Dancer in the Dark

I first saw the film Dancer in the Dark at the cinema on its release in 2000. Having just rewatched it twenty years later it reminded me very strongly of how powerful a director Lars von Trier is and also of how effecting Björk’s performance in the lead role is. I guess that revisiting a film after such a long break should also present an opportunity for some ‘mature’ reflection on what has changed in the interim.

The film is set in 1960s America and follows the story of Selma (Björk) who is a Czech immigrant. Selma is suffering from an ocular condition which is causing her to go blind. She keeps this condition as hidden as possible because she fears losing her factory job. Her job is intensely important to her because she is saving money to pay for her young son to have an eye operation that will prevent him from inheriting his mother’s blindness. Selma finds some escape in watching musicals at the cinema, and as her sight deteriorates she slips in and out of fantasy segments where her immediate environment and the people around her appear to be part of a musical performance.

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Waiting For You: A Detectorists Zine

I am overjoyed to have edited the first issue of Waiting For You: A Detectorists Zine. It is now available for pre-order here: https://temporalboundary.bigcartel.com/product/waiting-for-you-a-detectorists-zine-issue-1

Contents

-Waiting for You by Cormac Pentecost
-Phantom Signals by David Colohan
-Towards a Psychogeography of Danebury by David Petts
-The Call of all the Songbirds: Interviews with Harvey Robinson and Dan Michaelson by Jim Peters
-Background is Everything by Phil Smith

Reviews

-The Windvale Sprites and The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth
Rosemary Pardoe
-Landscapes of Detectorists
Carl Taylor

This is Moon Music: Coil’s Music to Play in the Dark

Why should music be played in the dark? Presumably, because the absence of visual distractions will allow the listener to focus more wholly on the sounds, and also because the quieter, emptier nocturnal atmosphere feels different to that of the diurnal; more sympathetic to ritual and sex. And in the case of Coil, whose Music to Play in the Dark Vol 1 has just been reissued by Dais, because the night is watched over by the moon, and this is moon music. The turn to lunar influences was a significant twist to the Coil story. Previously, their work had been determinedly solar in character, informed by the androphile sexuality that infused their music, lyrics and wider aesthetic context. Some of their ritual music was concerned with the generation of male sexual energy. The rest was often explicitly queer. But with the Moon’s Milk releases and the two Music to Play in the Dark albums there was a conscious and deliberate decision to explore the very different sorts of energy that might be associated with the moon.

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Spectres of Lil Peep

I’ma Haunt You in the End

Lil Peep has been haunting me. Like all stars who die young his image is in perpetual circulation around the world through fibre optic cables and in the invisible mists of Wi-Fi signals. His voice is eternal and eternally young. He has achieved that uncanny state of immortality that requires pixilated black scrying mirrors all around the world to sustain the spectre. Yet his unruly spirit stands out from the rest somehow.

Gus Åhr’s fate was so obviously inevitable (with hindsight) that we can see the signs and portents there even from his birth. Born on the night of Halloween when the spirits of the dead draw closer to the world of the living, he was always conscious of this connection between his birth and the realm of death as can be seen from the two tattoos that he got to commemorate it (a pumpkin and the numbers 11-1 to represent November 1st). His lyrics often address suicidal ideation, self-harm, self-destructive violence, haunting. He grew into the role of the romantic hero who dies young and he couldn’t escape from it.

Gustav Elijah Åhr
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Tenet as Templexity

Christopher Nolan’s new film Tenet is certainly as maddeningly complicated and difficult as the critics have made it out to be. With its use of ‘inverted’ objects (which appear to travel backward through time due to their negative entropy) passing each other in two directions at once through the film (in a palindromic echo of the film’s title) it can be a little confusing. Apparently, Nolan spent a decade mulling over the themes of Tenet and it’s tempting to speculate that during that time he perhaps familiarised himself with the theoretical work of a maddeningly complicated and difficult thinker whose work shares some interesting parallels with the themes of Tenet: Nick Land.

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Landscapes of Detectorists

The first essay I wrote for the Corse Present blog was a rather breathless and in-depth/pretentious account of the TV series Detectorists, so it was inevitable that the newly published book, Landscapes of Detectorists (edited by Innes M. Keighren and Joanne Norcup), would appeal to me. The book is a collection of papers originally presented at a conference of the Royal Geographical  Society in 2018 which was dedicated to our favourite TV series.

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IC40

Decades. They roll on for those left behind but for those who are departed time stops and never gets going again. And everything seems to come back to the question of time in one way or another. The last three songs on Closer: 24 Hours, The Eternal, Decades. Each a measure of time, each a reckoning with the passing years; the mystery of life always slipping through our fingers as though it were already a ghost. The sense that life is already bereavement. The statuary on the sleeves buying in to the gothic imagery but also insisting on an unending stasis. The final word: Still.stal3b Continue reading “IC40”

“Christos is Equus”: Current 93’s Hooves

Hooves is one of my favourite Current 93 songs. Not unusually for Current 93, there is more than one version of this song and the versions are radically different. To make things even more confusing the lyrics have been used for songs called Hooves, Horse and Horsey. These are essentially reworkings of the same song though, as already mentioned, they are radically different to each other. In its earlier incarnations the song appeared as Horse on the album of the same name in 1989 and then as a live version that was much stripped down on As the World Disappears in 1991. The studio version was recorded in Japan with the band Magick Lantern Cycle and has a heavy rock feel to it. It is quite different musically to much of Current 93’s output from this period when they were moving towards more of a neofolk sound.

But the version that I prefer, and which is the subject here, is the song called Hooves which was released on the 1993 compilation CD Emblems: The Menstrual Years. Just to complicate things still further, I should point out that according to the sleeve notes on that CD, Hooves is an unreleased single by Michael Cashmore’s Nature and Organisation, and so isn’t really a Current 93 track at all. Given that, it’s not surprising that this version of the song rests on Michael Cashmore’s guitar work which here has something of the feel of classical guitar to it. To me this feels like the definitive version of the song. Lyrically, the words have become more focussed and succinct. Musically, Michael’s picked strings are both melodically rich and rhythmically compelling, and the repetitive playing suggests the galloping sound of hooves racing across dry ground.

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Vis Medicatrix Naturae

IMG_20200322_091456011

Like everyone else I’m still trying to come to terms with the new social reality imposed on us as a consequence of the Covid 19 pandemic. Presumably we are in the very early stages of this crisis and there is no clarity or certainty about how this will all play out. I am myself only on the third day of this self isolation, or social distancing regime but I have decided that I will continue my normal routine of a 30 – 40 minute walk each morning. I live very close to the graveyard where the Shropshire writer Mary Webb is buried and I am intending to head over there each morning. I can’t visit the graveyard without pausing for a moment at Mary’s grave, and this seems to be the beginning of a new sacrament for me.

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