This is a little perverse, but I was dared to make it by a friend for fun, so I did. It’s quick and nasty, but it gets the point across.
Earlier today, boutique film phenom, The Criterion Collection, posted a gallery of 12 title designs they love taken from films within their collection. The gallery includes titles that have become famous in their own right, such as The 39 Steps, Anatomy of Murder and M. It’s a fun collection for film buffs and designers (especially film buffs that are designers). But before we get stuck into Criterion’s list, I thought I’d share my personal favourite title design first:
Now for Criterion’s list, which was originally posted here:
Filed under: Czech New Wave, Design, Film | Tagged: Alain Resnais, Anatomoy of a Murder, Antichrist, Children of Paradise, Chris Marker, Costa-Garvas, Criterion Collection, Fritz Lang, Fruit of Paradise, Hitchcock, Jean Cocteau, Jean-Luc Godard, La Jetee, Lars Von Trier, Last Year at Marienbad, M, Marcel Carne, Mira Nair, Monsoon Wedding, Orphee, Ottot Preminger, Rainer Wener Fassbinder, The 39 Steps, Vivre Sa Vie, Věra Chytilová, World on a Wire, Z | 6 Comments »
I collect old paperbacks – specifically from the 60s and 70s, with an emphasis on the vast Penguin catalogue. I don’t care about monetary value – I’m in it purely for the art, and Penguin’s paperbacks from the 60s and 70s had some of the most beautifully designed covers I’ve ever seen. What’s more, they can be purchased dirt cheap and the more beat up and aged they are, the more I like them and they cheaper they’re sold for! I am amassing quite a nice collection and I want to share this collection on Trash Complex. So rather than torture myself over the merits of individual designs, I just picked the first 10 from my collection I came into contact with. Believe me… I will be sharing many many many more. Please enjoy the following selection, all scanned in 300dpi for your viewing pleasure.
Many more to come. Keep reading. Keep being wonderful.
I don’t quite know how it happened, but on the weekend, one of Australia’s biggest newspapers, The Age, reviewed my latest book, The Tumours Made Me Interesting. The review itself isn’t great, but it certainly isn’t horrible and there are some quotes to glean. What is encouraging is the willingness of such a big publication to review such a small book. And even though the review wasn’t glowing, I still received a spike in sales on the day the review was published. This is a big step for me, and I’m so very thankful to The Age for giving me some space in their pages. </self indulgence>
I was first introduced to the work of sound sculptor, Jin Sangtae, a few years ago thanks to a series of releases on the magnificent Manual label. Manual were responsible for introducing me to a slew of fantastic artists operating within the deepest recesses of the Seoul experimental music scene. With release after release, I was blown away. Who was this cadre of South Korean sound wayfarers? I’ll speak more about the Seoul scene in later posts, because it’s one of the most exciting and increasingly prolific working today.
Since 2006, Sangtae has been steadily micro-releasing his work on a variety of small labels within group and solo contexts. His choice of instrumentation has evolved from the laptops, radios and mobile phones of his early releases, to the contact mic amplification and manipulation of exposed computer hard drives. On his latest three inch CD, Sacrifice 2 (released by Ghost & Son), Sangtae uses car horns as his weapon of choice. The results are, true to form, magnificent and thought provoking.
A sample of Sacrifice 2
The ubiquity of warning tones, especially the car horn, conjures up preconceptions that we take with us to a recording such as this. Sangtae confronts us with a wonderful duality where we’re expected to experience the car horn as a musical instrument, while remaining inextricably linked via a semiotic process we’ll never unravel, about what a car horn actually “means”. As a listener, this excites me greatly. I’m invited to decontextualize the source and overcome my cognitive programming. I’m also reminded that this is not an easy task. The sounds Sangtae exorcises from the car horns can’t be directly married to the ubiquity mentioned above. They range from distant trumpeting moans to busy electronic freakouts. It’s quite a remarkable feat and I won’t pretend to understand how he achieves the sounds he does.
Sangtae performing live with computer hard drives
Across its 24-minute duration, the single track on Sacrifice 2 explores a range of timbre’s and shades. What begins as a tentative tango with the tonal possibilities inherent in the car horn becomes an arrogant fusillade of high-pitched sonic scribbling. An extended period of the album’s latter half dares you to reach for the volume while the rest draws you in. Much of Sacrifice 2 is beautiful in its own way, which belies the sound source, once again challenging your preconceptions.
With Sacrifice 2, Sangtae has created a short, enjoyable piece of idiosyncratic music. While it may not be a masterpiece, it is as an album that inspires me to reflect upon my relationship to art in general. No matter how communal the intention, the experience of art can only ever be a personal one. I’m always seeking something that challenges those pesky pseudo-truisms that dictate much of our relationship to the world around us. In something as simple as decontextualizing a car horn, Sangtae has achieved just that. While it’s not unusual for experimental music to utilize sources not typically viewed as ‘musical’, it’s not often that a musician will direct the listener’s attention in such a singular, naked way. And by choosing a sound as maligned as the car horn, it is the listener that must work against their prejudice to find the magic that exists in abundance.
I have so many wonderful blog posts I want to write, but time isn’t currently on my side. I’m working my arse off to add the finishing touches on my upcoming collection, How To Avoid Sex, and am eyeball deep in some intense design work. What this ultimately amounts to is very little time to do anything else. This strenuous period should wane soon and I can get back to spreading the Trash Gospel. In the meantime I thought I’d share a little excerpt from the title story in my upcoming book. I’m a writer afterall, and I do write books… it’s makes sense. So while I concede this is a placeholder post, it is one that means something to me.
My passage out of the forest took mere minutes. The kind leonine snake waited at the forest threshold, assumedly to ensure I was safe. Wanting to afford the snake courtesy and respect, I implored it to wait, making stop signs with my hands. It obeyed and I made a dash for the nearest hat vendor of repute. The alleyways that surround my work are bulging with hat vendors of every conceivable sort. In matters of civility and manners, I tend toward bell crown toppers as I believe these convey an appropriate level of respect. Few vendors see fit to stock such headgear, but over the years, I’ve certainly done my research. A gentleman by the name of Hooster Bean has had a small stall for many years and in this instance, I knew he was my man. I fought my way through the crush of hat vendors, seeking Hooster out, hoping that my snake tour guide remained in wait. On a couple of occasions I had to be rather forceful with particularly pushy vendors who insisted that I sample their wares.
Hooster had been relegated to the deepest recess of the dingiest alleyway. It alarmed me to note how little prize we pay quality these days. Immaculately attired in a Valentino Newman suit and deadman top hat, Hooster beckoned me over.
“Worthington, my lad,” he said to me. “It’s been days.”
“Yes, my dear Hooster. I apologise for my scarcity, I’ve had urgent business that required my full attention.”
“Pay it no mind. It’s just so jolly good to see you.”
“The feeling is completely mutual,” I replied. “As much as it pains me, I must dash off as soon as possible.”
I made a show of studying my fob watch to illustrate the point.
“Certainly,” he replied. “In what manner may I be of assistance?”
“So kind of you to ask, Hooster. I require, and I do hope you can provide, a bell crown topper immediately.”
“Ah, Worthington!” He said with a kind smile. “You certainly are a man of superior taste. I believe I have exactly what you’re looking for.”
“Smashing!” I replied, letting my excitement get the better of me.
Hooster began foraging through hat boxes beneath his stall, carefully moving one aside to examine the next. He emerged a few moments later with a pink and red-striped cylindrical box.
“Wait until you lay your eyes on this number,” said Hooster. “This work of supreme artisanship has been imported from France.”
The Europhile within pumped a gentle fist of excitement. Hooster placed the box before me, slowly removed the lid and then, ever so carefully, peeled back the white tissue paper. The redolence of the Bastille filled my nostrils, briefly overriding my other senses. As my vision returned, I was greeted by the most adequate hat I had seen in some weeks. Hooster held it toward me.
“Would you like to try it on?” Asked Hooster.
“Indeed, I would, but I’m afraid I have no time. I really must be off. That said, I will most certainly purchase this kingly hat. How much do I owe you?”
“Let’s see,” he said, fingering the label on the box. “That will be $840.”
“A remarkably good price,” I replied while placing the cash before Hooster.
With a handshake, followed by a mutual bow, I made haste back to the threshold of the bamboo forest, hoping the snake would be waiting. I freed my new hat and disposed of the box in one of the many repositories that map our city.
I was relieved when I found the snake waiting patiently where I had left it. It seemed nonplussed. I carefully lowered the bell crown topper to my crown and centred myself before I continued my approach.
“I’m so happy you waited,” I said to the snake, who didn’t seem to acknowledge what I was saying. “After the assistance you’ve given me, it would have been most inappropriate not to afford you courtesy.”
With that said, I bowed and titled the bell crown topper ever so slightly.
“You earned that,” I said.
The book is coming soon. I’ll probably announce it here when it’s ready.
I have a lot of CDs. While there are many collectors and music fanatics out there who have many more than me, my collections runs into the several thousand, which I’m sure is more than most. Anyone who has been following Trash Complex for more than a few days will probably get the impression that I’m a total music geek. I love my collection and, no matter how ubiquitous digital solutions become, I will continue to add to my CDs, LPs and tapes until the day I die. It’s who I am. I want a physical manifestation of the music that moves me the most. This applies to films and books too. I own a lot of stuff…
But now, I’m undergoing the most brutal cull of my CD collection I’ve ever attempted. The problem I have is that although I own some of the most sublime music ever recorded, I also own a lot of the not so sublime. This isn’t to say that these ‘not so sublime’ CDs are bad, they’re just not worthy of my perpetual care. Culling my CDs used to be easier… I had accumulated a fair amount of substandard music throughout my teens and upon discovering ‘good’ music, it was easy to dispose of the ‘crap’ music. But now I have some reason for owning everything in my current possession. I had always found it difficult to part with something if I ascertained some semblance of merit. But now that has to change. I don’t want to be owned by music collection anymore. My goal is to reduce my collection to less than a quarter of its size – a concept that months ago, would have consumed me with dread.
The first stage of my cull hasn’t been as difficult as I might have predicted. It turns out I had accumulated a fair amount of unessential music via my tendency to pour through bargain bins and take punts. Living in the outer suburbs, I’m hardly in a mecca of compelling art and the CDs available to purchase within walking distance are of a fairly generic standard. Occasionally I’d chance upon an amazing bargain bin find, but more often than not, although not bad per se, I was purchasing more than my share of music that doesn’t call me back. So the first few hundred CDs in my cull have caused little to no conflict. I can throw these away without the slightest hint of regret. This is the stage I’ve just finished. I feel good… a post-enema euphoria that inspires much self-gratification. But the next stage is going to sting…
I look at the music that survived the initial cull. Everything I see has a reason to stay. This is good music… often amazing music. I don’t want to get rid of it, yet I want to get rid of it more than I can say. I know I won’t ultimately miss it. I know that the pain comes in the projection, not the reality. But I am an expert in projecting catastrophe. I’ll be able to conjure a scenario wherein disposing of a good CD will result in the death of my family.
So here I am at the beginning of something that in my meagre world is pretty profound. I’m ridding myself of some baggage that not so long ago, I wouldn’t have been able to. I’m not remotely worried about the money that I spent on the CDs destined for the bin. I’m more worried about the transformation such a seemingly simple act will trigger. And at the end of it, I will have a compact collection comprised of the most sublime music I’ve ever heard. This is a way of honouring the art. Perhaps after this, I’ll move on to my books and DVDs.
I don’t mind if my life ends amidst an infinite sea of stuff that no one will want. But it has to be the best stuff. I don’t want to waste my time anymore. There’s so much out there that deserves my full attention… I just have to stop getting distracted by passing birds.
I recently completed this jacket design for the limited edition version of William Pauley III‘s ‘The Complete Doom Magnetic!’. I’m not sure if this has already sold out or not. William’s a good friend of mine, which can cause some issues design wise. You obviously want to impress your friends when working for them. However, one becomes concerned that they’re going easy on you when providing feedback on your design. I’m assuming this wasn’t the case with William. It’s just one of those little things I think about when designing.
And so, it is with great excitement that I approached Patrick Farmer’s ‘Green Rings around the Eyes, this Grass in Vibrant Motion’ – an album that, other than a contextless recommendation, I had absolutely no knowledge of. The cover itself, as you can see in the above image, lacks visual inference. Patrick Farmer, although a musician that I believe has been active for some time, was one I hadn’t personally heard. I don’t think I need to explain to you, in the hyper-connected world in which we live, how rare it is to have the opportunity to experience something in such a blind fashion – to be handed a blank slate for you to fill in as you please. It is with this in mind that I have decided to write this review without seeking external reference. For all intents and purposes, the totality of this album begins and ends right here. This introduction emerges as a nice little irony, because reading what follows will remove your blindness, replacing them with my prejudices. The joy!
‘Green Rings around the Eyes, this Grass in Vibrant Motion’, is a process of stripping back. All unnecessary elements have been removed and all the remains are the naked veins, pumping the blood. Using the barest tools (turntable, wire brush and a contact mic), Patrick Farmer inspires a laser-like focus from the listener by removing their choices. By removing simultaneity, we are left with two choices – engage with the phenomena of a single sound source, or ignore the recording completely. As one might expect, calling all your attention to a singularity has the effect of revealing the complexity inherent in the singularity. And what is this singularity exactly? For Farmer, it is the clicks, pops and spurts picked up by the wire brush and fed by the turntable. In experimental music, the existence of clicks, pops and spurts are certainly not rare. What separates ‘Green Rings…’ from the myriad other recordings happy to explore the potential of sonic detritus, is that these sonic elements are not subsumed into an overall stew. They are forced to stand naked, begging for scrutiny – a brave tactic.
This isn’t without precedent in the world of experimental improvisation. I’m immediately reminded of Sachiko M’s stunning, ‘Salon De Sachiko’ which implements a similarly minimal approach with two oscillators (this is one of the better albums I heard last decade… check it out). In both releases, Farmer and Sachiko intersperse silence with their singular sound source. The emphasis on silence is perhaps stronger on Salon De Sachiko, but the effect is similar. Without the distraction, all we have is the one sonic option. And in accepting this, the versatility and intricacy of something so outwardly simple is dredged to the surface. The listener deconstructs the popping sound, until they begin to reflect upon the type of pop it is. Our common generalisations no longer work and we are constantly seeking out deeper levels. The ingredients are simple, but the possible tastes are endless.
Another surprising observation I’ve made about ‘Green Rings…’ is the emotive nature of the recording. There’s an initial period where one must adapt to the temperature of the sound, but when we acclimatise to it, there’s a certain desperation at work. Perhaps this is largely my projection, but, most likely as a result of the isolated sound source, there’s sadness and loss. Upon writing this reflection, it’s not difficult to understand how a conclusion like that could be reached, but it has an interesting affect nonetheless.
What I ultimately take away from a recording like ‘Green Rings’ isn’t so much a critical assessment as much as a general musing on the nature of complexity. In mining into the core of the clicks, pops and spurts, I’m reminded that we perceive so very little of what’s around us. As a matter of self-preservation, this is necessary, but as a controlled experiment in focus, this album is a magnificent tool. Everything is complex, and superficial simplicity is a perfect example of that. It’s the search that only ends when we stop searching.
I apologise to all for my laughably poor philosophical musing, but hopefully the fact I’m even attempting such a thing should prove that Patrick Farmer has made a very fine recording – one that almost begs you to underestimate it.
‘Green Rings around the Eyes, this Grass in Vibrant Motion’ was released by Nadukeenumono. I highly recommend it.
As a brief aside, I highly recommend everything I’ll ever review on Trash Complex because I refuse to spend my time writing about that which I don’t like.