Monday, 13 February 2012

an early spring

A lot of good music releases already this year, and, with Imbogodom on my headphones, here's another, out very, very soon on the really rather addictive and smashing Trunk Records. The Seasons is one of those records that you could easily make up, so perfectly hauntological and pagan folky are the elements - David Cain of the Radiophonic Workshop together with poetry by Ronald Duncan in a record created for schools, weird electronic noises and homages to the earth as a woman. Read more about it over at Trunk Records, as well as an interview with David Cain by Julian House. It's a bit of Moebius loop, this blog, just now, isn't it? Or maybe I'm trapped in the sacrificial heart of a labyrinth, who knows.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

occult 60s coverage - "lee marvin is afraid"

In the wake of the Manson murders, the Rolling Stones at Altamont and the apparent rampant infection of mainstream culture and morals by occult forces, there was a spree of journalistic coverage, particularly in the US, of which the Esquire issue above from March 1970 and Time magazine's Occult Revival issue of June, 1972 are only the best-known.

As Gary Lachman says in The Dedalus Book Of The 60s: Turn Off Your Mind – "Although Esquire couldn't find anyone as satanic as Manson, they did unearth some oddities. Like Princess Leda Amun Ra, whose specialty was to have sex with swans stolen from public parks, the climax of her LSD-inspired satanic rituals. No matter. For years people had been expecting some catastrophe west of the San Andreas Fault."

All of which, of course, still looked pretty tame beneath the top shelf of lurid adult magazines. Demons and porn went hand-in-hand of course, and even among the first wave of postwar beatnik occult fascination in the 50s there were titles like Satan. So when it came to the satanic 60s, the porn mag industry simply upped their game to cover every angle, from wicked witches to the erotic power of the tarot (Sextrology magazine alone gets an honourable mention, just for the title) ...

back when that was then - 70s Swindon

In the middle of a humdrum high street, the early 70s swirly fantasy of the Chelsea Girl boutique frontage – from a Facebook group collating images of Swindon streets, people and architecture from the 1970s. Photo credit: Copyright © Mandy Ball, photograph by Mr Donald Lea (thanks Mandy!)

unintended dark shadows mash up

While we wait, and wait and wait for the trailer to be released for Tim Burton's upcoming big-screen version of the 60s US TV series, Dark Shadows ...

Friday, 3 February 2012

we are the victims of shock - future shock

 "Future Shock is a sickness that comes from too much change in too short a time ... it's the premature arrival of the future ..." intones a cigar-chewing Orson Welles as he is driven through an American landscape where the dream has already started to turn sour, and opens his narration of this fantastic but unsung 1972 documentary based on Alvin Toffler's 1970 bestseller. Future Shock was Toffler's sensational shorthand for a vision of society in danger of fracturing because of the pressures of ever-accelerating change driven by technology. Dystopian visions were already reflected in sci-fi films; here was the depiction of how that change was playing out in real life, complete with commitment-free hippies, robots so real you might mistake them for humans, a little girl trading in her obsolescent dolls, and modular architecture. Not to mention the possibility of people with blue faces. But, despite the novelty value of the images, the eerieness of watching Future Shock comes from seeing that much of what is covered in the documentary - like genetic engineering - has, or is in the process of coming true, and that we're still unsettled by technological possibilities. Not so much a vision past, as caught somewhere in the almost now and future.

All screengrabs from the Future Shock documentary

Thursday, 2 February 2012

a very different tour guide to London

"Whether you have experienced the sudden chill of fear, or simply live in hope (or dread) of doing so, Haunted London offers the first gazetteer of the capital's other population." 

Peter Underwood had been president of the Ghost Club (which can't help but make you think that meetings must've decamped to the Monster Club next door) for more than 10 years when he wrote this alternative tourist trail to the big smoke, and already well enough known as a writer on the occult to be a consultant adviser to the BBC. So he had plenty of tales, whether from seeking or being told, of odd goings on, elusive strangers, heavy footsteps without a body and noises which no one could account for in famous landmarks, unlikely attractions and humdrum regular daily haunts, as it were, across the city. But, reading the bibliography, with titles like The Mummy Of Birchen Bower, from 1966, Unnoticed London, from 1922, and Ghosts Vivisected, from 1957, it sounds like he had just as good a time researching this book in city's libraries as he obviously did writing up his stories in spine-tingler style. Thanks very much to Frances Castle for the gift of it.

mail modernism

Celebrating the architecture of the new postwar universities in a series of stamps of university buildings in Aberystwyth, Southampton, Leicester and Essex in 1971, ideals and utopian visions enshrined in concrete towers. "The architecture is some of the most advanced in Britain today."

a glimpse of the future

from the book, The Unexplained File: Cult & Occult

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

happy imbolc (pagan new year)

Illustration, possibly by Gerald Gardner,  advertising his museum of witchcraft in Castledown, Isle Of Man in the 1950s. Gardner was a controversial figure variously called a fraud, eccentric and the godfather of modern witchcraft who, depending on what you believe, resurrected the old traditions or invented many of them.