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Charming cartoon of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ ‘The Kid with the Replaceable Head’


 
Pancake Mountain was a TV show based out of Washington, D.C., that can accurately be described as a punk rock children’s show. The program featured a puppet named Rufus Leaking (voiced by J.R. Soldano)—among the show’s many guests were the Melvins, Henry Rollins, Deerhoof, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, the Fiery Furnaces, Wreckless Eric, and X. The name of the show comes from the fertile mind of Brendan Canty, a.k.a. the drummer for Fugazi.

Founded by Scott Stuckey, grandson of the man who founded the noted roadside chain of eateries, the show ran from 2004 to 2009 on public access stations around the country. J.J. Abrams became interested in the show in 2010 and briefly attempted to find a home for it, without success. Eventually Pancake Mountain found a home on PBS but it does not appear to be in active production.
 

 
In 2009 Richard Hell gave the show permission to produce a cartoon video for the irresistibly catchy song “The Kid With the Replaceable Head,” off of the 1982 album Destiny Street by Hell’s seminal outfit the Voidoids. The video uses the noticeably cleaner version of the song featured on the 2009 album Destiny Street Repaired, which featured new guitar parts—the new guitar work on “Replaceable Head” was by Marc Ribot. The original guitar part was executed by Robert Quine. For more on the different versions of the song, see this 2011 report by DM’s own Marc Campbell.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.02.2018
11:03 am
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‘How the World Went Mad’: A diagnosis of the confusing, topsy-turvy world of President Donald Trump

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I could start with a nod to Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis by writing:

“Rupert Russell awoke one morning from unsettling dreams to find the world had gone mad.”

But that isn’t quite right and doesn’t fully describe the situation that filmmaker Russell found himself when he awoke on the morning of November 9th, 2016, to the news that Donald Trump had been elected the 45th President of the United States of America. Russell described it better himself:

“I felt a sense of unreality. That I had woken up on a different planet than the one I had gone to bed on.”

Seemingly, the world had had gone mad overnight. But how had this happened? And what had caused this strange insanity?

Russell wanted to understand what the fuck had just happened. He also wanted to do something about this new topsy-turvy world, where the lunatics had taken over the asylum. He was finishing work on his documentary feature Freedom for the Wolf. Nick Fraser, the editor of BBC’s Storyville, had come onboard as executive producer. Fraser had also just launched a new venture, Docsville, and asked Russell if he would like to make some short films for this new platform.

On the day after the election, Russell had written a Medium post on being sane in insane places inspired by the work of David Rosenhan, in particular his famous experiment in which he entered an asylum claiming he heard voices. The doctors and nurses had diagnosed Rosenhan as insane, however, the patients quickly realized that Rosenhan was actually faking it.

Russell also “sketched out two more essays on madness under the new regime of (in)sanity”. He sent these along to Fraser as a possible idea for a series of animations called How the World Went Mad which would diagnose Trump’s election as a form of madness and offer up a possible cure. Fraser told Russell to go for it.
 
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The end result was a series of five short films explaining How the World Went Mad by which Russell asked the very pertinent question:

In a world gone mad who can you trust?

Beginning on that fateful morning in Fall 2016, Russell takes the viewer through a brief history of psychiatry, culture, and politics to explain how we have all ended up here. I contacted Russell to ask him about the making How the World Went Mad and what he hoped his diagnosis of our current malady would achieve.

How did you go about making ‘How the World Went Mad’?

Rupert Russell: I spent a month in the British Library going through histories and psychologies of madness. I picked out studies that could be linked together to form a narrative arc of the series: diagnosis, symptoms, transmission, epidemic, and cure. I turned the notes into scripts, recorded them, and sent the files to Dare Studio in Poland, who had worked on my last feature, who got to work on the animation. The rest is archival footage, which I trawled through.

The most arduous of which was finding out who the infamous “fat guy” that Trump tormented in The Apprentice was. When we locked picture, Alex Williamson composed a wonderfully off-kilter score and three sound designers at Unit Post created a soundscape of insanity filled with screams, explosions, and even orgasms.

The polemic for your films rests on the idea Trump is mad—what happens if he is not mad?

RR: The source of my anxiety, as I describe in Episode 1, “Diagnosis,” is precisely this question: What if Trump is the new definition of sanity and it is I who am in fact mad. The line between sanity and insanity has been a skipping rope throughout history, pulling people in and out of it. Gays, lesbians, and women have only recently escaped their 19th-century diagnosis as perverts and hysterics. The Trump/Pence victory signalled another swing of the rope. In their Handmaid’s Tale morality, these gender traitors deserve no voice in the patriarch’s definition of sanity—where only the male “commanders” are capable of rational judgements.

The insanity of this position should be self-evident. But too increasingly, it’s becoming the new definition of sanity. We are living through another reaction to social progress that has resurrected the same tropes and characters of the feminist backlash in the 1980s, which inspired Atwood’s original novel.

More diagnosis of ‘How the World Went Mad,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.18.2018
10:02 am
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Transcendent animated video for Egyptian genius Nadah El Shazly’s ‘Mahmiya,’ a DM premiere
05.31.2018
08:01 am
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Nadah El Shazly’s ‘Ahwar,’ on Nawa Recordings

One of the best albums of 2017 was Ahwar, the debut of the Egyptian singer, composer and producer Nadah El Shazly, whose voice is absolutely gorgeous, and whose music is deeply strange. So we consider ourselves lucky to have dibs on this animated video for the last song on Ahwar, “Mahmiya (Protectorate),” directed by the artist whose unshod sphinx graces the cover, Marwan Elgamal.

To me, the video represents the otherworldliness of Nadah El Shazly’s voice and the instability of its musical settings. But Marwan Elgamal’s own interpretation, kindly provided to DM, is more interesting than mine:

The idea for the animation came after internalizing the soundscape and words of Nadah El Shazly’s ‘Mahmiya’, it had a sensibility that seemed soothing and warm - vital and at peace, yet vast and unconcerned, like a sea, long since dried and fossilized, wherein the listener is placed without bearings. This brought about a story, a character and landscape where time and location are not classified.

In this place there is a condition of symmetry between the inner world of the girl and the outer landscape. She morphs and changes through her surroundings, and through these interactions the world is animated and energized. The land evolves and vegetates and soars and crumbles. Things occur as they will, and force is not exerted, but rather the events unfold without effort.

Time becomes represented as fluctuating and dilating, and our girl breathes, plays, creates, grows, and becomes conclusively unrecognisable, then to be brought back to the beginning of a cycle.

There seems to be an indefiniteness to the events, and change is constant, and she plays her part with no concern to consequence. The girl may be an extension of the land, a force of creation, a mechanical machine, or a little girl vulnerable to this ambiguous place full of unfamiliar entities. Through this ambiguity I hope to provide a visual counterpart to Nadah El Shazly’s touching song.

 
Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.31.2018
08:01 am
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Serge Gainsbourg’s pop art science-fiction cartoon ‘Marie Mathématique’
05.08.2018
03:18 pm
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Incroyable! Hosting the legendary French pop show Dim Dam Dom in 1965, Sandie Shaw introduces the first installment of “Marie Mathématique,” an animated short made by “Barbarella” creator Jean-Claude Forest. Serge Gainsbourg wrote the music and sang André Ruellan’s lyrics. The Marie character is the younger sister of Barbarella—she’s sixteen—and her adventures take place in the year 2830.

In total, there were six installments of “Marie Mathématique.” There was never a proper soundtrack release, but it was bootlegged.
 

 

Another five episodes of “Marie Mathématique,” after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.08.2018
03:18 pm
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‘DEATH VAN’: This surreal animated music video is totally bonkers
03.02.2018
07:53 am
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Ah, the wonders of falling down YouTube rabbit holes and stumbling upon nuggets of pure lysergic genius. I’m not sure how I lucked into finding DEATH VAN, but I’m glad I did.

Presented here, for your approval, is a six-minute “animated space-rock adventure” by Michael Enzbrunner. 

Through the magic of computer animation, the space-rock duo DEATH VAN “tours through a miniature world inhabited by surreal creatures that are haunted by a menacing and mischievous entity.”

It feels like a surreal 80s sci-fi film directed by The Brothers Quay after getting high with Noel Fielding—and the music is phenomenal.

The short was made using Blender, which is a free open-source 3-D animation program.

This particular animated space-rock adventure seems to be doing well on the festival circuit, having picked up several awards in the last five months. It’s the best music video I’ve seen in years—absolutely bonkers.
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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03.02.2018
07:53 am
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Mind-blowing weirdo soundtrack to French cult cartoon ‘Les Shadoks’
02.26.2018
05:10 pm
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What if I told you there was an album that sounded like The Faust Tapes meets Raymond Scott meets the BBC Radiophonic Workshop? Like Stockhausen meets skiffle meets the Moby Grape? Like if La Monte Young made a cover version of “Popcorn”?

Haven’t you ever wondered what a dadaist cartoon scored by a meeting of the minds between Carl Stalling and Einstürzende Neubauten would sound like?

This exists. The soundtrack to the French cult cartoon Les Shadoks is such a rare bird. Aesthetically triangulated by musique concrète, Perrey & Kingsley’s electronic whimsy and Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict,” the music of Robert Cohen-Solal—a member of les Groupe de recherches musicales, or GRM, the French equivalent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—nearly defies description. Lucky for you, you needn’t take my word for any of this, as there is a long excerpt/audio collage of the Les Shadoks soundtrack album embedded below for you to partake of. Please make it your soundtrack to reading this post.
 

 
Les Shadoks was created by French cartoonist Jacques Rouxel and animator René Borg—taking an obvious inspiration from Paul Klee’s painting “La machine à gazouiller”—and was broadcast in France from 1968–1974 as 2-3 minute cartoons. The Shadoks were absurd bird-like creatures, the inhabitants of a two dimensional planet. Their language has just five monosyllabic words—“Ga,” “Bu,” “Zo,” “Meu,” and “Ni”—but their primitive brains possess but four brain cells and they can only know four things at a time. The Shadoks represent French society. The Gibis are their intelligent and far more cautious opposites who are supposed to represent the buttoned up people of Great Britain.

“It was a long, long, long… long time ago. In that time, there was the sky. To the right of the sky, there was planet Gibi. It was flat and tilting from left to right. So sometimes when too many Gibis were on one side on the planet, it tilted too much and some Gibis fell into space. It was a big trouble… especially for the Gibis. To the left of the sky, there was planet Shadok. It had no precise form, or rather… its form kept changing. So sometimes some Shadoks fell in space. It was a big trouble… especially for the Shadoks. And on the middle there was Earth, that was round and moved.”

So the Shadoks and the Gibis are in competition for the Earth’s resources. Or something like that.

The simpleton Shadoks were famous for their dumb philosophies, and for their incessant pumping—“Better to pump even if nothing happens than to risk something worse happening by not pumping” being one of their mottos. Another example of Shadok philosophy is “When one tries continuously, one ends up succeeding. Thus, the more one fails, the greater the chance that it will work.” This theory is put to the test when a rocket launch is rushed through 999,999 failures on the calculation that it had a one-in-a-million chance to launch successfully…

Here are some more:

“Why do it the easy way when you can do it the hard way?”

“If there is no solution, it is because there is no problem.”

“To reduce the numbers of unhappy people, always beat up the same individuals.”

“Every advantage has its disadvantages. And vice versa.”

To this day, the French will compare their politicians with the idiotic Shadoks.
 

 
The soundtrack to Les Shadoks has been released in the past, but that 1969 album featured narration and character voices over the music. It’s also rare and very, very expensive. For the 50th anniversary of Les Shadoks, the complete soundtrack by Robert Cohen-Solal is available for the first time ever in its entirety, cut and mastered from the original reels and made in cooperation with the artist. Released by the marvellously named Swiss label WRWTFWW Records—that stands for “We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want” (and clearly they do)—the album comes in a glossy, high quality vinyl pressing (with 7” record) and on CD in a digipak.

If you tend to like—broadly defined, of course—“this kind of thing” then I highly, highly recommend this release. There’s really nothing else like it. The Les Shadoks soundtrack album is easily destined for my top 10 of 2018 and it’s not even March yet.
 

In 1973 ‘The Shadoks’ appeared on Thames Television in the early evening. Kenneth Robinson provided the narration in English. Sadly this is the SINGLE example that I can find of an English episode of ‘The Shadoks’ anywhere on the Internet. The French DVD box sets have only French narration. Someone needs to put this out in English, like NOW.

Posted by Richard Metzger
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02.26.2018
05:10 pm
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‘The Midnight Parasites’: Yōji Kuri’s surreal Hieronymus Bosch inspired animation from 1972
12.15.2017
10:19 am
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Yōji Kuri is the big daddy of Japanese animation. Now in his late eighties—he hits the big nine-“o” next year—Kuri was one of Japan’s key pioneering animators/artists/directors who produced around forty short animated films during the 1960s and early seventies—all of which brought independent Japanese animations to global attention. He was for a time namechecked as “the only Japanese animator whose work is known in the West,” which, although a nice piece of hyperbole, gives some idea of his importance at the expense of ignoring quite a few of his contemporaries.

Anyhow.

Kuri’s animations tend to be strange, surreal, experimental, and darkly compelling, yet often accomplished in what you might call a naive style. Take for example his Hieronymus Bosch-inspired animation The Midnight Parasites from 1972. Here Kuri imagines what would life might be like if we all lived in Bosch’s painting “Garden of Earthly Delights.” It’s a basically shit and death or rather a cycle of life where blue figures live and die; eat shit and shit gold; are skewered, and devoured; are regurgitated and reborn to carry on the cycle once again. It’s dark, dirty, oddly beautiful, with a groovy soundtrack—the kinda short flick that might pop up as a support to the late night psychedelic double-bill at the local fleapit.
 

 
Via Monster Brains.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.15.2017
10:19 am
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This mouth-watering Instagram is dedicated to real-life re-creations of food from Miyazaki movies
11.14.2017
08:55 am
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It’s been noted that all of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, in addition to being a feast for the eyes, are positively obsessed with food. There’s always a section in every movie where the characters enjoy a bite to eat, and in every case the food is meticulously observed and rendered. The food can be grand or simple, doesn’t matter, the same careful attention to detail, whether it’s the feast of the king in The Cat Returns or Umi’s cooking in Up on Poppy Hill or the candies in Grave of the Fireflies.

Some dedicated Instagrammer going by the name 01ghibli23 has decided to recreate the meals of Miyazaki’s movies in real life, right down to the careful positioning of the egg on the bread or the pieces of carrot on the plate. In addition to these re-creations, there are also pix of Miyazaki’s posters and Totoro-shaped cookies and stuff like that.

Great, now I want to watch all of Miyazaki’s movies and I’m hungry….. Actually that’s not a bad place to be at all!
 

Breakfast from Howl’s Moving Castle
 

Ramen from Ponyo
 

Breakfast from Kiki’s Delivery Service
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.14.2017
08:55 am
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Storyboards from ‘Aeon Flux,’ including the iconic fly-eye sequence
10.19.2017
01:28 pm
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The run of Aeon Flux on MTV in the early 1990s coincided with a period in my life when I was living abroad, but whenever I was stateside I would scarf down as many episodes as I could manage. The show looked and sounded like nothing else, something that continues to be true to this day, and seemed to resist regular plot continuity to an almost mind-blowing extent—at least I never watched it with any expectation that there was an intelligible “plot” that could be “followed.” Considering that all of the early shorts—seen initially on MTV’s experimental animation anthology Liquid Television—culminated in the eponymous protagonist’s repeated demise, it’s safe to say that narrative coherence was largely beside the point.

Aeon Flux (actually Æon Flux, right?) was the kind of show that was probably pilloried for being “pretentious” and self-serious but actually strikes me as a perfect expression of a certain variety of dry wit—if this sequence from “Tide” doesn’t make you grin at any point, you’re probably not paying close enough attention. One needn’t have been aware of the existence of the cyberpunk genre to intuit it from any random scene from the show, which also evinced an interest in fetishism and domination to an extent that was rare for a TV show in the 1990s. Every character looked like an emaciated Egon Schiele subject, and occasionally a spindly albino would materialize and lick someone’s earhole.

Aeon Flux was the brainchild of Peter Chung, a Korean-American CalArts grad who cut his teeth under Ralph Bakshi and also at Disney. A couple of weeks ago he participated an interview with The Art of the Title, in which he pointed to The Prisoner and the claire ligne style of Hergé and Moebius as key influences. It’s well worth a read. In the piece one of the items of visual collateral is the storyboard for the “Venus eyetrap” sequence, probably the most familiar visual element from the series.

On Deviantart, one can find nine further storyboards from artist Mike Jackson, who worked on “The Purge” and “A Last Time for Everything” late in the series’ run.

Having recently consumed several clips on YouTube, I’d like to offer the insight that dialogue almost always violated the show’s essence—the best sequences are as wordless as Harpo Marx. The entire series is available at Amazon for less than $20.
 

 

 
More production art from Aeon Flux after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.19.2017
01:28 pm
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Skin-deep stop-motion animation imprinted on naked human bodies

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To celebrate their tenth anniversary in business, creative agency DBLG decided to make an experimental animation in collaboration with London-based animation studio Animade. After the usual rounds of toing-and-froing and sending ideas back-and-forth, the two companies decided on making a stop-motion animation imprinted on the naked human body called Hey Pressto!you see what they did there?

Animade made the individual animations which were then passed onto DBLG who modeled “every frame in Cinema 4D and exported them as a physical 3D print.” Then it was a case of finding models who were willing to have the animation imprinted on their bodies. Some 270 applied, from which eight models—four men and four women—were chosen who were willing to have their butt cracks, nipples, and belly buttons filmed.

It was decided to film all the models at the same time as it took forty minutes between each shot for the mark of the imprint to disappear. But you know, no gain without pain, etc. The resulting film Hey Pressto! is certainly imaginative and quite amusing.
 
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Watch the animation and a film on how it was made, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.19.2017
08:03 am
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