Pin culture

pins1.jpg

In the mail this week, a pair of new pins from the pin-maker and seller who made the exquisite Future Days pin. (eBay shop | Etsy shop) The Ege Bamyasi pin isn’t as effective as the earlier Can design but I feel compelled to encourage the effort, especially when most of the designs from this maker are for punk or post-punk bands. I also enjoy the novelty of seeing things like this at all. The years when I was discovering German music via secondhand releases (late 70s, early 80s) coincided with a period when I spent a lot of time scouring local shops for unusual badges. Growing up in a holiday resort gave me access to a greater quantity of cultural ephemera than you’d find in nearby towns, yet during this time I never saw any badges related to the German groups, not even Kraftwerk. As for prestige enamel items, you seldom saw these outside concert merchandise stalls where hardcore fans could be relied upon to pay more for their memorabilia.

pins2.jpg

Official pins from Hawkwind, Magma and Ghost Box Records.

The recent emergence of a cottage industry devoted to enamel pins means that these aren’t the only such items you’ll find on eBay or Etsy, but most of the others I’ve seen are either substandard (like another attempt to rework the Future Days cover) or are from North American sellers who want you to pay £25 or more for postage. Nein danke. But wherever the pin makers are located they all face the problem of how to create something related to groups who didn’t have a graphic identity that can easily be converted to metal and enamel. Where Can are concerned you could at least do this with their name as it appears on the Tago Mago cover. (Maybe such a thing exists already?) And I was amused to see that one pin maker has managed to reduce Manuel Göttsching’s chessboard cover for E2–E4 to pin size. What I’d really like now is a Neu! pin in black and white like the design on the cover of Neu! 75. Here’s hoping…

Previously on { feuilleton }
A Can pin
Rock shirts

Weekend links 719

rimmington.jpg

The Decoy (1948) by Edith Rimmington.

• “Among other things, [Dalí’s] storyboards involved [Ingrid] Bergman turning into a statue that would then break up into ants.” Tim Jonze talks to film scholar John Russell Taylor about the storyboards for Alfred Hitchcock’s films, including the ones for Spellbound which Taylor found in a bric-a-brac sale.

• “Of all the pop acts that proliferated in the early 80s, it was Soft Cell who retained punk’s sharp, provocative edges.” Matthew Lindsay on 40 years of Soft Cell’s This Last Night In Sodom.

• Coming soon from White Rabbit books: Futuromania: Electronic Dreams, Desiring Machines and Tomorrow’s Music Today by Simon Reynolds.

Anathema to many philosophical systems, or perhaps philosophy itself, Lovecraft’s philosophical project fundamentally holds that contemplations of higher reality or the nature of things can never be fully realised. Ultimately, the search for knowledge does not constitute some telos, some purpose, for humankind, but rather leads to the violent dissolution of the self. Higher reality is that which the limited human psyche can never fully comprehend.

Sam Woodward on the cosmic philosophy of HP Lovecraft

• At Public Domain Review: Grotesqueries at Gethsemane: Marcus Gheeraerts’ Passio Verbigenae (c.1580).

• “Here is a remarkable form of popular heraldry.” Mark Valentine on the mystique of old inn signs.

• At Bandcamp: Brad Sanders on where to begin with Lustmord’s cosmic ambient.

• New music: Eleven Fugues For Sodium Pentothal by Adam Wiltzie.

• At Aquarium Drunkard: Jason P. Woodbury talks to Roger Eno.

Gomorrha (1973) by Can | Sodom (1978) by Can | Spellbound (1981) by Siouxsie And The Banshees

Weekend links 717

smith.jpg

Bookplate of Charles P. Searle (1904) by Sidney Lawton Smith.

• “If Minute 9 is the first time we hear the names Deckard and Blade Runner, it’s also the first time we meet the plainclothes cop who will play a key role in LAPD surveillance of Deckard—and in the changed emphasis of four subsequent versions of Blade Runner released over the next twenty-five years.” Des Barry in the latest Minute 9 installment at 3:AM Magazine, in which a writer analyses the ninth minute of a favourite film.

• “I’ve really started to respect the journalists who are documenting what artists are doing… There’s so much reliance on social media for artists to express themselves, but maybe some don’t want to express themselves on social media all the time. Maybe they’d rather talk to a professional journalist who could parse through it for them. It can be more interesting that way.” Julia Holter talking to Skye Butchard about music-making.

• “I didn’t use any instruments that had been manufactured after 1980, but vintage analogue gear to sound like the tracks that they’re trying to evoke.” Matt Berry discussing his enthusiasm for library music, and his new album of the same for the KPM label.

• Mixes of the week: Monument Waves 002 at A Strangely Isolated Place, and DreamScenes – March 2024 at Ambientblog.

• At Public Domain Review: The Art of Sutherland Macdonald, Victorian England’s “Michelangelo of Tattooing” (ca. 1905).

• At Colossal: Unearthly characters populate Spencer Hansen’s salvaged universe.

• At Bandcamp: A Guide to Can by George Grella.

• Galerie Dennis Cooper presents…Amir Zaki.

• New music: Shoures Soote by Cerfilic.

Queens Of The Circulating Library (2000) by Coil | Library Of Solomon Book 1 (2011) by Demdike Stare | The Equestrian Library (2013) by Broadcast

On Babaluma

babaluma.jpg

It’s never the same without the foil sleeve.

Since the death of Damo Suzuki I’ve been reading the Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt book about Can, All Gates Open. Can’s history isn’t exactly unfamiliar so it’s taken me a while to get round to it. I’ve been listening to their music for over 40 years, and bought the Can Box when it came out, a release which includes the Can Book, a substantial volume by Hildegard Schmidt and Wolf Kampmann containing career-spanning interviews with the core members of the group. Mysteries persist, however, so it’s been satisfying to have some of them resolved in the newer book, like the question of what exactly the title of the group’s sixth album, Soon Over Babaluma (1974) refers to. I’ve always liked this album, it was the second or third one I bought in 1981 when I found a secondhand copy of the original release in its shiny foil sleeve. Irmin Schmidt sings the words “Soon over Babaluma” on the second track, Come Sta, La Luna, a title which Young reveals as originating with Leonardo da Vinci. Then he has this to say:

Playfully extemporising from this text, Irmin cast his eyes across the studio to where Jaki’s girlfriend of the time, a woman called Christine, was perched on a sofa with accustomed stillness. “She had this really mysterious aura around her… She could sit there for hours like a cat not moving, or just drawing, or maybe doing nothing,” Irmin recalls. “So ‘Come sta, la luna’ was about Christine in a way. I’m talking about this girl who is going through walls. I don’t remember the words any more and I have never written it down. But there is something very spacey in the words—’Dancer on the rope, in the space’ or something. But when I wrote that, she was sitting in the studio and I was looking at her… I found her very mysterious and very beautiful.”

Almost by accident, the phrase “soon over Babaluma” emerged out of this stream of consciousness. “The word ‘Babaluma’ came out of a conversation with Jaki about the words. He maybe thought I had another word before, and he said, ‘What did you say? Babaluma?’ And because it rhymed with ‘luna’, it was a kind of playing with words—it didn’t mean anything. And it’s true surrealism. But the whole text is about something happening in space, out there. Seeing the moon and, from there, soon being over Babaluma—which must be another star or something. So it has another story behind it.”

So it was automatic writing after all. For a group whose compositions evolved out of endless improvisation this almost seems inevitable. Young makes a good argument for Soon Over Babaluma being Can’s cosmic album, made at a time when the kosmische idiom was peaking in Germany; even Kraftwerk were a little cosmic in 1973/74, with their Kohoutek-Kometenmelodie single being reworked for side 2 of Autobahn. There’s a lot of enlightening detail in All Gates Open, I recommend it. (Although I’m sure that’s a Stylophone solo on Moonshake, not a melodica as he seems to think.)

Meanwhile, Damo returns to the world this month with an official release for the Paris, 1973 concert. This one has circulated for years as a bootleg, and it’s a better showing by the band than some of the other recordings in the recent live series. More, please.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Holger’s Radio Pictures
Jaki Liebezeit times ten
Can esoterics
Can soundtracks
Can’s Lost Tapes

Weekend links 713

hishida.jpg

Black Cat (1910) by Shunso Hishida.

• “A duck goes quack quack in English but coin coin in French. In Spanish a dog goes guau-guau, not woof woof, while in Arabic it goes haw haw, and in Mandarin wang-wang. In Japanese cats go nyaa, and bees—having no access to the zz sound—go boon-boon.” Caspar Henderson asks “Could onomatopoeia be the origin of language?”

• Coming soon from MIT Press: Blotter: The Untold Story of an Acid Medium by Erik Davis; “the first comprehensive written account of the history, art, and design of LSD blotter paper, the iconic drug delivery device that will perhaps forever be linked to underground psychedelic culture and contemporary street art.”

• At Aquarium Drunkard: The late Damo Suzuki is remembered with a recording of Can playing at the Volkshalle Wagtzenborn-Steinberg, Giessen, October 22, 1971.

• At Unquiet Things: Another collection of Intermittent Eyeball Fodder. I was sorry to hear from that post that artist Dan Hillier had died recently. RIP.

• At Bandcamp Daily: Mouse On Mars discuss 30 years of dynamic electronic music.

• Old music: Rare Soundtracks & Lost Tapes (1973–1984) by Alain Goraguer.

• At Spoon & Tamago: The imaginary architectures of Minoru Nomata.

• Mix of the week: DreamScenes – February 2024 at Ambientblog.

• At Vinyl Factory: Julia Holter on some of her favourite records.

• At Public Domain Review: Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats (1928).

• Steven Heller’s Font of the Month is Cuatro.

A brief history of London’s gas lamps.

• New music: Pithovirii by Aidan Baker.

Black Cat Bone (2000) by Laika | Black Cat (2005) by Broadcast | Black Cat (2008) by Ladytron