the article had been delivered. It’s difficult to say whether this is a developing trend or simply a case of there being more of everything around these days. I’ll play safe and suggest it’s probably a bit of both although, as I say at the end of the article, if the movement to legalise drugs gains momentum we can expect to see a lot more psychedelic art.

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Garden of Psychedelic Delights by Duda Lanna.

Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Four

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LIFE, September 9th, 1966. Photo by Yale Joel.

Continuing the psychedelic mega-mix based on Jon Savage’s list of “100 mind-expanding masterpieces” (see this post). The fourth of the six mixes is the first visit to the USA, with songs from the years 1965 to 1967 arranged in mostly chronological order. As before, the selections from the Savage 100 are in bold, and I’ve added notes about my additions or amendments.

US psychedelia differs from the UK variety in its origins—there’s often a country or folk influence where British bands tended to be working from a background of R&B—and in the political reality that lurks underneath the spaced-out sentiments. UK psychedelia can be whimsical to a degree that tips into childishness, the stakes are often nothing more serious than the risk of being busted for illicit drug use; America was a nation at war overseas and at home, with riots and assassinations forming a backdrop to many of these songs. Kaleidoscope’s Keep Your Mind Open sounds like it might be a typical plea for freer thinking but the lyrics address the war in Vietnam, and the song fades out to the sounds of gunfire.

US Psychedelia, Part One by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Radio ad — Psych Out
The Byrds — Eight Miles High (first version)
The Charlatans — Alabama Bound
Jefferson Airplane — Blues From An Airplane
Country Joe & The Fish — Section 43
Great SocietySomeone To Love
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band — Electricity
Oxford Circle — Foolish Woman
The Vejtables — Feel The Music
The 13th Floor Elevators — Slip Inside This House (The Savage 100 has Roller Coaster but I got hooked on the momentum of this one—which is actually from 1968—via a compilation.)
The Count Five — Psychotic Reaction
The Magic Mushrooms — It’s-A-Happening (One of the outstanding numbers on the original Nuggets compilation.)
The Sons Of Adam — Feathered Fish
Love — 7 & 7 Is
The Beach Boys — Good Vibrations
Sopwith Camel — Frantic Desolation
The Doors — Crystal Ship
The Seeds — Mr. Farmer
Kaleidoscope (US) — Keep Your Mind Open
Radio ad — Vox Wah-Wah Pedal
The Electric Prunes — I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (Savage has Get Me To The World On Time but this is one of my favourite psych songs of all.)
Mystery Trend — Johnny Was A Good Boy
The Moving Sidewalks — 99th Floor (The first single by a band featuring ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.)
Moby Grape — Omaha

Previously on { feuilleton }
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Three
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Two
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part One
What Is A Happening?
My White Bicycle
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
Tomorrow Never Knows
The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!
A splendid time is guaranteed for all

The Winchester Mystery House

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Winchester House, 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose, Santa Clara County, CA.

“One of the peculiar traits of Hill House is its design—”

“Crazy house at the carnival.”

“Precisely. Have you not wondered at our extreme difficulty in finding our way around? An ordinary house would not have had the four of us in such confusion for so long, and yet time after time we choose the wrong doors, the room we want eludes us. Even I have had my troubles.” He sighed and nodded. “I daresay,” he went on, “that old Hugh Crain expected that someday Hill House might become a showplace, like the Winchester House in California or the many octagon houses; he designed Hill House himself, remember, and, I have told you before, he was a strange man. Every angle”—and the doctor gestured toward the doorway—”every angle is slightly wrong. Hugh Crain must have detested other people and their sensible squared-away houses, because he made his house to suit his mind. Angles which you assume are the right angles you are accustomed to, and have every right to expect are true, are actually a fraction of a degree off in one direction or another. I am sure, for instance, that you believe that the stairs you are sitting on are level, because you are not prepared for stairs which are not level—”

They moved uneasily, and Theodora put out a quick hand to take hold of the balustrade, as though she felt she might be falling.

“—are actually on a very slight slant toward the central shaft; the doorways are all a very little bit off centre—that may be, by the way, the reason the doors swing shut unless they are held…”

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson.

I re-read Shirley Jackson’s novel a few months ago but neglected at the time to follow-up the reference to the Winchester House. News this week that Sarah Winchester’s sprawling folly in San Jose is to finally allow overnight stays prompted some investigation. The most remarkable thing about the Winchester Mystery House is that it’s much more of an oddity than its fictional relation, if you overlook (so to speak) the fact that Shirley Jackson’s house is a home to malevolent spectres. Sarah Winchester was heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, and instituted a process of continual and completely uncoordinated house-building for thirty-seven years, believing that this would confound the ghosts of those killed by the weapons bearing her name. Among the house’s 160 rooms are extraneous chambers and closets, doors to nowhere, and stairways serving no purpose. The spirit-trapping decorations include repeated spider-web motifs, and a recurrence of the number 13; one room at least was originally a Séance Room. This blog post concerns a tour round the house as it is today, while the Library of Congress has a number of views of the place.

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View looking west from top floor.

It’s unfortunate that the house was built in California’s earthquake zone, the structure had reached seven stories until the 1906 earthquake forced the removal of the three topmost floors. I had to go looking for views of the pre-quake building, and happily there are a few preserved on old postcards. When Blue Öyster Cult chose Adolph Sutro’s Cliff House for the cover of their Imaginos album they certainly picked the more immediately photogenic building, but the Winchester Mystery House a few miles to the south has it beat when it comes to metaphysical cachet.

The Winchester Mystery House at Pinterest.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Cliff House revisited
Adolph Sutro’s Gingerbread Palace