Arcus (2019) by Markus Matthias Krüger.
• “Listeners can only make an educated guess as to what the experience of working with Slapp Happy might have done for Faust.” Fergal Kinney on the 50th anniversary of Sort Of by Slapp Happy, an eccentric intersection of Anglo-American rock and German experimentalism.
• Now that the summer is over people are making mixes again. Take your pick this week between a mix for The Wire by Shane Woolman at Stihia festival, The Observatory by Jay Keegan, or DreamScenes September 2023 at Ambientblog.
• Quantum poetics: “How Borges and Heisenberg converged on the notion that language both enables and interferes with our grasp of reality.” William Egginton explains, with a little help from Funes the Memorious.
“I feel as if I am entering Jorge Luis Borges’s Library of Babel, a universe of books and records, or maybe a labyrinth of paper and vinyl,” a flabbergasted Szwed relates. “The temptation is to read and listen to every one of them in hopes of at least finding the meaning behind Harry Smith the reader and listener.” He adds, with pointedly Borgesian anxiety, that “maybe my book is in there, already written.”
Ed Halter reviewing Cosmic Scholar: The Life and Times of Harry Smith by John Szwed
• At The Daily Heller: Photographs of lost buildings and American ruins.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: The unknowable presents…Secretly encoded.
• At The Paris Review: Six photos from WG Sebald’s albums.
• Winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023.
• The Art of Cover Art: A Substack by Rachel Cabitt.
• New music: Le jour et la nuit du réel by Colleen.
• Familiar Reality (1971) by Dr John | Reality Dub (Virtual Reality Mix) (1993) by Material | Reality Net (1994) by Richard H. Kirk
The next release on the Ghost Box label, Painting Box is a collaborative seven-inch single by Beautify Junkyards and Belbury Poly, the A-side of which is a cover of a song by The Incredible String Band. Available on 30th April. Design, as always, is by Julian House.
• “What is good for you as a person is often bad for you as a writer. People will tell you that this not true, and some of the people who will tell you that are also writers, but they are bad writers, at least when they try to convince you, and themselves, that the most important thing for a fiction writer to have is compassion.” Brock Clarke on the case for meanness in fiction.
• The week in non-human intelligence: “Life beyond human has to play by the rules of natural selection,” says David P. Barash, and Thomas Moynihan on dolphin intelligence and humanity’s cosmic future.
• Ilia Rogatchevski speaks with historian Juliane Fürst about her new history of Soviet hippies and the counterculture of the former USSR.
• Mushroom with a view: Karen Schechner at Bookforum talks with Bett Williams about her mycological journey.
• Retro instinct versus future fetish: Fergal Kinney on Stereolab’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup 25 years on.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…JG Ballard: The Atrocity Exhibition (1970).
• This is Hexagon Sun: A feature-length video on Boards of Canada.
• Mix of the week: The Ides by The Ephemeral Man.
• New music: Gyropedie by Anne Guthrie.
• Paintbox (1967) by Pink Floyd | Orgone Box (1989) by Haruomi Hosono | God Box (1996) by Paul Schütze & Andrew Hulme
Cover art by Toshiyuki Fukuda for the Japanese edition of the new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
• “The story here is how between 1978 and 1982, this impulse shed its novelty genesis and its spoils were divvied up between gay producers making high-energy soundtracks for carnal abandon, and quiet Hawkwind fans smoking spliffs in Midlands bedrooms.…this excellent compilation offers fresh understandings of a period in sonic history where the future was up for grabs.” Fergal Kinney reviews Do You Have the Force? Jon Savage’s Alternate History of Electronic Music, 1978–82.
• DJ Food continues his history of mini CDs with Oranges And Lemons, the 1989 album by XTC which was released in the usual formats together with a limited edition of three small discs in a flip-top box. The cover art by Dave Dragon is a good example of the resurrected groovy look.
• “If Austin Osman Spare, William Burroughs, Mary Butts and Kathy Acker got together for a séance, the transcript could well look like this.”
• How Leonora Carrington used Tarot to reach self-enlightenment: Gabriel Weisz Carrington on his mother’s quest for mythic revelations.
• Mixes of the week: Sounds Unsaid at Dublab with Tarotplane, and To Die & Live In San Veneficio by SeraphicManta.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: 5strings presents…Solve et Coagula: An introduction to Israel Regardie.
• The Joy of Silhouettes: Vyki Hendy chooses favourite shadow-throwing cover designs.
• Emily Mortimer on how Lolita escaped obscenity laws and cancel culture.
• Freddie deBoer has moved his writing to Substack.
• New music: Wirkung by Arovane.
• Children Of The Sun (1969) by The Misunderstood | Children Of The Sun (1971) by Hawkwind | Children Of The Sun (2010) by The Time And Space Machine