In Technology Review, author and essayist Chuck Klosterman delivers a short introduction to the stars of space rock, from Pink Floyd (above) to Hawkwind to Spacemen 3:
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Space is a vacuum: the only song capturing the verbatim resonance of space is John Cage’s perfectly silent “4'33".” Any artist purporting to embody the acoustics of the cosmos is projecting a myth. That myth, however, is collective and widely understood. Space has no sound, but certain sounds are “spacey.” Part of this is due to “Space Oddity”; another part comes from cinema, particularly the soundtrack to 2001 (the epic power of classical music by Richard Strauss and György Ligeti). Still another factor is the consistent application of specific instruments, like the ondes martenot (a keyboard that vaguely simulates a human voice, used most famously in the theme to the TV show Star Trek). The shared assumptions about what makes music extraterrestrial are now so accepted that we tend to ignore how strange it is that we all agree on something impossible.
The application of these clichés is most readily seen in the dawn of heavy metal. The 1970 Black Sabbath song “Planet Caravan” processed Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals through a Hammond organ to create a sprawling sense of ethereal distance. Deep Purple’s 1972 “Space Truckin’” used ring modulation to simulate a colossal spacecraft traveling at high speed. The lyrical content of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” is built on Norse mythology, but the dreamlike drone of John Paul Jones’s mellotron and Jimmy Page’s ultra-compressed guitar mirrored the sensation of exploring an alien landscape.
Sasha Shulgin died in 2014 after a lifetime as a psychedelic pioneer and brilliant chemist, but the books he and his wife Ann Shulgin authored were just as radical as the lab work. Commemorative editions of PiHKAL and TiHKAL are about to be released and you can get them signed by Ann and a dozen other luminaries of the psychedelic world next month in Berkeley.
Sasha Shulgin, inventor (in his lab in Lafayette) of literally 90+% of the known psychedelic compounds we enjoy today, and his wife Ann, wrote books Phenethylamines I have Known And Loved (PIHKAL) and Tryptamines I have Known And Loved (TIHKAL). The new commemorative edition of them has hundreds of candid photos (from Sasha as a boy to Ann & Sasha's courtship to photos of testing compounds, orange seventies couch and all) and a couple dozen essays from friends and colleagues. We're having a release party on 8 October at Moe's Books, and I hope to rock Ann's world with all the love from all the merry freaks whose lives they've improved over the years. It'll be an unusual opportunity to get the autograph of many of those luminaries all in one place, and Jon Hanna and David Presti will be speaking, as well as Ann, and we'll have a roundtable discussion with the contributors. Probably right up your alley and hopefully that of your readers as well.
Starts 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., Oct 8., at Moe's Books on Telegraph Ave.
Archive.org posted the first issue of Mondo 2000, from 1989. (It says #7 on the cover because the first couple of issues were called High Frontiers, then Reality Hackers.) I loved Mondo 2000, which was edited by R.U, Sirius, and it was a big inspiration for Carla and I to start bOING bOING, the zine. David was also a fan. I wrote a few pieces for it, and many of the contributors later went to work or write for Wired, which unlike Mondo, paid contributors and came out on a regular schedule.
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Mondo 2000 was a glossy cyberculture magazine published in California during the 1980s and 1990s. It covered cyberpunk topics such as virtual reality and smart drugs. It was a more anarchic and subversive prototype for the later-founded Wired magazine.
When I was a kid in the late 1960s, I briefly washed dishes and carried equipment for a light show called Garden of Delights, which was based in Sausalito, California. So it was a dream come true to interview Bill Ham, the artist behind the first light shows in 1966 at San Francisco's fabled Avalon Ballroom. Over the course of three mornings and afternoons, I spoke with Bill about how he got into light shows, the techniques that evolved from his early experiments with Elias Romero, the reactions of musicians to his work, and his years in Europe at the beginning of the 1970s, which included a stay at a French chateau with the Grateful Dead. Highlights from those conversations, clocking in at 9,000 or so words, have now been published at Collectors Weekly.
Here's a snip:
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Collectors Weekly: Can you describe the techniques you were using at that time?
Ham: It started with the overhead projectors, which had been designed for lectures and presentations, so that lecturers could show their audiences diagrams, text, and other information as they spoke. Overhead projectors were used mostly in educational settings, for corporate meetings, that sort of thing. We repurposed them.
The main medium of the overhead projector had been the transparency. The light source below the projector’s flat surface, which is actually a Fresnel lens, would beam the image or words on the transparency onto a mirror above, which, in turn, aimed that image through a focusing lens and onto a screen or wall.
The University of Wollongong has kindly scanned every gorgeous issue of OZ, a psychedelic magazine from the UK, which ran from 1967 to 1973.
OZ was founded by Martin Ritchie Sharp (1942 – 2013).
[Sharp] was an Australian artist, underground cartoonist, songwriter and film-maker.
Sharp made contributions to Australian and international culture from the early 1960s, and was called Australia's foremost pop artist. His psychedelic posters of Bob Dylan, Donovan and others, rank as classics of the genre, and his covers, cartoons and illustrations were a central feature of OZ magazine, both in Australia and in London. Martin co-wrote one of Cream's best known songs, "Tales of Brave Ulysses," created the cover art for Cream's Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire albums, and in the 1970s became a champion of singer Tiny Tim, and of Sydney's embattled Luna Park. [Wikipedia]
OZ magazine was published in London between 1967 and 1973 under the general editorship of Richard Neville and later also Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis. Martin Sharp was initially responsible for art and graphic design. Copies of OZ can be viewed and downloaded for research purposes from this site. OZ magazine is reproduced by permission of Richard Neville.
Please be advised: This collection has been made available due to its historical and research importance. It contains explicit language and images that reflect attitudes of the era in which the material was originally published, and that some viewers may find confronting. [University of Wollongong]
Publisher Taschen will release Psychedelic Sex (NSFW) later in March, written by Eric Godtland and Paul Krassner. Photos are lifted from posters, comics, and men's magazines between 1967 and 1972, and together form a fascinating cultural capsule proving: a) Austin Powers was real and b) any potentially liberating cultural trend is eventually subsumed by the same old shit.
From country singer Sturgill Simpson's a bizarrely psychedelic video for the ballad "Turtles All The Way Down," seemingly about a strange innerspace where "reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain." Read the rest
Dirt Road To Psychedelia is a documentary about the underground culture and music scene in Austin, Texas during the 1960s. Above is the trailer.
"With a folk-singing Janis Joplin, the 13th Floor Elevators, peyote, LSD and the first psychedelic music venue in Texas, Austin was a fertile ground for the emerging counterculture of the 1960s," says director Scott Conn.
If you're lucky enough to be in Waxahachie, Texas this Sunday (3/23), check it out live at the wunderkammer that is the Webb Gallery as part of their "Big Hair & Sparkly Pants" Texas-themed group art show. You can also buy the DVD on Amazon. Read the rest