Marks of a genius: Ray Harryhausen’s incredible creature drawings
04.18.2014
08:06 am

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Movies

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Ray Harryhausen

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If it wasn’t a monster movie, then it wasn’t worth watching. That was my narrow view of cinema when I was a kid. There was the usual suspects of werewolves, vampires, gelatinous blobs from outer space, and stitched-together cadavers, but nothing thrilled quite as much as seeing one of Ray Harryhausen’s animated creatures move across the screen. Whether it was those ghoulish skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts; the Ray Bradbury-inspired Rhedosaurus that tore up New York City in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; the leathery terradactyl that picked up Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.; or the octopus that brought down the Golden Gate Bridge; this was the kind of movie that made so many childhoods happy—mine included.

Harryhausen sketched out each of his ideas before turning them into models, and this is a small selection of his drawings for the films Jason and the Argonauts, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, the unmade War of the Worlds, Valley of the Gwangi, 20 Million Miles to earth, and One Million Years BC.
 
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More of Harryhausen’s incredible drawings after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Every Rolling Stones clip British Pathé just uploaded to YouTube
04.18.2014
07:52 am

Topics:
Music

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Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
 
On Sunday newsreel archivist British Pathé uploaded 85,000 films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel. An incredible, if sometimes a bit stodgy, resource that will be viewed countless of thousands of times in the years to come. Lots of things like the Hindenburg.

And pop culture too. I scoured the British Pathé YouTube presence for all of its Rolling Stones footage (mostly by entering in the term “Rolling Stones” in the appropriate place). This is what that quest produced: 12 videos covering the years 1964 to 1970. Some of them are collections of raw footage that made up some of the completed items you can also see here. A few of them have no sound at all. The concert footage from 1970 isn’t very good, esp. the sound (which is glumly conceded in the YouTube “About” area), but a number of the clips are excellent in their way.

The “Rolling Stones Gather Moss” video captures the Stones in their “Hard Day’s Night” phase, so to speak. They’re still in the Beatles mold—until you get to the performance section, where nobody would ever mistake these guys for the Beatles. The footage from Australia is pretty solid and the Hyde Park concert after the death of Brian Jones is also very good.

My favorite, though, is the weird footage of the audience at the Stones’ 1964 Hull concert. Someone’s going to make a pretty dandy experimental movie out of that someday.

In each instance I have pasted the “About” text underneath the video. In one case there is a duplicate, the two Hyde Park videos appear to be identical, but we strive to be complete.
 
“Rolling Stones Gather Moss” (5:51, 1964)

Full title reads: “Rolling Stones Gather Moss.” Technicolor Material. Hull, Humberside.
 
More where these came from, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Six-year-old boy with a tail is worshipped as a god
04.18.2014
07:51 am

Topics:
Belief

Tags:
Gods

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Amar Singh may appear like an ordinary six-year-old boy, but to the villagers of Nijmapur in India, Amar is an embodiment of the Hindu god Lord Hanuman.

Amar is worshipped as a god because he is believed to have a foot-long tail growing out of his back. The tail is in fact a patch of hair, but as Amar’s father, Ajmer Singh has explained that although the hairs could easily be shaved off, the family do not want to do this because they consider the tail as a “gift from god.”

“Amar is a very loving child… Everybody sees him as a symbol of god.”

Another explanation for Amar’s tail is the birth defect spina bifida, which means the spine does not fuse properly, leaving a gap which can result in a growth in the lower back.

The youngest in a family of five children, Amar is also considered god-like as he is said to have the “face of a cow,” and enjoys spending time with the village cattle.
 
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Via India Today

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Swans’ Michael Gira on their forthcoming triple album ‘To Be Kind’
04.18.2014
07:38 am

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Music

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Swans
Michael Gira


 
Michael Gira’s band Swans have shape-shifted but plenty. They made their reputation with an extraordinarily punishing and shockingly nihilistic take on no-wave music in the 1980s, culminating in the colossal masterpiece Children of God. They then curve-balled their fans with relatively introspective and quietly mournful LPs at the decade’s turn. The ‘90s saw further experimentation, ending with the final album of their first incarnation, Soundtracks for the Blind in 1996. But whatever Swans’ approach, be it the bludgeoning riffs of their early years, the tape loop experiments of the mid ‘80s, or the early ‘90s acoustic efforts, the band’s oeuvre has been united, partly by musical and lyrical darkness, certainly, but also by the ability of all the band’s many lineups to conjure the elemental.

Swans went silent in 1997, after which Gira continued to work both solo and in The Angels of Light. Then, in 2010, Swans reappeared, with Gira and stalwart guitarist Norman Westberg leading an otherwise entirely new lineup. Quoth Gira, from a recent phone conversation:

I just wanted to continue making music. I was doing the Angels of Light project for 13 years and I was growing a little bored with it. I wanted to do something a little more all-consuming, intense. So I started to think seriously about reconstituting Swans, I thought that was the best path. There are certain ways of making sound, and avenues that were maybe started that weren’t fully explored that I wanted to continue, and that pushed into new things. Once we started working on Swans it became its own new entity, and opened up in ways that I never would have anticipated.

 

 
This reinvigorated Swans released My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, an album that met with instant acclaim. As if to prove that this was no fluke, they followed it with the triple-LP The Seer, an album so successfully ambitious it easily equalled Children of God at the absolute top of the band’s discography. In mid-May, the band will release a second triple-LP, To Be Kind, with a heavy-friends lineup that boasts vocalists Al Spyx, St. Vincent, and Little Annie, and Ministry/R.E.M. drummer Bill Rieflin. I wonder, who else has done two consecutive triple-LPs? Anyone? And furthermore, who has done two consecutive stunningly awesome ones?
 

 
Having only gotten all the way through it twice, I’m still just going to commit to this: To Be Kind is very nearly as astonishing as its predecessor, and with exceptions noted below, it’s just perhaps a bit less musically diverse—many songs here share a noticeably similar emotive arc (21st Century Swans seem to have taken a liking to post-rock crescendoes), though fortunately it’s a compelling and effective one. And most of these songs are loooooong, but this, too, is a good thing; every musical element is treated as though it has great value, and is given plenty of room to grow and breathe and live before new ideas and dynamic shifts creep in. Both albums have half-hour set pieces, and my chat with Gira revealed that the new one is actually an outgrowth of the previous.

”Bring the Sun/Toussaint L’Ouverture“ grew out of playing “The Seer” live. As that song was winding down, we started improvising, and what you hear on this album is what came out of that over a year of playing. These pieces kind of developed along the way, and I gradually developed words for them. I was reading a friend’s book about one of the instigators of the slave revolt in Haiti, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and so I started throwing in signifiers for that gentleman, and it became that song.

Though it parallels The Seer in other ways, and it’s easy to conclude that two oceanic-sounding triple albums could work as a matched set, Gira holds that the albums aren’t meant to be taken as a pair:

I don’t conceptualize how things fit together with what came before, or the next thing. The one thing I do try to accomplish is not to repeat ourselves exactly, just to take certain threads from what we’ve done and move forward with those and leave other things behind. I tried to avoid the kind of long soundscape kind of passages that were on The Seer, I felt that would be redundant to do again, and wanted to push more of the groove aspect that was nascent in the touring band.

The groove-oriented songs are a welcome surprise. Passages in “She Loves Us” and “Oxygen” have moments that could pass for straightforward rock, moreso than any other Swans songs I could name off the top of my head, and “A Little God in My Hands” sounds like a new direction altogether. Even when toying with decidedly not-so-Swans ideas, though, Swans, as always, sound unequivocally like Swans. Here are “A Little God…,” which has been online for a few weeks now, and “Oxygen,” which debuted earlier this week on The Quietus. (Incidentally, if you’re not already reading that site, good lord, get on that already, it’s fantastic.)
 

Swans, “A Little God In My Hands”
 

Swans, “Oxygen”
 
Lastly, here are early live versions of “Just A Little Boy” and the title track, recorded in Barcelona last summer.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment