Could never endure the lifetime of struggles with incarceration in mental institutions, hallucinogenics and being haunted by angels, demons, vampires, two-headed dogs, etc., but I can envy the ability to conjure simple, haunting, elemental truths.   Recorded in the back seat of a moving car in 1984, which you can watch below:

Roky Erickson – “Right Track Now” (1984, 2:50)

Image: The Bankrupt Museum

“In this city marches an army whose motto is…(car honk)…(car honk)…(car honk)”

And so begins the plunderphonic masterpiece that is Arthur Lipsett’s “Very Nice, Very Nice”, a smirking shot across the social and political landscape of the early 1960s:

“People who have made no attempt to educate themselves live in a kind of dissolving phantasmagoria of the world…that is they completely forget what happened last Tuesday. A politician can promise them anything and they will not remember later what he has promised.”

Composed in 1961 while under the employ of the National Film Board of Canada, the montage invokes a dizzying array of analysts, politicians, philosophers, scientists and crackpots spliced among a circus of found sounds, street scenes, marching bands, jazzy interludes and player piano.

Arthur Lipsett – “Very Nice, Very Nice” (1961, 6:52)

Lipsett of course earned the bulk of his reputation as a filmmaker, when he expanded his sound collages by editing images to the pieces.  “Very Nice, Very Nice” – his first film – earned him an Academy Award nomination at the age of 25.

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Both Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas have cited Lipsett as inspiration: Kubrick described “Very Nice, Very Nice” as “one of the most imaginative and brilliant uses of the movie screen and soundtrack that I have ever seen” and invited Lipsett to create a trailer for Dr. Strangelove (he declined); Lipsett’s “21-87” is rumored to be the inspiration for the phrase “the Force” in Lucas’ Star Wars films, with subtle tributes to this film appearing throughout, including Princess Leia’s holding cell on the Death Star being “Cell 2187

Some great overviews.

Image: The Bankrupt Museum

Can’t, a/k/a Jessica Rylan, juxtaposes the harsh & the heartfelt.  “New Secret” deploys a bed of creepy rhythmic spluttering from her home-made synthesizers as the foundation for a child-like lullaby:  “don’t be the one to tell the secret….it’s personal”.

Can’t – “New Secret” (2005, 4:25)

The New Secret picture disc – with captioned snapshots on one side (trees, her garden, baking in the kitchen, graduating) and an exquisite watercolor painting on the flip –  was also featured in the Long Playing exhibition of record covers at the Barbara Krakow gallery on Newbury St. in Boston from March 26th – May 4th, 2005.

Explore the world of Jessica Rylan/Can’t:

Image: The Bankrupt Museum

Even in the opening moments when you think it might just wind up some irritating art-punk slash n’ burn cowbell clomp thing, there’s still that unrelenting 5,000 mph gallop.  Only you wind up getting practically disemboweled by that slicing psychedelic surf guitar a la East Bay Ray while folk mavens seem to dance around you in circles chanting “we wish the bodyyyyyyy…. WHOLE”.  A reverie for guitars & trumpet?

Dog Faced Hermans – “Fortune” (1991, 4:23)

Mark Clifford

August 8, 2010

The contrast in Seefeel album covers between 1993’s Quique and 1995’s Succour almost tells a story in itself:

It’s hard to find a review of Quique that isn’t suggestive of its glowing blue hue:  “ethereal”, “dream-like”, “dream pop”, “shoegaze”.   Succour is a different animal altogether –the deep maroon and the fractured, periodic table-style song titles allude to the more sinister and sparse sounds contained within.

An interviewer once imparted to Mark Clifford:  “not to sound morbid — but a song like “Ruby-Ha” seems like a really good track to die to

Seefeel – “Ruby-Ha” (1995, 6:08)

The video for Fracture (directed by Seefeel, 1994) is equally anxious and unsettling:

Ten years removed from his work on Succour, Mark Clifford was engaged in a collaboration with Simon Kealoha on Running Taper.   A gurgling wrestling match of abstract rhythms and deconstructed sounds,  the result unfurls like a twisted audio sculpture, slowly revealing it’s own unique, hypnotic logic.

Mark Clifford & Simon Kealoha – “Forming Take” (2005, 5:53)

Image: The Bankrupt Museum

Daphne Oram was founder (with Desmond Briscoe) of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop in 1958.   She left a year after its opening to focus on composition, including designing and building her own studio equipment.  While best know for her design of her “Oramics” system which transformed graph paper drawings into sound (“drawn sound”), her most prolific period pre-dates the late 1960’s implementation of the system.   It is not clear how much of her recorded material utilizes this technique (conceived as early as 1962), as composing work for radio, TV commercials, peformance, film and contemporary ballet and theater helped fund and keep her independent studio afloat.

Made for Rayant Films in 1967, “Rotolock” is dizzying space-age carousel ride:

Daphne Oram – “Rotolock” (1967, 1:31)

1963’s “Snow” was the soundtrack to a prize-winning documentary film directed by Geoffrey Jones for British Transport Films about railway operations conducted in winter weather conditions.

Daphne Oram – “Snow” (1963, 7:45)

The gradual increase in tempo parallels the increasing pace of the visual action in the film.

The track is also loosely based on Sandy Nelson’s “Teen Beat” from 1959:

Check out the Daphne Oram archives.