Marian Zazeela album covers


Drift Study 4:37:40-5:09:50 PM 5 VIII 68 NYC (1968) by La Monte Young.

One of the links at the weekend was to the late Marian Zazeela’s poster designs of the 1960s and 70s. She also designed a number of album covers around the same time, mostly for recordings by her husband, La Monte Young, and for associated groups and individuals like Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music—in which Zazeela played the tambura—and raga master Pandit Pran Nath. Some of the albums shown here haven’t always been easy to find thanks to Young’s refusal to reissue his earlier recordings (although he did relent recently and allow digital reissues), but the music has nevertheless been influential. Artists as diverse as the early Velvet Underground, many electronic musicians, and metal bands such as Earth and Sunn O))) owe debts to Young’s compositions.


31 VII 69 10:26 – 10:49 PM / 23 VIII 64 2:50:45 – 3:11 AM The Volga Delta (1969) by La Monte Young / Marian Zazeela.

This is about Marian Zazeela’s cover designs, however, not her husband’s music, designs which are immediately recognisable for Zazeela’s calligraphy and the abstract decorative elements which resemble tiles or fabric prints. The calligraphy is the consistent element, present even when the cover is mostly photographic. This degree of consistent aesthetic attention is unusual in the world of avant-garde composition where the packaging of a composer’s recordings is often little better than the perfunctory appearance of classical albums. Without Marian Zazeela’s involvement it’s unlikely that La Monte Young’s albums would look as good as they do.


Ragas (1971) by Pandit Pran Nath.


Dream House 78’17” (1974) by La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, The Theatre Of Eternal Music (front cover).


Dream House 78’17” (1974) by La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, The Theatre Of Eternal Music (back cover).

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Weekend links 720


The Poet and the Siren (1893) by Gustave Moreau.

• “Some books become talismans. Because they are strange, wildly different to the common run of literature; because they are scarce, and only a few precious copies are known to exist; because, perhaps, they liberate by transgressing the moral limits of the day; because their authors are lonely, elusive visionaries; because, sometimes, there is an inexplicable glamour about the book, so that its readers seem to be lured into a preternatural reverie. This book possesses all those attributes.” Mark Valentine in an introduction he wrote for a 1997 reprint of The Book of Jade (1901) by David Park Barnitz. The book’s author was an American writer who died at the age of 23 after publishing this single volume, a collection of poetry inspired by his favourite Decadent writers. Praise from HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Thomas Ligotti has since helped maintain the book’s reputation. The Book of Jade turned up recently at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts. Also the home of an increasingly eclectic list of publications.

• At n+1: The Dam and the Bomb by Walker Mimms, a fascinating essay about the entangling of Cormac McCarthy’s personal history with his novels which makes a few connections I didn’t expect to see. Also a reminder that I’ve yet to read McCarthy’s last two books. Soon…

• The latest installation from teamLab is Resonating Life which Continues to Stand, an avenue of illuminated eggs on the Hong Kong waterfront.

• At The Wire: Symphony of sirens: an interview with Aura Satz, David Toop, Elaine Mitchener, Evelyn Glennie and Raven Chacon.

• At Unquiet Things: The Art of Darkness presents The Sleeper May Awaken: Stephen Mackey’s Unrestful Realms.

• RIP Marian Zazeela. There’s a page here with a selection of her beautiful calligraphic poster designs.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Tomona Matsukawa’s realistic paintings reconstruct fragments of everyday life.

• At Public Domain Review: Thom Sliwowski on The Defenestrations of Prague (1419–1997).

Trinity (2024), a short film by Thomas Blanchard. There’s a lot more at his YouTube channel.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Lotte Reiniger’s Day.

Sirens (1984) by Michael Stearns | Sirens (1988) by Daniel Lanois & Brian Eno | Siren Song (2009) by Bat For Lashes