A mix for Halloween: Teatro Grottesco

Teatro Grottesco by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Presenting the tenth Halloween playlist, and another mix of my own. This year the compilation honours the recent Penguin collection of stories by Thomas Ligotti, hence the title and dedication. Whether a Ligotti theme can be perceived in the arrangement depends on the familiarity of the listener with Ligotti’s brand of weird fiction, but even if the mix communicates little in this direction having something to aim for helped me narrow the focus. The presence of David Lynch-related pieces is justified by Ligotti’s inclusion in a collection of fiction inspired by Lynch’s films.

As to some of the other selections: French composer Igor Wakhévitch is a {feuilleton} favourite whose orchestral works are unique, bizarre and often disturbing; Jean-Claude Eloy is another French composer who (like Tod Dockstader) has used electronics to create doom-laden dronescapes; and the piece by Sinoia Caves is an extract from the nightmarish bad-trip sequence in Beyond the Black Rainbow, a film directed by Panos Cosmatos.

Recent changes at Mixcloud mean that listeners can no longer see a tracklist before playback so here’s the detail:

Alan R. Splet, David Lynch, Ann KroeberTextured Night Wind Gently Rises And Falls (2000)
Igor WakhévitchErgon (1970)
CoilCardinal Points (1988)
Tod DockstaderMyst (2005)
Julee CruiseInto The Night (1989)
Jean-Claude EloyFushike-e (1er Extrait) (1979)
Mica LeviLonely Void (2014)
Stars Of The LidTaphead (1996)
Belbury PolyA Thin Place (2005)
Einstürzende NeubautenArmenia (1983)
Igor WakhévitchAmenthi (Attente De La Seconde Mort) (1973)
Sinoia Caves1966 – Let The New Age Of Enlightenment Begin (2014)
Angelo BadalamentiDark Mood Woods/The Red Room (2007)
Bohren & Der Club Of GoreThe Art Of Coffins (2002)

Previously on { feuilleton }
A mix for Halloween: Unheimlich Manoeuvres
A mix for Halloween: Ectoplasm Forming
A playlist for Halloween: Hauntology
A playlist for Halloween: Orchestral and electro-acoustic
A playlist for Halloween: Drones and atmospheres
A playlist for Halloween: Voodoo!
Dead on the Dancefloor
Another playlist for Halloween
A playlist for Halloween

Weekend links 248

baylay.jpg

The Dreamers (2013) by Kate Baylay, from Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen.

• RIP composer and musique-concrète pioneer Tod Dockstader. “I didn’t have the money for electronic sounds…I had to have things like bottles, or anything that would make a noise. It didn’t matter what it was; if it sounded interesting, or I could make it interesting, I’d go for it.” Geeta Dayal talked to Dockstader for Wired in 2012. Dockstader’s film credits included Fellini’s Satyricon and Tom and Jerry cartoons. He also wrote the story for one of the latter, Mouse into Space, in 1962. Ubuweb has some early Dockstader recordings.

• “…anyone who has ever sat in a cafe, or in the bath, with a paperback owes a debt to Aldus and the small, cleanly designed editions of the secular classics he called libelli portatiles, or portable little books.” Jennifer Schuessler on Aldus Manutius, and the roots of the paperback.

• “At Chernobyl, we made ‘the world’s first radioactive nature preserve.’ We made black rain. We made the Red Forest, which was green when the day began, and is dead.” Mary Margaret Alvarado reviews The Long Shadow Of Chernobyl by Gerd Ludwig.

Prison was often the fate of those caught circulating samizdat in the Soviet Union—not only the “high” samizdat such as Solzhenitsyn, but the crude and lowly joke books as well. The official rationale for the prohibition was in context no less reasonable than the rationale given more recently for condemning Charlie Hebdo or R. Crumb. There is always a perception that the very serious project of perfecting society is being undermined. But society will not be perfected, and it is a last resort of desperate perfecters to go after the subtle-minded satirists who understand this.

Justin EH Smith on why satire matters

• “You have to do your research, and you’ll find treasures that you couldn’t even have begun to sit down and draw until you saw them in front of your eyes,” says Annie Atkins, graphic designer behind The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Tales of Hoffmann: exclusive materials from the making of Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece. The film will be released on Blu-ray by the BFI later this month.

• The illustrated score for Irma, the opera offshoot of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, is now available from Lulu.

Mellifluous Ichor From Sunless Regions, a free album of Hauntological electronica by The Wyrding Module.

Kraftwerk at the controls: what the group’s live instrument setup looks like today.

• Booze, Blood and Noise: The Violent Roots of Manchester Punk by Frank Owen.

• Mix of the week: 14th February 2015 by The Séance.

Vintage logo designs

Transmission (1979) by Joy Division | Radioactivity (William Orbit mix, 1991) by Kraftwerk | Bellstomp/Pond Dance (Mordant Music remix, 2012) by Tod Dockstader

Stone Tapes and Quatermasses

penguin.jpg

Quatermass paperbacks from Jovike’s Flickr pages.

This may be another occasional series in the making since there’s already been a post about Roadside Picnic/Stalker music, and one about music inspired by the cosmic horror of William Hope Hodgson. I was going to write something earlier this year about music derived from the works of Nigel Kneale after rewatching all of Kneale’s major works. The reappraisal was prompted by the publication in January of The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, an excellent anthology of essays/speculations (and a China Miéville interview) about Kneale’s film and TV dramas. The delay in writing was a result of having to wait several months after ordering a CD of the Tod Dockstader album (see below) which for some reason the distributors couldn’t manage to get in the post.

In the Twilight Language book there’s a piece by Ken Hollings about electronic music, some of which has material connections with Kneale’s work, notably the Radiophonic Workshop’s creation of sound effects for Quatermass and the Pit. Early copies of the book came with a bonus cassette tape of Kneale-inspired music; more about that below. The men and women of the Radiophonic Workshop are the godparents of the following Kneale soundworks, most of which are British, and inevitably tend towards the grinding, droning and doom-laden end of the electronic spectrum. Given the enduring influence of Kneale’s work, especially the Quatermass serials and their film equivalents, it’s surprising there isn’t more Knealesque music to be found. (I’m avoiding the obvious film soundtracks, and any bands such as Quatermass who may be named after Kneale’s work but whose music doesn’t reflect it.) If anyone can add to this list then please leave a comment.

quatermass.jpg

Quatermass (1964) by Tod Dockstader

The American master of tape manipulation here processes hours of recordings of cymbals, pipes, tone generators, a vacuum hose and rubber balloons to create what he calls “a very dense, massive, even threatening work”. Dockstader hadn’t seen any of the Quatermass films or serials when he chose the name but he said that it sounded right. It certainly does, as does the unnerving, shrieking morass of sound he manages to craft using the most primitive equipment. The Starkland CD containing the Quatermass suite includes two further edits of the source material entitled Two Moons of Quatermass.

seance.jpg

The Séance At Hobs Lane (2001) by Mount Vernon Arts Lab

Mount Vernon Arts Lab is Drew Mulholland and various collaborators. The Séance At Hobs Lane is an abstract concept album based on Mulholland’s lifelong obsession with Quatermass and the Pit (an idée fixe he writes about in the Twilight Language book), plus “Victorian skullduggery, outlaws, secret societies and subterranean experiences”. Among the collaborators are Coil, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Barry 7 of Add N to (X), and Adrian Utley of Portishead. The album was reissued in 2007 on the Ghost Box label.

ouroborindra.jpg

Ouroborindra (2005) by Eric Zann

And speaking of Ghost Box… This album has been mentioned here on several occasions, a one-off release that’s the most consciously horror-oriented of all the works in the Ghost Box catalogue. The artist “name” and track titles reference Lovecraft and Machen but it’s included here for the dialogue quote in the insert from Kneale’s ghost drama The Stone Tape. In addition to the Mount Vernon reissue other Ghost Box references to Kneale can be found in the samples from Quatermass and the Pit (TV version) on The Bohm Site from We Are All Pan’s People by The Focus Group, and the title of the track which follows: Hob’s Rumble. Continue reading “Stone Tapes and Quatermasses”

Electronic Music Review

emr01.jpg

A new addition at the Ubuweb archives that’s catnip for anyone interested in the history of electronic music. Electronic Music Review was Reynold Weidenaar & Robert Moog’s short-lived journal devoted to the world of electronic music at a time when the field was rapidly growing away from the academic, “serious” side of musical composition and being taken up by the pop world.

All seven issues are present, running from January 1967 to July 1968. Pages of VCF circuit diagrams aren’t so interesting unless you’re an electronic engineer but the magazines also feature unique articles from composers who are now very well known, including Luciano Berio, Frederic Rzewski, Tod Dockstader, Henri Pousseur, Alvin Lucier and Jon Appleton. Despite the many women working in the field they evidently didn’t go looking for any to write for them. Granted, Wendy Carlos is among the contributors but in the late 60s she was still using the name Walter. In the later issues, Dockstader, Carlos and others review the recent electronic music releases. It’s especially fascinating to see an early reaction to albums such as Morton Subotnik’s Silver Apples of the Moon, and the debut from The United States of America, a cult favourite of mine for many years.

emr02.jpg

Scattered throughout the issues are ads for the latest studio gear and new album releases. One of these, The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music, was compiled by Paul Beaver and Bernard Krause. The latter is still recording, and happens to be interviewed in the current issue of Arthur Magazine.

emr03.jpg

emr04.jpg

Continue reading “Electronic Music Review”