Saturday, 30 March 2013

Yuck 'n Yum - OH, A ZINE FAIR! And other exciting things.‏

Hello lovely Yuck 'n Yummers,

There be a zine fair! It be happening tomorrow. (31/03) And you fine folk should come along. 

With lovely wares from further afield, through the nice chaps of Mille Putois and of Twenty Twelve zine. And exciting folk coming along from a bit closer to home; the lovely ladies of TYCI collective, the Dundee based Pitch + Strike collective and the ever awesome Superclub! YUUS! Just to name a few, come down and see the rest for yourself.

If this wasn't all enough to entice you along, the zine fair just so happens to be the launch of the first Yuck 'n Yum of 2013! This is the inaugural issue of our new cover artist Cos Ahmet - who is starting out in the most wonderful way possible. Come get a copy!

There's no reason not to come. Excuses will not be accepted!

We'll all be in the Empire State Coffee House, Dundee, tomorrow from 1pm til 5pm. Please do pop along and peruse the pretty paper and have some conversations with us.

 In other news;

Print fiend? CSI fanatic? Want to merge the worlds of print making and forensics? There's still plenty of time for you to get your proposals in for the Impact Residency. More details can be found over here. Is a super exciting project, merging mediums and collectives to make magic happen. Deadline is April 19th 2013. Any questions drop us an email or come have a chat at the zine fair.


You know that thing? That AGK thing? You know, the AGK? Well... Send us your videos?! Go on.

AND AND AND; dont forget to submit to the Summer issue! We have really good things planned for the YnY's summertime, get in on it. Mail us things. How can you resist Cliffs face?
You have right on up until June 7th 2013. Its our theme for a dream!

 Hopefully we'll see you all tomorrow!

Until then, warm wishes and love!
YnY team

Friday, 29 March 2013

Land Odyssey @ Generator Projects 29.03.13 - pictures

To the Generator this evening for Land Odyssey, an exhibition of works by Dave Evans, Aaron Guy, Hannah Imlach and Erik Osberg.

From the mailout: GENERATOR is beginning a journey through contemporary approaches to 'landscape' and our relations to it. Narrating our paths, the invited artists will guide us through mountains from beyond our fictions; the voids we create yet never encounter; the remaking of works gone by which haunt our present psyche and the environments that find ways to live in unison.

I took a few photos, and here they are:

The name of the show is Land Odyssey

Star Trek-inspired sculpture by Dave Evans

Erik Osberg's Stan Brakhage remake

Aaron Guy's Social Geologies film

Drexciyan artworks

Drexciya was an electronic music duo from Detroit, Michigan. The late James Stinson was the only officially identified member of Drexciya, but it was considered an open secret that he had a partner, Gerald Donald.

The majority of Drexciya's releases were in the style of dance-floor-oriented Electro, punctuated with elements of retro, 1980s Detroit Techno, with occasional excursions into the Ambient and Industrial genres. Tracks are mostly centered around the TR-808 drum machine, with bass, melodies, and synth textures ebbing and flowing in time. Anecdotes suggest that Stinson and Donald recorded tracks while playing the instruments live, making use of analog equipment and sequencing methods.

Drexciya combined a faceless, underground, anti-mainstream media stance with mythological, sci-fi narratives, to help heighten the dramatic effect of their music. In this aspect they were similar to artists within and close to the Detroit collective Underground Resistance. 

Every Drexciya EP navigates the depths of the Black Atlantic, the submerged worlds populated by Drexciyans, Lardossans, Darthouven Fish Men and Mutant Gillmen. In the sleevenotes to The Quest, their '97 concept double CD, the Drexciyans are revealed to be a marine species descended from 'pregnant America-bound African slaves' thrown overboard 'by the thousands during labour for being sick and disruptive cargo. Could it be possible for humans to breathe underwater? A foetus in its mother's womb is certainly alive in an aquatic environment. Is it possible that they could have given birth at sea to babies that never needed air? Recent experiments have shown mice able to breathe liquid oxygen, a premature human infant saved from certain death by breathing liquid oxygen through its underdeveloped lungs. These facts combined with reported sightings of Gillmen and Swamp Monsters in the coastal swamps of the Southeastern United States make the slave trade theory startingly feasible.'

Drexciyans are 'water breathing, aquatically mutated descendants,' webbed mutants of the Black Atlantic, amphibians adapted for the ocean's abyssal plains, a phylum disconnected from the aliens who adapted to land. As Mark Sinker argued in '92, 'The ships landed long ago: they already laid waste whole societies, abducted and genetically altered whole swathes of citizenry. Africa and America -- and so by extension Europe and Asia -- are already in the various ways Alien Nation.' Drexciya use electronics to replay the alien abduction of slavery with a fictional outcome: 'Did they migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi River Basin and to the Great Lakes of Michigan? Do they walk among us? Are they more advanced than us?'

Sinker's breakthrough is to bring alien abduction back to earth, to transfer the trauma from out there to yesternow. The border between social reality and science fiction, social fiction and science reality is an optical illusion, as Donna Haraway has pointed out. They have been here all along and they are you. You are the alien you are looking for.
Kodwo Eshun

Ellen Gallagher - Watery Ecstatic Series, 2001

Ellen Gallagher (born December 16, 1965) is an American artist. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is held in the permanent collections of many major museums.

Her media include painting, works on paper, film and video. She has made innovative use of materials, such as creating a unique variation on scrimshaw by carving images into the surface of thick sheets of paper designed for watercolor painting and drawing with ink, watercolor, and pencil. These works depict sea creatures, of the mythical undersea world of Drexciya, which were the progeny of slaves who had drowned. This mythology had been conceived by a musical duo of that name, from Detroit. Gallagher commented upon the process of creating these pieces: "The way that these drawings are made is my version of scrimshaw, the carving into bone that sailors did when they were out whaling. I imagine them in this overwhelming, scary expanse of sea where this kind of cutting would give a focus, a sense of being in control of something." In some of her early pieces, she painted and drew on sheets of penmanship paper she had pasted onto canvas. 

Ellen Gallagher - Bird in Hand, 2006

Her new exhibition, Coral Cities, has just opened at Tate Liverpool and features a series of drawings, collectively titled Watery Ecstatic, and a number of 16mm films. Gallagher explores the idea of a black Atlantis: she imagines all the drowned people, thrown overboard, lost at sea, somehow still underwater. The descendants of enslaved Africans, they now populate the twilight zone of the sea. They've become almost a marine species, half human, half fish.

The original idea of the black Atlantis that Gallagher calls Drexciya was inspired by the eponymous Detroit house band's 1997 album The Quest, which held Drexciyans to be a marine species descended from pregnant enslaved Africans who had been picked up in west Africa and were heading across the Atlantic to America.
Jackie Kay

The Otolith Group - Hydra Decapita, 2010

In 2002 Kodwo Eshun co-founded The Otolith Group with Anjalika Sagar, the name derived from a structure found in the inner ear that establishes our sense of gravity and orientation. Based in London, the group's work engages with archival materials, with futurity and with the histories of transnationality. The group's projects include film production & exhibition curation as part of an integrated practice with the intended aim to "build a new film culture". The group was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010 for their project A Long Time Between Suns.

The Otolith Group - Hydra Decapita, 2010

The Otolith Group, founded by Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar, have made a film essay called Hydra Decapita which is partly inspired by the Drexciyan mythos. Eshun is also a contributor to The Wire and has written there about Drexciya before. The film is to be the first part of a trilogy which will combine the subjects of slavery, global finance and water to comment on globalisation, capitalism and climate change. It is great to see Drexciya’s influence gradually spreading into other areas of the arts like this. It proves how rich and detailed yet open to interpretation their concepts were. The Otolith Group were nominated for the 2010 Turner Prize.

The first installment in a trilogy of film essays, Hydra Decapita uses the imaginary world in the concept albums of Detroit based techno duo Drexciya to comment on globalisation, capitalism and climate change.

‘Drexciya’ is an underwater country populated by the unborn children of pregnant women thrown overboard during the middle-passage of slave ships across the Atlantic. In this world a new species has evolved through the children who survived, breathing and living underwater as they did in the womb. The constellation of historical and present day episodes within the essay explores the relationship between finance, death, abstraction and language.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Dieter Meier

48 Personen, 1974/75
From the series Remarkable Men

Dieter Meier (born 4 March 1945, Zürich) is a Swiss musician and conceptual artist who is best known for being the front man in the electronic music group Yello, which also includes music producer Boris Blank. He is a vocalist and lyricist, as well as manager and producer of this music group.

Born to a millionaire family, Meier is not only a performance artist, but a millionaire industrialist, a professional poker player, and also one time member of the Swiss national golf team. He is the father of four children: Eleonore Meier, Sophie Meier, Anna Meier and Francis Meier.

Dieter Meier now lives in Zurich with his wife Monique Meier. As a conceptual artist, he has been keeping himself busy with many art exhibitions. In 1972 as part of Documenta 5, Meier installed a commemorative plaque at the railway station in Kassel (Germany) which read: "On 23 March 1994, from 3 to 4 pm, Dieter Meier will stand on this plaque". He honored the promise 22 years later.

Faces and Phrases, 1979 - 2009

My philosophy of life is really to learn something every day and to not see what looks like a failure as something to feel ashamed of. Failure is just another type of experience and unfortunately the world is so success driven that people are afraid of finding their own way. I think to stumble and fall is great art.

It's also to be in dialogue with people, to try to find out where you have things in common and what you can do together. That is for me such an incredible pleasure and that's probably why I love making movies because everybody contributes his talent to it and the director or producer is just holding all these talents together to create one hopefully good product.

Untitled (12), 1970
From the series 29 Pictures within 5 minutes

Meier is an aesthete who has designed silk scarves, excels at poker, runs a 2200 hectare cattle ranch in Argentina which supplies the Zurich restaurant he owns and who has played for the Swiss national golf team. Significantly he has never kept any of this secret from anyone. His whole methodology revolves around a consummate blend of statement, art and music, laced with a worldly frivolity. In a musical world in which questions of authenticity dominate, in which Joe Strummer can be condemned for his private school education – something over which he had no choice whatsoever – and Pete Doherty can be lauded simply for his grimy fingernails and needle-perforated arms, Meier is next to unique. The man doesn’t even swear, something decidedly unusual in this line of work. In fact his upper class background and refined appearance are as much a part of his public persona as Elly Jackson’s wonky hair is part of La Roux’s. Few other people could get away with this: Genesis were always treated with suspicion for their private school roots, and Keane have been frequently ridiculed as “posh”. Meier, however, has confronted this prejudice straight on, even posing with his golf clubs for Melody Maker around the release of One Second in 1987.
Wyndham Wallace

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Yuck 'n Yum Impact Residency Promo

As part of the inaugural Print Festival Scotland, the Hannah Maclure Centre, Abertay University’s exhibition space and cultural hub, and Yuck ‘n Yum are teaming up. Together we are offering an artist-in-residency opportunity within the university’s ground-breaking forensic science department.
Full information at
Video by Alex Tobin
Fingerprint images by Kevin Farrugia
Lab footage by Andy Sim 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Section 25 - Looking From A Hilltop

Section 25 is an English post-punk and electronica band, best known for the single "Looking From A Hilltop" and their association with iconic Manchester record label Factory Records.

Joined by percussionist Lee Shallcross, Section 25 gradually evolved a more electronic-dance direction, a process which culminated in the album From the Hip and remix single "Looking From A Hilltop", both released in 1984 and produced by Bernard Sumner of New Order. This second iteration of the band also featured Angela Flowers aka Angela Cassidy (vocals, keyboards) and Jenny Ross (vocals, keyboards). The five-piece completed a lengthy second tour of North America in January 1985, where the single "Looking From A Hilltop" achieved a measure of club success.

Section 25's psychedelic past is right up front from the very first note: a reversed drumbeat. As you'd expect, the percussion is right up in the remix, trailed by dreamy keyboard melodies: as the vocal comes in, the rhythm resolves into a springy metal-beat, underscored by a hypnotic bass line and overlaid with hi-pitched synth sounds – like droplets of rain.

The voices – of Jenny Ross and Larry Cassidy – float in and out of this glistening sound picture. The lyric tunes in and out, and what you can hear has the usual Section 25 mix – the desire for freedom tempered by depression: "I just want to see your face to see your face to see your face to/I just want to see your face/Bring me down, bring me down."

In the end, Looking from a Hilltop (Megamix) is all forward motion. At eight minutes, the track isn't a second too long: all the elements are subordinate to the irresistible Moroder-esque modulations, which give a framework over which the group and the remixers pour backwards synths, wailing rock guitar, and all manner of ambient noises.

With this epic – one of the best tracks from a great year for electro – Section 25 finally achieved the grandeur that they had always sought. Released in June 1984, the 12" – with a bright orange sleeve – made waves in the UK and was a club hit in New York. It was also picked up by black radio stations in the Chicago area, and consequently fed into the early house scene.
Jon Savage 

Those that have this record know what an amazing track this is. The remix is an electronic masterpiece; bass heavy,industrial with lush keyboards and allsorts of fuuristic sounding bleeps...The vocal side is sytnth music of the highest order.

I must be one of the few lucky ones to own this amazing track on a 12-inch record. I believe only few thousand copies were pressed back in 1984.

Where was I when I’d bought the record? Ah yes! It was sometime in late October 1985, after school, at Starsounds record store on Young Street in Toronto. Starsounds was a great record store that sold only 12-inch records of every genre, especially to DJ’s. At that time, I was looking for synth/techno/pop tracks when Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer was hot. Flipping through Starsounds’ bin of old/unsold records, my fingers came to a stop at this one particular vinyl with gloriously colored luminous-orange sleeve: Section 25.

I held the record up in a tilted-angle closer to my eyes just to read its center label. It was hard to read, because the words and fonts were ultra moderno that were printed with light, shiny luminous colors. Yeah… a record looking great in graphic-design but lacking in function (such as reading its textual content).

Even though I had no idea who Section 25 was, my gut said: This the record you’re looking for, buddy! Just the words 45 A Factory Record and Restructure From Fact 90 on the center label were enough to convince me the record was INDEED an electronic one that was meant for me. Still in my formal shirt/tie/jacket school uniform, I bought the record with my only $20-Canadian. Going home in the subway (the TTC), I was staring at the record and second-guessing what it might sound like. Once I got home, I ran to my room and dropped the needle to the record. The usual at the start of any record: few seconds of crackles, scratches and pops…

…And then there was music!

The track on Side-B starts with reverse tom-tom drums followed by reversed-&-gated 808 claps in 1/16th-note progression. Then –BAM– the beat drops like a cyber-atomic bomb: → Heavy industrial baseline → Synth bleeps/zaps all over the stereo-field → Lush synthesizer and Mellotron pads → Cyberpunk female lead vocals → Whispery male backup vocals. Electronic techno industrial pop bliss → → Hands down, an absolute electronic industrial masterpiece!
Omar Hash

Thought I would switch it up for a change and post an 80's synth pop track from the legendary Factory Records stable. This cut from Section 25 was a staple of mine some years back when I incorporated quite a bit of new wave and post punk into my DJ sets. I dusted this record off in anticipation of the upcoming Section 25 show at Mezzanine in SF and it served to remind me that I still love this kind of stuff.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Asger Jorn - Defigurations


Asger Oluf Jorn (3 March 1914 – 1 May 1973) was a Danish painter, sculptor, ceramic artist, and author. He was a founding member of the avant-garde movement COBRA and the Situationist International.

He participated in the conference that led to the merger of COBRA, the Lettriste Internationale, and London Psychogeographical Association to form the Situationist International in 1957. Here he applied his scientific and mathematical knowledge drawn from Henri Poincaré and Niels Bohr to develop his situlogical technique. Jorn never believed in a conception of the Situationist ideas as exclusively artistic and separated from political involvement. He was at the root and at the core of the Situationist International project, fully sharing the revolutionary intentions with Debord. The Situationist general principles were an attack on the capitalist exploitation and degradation of the life of people, and solution of alternative life experiences, construction of situations, unitary urbanism, psychogeography, with the union of play, freedom and critical thinking. Such general principles were applied by Jorn to painting.

 The Avant-Garde Doesn't Give Up, 1962

All works of art are objects and should be treated as such, but these objects are not ends in themselves: They are tools with which to influence spectators. The artistic object, despite its seemingly objectlike character, therefore presents itself as a link between two subject, the creating and provoking subject on the one hand, and the receiving subject on the other. The latter does not perceive the work of art as a pure object, but as the sign of a human presence.

The problem for the artist is not to know if the work of at should be considered as an object or as a subject, since the two are inseparable. The problem is to capture and to formulate the desired tension in the work between appearance and sign.

The conception of art implicit in "action painting" reduces art to an act in itself, in which the object, the work of art, is a mere trace, and in which there is no more communication with the audience. This is the attitude of the pure creator who does nothing but fulfill himself through the materials for his own pleasure.

This attitude is irreconcilable with an interest in the object as such, the work of art in its anonymity, that is, the experience of pleasure in its purity when facing a sculpture whose country of origin is unknown or whose period is uncertain. here the object floats freely in space and time. My preoccupation with objectivity and subjectivity is situated above all between these two poles, or more precisely between my will and my intelligence. I must admit that as far as the third attitude is concerned, that of the spectator, it does not concern me much. Whether one intends it or not, in the end it is to him that everything happens.

Asger Jorn

La Fleur du mal, 1946

It was in the Paris cafe Notre Dame that Asger Jorn (from Copenhagen), Joseph Noiret and Christian Dotremont (from Brussels) and Constant, Corneille and Karel Appel (from Amsterdam) signed the manifesto 'La Cause était entendue' (The Case was Heard). This manifesto, drawn up by Dotremont, was a response to a statement by the French Surrealists entitled 'La Cause est entendue' (The Case is Heard). In it Dotremont makes it clear they are no longer in agreement with the French artists. The CoBrA painters wanted to break new ground, preferring to work spontaneously and with the emphasis more on fantastic imagery. In 1951 the CoBrA movement was officially disbanded, yet during its short existence CoBrA rejuvenated Dutch modern art. 

A few CoBrA artists were not only involved with making art works but also with theorising about art and the role of the artist in society. Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont and Constant Nieuwenhuys were very much preoccupied with this. They positioned themselves according to the communist theories of Karl Marx and supplemented his ideas with views on art. Their aim was to have art made for and by everyone, irrespective of class, race, intellect and educational level. Jorn, Dotremont and Constant aspired to an art form that spontaneously evolved out of the artist's fantasy.

Jorn wrote about the relationship between art and architecture, seeing both inextricably linked. He used a photograph of a primitive hut decorated by its occupants to show how beautiful the combination could be. Jorn's ideals were realised in several collaborative projects by the CoBrA artists.

Temptation, 1960

Jorn's 'Defigurations' (normally pronounced in the French based on the origin of the word), are deeply rooted in the concept of Détournement, a mechanism central to the thesis of the Situationist International and also Lettrism. The concept of Détournement (also the Dérivé) is as follows:

"... detournement of pre-existing aesthetic elements. The integration of past or present artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no Situationist painting or music, but only a Situationist use of these means."
                                                                                                                               -Internationale Situationiste issue 1, June 1958.

The concept of 'defiguring' or 'defacing' existing cultural constructs is clearly here a political act - and clearly one that is irreverant in nature. This is perhaps the essential (most important) fingerprint of the SI and Lettrism in general - a growing dissatisfaction with and dissent against established structures of authority - a sentiment that was continuous with the May 1968 riots in Paris. That is to say - that the SI was a seed that, short of fomenting cultural revolution - most certainly supported it and gave it structure.

Jorn's defiguration paintings, both skilled in execution and surprisingly witty, both forge new formal/political territory and are lithely subtle with respect to their cultural referents.This is especially true in the context of the 'baseness' of the gesture itself upon first gaze.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Darren Banks - The Annotated Palace Collection / Creepers

My text for Dario Argento's Creepers aka Phenomena is now online at Darren Banks' Annotated Palace Collection.

In 2013 Banks has invited fifteen people to contribute a piece of writing for the Palace Projects blog. All the writers have a mutual interest in film, horror and the language of cinema, explored through art work, writing, curating, or film making. Each contributor has been invited to write an A4 text for one of the fifteen horror films that make up the collection.

Writers: Alex Hetherington, The Hills Have Eyes; Caryn Coleman, Night of the Living Dead; Gordon Dalton, Trick or Treat; Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Santa Sangre; Ben Robinson, Creepers; Darren Banks, Terror in the Aisles; Anne C Perry, The Evil Dead 2; Mark Gubb, Carnival of Souls; Ben Fallon, Basket Case; Scott Anton Svatos, Night of the Demons; Paul Sammut, Brain Damage; Ben Jeans Houghton, Dream Demon; Howard S. Berger, Edge of Insanity; Gilda Williams, Evil Dead; Iris Aspinall Priest, Vampire at Midnight.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Yuck 'n Yum - ZINE FAIR and Spring 2013 launch! 31.03.13

Sunday 31.03.13 1pm > 5pm

Yuck 'n Yum is thrilled to announce another mighty Zine Fair. Just in case you didn't know, that's an all day festival to celebrate the thriving scene of self publishing across Scotland and the world beyond. You must have been hiding under a rock!

After the success of last year's inaugural event, we're doing it all again in the stately Art Deco confines of Dundee's Empire State Coffee. If there's a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, you'd better wait til you've finished doing the Yuck 'n Yum Zine Fair!

Plus we're launching the hotly-anticipated spring 2013 issue. You really don't want to miss this...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sun Ra - Nuclear War

Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a 1979 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

"Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial," critic Scott Yanow said, because of Sun Ra's eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle. Claiming that he was of the "Angel Race" and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee. Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."

Along with Lanquidity, Nuclear War is one of the rarest discs in Sun Ra's enormous catalog. Recorded in 1982, Nuclear War disappeared until 2001 when the Chicago-based Atavistic label made it part of their exceptional "Unheard Music Series." Originally Ra was so sure the funky dance track was a hit, he immediately took it to Columbia Records, where they immediately rejected it. Why he thought a song with the repeating chant "Nuclear War, they're talking about Nuclear War/It's a motherf***er, don't you know/if they push that button, your ass gotta go/and whatcha gonna do without your ass" would be a hit is another puzzle in the Sun Ra myth. Even with the danceability factor, without heavy censoring, the song would never be played on the radio. Severely depressed by the rejection, but still determined, Ra licensed the track to Y Records, a post-punk label out of Britain. Initially a vinyl 12" was released with "Sometimes I'm Happy" on the flip side. Two years later, Nuclear War was released as an album, but only in Italy. The remaining tracks include four originals and three standards, Ellington's "Drop Me Off in Harlem," "Sometimes I'm Happy," and "Smile." The latter two are highlights in their own right thanks to the gorgeous vocals of June Tyson.
Al Campbell 

Nuclear War was recorded in 1982 for Columbia Records, which turned it down. The LP was eventually released by Italy's Y label, but it was poorly distributed; Atavistic deserves all sorts of plaudits for reissuing Nuclear War because it's one of Sun Ra's most enjoyable recordings, containing material that's both challenging and accessible.

The grooving, slow motion, call-and-response title tune contains the chant "Nuclear war/They're talking about nuclear war/It's a motherfucker, don't you know/ If they push that button /Your ass got to go." This was before protest and gangsta rap were in vogue, and not surprisingly, Columbia didn't show a lot of enthusiasm for it. The rest of the CD consists of relatively easy-to-follow pieces including Duke Ellington's "Drop Me Off in Harlem" and the standards "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Smile."

Stimulating solos are contributed by Ra on electronic keyboards, tenorman John Gilmore, alto saxist Marshall Allen and trumpeter Walter Miller, a fine high-note man and one of very few trumpeters who was still exhibiting an obvious Dizzy Gillespie influence in 1982. The album ends with a lovely, bittersweet version of "Smile," featuring June Tyson. How great to have this one back in print.
Harvey Pekar

Consisting of 8 tracks, Nuclear War features a relatively small Arkestra of 11 musicians and singer June Tyson. The title track, a 12-inch single from 1982, repeats Sun Ra’s vocal “If they push that button, your ass gotta go – it’s a muthafucker!” Apparently the spaceman Ra was re-assessing his faith in human technolgy and therefore human nature.

Besides the popularity of the Sun Ra chant tracks, their is solid writing, arranging and soloing to be found here. He covers Duke Ellington’s “Drop Me Off In Harlem” with horns arranged straight out of the Fletcher Henderson songbook, as Sonny plays a crazy roller rink organ. June Tyson, a long time Arkestra member, may have faltered a bit in her later years, but you still feel the beauty in her voice somewhere between Billy and Sarah on “Sometimes I’m Happy” and “Smile.”

Nuclear War could have been an album of singles, and that probably was Mr. Ra’s plan. Each track (except the title track) is between 4 and 5 minutes in length, great for jukeboxes (in the hippest bar this side of Star Wars) and B-sides. The Arkestra’s final cast is all here from the tenor titan John Gilmore to altoist Marshall Allen, James Jackson, Walter Miller, Tyrone Hill, and Danny Ray Thompson. Soloists take brief and interesting solos, of note are those of John Gilmore who could have been an outsatnding leader on his own. Ra plies his quirky penchant for synthesizer and organ, exercising a shuffle blues workout on “Blue Intensity” and an off-kilter solo on “Nameless One No. 2.” Nuclear War is a marvelous treasure of a find.
Mark Corroto

A thoroughly enjoyable late period album from the Sun Ra Arkestra. The title track with its sing-speak vocals from Ra and a few bandmates is something unique, even for this eccentric group of performers. While "Nuclear War" may be the main attraction, there is a lot more to like. Much of the rest of the album is pretty mellow, with Ra mostly playing what sounds like a roller rink or baseball stadium organ. Anyone wanting to call this interstellar lounge music has probably hit it on the head. While the performances hardly aim for the stratosphere there is an energy that the Arkestra wouldn't be able to muster a few years on (compare Mayan Temples). This is just pleasant, guileless music. So if you can't appreciate the grooving sax on "Blue Intensity," June Tyson's breathy vocals on Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" (Michael Jackson's favorite song), or the gentle if slightly off-kilter big band charts sprinkled through other cuts, then, well, you might want to take your blinders off and give this another try.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

William Blake - The Ghost of a Flea

The Ghost of a Flea is a miniature painting by the English poet, painter and printmaker William Blake, held in the Tate Gallery, London. Measuring only 8.42 inches x 6.3 inches (21.4 x 16.2 cm), it is executed in a tempera mixture with gold, on a mahogany-type tropical hardwood panel. Completed between 1819 and 1820, it is part of a series of works depicting "Visionary Heads" commissioned by the watercolourist and astrologist John Varley (1788–1842). Fantastic, spiritual art was popular in Britain from around 1770 to 1830, and during this time Blake often worked on unearthly, supernatural panels to amuse and amaze his friends.

In both his artwork and poetry, Blake often gave personality and human form to such abstractions as time, death, plague and famine. Fleas are often associated with uncleanliness and degradation; in this work, the artist sought to magnify a flea into "a monsterous creature whose bloodthirsty instinct was imprinted on every detail of its appearance, with 'burning eyes which long for moisture', and a 'face worthy of a murderer'."

When Alan Cunningham visited Varley in connection with the chapter on Blake for his Lives, published in 1830, he was shown the tempera, which Varley suggested was the product of a second visitation. ‘“I'll tell you all about it sir”’, reports Cunningham. ‘“I called upon him one evening and found Blake more than usually excited. He told me he had seen a wonderful thing - the ghost of a flea! ‘And did you make a drawing of him?’ I inquired. ‘No indeed’ said he, ‘I wish I had, but I shall, if he appears again!’ He looked earnestly into a corner of the room, and then said, ‘here he is - reach me my things - I shall keep my eye on him. There he comes! his eager tongue whisking out of his mouth, a cup in his hands to hold blood and covered with a scaly skin of gold and green;’ - as he described him so he drew him.”’ Varley's account, though an accurate description of the painting, may be a fanciful one; Blake could well have worked up the painting from the drawing. Another locale for the execution of one of the versions of ‘The Ghost of a Flea’ is suggested by Walter Thornbury in his British Artists from Hogarth to Turner, 1861, 1, p.28: ‘the house of the father of my old friend, Leigh, the artist’ (Samuel Leigh, father of James Mathews Leigh, where ‘Blake was a frequent visitor’), but this seems unlikely both for the two drawings in the sketchbook, which seem to have been done at Varley's, and for the tempera, according to Varley painted at Blake's own house.
Martin Butlin

What kind of a flea is this? The point of a flea is that it is peskily small, and, from a physical point of view, utterly insignificant. As John Donne once wrote to his lover, mockingly, and in a characteristically unholy mood: "Mark but this flea, and mark in this /How little that which thou deniest me is..." A flea is utterly risible on account of its size, and, being small, it is therefore a thing of almost no consequence. It exists only to torment us.

This flea, on the other hand, looks quite the opposite. This self-vaunting monster looks like a creature of some moment, not to be easily cast aside or screwed into nothingness beneath a careful thumb. Fully embodied, it is striding the boards of what almost looks like a stage set (see those magical, drape-like trees – if that is what they are - to left and to right of it) – stepping out like a great Shakespearean actor. Its look is violently purposeful. Its huge ear sweeps back and up like an elaborate architectural feature. Its fingers are long and violently flexing. It stares long and long into the rimmed, bucket-like acorn cup that it is gingerly carrying in its left hand, as if summoning the future. In its right, it holds a nasty curling thorn. It has all the tremendous muscular allure of a male nude by Michelangelo. Malignity writ large then. Yes, it seems to have all heaven in its tow: all those shooting stars, fresh snatched from some tree in the children's nursery, look as if they are dancing attendance upon it as they fizz and roar at its back. It looks like some magician that is about to yank a trick out of its acorn cup. In short, it has a wonderful, commanding presence. The natural world seems to pivot about it. This flea is determined to get somewhere.
Michael Glover

William Blake was a known Freemason and famously wanted to build Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land in his poem. I don't know if there is any connection with the Reptilian theories and Zionism though?

Thanks for the info. I know Blake was a deeply into religion, but after recently reading the background on the "Flea" piece above, it definitely sounds like Blake had some clairvoyant abilities and encountered an entity for which this form is known for.

I've been viewing Freemasonry from a more neutral standpoint as of late, understanding that these societies mainly provide the knowledge and tools, while the intention behind their use stems from the hand and heart of the individual.

I know Icke has come under accusations of antisemitism when speaking on Zionism. These accusations are a common knee-jerk reaction that others place on those who disagree with the ridiculous belief of Zionism. Which I feel is made even more absurd by the fact that it originates from a race that had millions of it's people exterminated by another group who saw themselves as a "chosen people". No one chooses what race, culture or time period they are born into when they enter this world. No race, religion or bloodline is entitled to any portion of land. Nonetheless, man still chooses to take.

Is it too hard to realize that we're all together in this big mess of a world? Can't we just hug it out? (C'mon 'Flea', you too.) :D
2x helix

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Walter Sickert - The Camden Town Murder

What Shall We Do For Rent?, 1908

The Camden Town Murder is a title given to a group of four paintings by Walter Sickert painted in 1908. The paintings have specific titles, such as the problem picture What Shall We Do for the Rent or What Shall We Do to Pay the Rent.

The title of the group refers to the "Camden Town Murder" case of 1907. On 11 September Emily Dimmock, a part-time prostitute cheating on her partner, was murdered in her home at Agar Grove (then St Paul's Road), Camden, having gone there from The Eagle public house, Royal College Street. After sex, the man had slit her throat open while she was asleep, then left in the morning. The murder became an ongoing source of prurient sensationalism in the press. For several years Sickert had already been painting lugubrious female nudes on beds, and continued to do so, deliberately challenging the conventional approach to life painting—"The modern flood of representations of vacuous images dignified by the name of 'the nude' represents an artistic and intellectual bankruptcy"—giving four of them, which included a male figure, the title, The Camden Town Murder, and causing a controversy, which ensured attention for his work. These paintings do not show violence, however, but a sad thoughtfulness, explained by the fact that three of them were originally exhibited with completely different titles, one more appropriately being What Shall We Do for the Rent?, and the first in the series, Summer Afternoon. 

The Rose Shoe, c. 1902-1905

The Camden Town Murder was (and remains) an unsolved crime. That was important, I think, to Sickert’s sense of it. He was an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes and had a large collection of books on crime. Detective fiction tells two stories: the story of the crime and the story of the investigation. The detective is at the centre of the crime novel from its inception with Edgar Allen Poe: through the ingenious interpretation of unconsidered details, he brings justice and narrative order to transgression and chaos. In one of the first detective stories – the ‘Mystery of Marie Rogêt’ (1842) – Poe’s hero, Auguste Dupin, solves the murder without leaving his study by reading the newspapers. During the Camden Town Murder investigation, newspapers specifically encouraged their readers to play detective and make sense of the clues that had emerged so far. Sociologically, accounts of the detective story suggest that the power of the detective as a literary prototype lay in his ability ‘to assuage the anxieties of a ... middle class audience’ through the application of ‘modern systems of scientific and rational enquiry’. (Watson describes Holmes as ‘the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen’.) Psychoanalytically, the detective is held to embody something more archaic. As Freud, a fan of detective fiction, first pointed out, the great attraction of the detective novel is that it replays the primal scene – the child’s first real or fantasised observation of sexual intercourse between the parents – at no risk to the viewer, with the curious child in us as the detective hero. But this socially or psychologically comforting sense of rational enquiry was scarcely borne out by the mass circulation newspapers. They fed an existing appetite for sensational stories while contributing to an attitude of social detachment. Sickert was true to this. As the Times critic commented in 1911 you ‘could not tell from his paintings of people whether he likes or dislikes them, whether he knows them well or has never seen them before’. There are no legible expressions or circumstantial clues; just an aura of menace in the composition and in passages of stabbing brushwork on the breasts and abdomen. With the title, these tease us into a narrative reading they do nothing to support. And this sense of the contingent and quotidian derives from the newspapers rather than literature, since murder in popular fiction was by this point an index of moral decay. (This is also what distances Sickert from the Lustmord theme as it was taken up in the 1920s in Weimar Germany, by artists fascinated by Jack the Ripper, for example Otto Dix and George Grosz.)
Lisa Tickner 

 The Camden Town Murder, 1908

Whenever you read descriptions of the Camden Town Murder series, these attendant men are always described as “brutish” or “threatening”. But on the evidence of the actual pictures, I would vigorously dispute that. They’re not brutish or threatening, but glum and lost in thought. The only reason, I contend, that anyone has ever found danger and murderousness in these portrayals of hastily snatched afternoon snatch is because the titles lead you to expect murderousness.

Why did Sickert call them The Camden Town Murder? Actually, he didn’t. Three of the images were originally exhibited with other titles. The sad painting of the chap at the end of the bed was originally called What Shall We Do for the Rent? – a far more appropriate title – while the first in the sequence was shown as Summer Afternoon. A case, I think, of Sickert being sarcastic. He added the murder title much later. And I think he did it deliberately, to bring his art to the public’s attention. What he is actually painting here is not the murder of Emily Dimmock but the way of life she was forced by her times to lead: the furtive afternoon bashes to pay the rent, the small betrayals of Shaw’s trust. But seeing how the newspapers had gone crazy over the Camden Town murder, this clever, sneaky observer of human foibles saw a way to get his art noticed.

Alas, the move backfired. Yes, the paintings were noticed. But their curse is to be associated for ever with a murderous mood that simply isn’t there. By calling his pictures The Camden Town Murder, Sickert, stupidly, misdirected his audience, got himself mistaken for a murderer and sabotaged his own art.
Waldemar Januszczak

Le Lit de Cuivre, c1906

Sickert was interested in the Ripper, but he had a more immediate crime in mind. In 1907, in the middle of this series of nudes, a prostitute was murdered in Camden; it became a famous case. After that, Sickert gave some of the pictures titles like The Camden Town Murder, L'Affaire de Camden Town, The Camden Town Murder Series No 1 and No 2.

It is always pictures with a clothed man present that get these titles. But the point to notice is that the titles can vary. On other occasions, Sickert exhibited the same paintings with different names, carrying quite different implications - the social realist What Shall We Do for the Rent?, the lyrical or perhaps ironic-lyrical Summer Afternoon. And the pictures can take these alternative titles. There is nothing to identify them unequivocally as crime scenes. The encounter between naked woman and clothed man can be read as despairing or idyllic or murderous. Sickert is playing with the inherent dumbness of pictures and his own painterly obscurities. Only L'Affaire de Camden Town kept that title alone. The man stands "dangerously" over the woman. The woman "flinches". Well, maybe. But then again, maybe not.

Now, one shouldn't expect a work of art to be single-minded. Any half-decent work is likely to have a lot of things going on in it, and what's more, a lot of simply disparate things that can't be resolved into an overall agenda. But still, Sickert's Camden Town Nudes really are all over the place. They're abruptly torn between incompatible priorities - between nude study, documentary realism, pure painting, subtle story-telling, horror thrills, and doing some paintbrush sex and violence of their own. This isn't complexity. It's a big mix-up.

You can see Sickert as a very detached artist, an operator, who treats painting as a repertoire of possibilities that can be mobilised at whim, because none of it really means anything to him. Or you can see him as an artist who's not in control of himself, who just puts whatever excites him into the pot. Nowadays, of course, we like our art not to make sense. Sickert's time may at last have come.
Tom Lubbock

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Joe Meek - I Hear a New World

Robert George "Joe" Meek (5 April 1929  – 3 February 1967) was a pioneering English record producer and songwriter.

Meek's 1959 concept album I Hear a New World is regarded as a watershed in modern music for its innovative use of electronic sounds.

The album was Meek's pet project. He was fascinated by the space programme, and believed that life existed elsewhere in the solar system. This album was his attempt "to create a picture in music of what could be up there in outer space", he explained. "At first I was going to record it with music that was completely out of this world but realized that it would have very little entertainment value so I kept the construction of the music down to earth". He achieved this as a sound engineer by blending the Blue Men's skiffle/rock-and-roll style with a range of sound effects created by such kitchen-sink methods as blowing bubbles in water with a straw, draining water out of a sink, shorting out an electrical circuit and banging partly filled milk bottles with spoons; however, one must listen carefully to detect these prosaic origins in the finished product. Another feature of the recordings is the early use of stereophonic sound.

Joe set up his own independent label, Triumph. It was for this label, in 1960, that he recorded his most way-out work, the first-ever concept album I Hear A New World. The world was obsessed with space travel: Satellites and rockets, science-fiction and men from Mars. Tracks on Joe's record include 'Entry Of The Globbots' and 'March Of The Dribcots', and it sounds like a trip through cold, dark space and into the future. He layered sound effects including bubbling water, toilets flushing, radio interference and speeded-up voices over weirdly distorted Hawaiian guitar and layered, shifting spookiness. The record is now regarded as a pioneering work that stands alongside Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin in electronica's history. At the time it just sounded alien. Only 20 copies of the full album were pressed, for promo purposes.
Kate Hodges

“I hear a new world/Calling me/So strange and so real/Haunting me”
These poignant phrases of exploratory thought became eerie prophecies of a life headed strange-ward into the void. As David Toop once noted, Joe Meek — like Brian Wilson, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Phil Spector — is one of those rare sound scientists that wrestled on the fringes of sanity in order to conjure music from some “not-yet-existent” other place. The risk of course, in attempting to tap into such depths, is total disillusionment — a sudden detachment from reality. Wilson’s LSD-addled mind was lost somewhere in his sandbox, Perry flooded, then burned his cherished Black Ark studio to the ground, and in 1967, Meek murdered his landlady before turning the shotgun on himself.

Meek is now rightly regarded as one of the most influential engineers of all time, a pioneer of the studio-as-instrument (and producer-as-artist) recording approach. In 1959, Joe Meek, alongside Rod Freeman and The West Five, fleshed out the spectacular, space-themed visions ghosting his brain. The result was I Hear a New World, a collection of dreamy pop vignettes, adorned with dubby echoes and tape-warped sonic tendrils. These pop experiments, originally released in abbreviated form, were all but ignored at the time. It seems that music made for and about the future must wait for the future to arrive before it can be sufficiently understood and appreciated.
Jonathan Patrick

A profound influence on artists as diverse as Steven Stapleton and Saint Etienne, Joe Meek's magnum opus was destined to languish in obscurity for several decades. Aside from a couple of highly collectable EPs of the material, and a few white label copies, it didn't get an official release in Meek's lifetime. Having developed an obsession with transmundane sounds when working as a radar operator during his National Service, Meek had his passion further inflamed by the Russian and American satellite programmes Consequently, he resolved to create a record which would explore life on the Moon. Aware that this was going to be "a strange record", Meek brought his entire gamut of unorthodox recording techniques to the fore. Speeded-up tapes, rattling washers, combs dragged across ashtrays, etc, were thrown into the mix, along with the clavioline and all manner of home-built effects. The results are at times an adumbration of techniques used in later electronic music; at other times the record is undeniably quirky with its risible speeded-up voices. But undoubtedly, it was a significant work, suffused with exquisitely simple melodies and genuinely strange intros that still sound way ahead of their time.
John Everall

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Toyen - Justine

 A Girl Sleeping Under the Stars 

Marie Čermínová (September 21, 1902, Prague – November 9, 1980, Paris), known as Toyen, was a Czech painter, draftsperson and illustrator and a member of the surrealist movement.

From 1919 to 1920, she attended UMPRŮM (the School of Decorative Arts) in Prague. She worked closely with fellow Surrealist poet and artist Jindřich Štyrský until his death. They joined the Devětsil group in 1923 and exhibited with the group. In the early 1920s she travelled to Paris, and soon returned there with Štyrský. While living in Paris, the two founded an artistic alternative to Abstraction and Surrealism, which they dubbed Artificialism. They returned to Prague in 1928.

She referred to herself in the masculine case. Her sketches, book illustrations, and paintings were frequently erotic. She contributed erotic sketches for Styrsky's Erotika Revue (1930–33) on several occasions. Erotic Revue published on a stricktly subscription terms based in a circulation of 150 copies. The sixth and last edition was called Edice 69 (sic!). She also illustrated Marquis de Sade's Justine of which Styrsky was the Czech publisher.

After 1928, Toyen’s work became more Surrealist. Her illustrations for a Czech translation of the Marquis de Sade’s Justine, which appeared in Štyrský’s Edition 69 in 1932, signaled the beginning of an interest that she never lost in the erotic as a poetic principle and as the basis of a new language of psychological association.

Toyen (1902-1980) was born in Prague, where she attended UMPRUM (School of Decorative Arts) from 1919 to 1920. From an artistic, political and personal point of view, Toyen was an extremely independent person. She rejected her real name (Marie Cerminova) and chose to pursue her career under an assumed name - a mysterious one without a gender (derived from citoyen). She broke all links to her family in favour of several friends who were "bound by choice". Toyen protested against a bourgeois life and endorsed the anarchist movement.

Toyen and Styrsky returned to Prague in 1929. Styrski began publishing a magazin, the Revue érotique,  with drawings by Toyen. At that time, she also illustrated Justine by de Sade. By the end of the 1920s, Toyen's work became increasingly surrealistic. In 1934, she was one of the founding membes of the Czech Surrealist Group in Prague, which cooperated closely with André Breton's group. One year later, Breton and the poet Paul Eluard visited Prague and began a liflong friendship with Toyen, interrupted only by the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

Toyen’s six illustrations for the Marquis de Sade’s Justine depict not only bloody physical injuries but also homosexual fellatio, an activity not condoned by Breton despite his enthusiasm for Sade. Very much in the style of her other illustrations of the period, the illustrations for Justine were hand-coloured line drawings. 
Karla Huebner
Toyen’s pre-war drawings for Sade’s Justine or Pierre Louÿs were extreme—even pornographic—by the standards of the day. (In Jan Němec's Toyen, 2005) they become part of the flow of imagery and, as Whitney Chadwick has suggested, Toyen was quite possibly “…the only Surrealist to have developed an erotic sense of humour, at once charming and playful”
Peter Hames