Untitled art by Felix D’Eon. Via Dangerous Minds.
• “The music inside lived up to the cover’s challenge: a collage of pop-culture nostalgia, hard-rock guitar, piano-driven melodies, stylised high vocals, strange musical structures and experimental sound pictures. Roxy Music’s eponymous album sounded like nothing else in 1971 and 1972—and like nothing else the group would ever attempt again.” Jon Savage on the creation of Roxy Music’s debut album.
• Behind the scenes of the BFI’s forthcoming Derek Jarman box-sets. Jarman appears in a rare acting role (not one of his strengths) in Dead Cat (1989) a short film by David Lewis which is only now being released on DVD.
• Rob Young’s long-awaited book about Cologne’s finest, Can, has finally been given a publication date. All Gates Open: The Story of Can will be published by Faber in May.
• At the Lever Gallery, London: UNCOVERED: Illustrating the Sixties and Seventies. Wallpaper magazine has a related feature about the exhibition.
• Trim Tabroid [sic]: Yui Takada’s Instagram showing Japanese tabloid pages reduced to abstraction by careful pruning.
• On Fairy Tales: Carol Mavor and Marina Warner in discussion for the London Review Bookshop podcast.
• Mixes of the week: XLR8R podcast 527 by Peter Van Hoesen, and Secret Thirteen Mix 245 by Chikiss.
• Dubbing is a Must: Oli Warwick on the modern sound of leftfield dub.
• This Book Is Bound in Lab-Grown Jellyfish Leather.
• Cornelius’s Favourite Albums
• Dubism (1976) by The Upsetters | Dub Fi Gwan (1979) by King Tubby | Dub Yalil (1995) by Natacha Atlas
The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards will be the next release on the Ghost Box label in March 2018. Design by Julian House.
• Tantalising discovery of the week was Alphons Sinniger’s Eno (1974), a 24-minute film about post-Roxy Music Brian Eno which shows (among other things) the recording of Here Come The Warm Jets. The film is a scarce item that appeared briefly on YouTube before being yanked. Copies have been reposted (see here) although they may not stay around for long.
• Nosferatu the Shapeshifter: An inventory of intertitles, prints and premiéres. A page that includes some detail about Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (The Twelfth Hour: A Night of Horror), a seldom-seen reworking of Murnau’s film from 1930 which added sound, additional scenes (none of them by Murnau) and a happy ending.
• At Dennis Cooper‘s: Entry Level: Luchino Visconti’s “German Trilogy”: The Damned, Death in Venice, Ludwig (1969–1973).
• “3,500 occult manuscripts will be digitized and made freely available online, thanks to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.”
• From 2015: Watch Alejandro Jodorowsky give a tarot reading (for Nicolas Winding Refn).
• Portals of London: “Towards a catalogue of London’s inter-dimensional gateways”.
• At Spoon & Tamago: Gigantic sculptures by Kenji Yanobe of cats wearing helmets.
• At the BFI: Adam Scovell on 10 great “urban wyrd” films.
• At Swan River Press: Our Haunted Year: 2017.
• Portals (2001) by Bill Laswell | Portals And Parallels (2010) by Belbury Poly & Moon Wiring Club | Abysmal Cathedrals Arise!—Beyond The Quivering Portal—Minds On Fire (2012) by The Wyrding Module
Ralf and Florian, 1973. Back cover photo by Barbara Niemöller.
At that time, Kling Klang Studio was far from the technological hub it would become. “The studio was a big room in an old factory building with brick walls,” recalls [Wolfgang] Flür. “There were big home-made speakers, amplifiers and so on. Florian had his side, with his flutes and one of the very first ARP Odyssey synthesizers, while Ralf’s side had Hammond and Farfisa organs and a Minimoog synthesizer.”
Andy Gill, Mojo magazine, April 1997
Last week’s Autobahn post prompted a week of revisiting Kraftwerk’s three pre-Autobahn albums, all of which remain unreissued. The photo that fills out the back cover of the third album, Ralf & Florian (1973), has appeared here twice before so if you want an example of an obsession look no further. I only have a bootleg CD of this one, a package that doesn’t do much for the photograph so I went searching for a larger copy.
The attractions, if you have to list them, are multiple: Ralf & Florian is Kraftwerk’s most human album, and the cover photos reflect this. Trans-Europe Express originally had pictures of the group on its sleeve (now replaced by the TEE train) but they were airbrushed, idealised portraits; the showroom-dummy personas they adopt there would turn into robots on the album that followed. There’s an overt sense of camp about the Ralf & Florian cover shots that runs counter to the tenor of rock music in 1973. The charts in Britain might have been filled with glam acts but for all their flirtatious androgyny they were selling the same assertive macho sexuality as the big rock bands of the time. One of the things I enjoy about this cover photo is its refusal to follow that crowd: the neon name signs, the standard lamp from a 1950s’ living room, Florian’s semiquaver brooch; all are effete enough to give Deep Purple the vapours. (The first UK release of Ralf and Florian replaced the cover photo of the pair with a printed circuit.) The closest comparison in the same year would be the sleeve for Brian Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets with its shelves of dead flowers and junk-shop discoveries. But this wasn’t so surprising for an ex-member of Roxy Music, and Eno’s album is still very much a rock production.
Then there’s the details: the egg-box soundproofing (Can used old mattresses to soundproof their studio); the enormous white speaker; the traffic cone that nods back to the sleeves of the first two albums and forward to the automotive theme of the next; Ralf’s white shoes (and is he wearing leather trousers?); Florian’s oscilloscope, his mysterious tone generators and that peculiar stringed instrument. This diverse range of gear somehow produced the music you’re listening to.
Continue reading “German gear”
Two experimental films by British filmmakers. Berlin Horse (1970) at Ubuweb is a hypnotic piece of minimalism by Malcolm Le Grice who subjects found footage of exercising horses to a series of loopings and filterings that push the degraded images to a point of textured abstraction. Of note with this film is the equally minimal and repetitive score, a piano loop created by Brian Eno. This was before he gained prominence as a member of Roxy Music but the slight piece of experimentation points the way to his post-Roxy career and his ambient investigations. Berlin Horse is available on DVD from Lux, with a selection of Le Grice’s other shorts.
Marvo Movie (1967) at Europa Film Treasures is a typically frenetic work by Jeff Keen, four minutes of heavily cut-up sound and vision with collage, animation and multiple exposures throughout. Despite the year of its creation, the effect is less psychedelic and more like an amphetamine rush.
• Malcolm Le Grice at YouTube
• Jeff Keen at YouTube