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David Severn’s ‘Whitby Goth Weekend’ (Beam Editions, November 2018)

3 Nov

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For Halloween 2018, Nottingham based photographer David Severn launched a limited edition photobook of his series of images taken during Whitby Goth Weekend. Published by Nottingham independent art publishers Beam Editions, designed by Joff+Ollie with stitched binding and silk-screened cover (including a newly commissioned Whitby Abbey design by Becky Wood) and an introductory essay by Wayne Burrows, the book is a whimsical exploration of the Gothic seaside tradition.

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The essay explores the literary and political influences on Goth subculture and the history and character of Whitby itself, a town known as the formative location of both Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Polynesian explorer Captain James Cook’s early years: a point where the cultural geographies of Gothic and Exotica merge against a backdrop of amusement arcades, chip shops, maritime monuments and olde worlde shopfronts selling sticks of rock, Victorian style jet jewellery and carved ammonite ‘snake-stones’.

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A Gothic soirée to launch the publication took place in the Ottar Cafe-Bar at Nottingham Contemporary on Nov 1st, 2018. The playlist of records heard at the event are listed below, though not necessarily  in the exact order actually played as I lost track of the sequencing fairly early on in the night. Tracks were loosely chosen to trace some of the tributaries and streams running into, through and between Gothic and Exotica subcultures, before and after ‘Goth’ was ever named as such, as explored in the short essay introducing the book itself.

Paul Giovanni/Magnet: Maypole
Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium
Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath
Sam Gopal: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Arthur Brown: I Put A Spell On You
Satan’s Pilgrims: Haunted House of Rock
The Open Mind: Magic Potion
The Cult: Spiritwalker
Goat: Hide From The Sun
Wolf People: Ninth Night
Sisters of Mercy with Ofra Haza: Temple of Love
Astaroth: Satanspiritus
Bauhaus: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes
Fuzz Against Junk: Ballad of the Hip Death Goddess
Bulldog Breed: Austin Osman Spare
Siouxsie & The Banshees: Spellbound
Janie Jones: Witch in White
Kate Bush: Hammer Horror
The Cure: A Forest
Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Malaria: Kaltes Klares Wasser
The Cramps: Aloha From Hell
The Ventures: The Bat
Witchknot: Baba Yaga
Toads: Morpheus
The Birthday Party: Release The Bats
Frog: Witch Hunt
Mr Fox: Mendle
Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit
The Rattles: The Witch
The Creatures: Seven Tears
Tim Hollier: Message To A Harlequin
Baker Street Philharmonic: Ocean of Storms
Broadcast: Black Cat
Angelo Badalamenti: The Pink Room
Madonnatron: Mermaids
Essjay: Twins of Evil
Danielle Dax: Cat House
The Pandoras: Haunted Beach Party
Broadcast & The Focus Group: The Be Colony
April March: Sugar
Pram: Play of the Waves
Frank Hunter: Strange Echoes
Bas Sheva & Les Baxter: Lust
Martin Denny: Incense & Peppermints
Don Ralke: Black Panther
Dead Can Dance: The Summoning of the Muse
Sheila Chandra: Sacred Stones

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Shorts and Found Footage with Crate Diggin’: Fridays at Rough Trade (Dec 19 – Jan 16)

20 Dec

CRATE DIGGIN FRIDAYS

Some short films and related found footage will be showing alongside the Truth & Lies nights upstairs at Rough Trade, Nottingham, over the next few weeks. The first selection, themed around the Cold War, screened on Friday 19th Dec, the second – films linked by an interest in Exotica – is on Jan 9th, and the final set of films, built around Disturbances and Design – plays on Jan 16. Crate Diggin‘ is a regular slot hosted by Joff & Ex-Friendly at Rough Trade and covers soul, funk, jazz and anything else the DJs feel like spinning from 7 – 11pm every Friday. The following post offers a few comments on the material selected (note that films are screened at Crate Diggin’ without sound, for obvious reasons, so I will add links to versions with their original scores and soundtracks intact to this post after each event).

Moscow 1972 (Kino)

Part 1: The Serendipity Loops and the Cold War (19 December 2014)

The Serendipity Loops (Wayne Burrows, 2012)

This film runs in six sections, made up entirely of still images, and draws on a large archive of print material produced on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War period, sequencing Western and Eastern Bloc material in ways that emphasise their essential similarities. Each section is edited to accompany a piece of music, ranging from Tom Dissevelt’s ‘Whirling’ and Dick Mills’ ‘Purple Space & White Coronas’, early experiments in sequenced and atmospheric electronic music; to the late Graham Dalley’s ‘Pacifico’ and ‘Surf Ride’ (both from his privately pressed 1966 LP ‘Graham Dalley At The Barn Restaurant, Solihull’); ‘Elusive’, a Studio G production for an Avon marketing flexi-disc narrated by Patrick Allen (who also did voice-overs for the British Government’s notorious ‘Protect and Survive’ series of 1970s Nuclear fall-out public information films); and the anonymously produced Radiophonic Workshop alien invasion scenario of The Cimex Corporations’s advertising 7” extolling the value of their industrial cleaning services. The introductory sequence, built around machine-like heartbeats and Andre Bazin’s 1946 comment about cinema returning to its origins, reflects this film’s own status as a kind of digital magic-lantern slideshow.

Out Of This World (General Motors, 1964)

A beautifully made commercial film produced by the Frigidaire division of General Motors and based on their exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York – a piece of corporate Cold War marketing that seems to echo the identical tendency in the Soviet Union at the same moment to promise a utopian future. Its vision is – as such visions usually are – both seductive and slightly terrifying.

Village Sunday (Stewart Wilensky, 1961)

In contrast to General Motors’ corporate and technological vision of the future, another strand of the Cold War narrative is seen in an early form here, as Jean Shepherd narrates a whimsical portrait of New York’s Greenwich Village, just on the cusp of its decisive transformation into a counter-cultural byword. Painters, small theatres, musicians, beatniks and drop-outs – all ending with some great footage of the Beatnik/Surrealist poet Ted Joans giving a recital with free improvised jazz-flute accompaniment at a Greenwich Village artists’ hang-out.

Biological Camouflage (New Zealand) [1978]

Part 2: Entropicalia and Exotica (09 Jan 2015)

Biological Camouflage: Entropicalia (Wayne Burrows/The Soundcarriers, 2013)

Something of an experiment, this film is made up of still collages from various iterations of the ‘Biological Camouflage’ series, made by fictional British artist Robert Holcombe between 1974 and 1978, set to music by The Soundcarriers, then punctuated with a short, repeated animated photo-sequence of a sleeping woman. The song – to whose propulsive rhythm the images are cut – is ‘Entropicalia’ from ‘The Other World of The Soundcarriers’, issued on The Great Pop Supplement during 2013 (a vocal version is available as the title track on the band’s first release on the Ghost Box label, released in May 2014).

Afro Mood (Unknown Director, c.1947)

A short burlesque film in which the dancer Amalia Aguilar pulls some incredible moves to some hot Afro-Cuban jazz. ‘Afro Mood’ is one of two numbers that she also performed in a movie entitled ‘A Night at the Follies’ (1947) which perhaps helps to date this particular clip, which was produced as part of an ‘exotic’ series, ‘Joe Bonica presents the Movie of the Month’, possibly intended for viewing as individual segments on reels sold for private entertainment and parties.

Exotica Fragment (Wayne Burrows/Paul Isherwood, 2014)

A very short loop of re-edited footage from a variety of public domain sources, ranging from a 1920s adaptation of The Lost World to undersea documentaries, Cheerios commercials, burlesque films, a study of ants and an advertisement for a wall street consultancy. The score includes an incantation from an Egyptian son-et-lumiere recording of the 1960s and an early sketch of a track made by Paul Isherwood for a forthcoming project, Exotica Suite, set to be released as a book, vinyl LP and series of films in late June 2015, financially supported by New Art Exchange and Arts Council England.

Disturbances (still) [2010]

Disturbances and Design (16 January 2015)

Disturbances (Wayne Burrows/Jon Brooks, 2010)

‘Disturbances’ is a short film compiled from found 35mm slides and it was originally screened with a recorded score made for the purpose by Jon Brooks, then narrated with a live voice-over as part of an Annexinema event at a disused cinema. Brooks is best known for his work with Ghost Box records, under the identity The Advisory Circle, though he has also released two LPs – ‘Shapwick’ and ‘52’ – on Frances Castle’s Clay Pipe imprint under his own name.

Design For Dreaming (General Motors, 1956)

A visually incredible long-form musical commercial advertising the General Motors Motorama of 1956, presenting consumerism as a fabulous dream world. It’s likely that this was exactly the kind of film that inspired the early days of British pop and youth culture, as seen in exhibitions like the Independent Group’s ‘This Is Tomorrow’, staged at the Whitechapel Gallery the same year.

Film Strip: 1966 (Wayne Burrows, 2012)

A digital reconstruction of a sequence of still images compiled in a concertina book by the fictional British artist Robert Holcombe in 1966, with a score by British electronics pioneer F.C. Castle.

Bonus Programme: the Beats, Smoke & Pickles New Year’s Eve party at Rough Trade, Nottingham, will involve a further set of films, 35mm transparencies and more screenings alongside music from Truth & Lies, Dealmaker & Can’t Stop Won’t Stop DJs and street food by Kimberley Bell (Small Food Bakery). All free, from 8pm till 2.30am.