One of my favourite film music podcasts is back, right on time for Halloween, and I can't wait to listen to this brand new episode! "Featuring a musical candy-bowl of scary soundtracks, classic and contemporary thrillers, synthwave, horror disco, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4's rap battle." Almost 4 hours of the best Spooktober music out there!
Now it's been shipped to its new owner, my contribution for the latest round of the Metal Punk Tape Exchange was so much fun to make, I feel I should go into a more detailed account of how it came to be, if only to keep a trace of it. The music will probably surface one day in the Mixtapes section of this website, but let's talk for now about the concept itself...
First of all, I've been thinking for a long time of how a mixtape would be "deconstructed" or "reconstructed" by some different life forms or a non-human intelligence (yes, I think about stuff like this all the time haha), a bit like French writer Claro did in his 'Black Box Beatles' novel, only in a more prosaic and 'earthy' manner.
So this is the package that my recipient for this round got in his mailbox: a C60 mixtape, obviously, and some clippings. The tape in itself is a fairly straightforward Heavy Metal/Hard Rock mix of obvious tunes and the lesser known gems that I always feel like sharing with the rest of the world. Songs I like, solid bangers, the works. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But this time, the tape itself is not the be-all end-all of the exchange. On the contrary...
Now imagine if the very same cassette tape lay dormant in a time capsule for centuries, millenia, eons...
War, plague, pestilence, famine: the human race has come and gone.
Earth has some new owners now, a highly advanced race of mutant cockroaches. Sometimes their archaeologists dig stuff up from the ground. Ancient artefacts from the previous inhabitants of this planet: us.
But the thing is, they don't know how to make heads or tails of their discoveries, having no clue as to the purpose of the objects they find.
The humans worked in such mysterious ways. Our cockroaches are literally obsessed with their predecessors. They write books about us. So what could be the purpose of this new discovery, the "tape", this mysterious plastic rectangle holding a ribbon inside? A top team of cockroach scientists are on the case. They exchange emails and theories, and I included some of their correspondence, public and private, with the clippings.
Of course, even if they've found a way of listening to what's on the ribbon, they're lost in conjecture as to the purpose of it all. So they highlight what they know and what they don't on a diagram, which I also included in the package.
Like I've said before, I had a lot of fun making all that stuff up. But honestly, in the name of The Great Ootheca, I could have never done it without those guys in the first place... don't know if you remember them? The funky little buggers that live in Joe's Appartment? Who knows, my futuristic cockroach scientists could even be distant relatives of theirs...
I'd totally forgotten how bonkers and utterly bizarre that album is! Perhaps the most quintessentially British album ever this side of Willy Wonka, "Death By Chocolate" (2000) is a concept album by Mike Always who, it turns out, was head of A&R at Cherry Red Records, a label that helped launch bands such as Felt, The Monochrome Set or Everything But The Girl.
In 2001, Always hooked up with some musicians and a 19 year-old hotel maid (!) called Angie Tillett and they set upon recording Death By Chocolate's debut album, which brings elements of freakbeat and 60s psych together with Angie's dry monologues. On most songs you won't hear her sing but recite an endless litany of all the things that were considered sweet, innocuous or innocent in decades past, kind of like a Prevert catalogue of sweet little nothings. The songs on which she actually sings are also really good, very folksy and comforting.
The end result is quite surprising and also, truth be told, a bit creepy at times. It almost sounds like a robotic, machine recreation of a long-gone past teenage England that never existed in the first place. The music is more cheerful than all the later "hauntological" bands that would follow but there's a sense of incoming dread that I can't shake off. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this? Another album called 'Zap The World' would follow in 2002 and they briefly returned with a 3rd release much later called "Bric-a-brac" in 2012.
I found this delicious interview that was made when the debut album came out and when they were really pushing the whole "sweet teenage chambermaid loner from the provinces" concept very hard. Makes me think of Pizzicato Five's delirious recreation of what made pop 'pop' a decade prior!
Illustrator John Coulthart's journal feuilleton and its weekend links selection is one of my favourite online treasure troves.
Last week did not disappoint with this bandcamp selection of Zeuhl bands, divided into 3 parts:
Old School Zeuhl, Zeuhl Goes Global, and New School Zeuhl. "There is No Prog, Only Zeuhl: A Guide to One of Rock’s Most Imaginative Subgenres" can be accessed here.
More info on this particular brand of music invented by French Avant-Garde pioneers Magma available on Prog Archives, which also includes a long list of bands in that vein and a good definition of what separates Zeuhl from prog rock:
Zeuhl is an adjective in Kobaïan, the language written by Christian Vander, drummer and founder of the French band Magma.
While far from being an expert on the genre, here's one of my favourite albums which don't appear on the bandcamp list by EIDER STELLAIRE. This is from their 1981 debut album.
Construction workers woke me up today from one of the strangest dreams I've had recently.
In the dream, I was chatting at work with someone I didn't know well about "Anna", the 1967 made-for-TV movie starring Jean-Claude Brialy and Anna Karina, with music and lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg. Following our discussion, the person from work proceeded to invite me to some kind of informal rehearsal with a tribute band he was doing. I accepted, thinking the band was just starting out and that there'd be five of us drinking beers and making some noise.
But when I got to the rehearsal place, I was led to this gigantic opera house of immense proportions with thousands of people sitting everywhere or lying on the ground.
I sat down with the rest of the crowd and realized everyone was here to take part in this weird free-form musical experiment to see if you could build a musical from scratch, with no direction or preconceived music of any kind.
Of course, everyone was chiming in and voicing out their opinion as to how we should proceed, making the whole endeavour impossible. A few strong-willed 'leaders' rapidly emerged; angry, belligerent men quite vocal in their telling off of others like myself who were - at least in the beginning - making some initial artistic suggestions with great enthusiasm.
In the end, before I left, all the massive crowd could manage was this basic yogic hum, "Aaaaah-Naaaaaaah" with some sporadic attempts at Gregorian inflections no one could manage properly. The whole scene began to feel like a directionless mass not going anywhere, with no priest at the helm to steer the crowd to any kind of grand finale or resolution.
Claude Chabrol was in the audience too, and I remember him looking particularly befuddled at the whole spectacle.
Just found this old flyer I wrote once for my friend DJ Mamazzoni, in the style of the old Marvel Universe handbooks. The artwork is all Mamazzoni's and I think it rules!
Just wanted to share this theory I have regarding John Boorman's sequel which - everyone will agree to this - is a bit of a mess. But what if it all happened in Richard Burton's head?
Quoting from my initial post on Letterboxd:
"Finally, after all these years of carefully avoiding this movie like a plague of locust, I caved in and sat down to watch, bewildered and greatly amused, this train-wreck. What can I say? Definitely a product of its time: Uri Geller, ESP, nonsensical parapsychology all mixed up with - faint - traces of the original and at least a more serious attempt to give Father Merrin and good ole Pazuzu a bit of an origin story.
I don't know much about horror podcasts (the few I've tried before didn't do anything for me), but Jonathan Sims' The Magnus Archives over at rustyquill.com has won me over. I'm only 7 episodes in at the moment (they're into their fifth season, I reckon, and Ep. 181 is now online, not counting the specials and other shows they've done!), but I can't wait for the bigger mystery to unfold. Each episode is a statement narrating a supernatural encounter or bizarre event, read by the organisation's newly appointed head archivist. The Magnus Archives has thousands of such tales waiting to be sorted out and recorded for future filing by Jonathan Sims... But as the podcast's creators warn us: "Individually, they are unsettling. Together they begin to form a picture that is truly horrifying because as they look into the depths of the archives, something starts to look back…"