Friday, March 28, 2008

The SOCOTOA of Socotra

I've decided--I must go to Socotra.
Socotra or Soqotra (Arabic سقطرى ; Suquṭra) is a small archipelago of four islands and islets in the Indian Ocean off the coast of the Horn of Africa some 350 km south of the Arabian peninsula. It is a part of the 'Adan Governorate of the Republic of Yemen. The island is also claimed by Somalia.
Socotra appears as Dioskouridou ("of the Dioscurides") in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st century A.D. Greek navigation aid. In the notes to his translation of the Periplus, G.W.B. Huntingford remarks that the name Socotra is not Greek in origin, but derives from the Sanskrit dvipa sukhadhara ("island of bliss").

A local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by Thomas in AD 52. In the 10th century the Arab geographer Abu Mohammed Al-Hassan Al-Hamdani stated that in his time most of the inhabitants were Christians. Socotra is also mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo according to which "the inhabitants are baptized Christians and have an archbishop" who, it is further explained, "has nothing to do with the Pope at Rome, but is subject to an archbishop who lives at Baghdad". They were Nestorians but they also practised ancient magic rituals despite the warnings of their archbishop.
And to boot, the island is home to dragon's blood trees.


Socotra [Wikipedia]
Socotra [Flickr]
The Wonder Land of Socotra, Yemen [NYTimes.com]

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:: posted by David, 2:37 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Phonautogram


Majorly hauntological:
On a digital copy of the recording provided to The New York Times, the anonymous vocalist, probably female, can be heard against a hissing, crackling background din. The voice, muffled but audible, sings, “Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit” in a lilting 11-note melody — a ghostly tune, drifting out of the sonic murk.
Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison [NYTimes.com]

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:: posted by David, 8:35 AM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is Crystal Palace. Are you still on?

I am the proud owner to the uber-rare promotional-use-only/not-for-sale soundtrack to one of the most awesome Cold War films ever made, WarGames.


WarGames easily tops the list of movies that most influenced my childhood (along with Raiders of the Lost Ark, Last Crusade (sorry Temple of Doom) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen).

The soundtrack is fairly exhaustive with about 72 minutes of music and dialogue (44 tracks). For a full review check out Nathan Strum's piece.

If you can find a copy it's well worth the price if not for just the tracks by The Beepers.

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:: posted by David, 8:20 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, March 17, 2008

Boston Dynamics Big Dog

The future is here and it scares the bejeezus out of me

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:: posted by David, 4:37 PM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Freaky deaky gnome terrorizes Argentines

"The midget - which wears a pointy hat and has a distinctive sideways walk - was caught on video last week by a terrified group of youngsters."

'Creepy gnome' terrorises town [The Sun]

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:: posted by David, 10:47 AM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Crookes Radiometer

From Wikipedia:
The Crookes radiometer, also known as the light mill or solar engine, consists of an airtight glass bulb, containing a partial vacuum. Inside are a set of vanes which are mounted on a spindle. The vanes rotate when exposed to light, with faster rotation for more intense light, providing a quantitative measurement of electromagnetic radiation intensity. The reason for the rotation has been the cause of much scientific debate.

It was invented in 1873 by the chemist Sir William Crookes as the by-product of some chemical research. In the course of very accurate quantitative chemical work, he was weighing samples in a partially evacuated chamber to reduce the effect of air currents, and noticed the weighings were disturbed when sunlight shone on the balance. Investigating this effect, he created the device named after him. It is still manufactured and sold as a novelty item.

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:: posted by David, 4:21 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hauntology

Lately I've been immersing myself in hauntological music. The genre, best described in the Arthur Blog and K-Punk's "Music is dead! Long live hauntology!", often recalls imagery reminiscent of Edwardian-era occultism, The Wicker Man soundtrack, HP Lovecraft stories and Hammer films (most notably Nigel Kneale's Quatermass and the Pit).

One of the best pieces I've been listening to is Mount Vernon Arts Lab's 1999 release Warminster (which was recorded with Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley). The CD is so good that I decided to make a t-shirt for myself using the image on the back cover of the digipak (plus, it's just a cool image--a giant bear holding an antenna).

Other albums I recommend include:
Moon Wiring Club - An Audience of Art Deco Eyes
The Advisory Circle - Mind How You Go
Eric Zann - Ouroborinda
Belbury Poly - The Owl's Map, The Willows
Mount Vernon Arts Lab - Séance At Hobs Lane
The Focus Group - We Are All Pan's People
Cyclobe - The Visitors
Boards of Canada - tracks like Skimming Stones, Statue of Liberty and Alpha Rainbow from A Few Old Tunes volumes 1 & 2
Delia Derbyshire - Electrosonic (this predates the genre by a few decades but the influence can't be ignored)

The Advisory Circle, Eric Zann, Belbury Poly, Mount Vernon Arts Lab and The Focus Group can all be found on the amazing Ghost Box label out of the UK.

And, finally, in the spirit of haunted creepiness I present this short film I made while in Hudson, New York:

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:: posted by David, 6:12 PM | link | 1 comments |