White Citadel

19 September 2017 // Landscape

At the edge of England the land ends suddenly in high chalk cliffs.  From the beach at Cuckmere Haven, they stand like frozen air, silent above the waves that are gradually undermining them.  Here the landscape seems timeless, reduced to its basic elements: rock, water, air and sunlight.  But the cliffs have a remarkable history and an uncertain future.  They continue to inspire painters and composers, photographers and filmmakers, poets and nature writers.  In his book Frozen Air, a sequence of short linked texts and photographs, Andrew Ray explores the Seven Sisters to consider the meaning of this extraordinary landscape. 

Haven Brow dominates the view when you stand on the beach at Cuckmere Haven. It takes longer than you would think to reach it as your pace is slowed by the grey drifts of stones. Approaching this huge weight of rock, a natural sense of physical insignificance is heightened by the intimidating blankness of its dead white surface. (more…)

Hannah Peel – Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia

18 September 2017 // Music

Review by Frances Castle

Hannah Peel first came to public attention in 2010 with her EP Rebox — songs created with loops of paper punched with holes, and fed through tiny hand-turned mechanical music boxes which produced twinkling and mesmerizing versions of songs by The Cocteau Twins, Soft Cell and New Order. In the following years she has swapped the music boxes for analogue synthesizers, and has taken an unpredictable and idiosyncratic path through music making — in both her solo work, and with the band The Magnetic North.

Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia is the Northern Irish-born artist’s third album. Her last, Awake But Always Dreaming, dealt with dementia, and explored its relationship to music and memory. Continuing with the theme of the mind, and initially inspired by images of brain neurons and how closely they resembled pictures of the stars, on Mary Casio Peel compares the mind to the universe – both so huge and unmapped. (more…)

Caught by the Canberra Part 3

17 September 2017 // Miscellany

By Peter Papathanasiou

Having walked up the mountain’s fire trail with my toddler son, we finally reach the turnoff for our destination. It takes some convincing to coax him to follow me along the single track veering off to our left. He’s now fascinated by a termite mound; the larger trees in the Australian bush are almost all hollow thanks to termites. He can’t yet see where I’m taking him, but it’s somewhere new and special. It’s a place I remember fondly from my youth and which has stood the test of time despite years of severe erosion and variable rainfall.

‘This way,’ I tell him, ‘nearly there.’ He giggles, showing his precious new teeth, and tries to run but is eventually undone by an unseen tree root. I rush to his aid, pick him up, hold him close and apply medicinal kisses. His grizzling soon subsides as I carry him the rest of the way and finally show him my surprise. (more…)

Dawn over Doggerland – late August 2017

17 September 2017 // Art

Hi Caught by the River

Hope you had a good summer – busy times here but I’ve some more selections for you consideration…

These are part of the product from a few nights spent rough camping up and down the east coast, waiting for the sun.

I’d drafted a text to go with them but scrapped it – best to let the drawings do the work.

Maxim Griffin

(more…)

An interview with F.J. McMahon

16 September 2017 // Music

By Ian Preece

The premise of last year’s Numero Uno compilation Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music was to gather together lost and small private-press gems of country rock from the sixties and seventies and shine a light on them for a new generation. With its striking neon buckarooing cowboy cover, housed in an old-style laminated tip-on jacket, and with plentiful sleevenotes, it’s by and large a terrific LP. Buried right at the end – track 18 of 19 – a languorous guitar and sullen drum break usher in the cut of the record: F.J. McMahon’s ‘Spirit of the Golden Juice’, written about a liquor that went out of business and a country that waged war abroad. This summer I’ve been lucky enough to drive down Highway 1 through the Redwood forests of California, the sea spray and Pacific fog, picking our way through the landslides and closed-off sections of Big Sur, living out of suitcases and diners, the Cosmic American Music CD filling the car with tales of misty-eyed departing lovers, whiskey in the gutter, phones that don’t ring, jobs and lives to return to, and lonely entertainers who ‘know a lot of famous people but don’t remember their names’. One of the other CDs in the car is a promo of the Anthology Recordings edition of F.J. McMahon’s fine Spirit of the Golden Juice album, reissued this August on vinyl for only the second time since its initial release in 1969. From Portland, down through Gold Coast, Mendocino and on to San Francisco then Santa Barbara and LA, I drive my family mad, repeatedly playing McMahon’s slightly folky, not quite bluesy, fractionally Fred Neil-esque 29-minute lament to a country that went to war, the lives wrecked by that and the whiskey consumed to ease the pain, namely IW Harper Bourbon.

By the end of the trip I’m sitting in Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery in Studio City, LA, opposite F.J., whose club sandwich is going cold as I press him about Vietnam and he enthuses about the Cosmic American Music LP that prompted the current reissue of Golden Juice. ‘The Numero people called me up and said could they put a song on there. They’re kind of like crate diggers who do the digging for you and find all this neat stuff. The first song on that record, I must have played it thirty times in a row [‘Travelin’’ by the Dallas County Green, with Jimmy Carter]. Oh, the energy – just great.’ F.J. bats away my suggestion his track is the pick of the bunch but lights up when I mention another track, Jeff Cowell’s ‘Not Down this Low’: ‘Isn’t that the absolute best opening pickup line you heard in your life? It’s got a nice musical flow, and your brain’s listening to it, and it’s like “Down in the gutter . . .’ – oh, OK, he’s rubbed out – “ . . .where I found my true love” – OK, that guy’s got the best line ever written to open a song.’ Kenny Knight (of the recently reissued Crossroads on Paradise of Bachelors) is on there too: ‘Oh yeah, he’s got a really neat sound. I love that sound – almost like a fifties rocker . . . great record, man.’ (more…)