From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.19, Five Great Covers

I’d started this week’s search for books with my usual open mind, casting around the shelves and pulling out titles at random to see what took my fancy when I decided I wanted to impose a little more structure this time. I had a few great covers in mind that I was desperate to share but needed a good supporting cast so the hunt was on. It took me a little longer than usual to finalise my selection but I feel that it’s a very good one, in my humble opinion of course. What do you think? As a bonus, it makes a great change to have each cover artist credited for once.

The Mind Net by Herbert W. Franke
This version was published in 1974 by Daw Books
The cover artist is Kelly Freas

The cover painting on this book looks very much from the Richard Powers/Yves Tanguy school. Eternal thanks to Joachim over at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations (here) for putting me onto this title.

Franke The Mind Net

Four For Tomorrow by Roger Zelazny
This version was published in 1967 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Jack Gaughan

Zelazny Four For Tomorrow

The Cybernetic Brains by Raymond F. Jones
This version was published in 1969 by Paperback Library Books
The cover artist is Jerome Podwil

Jones The Cybernetic Brains

Century Of The Manikin by E. C. Tubb
This version was published in 1972 by Daw Books
The cover artist is Jack Gaughan

I just love the antiquated tagline on the cover of this title – “Beware the cryogenic lady from woman’s lib!”

Tubb Century Of The Manikin

The Steam-Driven Boy And Other Strangers by John Sladek
This version was published in 1973 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Colin Hay

Sladek The Steam-Driven Boy

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 44

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Greetings reader and welcome to my humble online home. This Sunday I have chosen to spend some quality time with a title written by the duo of John S. Glasby and R. L. Fanthorpe under the name of Karl Zeigfreid. The tagline reads as follows;

The man from 1963 stood poised on the brink of 3063

The cover is another painting by the great Harry Fox and features a brilliantly spacesuited astronaut standing alone on some far-flung alien planet as a rather concerned looking disembodied head floats in the background. Fox paints these kind of cover scenes so well and this one is no exception, I think the colours are particularly well matched on this example.

It’s time for me to read on now and enjoy another piece of Badger history some fifty odd years after its initial publication. I’ll be back again soon with more picks from the Badger archives as I gradually read through my collection. I hope you enjoyed this week’s classic sci-fi selection, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Walk Through To-morrow by Karl Zeigfreid
(Serial Number SF78)
This version was published in 1962 by Badger Books
The cover artist is Harry Fox

Badger - Zegfred, Walk Through To-morrow

Zeigfreid, Walk Through To-morrow

That’s not music! (Part Two) : Electroacoustic/Musique Concrète

Last week I wrote about the beauty and power of several noise LPs (here) and described myself as being somewhat of an aficionado of extreme and fringe musics. I do tend to gravitate to the outer edges of all music which acts like a centrifuge pushing me further into the more experimental zones of sound. This next post concerns itself with an area which is admittedly rather more obscure and is therefore much further outside most people’s sphere of experience.

The LPs I have selected below all fall into a category ultimately informed by stretching the boundaries of modern classical composition with early tape experiments, electroacoustics, primitive computers and various musique concrète techniques.

Denis Smalley – The Pulses Of Time
1981 – University Of East Anglia Recordings

The Pulses Of Time

Tracks from this album were recorded as far back as 1974 and so the electronic treatments are fairly primitive when compared to modern techniques which gives the whole LP a fairly unique sound. Smalley also utilised early tape recording systems to enable him to better manipulate sounds and construct various loops which would be used to unearthly effect. The final track ‘Chanson De Geste (For Amplified Voices And Instruments) features whispers and vocal intonations set against sparse percussive and instrumental interjections. The whole effect of this track in particular is incredibly eerie.

Iannis Xenakis – GRM Works 1957-1962
2013 compilation – Recollection GRM

GRM Works 1957-1962

Iannis Xenakis was a Romanian composer who worked primarily within the sphere of electroacoustic and musique concrète disciplines. He was also an advocate of the newly available computers pioneering their use in composition from as early as 1961. This rare compilation perfectly sums up various aspects of Xenakis’ early work from the sparse, electronically tinged opening three tracks before closing with a twenty two minute musique concrète piece which features a blurred cacophony of tolling bells and voices. A true and unsung pioneer of the art, now sadly no longer with us.

László Dubrovay – “A²”/Oscillations Nos. 1-3
1979 – Hungatron

_A²__Oscillations Nos. 1-3

This is Hungarian composer László Dubrovay’s debut LP which makes heavy use of the EMS synthesiser to modify the sound of his small supporting ensemble and also produce a sonic range of its own. This is by no means a noisy LP, just incredibly otherworldly sounding. For example, the piano used on ‘Oscillations No.3 is mainly rendered as a series of discordant, rippling tones whilst ‘Oscillations No.1 is an exercise in sustained high frequency drones. A great example of the early use of emerging synthesiser technology.

Jean Claude Eloy – Shànti
1979 – Erato

Shànti

Four long sides of experimentation from French composer Eloy and I have to say that after thirty five years these tracks still manage to sound like incredible flights into the future. Eloy begins each piece by using barely audible drones which then gradually build into nebulous, pulsating oscillations with various musique concrète interludes. Face Two (none of the tracks are named individually) ends with a magnificently caustic drone after its relatively benign beginning whilst Face Four uses layers of field recordings and atonal frequencies to jar the listener out of their initial reverie. Personally I can’t help but visualise drifting in deep space being bombarded with endless streams of interplanetary radio waves when immersed in this fine record, it’s so timeless and could have easily been recorded at any point in the last forty or so years.

Ákos Rózmann – 12 Stationer VI
2012 – Ideologic Organ

12 Stationer VI

I read an article about this album just prior to its release and my interest was immediately piqued for a number of reasons. Mainly, It was being issued via the Editions Mego sub label Idelogic Organ which is run by Sun O))) leader Stephen O’Malley – extreme doom metal and experimental classical composition don’t usually make the most obvious bedfellows! However, when the LP arrived a short time later I was not disappointed in the slightest. Hungarian-Swedish Rózmann (who sadly died in 2005) delivers four lengthy pieces on this double album, each track over twenty minutes in length. There’s so much sonic detail to take in here that it does require a little time and patience before an overall sense of connection begins to coalesce. It is for the large part a very otherworldly and tranquil listen until the final track Dörr Med Tårar arrives and deconstructs all the traditional instruments and voices into a cacophony of processed sound. This truly is nothing short of a stunning album but, like all of the selections featured here I can’t recommended adding it to the playlist for your next dinner party.

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 43

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Sunday morning is upon us once more and this week’s random selection from the Badger shelf is a title penned by one of R. L. Fanthorpe’s frequent collaborators John S. Glasby under the pseudonym of A. J. Merak. Let’s bring up the tagline;

Seven people isolated on a world devastated by nuclear war

The cover is outstanding as usual depicting the seven people mentioned in the tagline floundering about in the charred rubble of a devastated city whilst a twisted, hideous alien figure in a silver jumpsuit looms ominously above them. I have such a soft spot for covers like this, Badger’s attempt to visualise a rather literal interpretation of the plot is audacious to say the least.

And now I must delve between the musty pages of this aged tome to find out just how these seven lone survivors fare in the aftermath of such total and utter destruction. Join me next week for another dip into the Badger archives, comments are as ever gratefully received.

The Dark Millennium by A. J. Merak
(Serial Number SF19)
This version was published in 1959 by Badger Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Badger - Merak, The Dark Millenium

The Dark Millenium (Back)

That’s not music! (Part One) : Noise Not Music

Last year I published an article about music which could loosely be described to the uninitiated ear as mere noise (here). Being an aficionado of extreme and fringe musics, I have decided to broach the topic again and choose a further selection of my favourite LPs which best demonstrate the power, beauty and ultimate listenability of this much misunderstood sub-genre.

Aaron Dilloway – Modern Jester
2012 – Hanson Records

Modern Jester

Dilloway was once a member of arch noise terrorists Wolf Eyes (more later) but began rather prolifically releasing his own material in 1999. This represents my absolute favourite Dilloway LP so far as during the course of its colossal eighty five minute running time, all bases are covered – pure ear troubling noise, found sounds, tape experiments, caustic drones, disjointed loops and quieter, unsettling moments. As a statement of intent it manages to say absolutely everything about the album’s purpose which most of today’s releases – whatever their genre – are incapable of doing so. A powerful listening experience.

Hair Police – Mercurial Rights
2013 – Type

Mercurial Rites

This formidable trio share members with several other denizens of the US noise scene and on this their latest album present a dense stew of feedback, caustic electronics and intermittently screamed vocals. There are quieter sections too which only serve to jar the listener when a full scale assault commences. The band, like many others on the noise circuit are prolific self-releasers of albums, EPs and cassettes and as a consequence can be relatively easy to pick up. Uneasy and unsettling in equal measure.

Mnemonists – Horde
1981 – Dys

Mnemonists

The seminal US free improv/experimental collective recorded this fantastically noisy album back in 1981 which I purchased not long after release from my local independently run record shop. I had no idea what to expect apart from a few cryptic reviews I’d read and so I was completely taken aback when I played it for the first time. It was clearly music with discernible instruments – drums, guitars, horns etc – but everything seemed to be constructed around a completely alien time signature. Periods of relative calm appeared in the melee only to be obliterated by jagged eruptions of frenetic noise. I’ve played this record countless times since its purchase thirty three years ago and still occasionally dig it out for an airing even now. It truly does sound as fresh as that first spin back in ’81. Gloriously blurred and confusing sounds.

Evan Parker – The Topography Of The Lungs
1970 – Incus Records

The Topography of the Lungs

The penultimate LP I’ve chosen for part one of this article is by British free improv saxophonist Evan Parker. I know what you might be thinking, this is a jazz record and will probably be full of aimless noodling and interminable solos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Parker’s secret weapon on this LP is guitarist Derek Bailey who approaches his instrument like a man who has never seen a guitar before and has a total of twelve fingers. The two main players feed off each other magnificently, bristling like fireworks before bringing the sound down to a hushed whisper then building into a maelstrom of atonal noise. Drummer Han Bennink also deserves a mention for disregarding all notions of traditional rhythm completely and adding to the sense of extreme disorientation throughout the session. Not merely a jazz record then, this is simply a bona fide noise LP of the highest order.

Wolf Eyes – Human Animal
2006 – Sub Pop

Human Animal

Wolf Eyes are the modern kings of noise in my humble opinion. Prolific to the point of insanity, listings website Discogs catalogues a total of 261 releases since 1998 – that’s the equivalent of issuing around 16 LPs every year but this doesn’t take into account numerous split releases and various collaborations with other bands. I chose this album for inclusion because it’s recorded beautifully, a quality which brings the best out in a noise LP. There’s no let up in the tightly wound array of scorched and blasted sounds here from the metallic clanging of the initial intro to the all out nihilistic assault of last track ’Noise Not Music’, surely the band’s credo. Noise is hard to get right if you want achieve a high replay value but this album has that value in spades. Ferociously uncompromising but strangely hypnotic fare from masters of the genre.

From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.18, The Return Of The Return Of Junior Unsubscriber

I’ve already let my twelve year old daughter, Junior Unsubscriber loose on my library on two previous occasions (here & here) and was quite impressed by her eventual selections despite the minor trails of destruction usually left in her wake. I thought I’d push my luck and try a third attempt at using this method for choosing a random selection of books but had to use chocolate-based bribery this time in order to secure her services for the venture. After her snack she duly rifled through the shelves and picked at a few odd piles of paperbacks that were stacked up awaiting my attention for a good half an hour before handing me the following books. There was surprisingly very little carnage this time around and mercifully no chocolatey fingerprints left anywhere so it was another job well done for the diminutive one.

I’m not sure she’ll fall for this ploy again, she’s repeated the trick on three occasions and is now demanding edible treats before work begins so this may well be the last we’ll see of Junior Unsubscriber. Still, you can’t tell which way things will go when dealing with such a wily young scamp so never say never.

Once again I have included some of her comments on each cover for some idea of why she eventually chose the books.

The Simultaneous Man by Ralph Blum
1973 – Panther
Cover art by Anthony Roberts

This man must have a really big headache if he has all those wires plugged into his brain.

Blum The Simultaneous Man

Corpus Earthling by Louis Charbonneau
No publication date printed – Priory
Cover artist uncredited

The people in the bubble are all nude except for the woman. She’s wearing a bikini which is alright.

Charbonneau Corpus Earthling

Nightfall One & Two by Isaac Asimov
These versions were published in 1971 & 1972 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Ken Sequin

I’ve found these weird and creepy Play-Doh faces, can I have both colours for my pick? Do you remember that big rocket we made out of Play-Doh with the aliens and… (descends into a ten minute reminiscence about some modelling fun we had one rainy Saturday afternoon. I begin to think that Junior Unsubscriber has lost all interest in the job at hand now as she requires a little prompting to continue.)

Asimov, Nightfall One & Two

Worlds Of Tomorrow edited by August Derleth
1967 – Four Square Books
Cover artist uncredited

This looks like a Catherine wheel. I like Catherine wheels, they’re my favourite fireworks. Except for sparklers. And rockets.

Derleth Worlds Of Tomorrow

Wild Talent by Wilson Tucker
This version was published in 1980 by Coronet Books
The cover artists are David Cox Studios

This man has lots of other little men running around inside his head and some are shooting at each other. I think he’s probably got a big headache too… and his eyes look weird.

 Tucker Wild Talent

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 42

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Yet another week has passed and so it’s time to hit the library shelves again and choose another Badger title to spend my lazy Sunday with. The book I’ve chosen to read today is by that old favourite pseudonym John E. Muller, better known as the trio of R. L. Fanthorpe, John S. Glasby and A. A. Glynn. It’s time to run the tagline;

They landed to find the world they had known a smoking ruin

The sterling Harry Fox cover features another of his trademark disembodied heads gazing malevolently down at a small town as a pair of rocketships blast off into space. I was a little disappointed that there was no smoking ruin as promised by the tagline but I guess this was just an arbitrary choice of cover for the book by the editorial team as is often the case with Badger.

And now it’s time for me to delve into the pages of this human drama and see what kind of story unfolds. I’ll be back next week with more Badger goodness so join me then to see what the library shelves bring forth. Your comments are as always more than welcome.

Beyond Time by John E. Muller
(Serial Number SF71)
This version was published in 1962 by Badger Books
The cover artist is Harry Fox

Badger - Muller, Beyond Time

Muller, Beyond Time (Back)