Weekend links 734

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Illustration by Frank Mechau for The Love of Myrrhine and Konallis (1926) by Richard Aldington.

• At A Year In The Country: The Delaware Road: “A surreal post-war Albion and Quatermass meets Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

• At Colossal: Rajesh Vora photographs the unique Punjabi tradition of adorning homes with sculptural water tanks.

• At Unquiet Things: The fragile eternity of Margaretha Roosenboom’s floral still lifes.

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Illustration by Frank Mechau for The Love of Myrrhine and Konallis (1926) by Richard Aldington.

• New music: Damaged by Ghost Dubs, and Selene by Akira Kosemura & Lawrence English.

• At Public Domain Review: Allison C. Meier on The Dance of Death across centuries.

• RIP Shelley Duvall. Related: Anne Billson on Shelley Duvall: her 20 greatest films.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Galerie Dennis Cooper presents…Félicien Rops.

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Sisters.

Eno Williams’ favourite records.

Two Sisters (1967) by The Kinks | All Your Sisters (1996) by Mazzy Star | Two Sisters (2017) by Gel-Sol

Music beyond time: Jenzeits

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Where Monday’s post was about the cosmic music of the 1970s, this one concerns something in the same zone that’s more contemporary. Chad Davis is an American musician who likes to compartmentalise his activities as separate projects with different names. Jenzeits is Davis in kosmische mode, drawing heavily on the Berlin School of electronica and similar music of the 1970s, with a name that collides Jenseits, a title from Join Inn, the fourth album by Ash Ra Tempel, with Zeit, the third album by Tangerine Dream. (“Jenseits” is the German word for beyond, while “zeit” means time, so “Jenzeits” might be taken as a pun meaning “beyond time”. German speakers, however, may see this less as a pun than simply poor use of their language.)

There’s been a lot of Berlin-School pastiching going on over the past few years, the mid-70s albums by Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze being very popular among the period imitators. I’m always referring to Redshift and Node as my favourite exponents in this idiom. Chad Davis is obviously inspired by the same albums but my attention was caught on a first hearing by his homages to the music that Manuel Göttsching was making under the Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra name during the same period, especially Le Berceau De Cristal, New Age Of Earth, and (to a lesser extent) Blackouts. Göttsching was always primarily a guitar player, but by the mid-70s he was combining his guitar work with sequencers and synthesizers to create instrumental electronic music with a different texture to his keyboard-based contemporaries. New Age Of Earth has a hippyish title that might be off-putting to curious listeners but it’s long been one of my favourite electronic albums, with a unique atmosphere that I wish Göttsching had pursued a little further. (The title in German on the back of the original French release is Neuzeit der Erde, literally “New Time of Earth”. Zeit again.) The album’s unique qualities are a product of its blend of processed guitar, keyboards and electronic rhythms, the latter being created by the EKO Computerhythm, an early programmable drum machine which could also be used to trigger other instruments to create sequencer patterns.

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New Age Of Earth (1976). Design by Peter Butschkow.

I can’t say for certain whether Davis had this music or instrumentation in mind when recording his third Jenzeits album, Jenzeits Cosmic Orbits, but the similarities were enough to make me want to hear more. One of the frustrations of electronic music historically has been the way the evolution of technology has dictated its form. Tangerine Dream’s music changed according to the instrumentation they had available at any given time; new equipment meant new sounds and musical possibilities very different to the ones the group had been exploring a couple of years before. This doesn’t happen to the same degree with other musicians, especially guitarists who are often happy to play the same battered instrument for years on end. For a listener, the technical evolution of electronic music has often left behind abandoned areas or unexplored avenues. In this respect, the music of Jenzeits is less a series of pastiches than an attempt to further some of these explorations.

There are 12 Jenzeits releases to date, all of which are available on Bandcamp. Some of the earlier ones have also appeared on vinyl and cassette. If a CD box of the entire Jenzeits catalogue appeared I’d buy it in a second but I doubt this will happen any time soon. For the curious, Jenzeits Volume 1 is a good place to start. The last Jenzeits release was in 2020 which suggests we’ve seen the end of this particular project. For those who’d like more (and I still do), an earlier Chad Davis project, Romannis Mötte, ventured into similar territory.


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Jenzeits Cosmic Universe (2017).


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Jenzeits Cosmic Lifeforms (2017).


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Jenzeits Cosmic Orbits (2017).


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Jenzeits Volume 1 (2018).


Continue reading “Music beyond time: Jenzeits”

Cosmic jokes and a cosmic conundrum

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Tangerine Dream in 1973.

Here’s an item of news that will be of little interest to many readers but I’ve not seen it reported widely so it’s worth noting. (This place is nothing if not a cornucopia of deeply excavated niches, so you can take this as further niche excavation.) The news concerns recordings that Tangerine Dream made with Timothy Leary in 1973…or Leary recordings which were added to Tangerine Dream music in the same year. One problem with writing about all of this is that documentation remains elusive. Bearing this in mind, the details are as follows:

• Tangerine Dream were signed to Ohr Records from 1970 to 1973, a label for whom they recorded their first four albums plus one seven-inch single. During this time they were also featured along with label-mates Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh and Klaus Schulze on an Ohr compilation, Kosmische Musik.

• “Kosmische” is the key word here. Ohr boss Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser liked the word enough to create an Ohr offshoot, Die Kosmischen Kuriere (The Cosmic Couriers), which later became the short-lived Kosmische Musik label.

• Also in the early 1970s, Timothy Leary, on the run from the US authorities, arrived in Switzerland where he and his allies (including Brian Barritt and Leary’s future wife, Joanna Harcourt-Smith) began hanging around with various members of the Swiss psychedelic avant-garde. Among the latter were writer Sergius Golowin, and a pair of artists, Walter Wegmüller and HR Giger.

• Ohr/Kosmische Kuriere/Kosmische Musik was based in Berlin, but at some point after Leary’s arrival in Switzerland R-U Kaiser and a handful of his recording artists met up with the Swiss psychonauts, an encounter that led to a series of musical collaborations: Seven Up, the third Ash Ra Tempel album which featured vocal intrusions from Leary and friends; Lord Krishna Von Goloka by Sergius Golowin, an album of Golowin readings with music by Klaus Schulze and others; and Tarot, an ambitious double-disc concept album narrated by (and credited to) Walter Wegmüller which included contributions from many of the major Ohr/Kosmische Kuriere artists. No Tangerine Dream, however.

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Spalax CD reissues from the mid-1990s. Cover designs by Peter Geitner.

• Here’s where things get complicated. At some point while the above were being recorded, R-U Kaiser decided to release a series of “kosmische” jams by Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze and others which were credited to an imaginary group, The Cosmic Jokers. There are various reports about these sessions, with claims and counter-claims about whether or not permission was granted by the musicians. I can’t comment on the legal history (which led eventually to the collapse of Kaiser’s company) but Kaiser and his wife, Gille Letteman, appear to have been gripped by a kind of cosmic megalomania in 1974. The Cosmic Jokers album was quickly followed by four more releases in the same year: Galactic Supermarket (yet more jams by the same musicians but credited to Galactic Supermarket); Gilles Zeitschiff by Sternenmädchen (in which Gille Letteman and friends recount Timothy Leary’s flight to Switzerland and the meetings with the Cosmic Couriers); Planeten Sit-In (a quadrophonic sampler album created as a promotion for the Kosmische Musik label in conjunction with Germany’s Hobby magazine); and Sci Fi Party, an uneven compilation album which blends various Kosmische Musik recordings into a cosmic slop presided over by the label bosses who dominate the front cover.

Continue reading “Cosmic jokes and a cosmic conundrum”

Weekend links 733

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Armenian postage stamps for this year’s Sergei Parajanov centenary.

• At Criterion.com: David Hudson on 100 Years of Sergei Parajanov. The director is honoured with postage stamps and endless plaudits but when do we get blu-ray releases of more of the films that created all this attention in the first place?

• Steven Heller helps round off a noir-themed week with a look back at New York, the city where letterers never sleep. See also Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York.

• New music: Natur by KMRU; Associated Tone Services by Associated Tone Services; The Berklee Sessions by Scanner & Neil Leonard.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Hyper realistic pencil drawings of metallic objects by Kohei Ohmori.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: You are there: Les Cabarets du Ciel et de l’Enfer.

Chris Corsano’s favourite albums.

Signs by Daniel McKee.

• RIP Robert Towne.

Ciel Ouvert (1985) by Yello | Ciels Ténébreuse (1990) by :Zoviet*France: | Monter Au Ciel (1994) by Transglobal Underground

Weekend links 732

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Chasing Fireflies, A Lady of the Tenmei Era, from the series Thirty-six Elegant Selections (1894) by Mizuno Toshikata.

• While working on the Herald of Ruin cover late last year I was wondering when we might get to see the BFI or Eureka releasing Louis Feuillade’s silent serials on Region B blu-ray discs. Six months later, Eureka have announced this very thing: Louis Feuillade: The Complete Crime Serials (1913–1918), a box comprising the Gaumont restorations of Fantômas, Les Vampires, Judex and Tih Minh. I’ll probably have more to say about this in September.

• At A Year In The Country: Wyrd Explorations: A Decade Of Wandering Through Spectral Fields, a book which collects revised and extended pieces from the first ten years of A Year In The Country posts.

• At The Paris Review: Eliza Barry Callahan visits and revisits Joseph Cornell’s house at 37-08 Utopia Parkway, NYC.

• New music: Jinxed By Being by Shackleton & Six Organs of Admittance.

• Browse artworks by Pablo Picasso at the Picasso Museum, Paris.

• At Unquiet Things: Victor Kalin’s Paradoxical Paperback Art.

Strange Transmissions: The World Of Experimental Radio.

• At Dennis Cooper’s it’s Satoshi Kon‘s Day.

Aaron Turner’s favourite music.

• DJ Food’s haul of Acid Badges.

Acid Head (1966) by The Velvet Illusions | Acid Heart Mother (2000) by Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. | Acid Death Picnic (2013) by Cavern Of Anti-Matter