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Bibliotechnik // Automyth

Library Encounter of the Day: I was sitting there, minding my own business, clearly engrossed in reading/note-making, and also wearing big fat ‘pls go away’ headphones. Nevertheless, a man I had never met before made a confident beeline for me and started asking some unintelligible question (unintelligible because I could understandably hear more of Tangerine Dream than I could of him). I half removed the headphones and caught some quickfire babble about what sounded to my ear like ‘Camembert’, though who knew… the man (he sounded Spanish) was trying to explain what he meant, but I was in too much of a daze to work out what he was saying.

FromageriesCollapse )


I am frequenting the Library a lot these days, whilst we have our kitchen redone. (No, I don’t want to sit at home and supervise through clouds of dust, drilling noises and frequent tea consumption.) Though I wish it looked and felt more like the libraries you see in Dario Argento films, rather than a spick and span modern municipal resource, it is not a bad place in which to loiter in a semi-productive way. And it’s always busy! If you go away to have lunch and then come back again, it is hard to find a seat in the study-room. (On a related note, those chairs… those chairs are hard.) Listening to music is, alas, necessary, because it’s on a sort of mezzanine, and noise from downstairs is audible (along with every phone-susurration, coffee slurp and deep, heavy sigh from other patrons).

Laptops are everywhere - not many people make actual notes with a pen, and those that do often have a laptop as well. Most of the people in the room look to be students (A level or undergraduate), aside from the occasional Library Habitué - there’s one chap who wheels in a huge suitcase and sort of sets up camp. At first I thought he must be killing time before his train, but I’ve seen him several times now. This is, in my opinion, a vital function of libraries. For all that they ought to be places of information, learning and literature, they must also be… places to sit and stew, especially for those who may not have anywhere else very pleasant to go. They must afford the sort of equality that allows learned professor, bored student, weirdo conspiracy theorist, suburban dilettante and sheltering itinerant to sit next to each other peaceably.


I have to report that I am yet again fatally allured by shades of mauve. It’s a melancholy business: rarely, if ever, do I feel even slightly curious about people who are alive and knowable. It’s always the semi-obscure, the evanescent, the defunct, the extinct, with me.

Adoring AlastairCollapse )


All this gives me to think on what I am to do with myself - how I am to express the (seemingly) inexpressible. Always, half my will bids me hide, whilst the other half cries ‘Parade!’ The first option is safe in one way but very, very hurtful in another: not to be known, not to be seen, not to be sensed, is lonely. Loneliness is excruciatingly safe. The only person who can hurt You there is yourself, and You are the best at doing that. Worse, this way You are letting down all your fellow invisibles - every person who might take heart at seeing You take brave shape before the world’s eyes.

But I’m doomed to diffidence. How much certainty does it require, to feel that You have the right to Describe Yourself? Though sometimes other people’s honesty is inspiring, at other times it’s a muzzle. Don’t want to detract from their moment. Don’t want to seem to mount the bandwagon as it trundles by. The saddest words in the English language are not ‘Too Late’ but ‘Me Too’.

Words, indeed, are perhaps the problem. I want not to need them, in this case. I am not an answer: I’m a question, a wordless question. Trying to frame the thing in speech or text is a fool’s errand. What is wanted is some way to make manifest that question, to stop asking it myself and let other people ask it instead. That’s it: that’s it, exactly. I present people with a false certainty, a drab obviousness that is a lie. They should look at me and not know what to think. And in destroying that lie, I do not want to hand out an explanation that no-one has asked for. I would rather hand out pure beautiful honest confusion.


Here’s a question that I shall happily answer, or try to. Ages ago I asked for writing prompts and then (despite my fair-to-middling efforts, offstage) failed to respond to one from the esteemed in_thy_bounty. So I requested an alternative question, and here it is:

“If your personality were a fabric, what would it be?”

We mortals weave ourselvesCollapse )

{That was a fine question. I thank you for it.}

Characters Emerging from Mist

This afternoon I’ve been doing a little art experiment. (I have no formal skill in this area, so any success - define the latter as you will - is largely down to serendipity or Divine intervention!!)


Recently I acquired some kyogi - these are wafer-thin sheets of pine wood, traditionally used in Japan for serving food.

Writing on kyogiCollapse )

Anyway, whimsical penmanship aside, seeing the wood grain pattern on the kyogi reminded me of those Edvard Munch woodblock prints called ‘Towards the Forest’ - obsessive iterations of the same image, produced and reproduced, the texture of the wood being called into service as part of the composition.

Brooding menaceCollapse )

Recently, I’ve been enjoying discovering various artists who are new to me: they fall into several categories.

Archetypal ArtistsCollapse )

Aside from meeting these extraordinary artworks, I’ve also been finding much enjoyment in many of the things that have inspired them. Some of these are long-standing loves, some newer.

Gleeful Gloom, in painting, word and photographCollapse )

All around, so many proofs of possibility: at some point, looking at other people’s genius-born meisterwerks ceases to be off-putting, because you know full well you can’t emulate or equal them. There is no tension then - you can’t feel intimidated by the foregone conclusion of your own lack of skill. Somehow it becomes possible to just have a go, without worrying about the outcome.


Crepuscular EncounterCollapse )

Now that I know this works, perhaps I’ll make other things - time will tell. Anyway - clearly I’m no kind of skilled artist, but it is inevitable that buoyed in the tidal wake of those blessed with great artistry there will always be happy accidental amateurs bobbing about. What can I say else but ‘come on in - the water’s lovely’.

In the Pink

This Friday I’m tasked with saying a few words to introduce a film showing. (Film club time again!) I think my words shall indeed be few: rather than loose off a tirade o’trivia, I’ll just share a few brief personal impressions. Let’s face it, any old so-and-so can look up trivia on the internet (in other words, do it yerself, fact fans). Besides, I’m not an expert (on any topic, least of all cinema!). All I can bring that is mine alone to give is… my perception. *flutters ridiculous quantities of eyelash*

Yes, well, anyway - the film I’ve picked is one I’ve seen numerous times, but not very recently - and I’m not going to re-watch it in advance of the showing (I want to anticipate enjoying it again, in company, rather than taking a Mastermind-specialist-subject-revision approach). It’s one that has a distinctive look, a mischievous sense of humour, and stars some of our most beloved Silver Screen Luminaries. It’s silly and frothy, but does dip a toe into potentially-serious notions of identity, personal authenticity and the masks we wear for one another and ourselves. (Plus, it’s a musical. I imagine that may divide opinions right there.) My title of choice is ‘Funny Face’, starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.

Just now, rather than elaborate a comprehensive overview of the film in this, my own cosy little corner of the Entirenet, I have it in mind to plumb a tangent inspired by one of its songs. Namely, ‘Think Pink’.

Pink to Make the Boys WinkCollapse )

Vulgar in Velvet

It’s World Book Day! We did a roaring trade in the bookshop this morning - there never seems to be any rhyme or reason behind foot traffic/sales in there, but maybe people were aware of the occasion and had book-buying in mind.

Vampires, Velvet and VulgarityCollapse )

Son et Lumière

Last evening I was reading a fascinating article about the ANS - an unusual synthesiser developed in Russia in the 1930s. It was designed in 1938 by a certain Evgeny Murzin and was named after the composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin. The unusual thing with the ANS is that it is not operated in the conventional way of synthesisers - or of musical instruments in general - i.e., you do not instruct its pitch and tone by pressing or touching it. To quote the article linked above,

‘Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, triggering a wide range of tones. Etchings made low on the sheets make low tones. High etchings make high tones. The sound is generated in real-time and the tempo depends on how fast you insert the sheets.’

Splitting the atom of the selfCollapse )


Another friend started me on another, somewhat-relevant train of thought by discussing the propensity for psychological states to affect physical ones. This meandered towards an idea that it would be fun to have physical states affect musical forces (e.g. your blood pressure hooked up to guitar effects). Immediately my mind was full of hilarious possibilities.

Unwitting automataCollapse )


Human will has scant reach, I feel. The last thing I want is Power - or at least, I’m tolerably certain that I don’t have any. Rather, I’m an instrument awaiting a Composer.

What The Fashion Forward Tyrant Is Wearing

Golly gee, I’m a tired little Diurnal Introvert today. Last evening, I Attended An Event and Made Conversation With Humans, most of whom I did not know hitherto. I’m pretty sure I Spoketh the Rubbish (well, yeah, so what is new?!). But it is better to be silly than dull. This type of experience does tend to fill the brain with Notions, which then kept me awake and analysing way past Emy-sleepsleep-time. And of course, this morning, I awoke with the birds, as usual. In short: *feeble moaning sound* *smiling, however* ;-)

Observations: Municipal library seating is harsh on the posterior. The English really cannot help but congregate around a tea urn (seriously, a circle formed around the sainted thing, as if ’twere an holy well, with occasional reverent reachings into the sacred biscuit tin).

The event in q. was a film showing with introductory remarks (the idea shall be to establish a film club: you may choose a film to be shown, but you must say a little something about it first). Last evening’s selection: none other than ‘Flash Gordon’. Ideal fare for a drizzly evening in January. Leaving the place afterwards, the dinginess of Exeter after dark made for a depressing contrast with the powerfully outrageous world of the film. Regarding the introductory remarks - well, the gauntlet was well and truly flourished ’n’ thrown down by a knowledgeable and eloquent fellow… which awakes the spirit of challenge in Yrs Trly. I like a podium, me (much more than awkward chat around a tea urn!). And am an ignorant fellow, but perhaps also eloquent under some circumstances? …We’ll see.

Well, whatever, if nothing else I now have ample wardrobe inspiration for whenever I do get around to taking over the galaxy. As dictators go I’d be fairly lax ’n’ lenient, but definitely Fabudorable.

Further observations: to be sober in an only-just-slightly-inebriated world is most certainly surreal. I had a long wait for the bus home, so I walked right up to the centre of town and further still (to kill time) before stopping to await my carriage. Outside Subway, I witnessed one young man cheerfully chasing another whilst shouting, “Yer a Corgi! Yer a Corgi!” If this is current slang, I have no idea what it means (perhaps “You have short legs, large ears, and I think you’re cute”?).

And now: time to rest. (In the absence of an intergalactic-dormobile-foldaway-person-holder as favoured by General Klytus, a humble sofa shall suffice!)
I am very glad to be able to tell you that I have recently discovered TWO writers who make me excited about reading. I’m such a picky little thing, it’s not easy to please me when it comes to cultural artefacts. I won’t say my standards are high, but they are exacting. Things have to feel right, hit the right spot. In no area of my life do I like to bother with things that don’t feel right or hit the right spot… if you don’t quite want to make love to it, you may as well abstain entirely, innit. (Self-sufficiency, too, is a canny move. You never appreciate how good someone else is - or how bad they are - if you are not truly conversant with your own capacity! True of writing, music, cooking and… all manner of other very necessary indulgences.)

Anyway (yes, please do change the subject, horrid creature), today at the bookshop I bought a book that I had been mulling over ever since I saw it on the shelf. I was alone on the shop floor today, so I started reading it, and once I did that, I knew it would have to come home with me. It is called ‘The Hawkline Monster - A Gothic Western’ and its author is Richard Brautigan. It’s a short book (I read the whole thing in the shop, between customers), odd, funny, technically brilliant and really a thing of joy. If I had to describe it (and convention suggests that I should), I’d ask you to imagine a fusion of David Lynch and Edward Gorey. It has that same exact glorious combination of the matter-of-fact and literal with the surreal and fantastic. When I saw the tagline ‘A Gothic Western’ I thought of in_thy_bounty (even more so when I saw the picture of Brautigan posing nonchalantly in a black hat!). And yes, the book’s ease in mingling down-to-earth, turn-of-the-20th-century Americana with hallucinatory weirdness (and that all achieved with a beautifully observational turn of phrase), would appear to be something you might enjoy. I’m also going to recommend it to breakon87 (this fellow Brautigan is tagged as a ‘post beat writer’, and the story has fantastical elements), aerodrome1 (it’s whimsical but elegant, sensual and nonchalant) and decemberthirty (it’s unusual, clever, sparse and feels deeply rooted in American culture).

My other discovery is David Stacton. (I would hazard a guess he too might be of interest to decemberthirty.) I’m reading his ‘Remember Me’ at the moment - one or two glorious chapters at a time, savoured in bed with breakfast. This novel is about Ludwig II of Bavaria, someone who definitely fascinates me. I usually keep well away from historical novels, even literary ones, but this is a quite remarkable entering-into-the-spirit of that legendary moonstruck tragic prince. I like very much that it’s written in the third person, in a slightly detached, certainly analytical, but very sympathetic way. In his introduction Stacton reveals his own devout fellow-feeling with Ludwig, and this emerges tangibly in the writing. I must admit to a certain fellow-feeling with Ludwig myself, and somehow this book (and its writer) seems to be one of those that ‘understands you back’ as you read it. Stacton is renowned for being an ‘epigrammatic’ writer, and his prose certainly is chock full of phrasey phrases. I really like that (I’m all about the phrasey phrase in my own writing, fer damn sure); it occasionally threatens to get a bit much, but in this book it works, almost as if Mr Stacton is having to defend himself from the rawness of his own emotion by imparting distance stylistically. The narrative voice becomes a character in itself then - or rather, the writer is very present in the writing. I like to feel that when I’m reading; I don’t read for the plot, you see, and perhaps not even for the characters. What I most desire from a writer is to feel not-alone, from the writing’s revealing of a kindred mind out there in the world somewhere.

Both Richard Brautigan and David Stacton died young. Brautigan struggled all his life with alcoholism and depression (living out the tendency for adults to perpetuate the trauma they suffered as children - his own youth was blighted by alcoholic, abusive men, failing at (step-)fatherhood); he eventually committed suicide. Stacton, weakened by cancer and its drastic non-cure (as well as a formidable tobacco habit) dropped dead of what looks to have been sheer bodily exhaustion. Each was idiosyncratic, stubborn, inimitable; each is now an immortal, complete with respective cult.

Idols tend to be oblivious to their worshippers, but the worshippers get something important out of it - something priceless. Very Important Lesson: live as much as you can, while you can, and make what you and you alone were born to make. It may not bring you any advantage during your short life (except the granting of your will), and people may say you wasted your time, or that you were eccentric and not much else. But if you can operate at this level of sincerity, somebody somewhere - today, tomorrow, next century - will be fortified and succoured by what you have made. Being you, at risk to your reputation, and pouring that intensely into what you (only you) can make: this will help someone along the line. Being not-you, nourishing convention, and suppressing your creativity: this will make you dead-while-alive, and will not lessen your sadness… nor will it help your spiritual descendants.

In short: reading is great, especially when it cheers up your thought-injured little brain!! ;-)

Incalculable Azimuths

The current mood, somehow, finds me wanting to do little more than read science fiction and listen to Frank Zappa. (The two activities are ideally complementary.) I have a plentiful selection of Zappa but pitifully few science fiction books, so I started from the most obvious place and picked up a 99p copy of ‘Foundation’ by Isaac Asimov.

The Future: Expect Sexism And Atomic-Powered Jewellery!Collapse )


This afternoon, I took delivery of our grocery order. Nothing unusual there, except that today marked a watershed in my annoyingly regular ‘you look younger than your years’ experiences. The previous record was along the lines of ‘ten years younger’. But today…

Doriain’t GrayCollapse )


I’m having a Facebook Fast, and it feeeeeels gooooood. Ahhhhhh. Weight off the brain!

BadgermentCollapse )
Well, now. My Temples Festival Experience. It was by no means the experience I expected. And you might think, reading the details, that I’d be disappointed. And yet, somehow, I’m feeling positive. Thankful, even. This may be considered strange… but I’m ok with that. Wherever I go in this world I’m a bemused foreigner, a Culture Of One (even in what looks like my own milieu). As long as this is expressed gently and positively, it is no disadvantage.

VisitationsCollapse )
Yes, absolutely ‘in Concert’: together, in unison, in symbiosis. I am not objective about Magma; this is not really a ‘concert review’, more like a thoroughly subjective, highly indulgent account of An Experience. There, consider yerself Warned.


Your Interplanetary Alchemist Prince, Reporting From The FieldCollapse )


Something about today required a dash of vivid red. (I think it’s because I’m very tired: wan, weary and wilting. I really must force myself to go to bed at the proper time, though this is inconvenient to the natural flow of interesting conversation.) Anyway, red certainly does fill in the blank of one’s personality when it is AWOL owing to mental and spiritual fatigue.

“Would you buy a secondhand book from this person?”

Within: Crimson Silk, Cosy Coffins, Pens In Profusion, Notebooks For IdiotsCollapse )


Another poetical challenge: gauntlet duly taken up. (Did you know, it's dashed difficult to write with a gauntlet on? I'm afraid I had to take it off again. Sorry about that.)

Anyway - another poem. I suggested these words to my opposite number: curious - Wednesday - pastel - significance. It turns out my opposite number is rather more accomplished than pore ole Yrs Trly in the poetick dept.: Penelope's creation is subtle, simple and elegant. Me, I'm sort of the opposite of that. But at least you can say I work (or footle about) quickly: it was only earlier today that P. suggested I use those very same words in composing my... not riposte (or are we still duelling...?); my... offering? Well, whatever you want to call the thing, I have had a stab at it (zounds! My pen clearly thinks it's a sword).


It is my personal policy never to edit poems, because they are like mental polaroids. Of what is this a candid snap, you ask? Only the notion that from Wednesday, it's downhill all the way (probably in a good way, but that's up to you). Also, I am usually at work on a Wednesday but today I have the day off: sitting on sofas feeling unnecessary is not my usual Wednesday feeling. The mind perseverates upon trivialities (more so than ever), measuring the minutes' constant creep. ...I suppose fleeting novelties of this sort deserve to be immortalised in verse?

Anyway, it does mean that a day of idleness has not been entirely unproductive. ;-)

The previous poetic effort of your correspondent may be observed in situ here.


…down at the Roxymoron Casino, presumably.

Slogans, slogans, slogans. You know me: I hate slogans (though I adore Mottoes, Axiomata, Aphorisms!). Who comes up with these things? ‘Please Gamble Responsibly’… that one wants filing next to ‘Please Die Quietly’.

Anyway, the other day I learned via Facebook that North Korea has recently issued a whopping 310 new patriotic slogans. Most have the sinister, hysterical quality that one expects from narcissist parents (which, I suppose, is a befitting label, considering the exploits of the Kim Dynasty).

Some, however, are just… plain… surprising.

Let’s Science Our Vegetables Unstintingly!Collapse )

Today I have dipped a toe into the seething, turbid waters of eBay, in search of Cheap Chinese Fountain Pens. Apparently, these can be surprisingly good for the hilariously-low price; I guess I’ll find out how true that is once the ones I’ve ordered arrive. The thing is, you see, I have fallen in love with bottled ink: and I seem to want to pair each hue I acquire with its own pen. (I’m clearly exactly as bad as those pseuds who buy the myriad differently-shaped wine glasses to match their wines! …Well, to be honest, I tend to drink wine - if I drink it at all - out of one of those tumblers that used to be a mustard-pot, but you get the general idea.) The other day I ordered three new bottles of ink in captivating shades, so of course fresh pens must follow. Luckily, I found my old Waterman pen, with accompanying converter, so one new colour will find its billet therein, but the others shall be housed in cheap ’n’ cheerful lodgings.

Sins, AesthetickCollapse )

Today’s post brought me a couple of good things: a silver pendant depicting Hermes-Mercury (a thing of beauty!) and a good, cheap secondhand copy of ‘The Secret Service’ by Wendy Walker, which I have been wanting to acquire ever since I read its description.

A Mauve DecadeCollapse )


The other day (in Another Place) I agreed to play a game of poetical tag: submit 3 - 5 prompt words, and receive a poem containing those words. If you wished you could also receive 3 - 5 prompt words in order to return the gesture. Of course I agreed to 'pome', and I received these prompt words: violet, flourish, cloud, unrequited, entwine.

Recently I happened upon the preposterous poetry of Comte Robert de Montesquiou. Honestly, it's... indescribable. Luckily for me, I found a few verses translated into English; if only my French was up to it I'd try reading the original creations. But if you read French with a reasonable fluency, if you like Ludwig II and bats and ridiculousness, if you are willing to bite your tongue/swallow your giggles whilst kneeling reverently at the daintily-shod feet of le Comte, well... it's worth your attention. Anyway, what little I read delighted me severely.

I cannot write like that, not really (despite all, I'm far too sane). But I could not look at those prompt words - violet, flourish, cloud, unrequited, entwine - without feeling the Decadent Lightbulb ping on (...is it a lightbulb? Perhaps not; it may be something more like a moon reflected in the articulated opalescent glass drops which depend, shivering, from a lustre that glows on the mantelpiece, the hanging crystals agitated by the passing sweep of one's cape. ...Yeah, it's probably that, innit?).

Therefore, I have made my poem self-consciously ornate (so, no change there! Any excuse, right?). I think perhaps I'll let the Archduke steal it, he was after all spurned once by a callous harpy who so wounded his heart that he ran away to Helsinki and lived incognito in a fisherman's hut for about two days. (Two. Days.)

Please imagine him lying, trembling, on a rustic cot, glaring through his tears at an Odilon Redon print that is hanging against the rough woodwork of that hut.

Now Read On. :-)

Crepuscular descends the violet hour
Whose tint pollutes the rosy hope of day.
Her note: ‘Cher ami, veuillez patienter’;
Not patient but becalmed, sickly I cow’r.
Rise, Bile; choke, burn my heart; flourish, Decay!
Like Sun’s eye dimmed in cloud, mine eyes now lour:
Devotion unrequited waxes sour,
No more to her vile image will I pray!
Night’s leash is short; I dangle on that chain
Whose tether’s end is Dawn, and must resign
Myself to slavery. Accept this pain,
Thou humble thrall; drink, addict, of this wine
Meted so sparingly by her. In vain
Dost thou deny thy joy with angst entwine.

© MMFH 2nd March 2015
Well, this is a new experience for me. I have never really had proper toothache before. I am determined, in the true spirit of sensual science, to enjoy (?!) it to the fullest.

Adventures in Stoicism and DentistryCollapse )


Inspired by goldmourn's tantalising bookshelf photos (tantalising because bookshelf photos make you want to reach through the screen and check out those volumes!), I thought it was about time I posted a few of my own.

Books (and other things) on shelvesCollapse )

Spel Ka-st

...I really have nothing much to tell you today, except that I'm hosting a migraine (the not-that-painful but nonetheless-annoyingly-persistent kind) and listening repeatedly to this song:

'Just A Lifetime', by The Legendary Pink Dots. It is from an album with the marvellous title of 'The Crushed Velvet Apocalypse'. Well, that sounds like my kind of armageddon! The whole album is really rather good - I've been listening to it on YouTube and shall put its physical incarnation on my Christmas Wish List, I think.

The Legendary Pink Dots: massively prolific, adrift in their own homemade psychedelic/faintly-gothic fug... fronted by the Thelemically-monikered Edward Ka-Spel... This sort of thing is on the periphery of my usual musical/cultural taste. Because they are not a 1970s group, they sound much more hygienic and arch than their earlier spiritual cousins. I can kind of imagine them having a friendly musical rivalry with Julian Cope. I've known of their existence for ages but not bothered to do any serious listening until now. (Maybe my brain on migraine pills is more amenable to this sort of thing...!) The LPD discography is intimidatingly vast, which daunts me, but I can see myself exploring it in leisurely, non-completist fashion.

Recommendations of albums worth hearing are most definitely welcome, if anyone out there happens to be familiar with this stuff... :-)

Lightnin’ Rod: Julian Cope in concert

Last Thursday, I had a lovely evening of music and subtle energies… my first encounter with Mr Julian Cope, singing, talking and Being Himself, upon the stage of the Exeter Phoenix. With nil apology, this shall be quite a burblesome summation of the occasion. (Ok, You Have Been Warned: Now Read On...)

As I started on my way to the place, there was weather god drama of a suitably tingly variety. I stepped out of my house into flickered drippage, wet stop motion description of the Vertical Plane…

…yep. It was Raining.

Tlaloc Drools, Julian Rules!Collapse )


Yesterday, very very overdue indeed, I gave myself a much-needed haircut. Really, it is quite a relief to feel like myself again! Hair is psychologically significant, even if to own so is apt to make one feel rather superficial.

No Actual CapesCollapse )
When reading a Heavy Tome, it can be helpful to listen to the Right Kind of Music. What you need is an Auditory Lens with which to focus the mind’s ear to a pin sharp inward hearing of the words you are reading. I’m currently reading a Heavy Tome Indeed, and I do find that the words seep in more readily when gently pushed by a soundtrack that is either wholly instrumental or sung in some language other than English. Herewith: a glimpse of recent soundtraquerie.

Recently I received my copy of the new album by Monomyth, entitled ‘Further’. I was prompt in pre-ordering and so it came autographed - it is rare that I am following along the career of a current band, so it is a nice experience to have that personal touch. I really enjoyed their first, self-titled album (definitely recommended). This is not an area of music I’m really knowledgeable about (they describe their stuff as ‘Instrumental Space Kraut Stoner Rock from the Netherlands’) but I would say it does manage to be more than just a session of ‘spot the influence’. Yes, the influences are tangible, but it’s not one of those ‘serious rock Jive Bunny’ experiences - it’s not ‘classic rock bingo’.

‘Further’ has - how to put it? - fewer ‘memorable tunes’ (!?) than its predecessor, and I feel as though this is the kind of music that, for full effect, really needs to be experienced live with the entire person rather than only via the ears whilst sitting sedately on a sofa, but I can already point to favourite moments. My favourite piece would have to be ’Spheres’, which builds its stubborn, jagged, geometric repetitions with Fripp-like patience ’n’ persistence. This is a well-structured album, too. The best side-effect of the resurgence of the vinyl lp (if you ask me…) is the return of the 40-something-minute album. Here we have that classic format of side A: two tracks of roughly equal length; side B: short piece followed by Epic. The Epic in this case is ‘6EQUJ5’, in which you can definitely pick up echoes of that dogged ’n’ determined Düsseldorf Motorik Beat, along with guitar sounds that occasionally remind my (biased?!) ears of 1980s Beefheart/Magic Band. The splendid artwork (by Maarten Donders) is not best served by the limited canvas of CD packaging, but I bet it looks grand on the lp sleeve. Goes rather well as visual accompaniment to an inward voyage in search of the Prima Materia.

I also received Magma’s new… what… mini-album? EP?? It’s around twenty Earth-minutes in length, let’s put it that way, and contains a new version of an old familiar piece: ‘Rïah Sahïltaahk’. This originally appeared on their second album, ‘1001° Centigrades’. Apparently, Maestro Christian Vander was dissatisfied with the original arrangement. Having listened to both versions several times back to back, along with the live version that’s on the ‘Mythes et Legendes: Epok V’ DVD, I have to admit that the difference is not really that striking. The original version has its brass/woodwind element, whilst the new version has vibraphone and female backing vocals. The original has that slightly claustrophobic production common to lps from the early 1970s, whilst the new one sounds more clean and vibrant - well, no kidding. The lead vocals on the original are by the wondrous Klaus Blasquiz; Magma’s current male lead vocalist, Herve Aknin, sings in a very similar style.

There is nothing to complain about at all with this new version, although the live incarnation of it on the DVD has more Oomph and Zeuhl Energy than the studio effort. If you know the original, you'll kind of miss the brass on the new version. On the other hand, the added vocals on the new one, along with the presence of Philippe Bussonnet on bass guitar (a proper Zeuhl Knight as opposed to Francis Moze’s jazzier style on the original), add a little something. Argh - I dunno. I would say this new 'Rïah Sahïltaahk' is non-essential but well executed. If you particularly like this piece, or if you are the classic obsessed Magma aficionado who will buy anything they release, it’s a no-brainer; you want this. But if there is such a person as the mildly-interested consumer of Magma product (?!), he/she/they may happily pass on this one.

HOWEVER, let me say this: the packaging is very elegant (silver mirrored surface with black offset Zeuhl Griffe) and as always it is Joyful Indeed for any devout Zeuhl Kadett to be presented with a singalong Kobaïan libretto and a sizeable fragment of the Magma mythos (the story of Rïah Sahïltaahk is told in French; it’s a cautionary tale warning of the dangers of Hubris).

And that seems like a good place to terminate this travelogue of Musical Opinion Territory. Time perhaps to divert my attentions away from the potential Hubris of Album Reviewin’, back to the hoped-for Humility of Heavy Tome Readin’.

My thanks, as ever, for your company on this rrrramble. :-)

Eavesdrop, snoop, and sigh with yearning...

This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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