Category Archives: experimental

Happy 60th birthday Glenn Branca

Lesson 1 for Electric Guitar

Lesson 1 for Electric Guitar

American musician Glenn Branca turns 60 today.

Branca is an avant-garde composer and guitarist of the New York “downtown music” and “No Wave” scene. He first came to international attention with his early work on 99 Records such as Lesson 1 for Electric Guitar, his production of Theoretical Girls and his contributions to the soundtrack of The Belly of an Architect, a 1987 British film directed by Peter Greenaway.

See Branca live[1] in 1978.

See also Music of New York City.

Cross-pollinations such as BBC Radiophonic Workshop/Doctor Who and Studio di Fonologia Musicale/Death Laid an Egg

Maderna-Berio by U.S.O. Project.

Tape editing: Bruno Maderna (left) and Luciano Berio (right)

Simon Reynolds published the director’s cut of an article[1] he wrote at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which was founded in 1958 on an unknown date. Similar radio services were started at the various public radios in Europe, all of influence to the emerging fields of electronic music and acousmatic music. Paris had the Groupe de Recherches Musicales which developed musique concrète, Cologne had Studio für elektronische Musik which nurtured the talent of Stockhausen, Italy had Studio di Fonologia Musicale with Bruno Maderna.

I’m probably generalizing, mixing studios with projects and radio with art projects. However, all of these projects share common characteristics: they are state funded (this is post-war, Marshall plan funded Europe), they involve electronic music and are centered around tape editing and thus the development of non-linearity in music recording.

So far the history of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which was probably the biggest, as well as the other scenes mentioned above have been best documented. However, such studios and projects must have existed all over Europe. It would be interesting to get your feedback of the scene of your country. Scandinavia, Spain, Austria, the Balkan, everywhere, let’s hear it from you. I’m especially looking for cross-pollinations such as BBC Radiophonic Workshop/Doctor Who and Studio di Fonologia Musicale/Death Laid an Egg.

I’m collecting the notes for this project at European public radio and experimental music.

Whither now, anarchitecture?


Some Office Baroque footage, Some footage similar to Office Baroque

Gordon Matta-Clark died thirty years ago today. He stayed in Antwerp for a while in 1977, just before his death, working with Florent Bex, creating Office Baroque, which he called anarchitecture. Pieces of his “building cuts” were sold around the world[1].

I like him, much as I like the near-contemporary and also short-lived Robert Smithson. Whither now, anarchitecture, and other visionary environments?

“Because he had a hairy backside”

Drowning in the Loire by Order of the Fierce Carrier

drownings of Carrier

Prompted by my post on the drownings of Carrier and esp. Paul Rumsey‘s gracious comments[1], Drowning by Numbers by Peter Greenaway is WCC #60.


Documentary (1/3) on Drowning by Numbers

Drowning by Numbers is a 1988 film directed by Peter Greenaway.

The film’s plot centers on three women — a grandmother, mother and daughter — each named Cissie Colpitts. As the story progresses each woman successively kills her husband, out of dissatisfaction with them, one Cissie stating: “Because he had a hairy backside“.

The structure, with similar stories repeated three times, is reminiscent of a fairy tale. The link to folklore is further established by Madgett’s son Smut, who recites the rules of various fictional games played by the characters as if they were ancient traditions.

The musical score is by Michael Nyman, and is entirely based on themes taken from the slow movement of Mozart‘s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K364. Nyman had previously used this piece as the basis for part of the score for Greenaway’s The Falls. It is heard in its original form immediately after each drowning.

Greenaway himself says:

The pretence that numbers are not the humble creation of man, but are the exacting language of the Universe and therefore possess the secret of all things is comforting, terrifying, and mesmeric…Counting is the most simple and primitive of narratives – 12345678910 – a tale with a beginning, a middle and an end and a sense of progression – arriving at a finish of two digits – a goal attained, a denouement reached…The magic of the women – why do they come in threes? To mock the patriarchal theological Trinity? Three sirens, three graces, three muses, and three witches…The women count. They count as a protective talisman. It becomes a funeral chant, a palliative. Counting is like taking aspirin – it numbs the sense and protects the counter from reality. Counting makes even hideous events bearable as simply more of the same – the counting of wedding-rings, spectacles, teeth and bodies disassociates them from their context – to make the ultimate obscene blasphemy of bureaucratic insensitivity. Engage the mind with numbing recitation to make it empty of reaction. —Peter Greenaway

Most of the evening was spent on

Most of the evening was spent on researching JRMS interview[1] with Gilbert Alter-Gilbert:

Genealogy of the Cruel Tale by you.

Gilbert Albert-Gilbert’s Genealogy of the Cruel Tale from Bakunin v.6, 1997) [1]

and especially Gilbert‘s intriguing “Genealogy of the Cruel Tale[2] a perfect example of the kind of thematic literary criticism I’m rather fond of. The chart reminds of the aestheticization of violence and cruelty in general, of which Nietzsche said:

“One ought to learn anew about cruelty,” said Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, 229), “and open one’s eyes. Almost everything that we call ‘higher culture‘ is based upon the spiritualizing and intensifying of cruelty….”

For your pleasure, here is the wikified version (information is scarce on the 20th century authors mentioned):


Genealogy of the Cruel Tale is a chart by American intellectual Gilbert Alter-Gilbert documenting the origins of the cruel tale, which begins etymologically with Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam‘s Contes cruels anthology and has content- and style-wise similarities with cult fiction and horror fiction, Dark Romanticism and the roman frénétique, black humor, transgressive fiction, grotesque literature and folk tales. Sholem Stein says that it is a continuation of the research done by Breton in Anthology of Black Humor. Texts such as Walter Scott‘s On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition, Lovecraft‘s Supernatural Horror in Literature, Mario Praz‘s Romantic Agony and Todorov’s The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre also come to mind. Notably absent is Sade.


Les téléclitoridiennes

Princess Marie Bonaparte

The story of Princess Marie Bonaparte is as least as strange as that of her contemporary, Serge Voronoff who grafted monkey testicle tissue on to the testicles of men while working in France in the 1920s and 1930s.


Princesse Marie directed by Benoît Jacquot

Princess Marie Bonaparte (18821962) was a French psychoanalyst, closely linked with Sigmund Freud. Her wealth contributed to the popularity of psychoanalysis, and enabled Freud’s escape from Nazi Germany.

According to the 2008 book Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach, Marie first consulted Sigmund Freud for treatment of what she described as her frigidity, which was later described as a failure to have orgasms during missionary position intercourse. After conducting research on women’s orgasms, she concluded the reason was the distance between clitoris and vagina. She called those, like herself, the “téléclitoridiennes” — “she of the distant clitoris.” She then attempted to “cure” her own failure to orgasm by having her clitoris moved, surgically, closer to her vagina; although the removal worked, the reattachment was not successful. It was to Marie Bonaparte that Sigmund Freud remarked, “The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”.

Her story of her relationship with Sigmund Freud and how she helped his family escape into exile was made into a television film, released in 2004. Princesse Marie YouTube was directed by Benoît Jacquot and starred Catherine Deneuve as Marie Bonaparte, and Heinz Bennent as Sigmund Freud.

World music classics #39, 40 and 41

Beastie Boys - Cooky puss
Added: 6 months ago
From: iwillluvher
Views: 7,489
Ciccone Youth -
Added: 3 months ago
From: dipsetmuthafucka
Views: 2,381
Liquid Liquid -
Added: 6 months ago
From: tertolkin
Views: 7,336

Background info:

Notes: There is a better version on Youtube of “Cavern” (sound-wise), but the one featured here has the original music video, and the only one commissioned by New York record label 99 Records. “Cooky Puss” was a revelation when it came out, and my first exposure to the Beastie Boys. “Into the Groove(y)” was also my first exposure to SY, there are two alternative versions of this Madonna spoof/cover.

If you have the time, check dipsetmuthafucka‘s Youtube channel, he, or rather his musical selection, is the incarnation of taste.

Robert Rauschenberg (1925 – 2008)

Addio Rauschenberg

Retroactive I (1964) by Robert Rauschenberg

Photo from the Flickr collection of ALFAP

Robert Rauschenberg (October 22 1925May 12 2008) was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art and best-known for such works as Retroactive I (1964) which “collaged” images of current events gathered from magazines and newspapers. A large press photograph of John F. Kennedy speaking at a televised news conference was the source for this screen print on canvas. He juxtaposed the image of Kennedy with another photo silkscreen of a parachuting astronaut. The overlapping, and seemingly disparate, composition creates a colorful visual commentary on a media-saturated culture struggling to come to grips with the television era. (see Susan Hapgood’s Neo-Dada, Redefining Art 1958-1962)

The painting was described by John Coulthart in 2008 as a work that could easily serve as an illustration to J. G. Ballard‘s The Atrocity Exhibition. Coulthart added that “Rauschenberg was one of a handful of artists who seemed to depict in visual terms what Ballard was describing in words. In this respect Robert Hughes’s discussion of the “landscape of media” [in The Shock of the New (1980)] (Ballard’s common phrase would be “media landscape”) is coincidental but significant.” [1]

Haunted telephone booths

This film is the 47th entry in the category World Cinema Classics.


La cabina (1972) by Antonio Mercero

A remarkable score which reminds of Bernard Herrmann ‘s screeching violins in Psycho (of course, it may as well be Herrmann’s original Psycho score set to a “La Cabina” slide show1). Very accomplished trailer. This film generally cited as an example of Surrealism and cinema.

Tip of the hat to the apparently defunct site Wayney of Chaotic Cinema, skeleton preserved at my wiki.

Update: 1. Yup, that’s what it was Youtube