Spencer Clark makes strange,
abstract music under a number of (pretty silly) pseudonyms*, perhaps the
most prevalent one being Monopoly Child Star Searchers. His oeuvre consists of rambling
percussion and electronics pieces that sit somewhat uncomfortably between
ethnic field recordings, New Age glissando and the sort of music they used to have on VHS head cleaning tapes, and lo fi as hell, as if heard
through or a wall or recorded on a phone with a waning battery. The titles of
the tracks (where they are given) tend to be chance juxtapositions of
pseudoscientific buzz words, and it is telling that he sometimes uses the alias
of Charles Berlitz, the writer who produced an endless series of books in the
seventies and eighties about strange and unexplained phenomena.
Clark’s ‘career’ seems fairly
haphazard by 21st century terms: he retains a mystery and
unavailability rare in the over saturated internet era. Much of his back catalogue
is out of print, or spread across a number of labels. He likes cassettes and
CDR’s and limited editions, so even his most recent work is sometimes difficult
to get hold of. But I’m on it. If you needed any further incentive, it’s worth
pointing out that his first release as Monopoly Child Star Searchers was an
alternate soundtrack to the 1978 Tony Curtis clunker, The Manitou, a pretty
awful film that, nevertheless, achieves greatness in its climactic fourth
dimensional cosmic mind laser battle between a psychic and a four hundred year
old Native American medicine man.
* Vodka Soap, Black Joker, Fourth World Magazine, Egyptian Sports Network, Monopoly Star Child Searchers, Typhonian Nightlife...
Pierre Clementi has a brief but striking cameo in Luis Bunuel's 1969 film La Voie Lactee (The Milky Way) playing either the Devil or the Angel of Death, depending on how senior you think he looks with his bum fluff beard and trendy suit. In any event, he is responsible for the death of a man in a flaming car crash, simply because another man wished him ill and the forces of evil and chaos apparently hang around waiting for opportunities to do bad things. It's a weird little vignette, but then this is Bunuel, the greatest surrealist in cinema, and Clementi, an actor who always went out of his way to find interesting films to be interesting in.
Ah,Space 1999: the Moon is blown
out of Earth’s orbit, and subsequently flies through the universe getting into
scrapes and adventures like an out of control 81 quintillion ton wrecking ball.
There are three hundred human beings living on it in a climate controlled,
hermetically sealed hellhole, Moonbase Alpha. Bizarrely, it has functional,
opening windows. They have enough food and drink to live out their lives, but
no way of going home, ever. It’s pretty depressing.
In The Guardian Of Piri the
inhabitants of Alpha find a planet that will support human life, a wonderful
candy coloured ball of oxygen and water and all they need to begin again. The
problem is that, once you arrive, you can’t leave, as The Guardian, an all-powerful
super computer, won’t let you. It is The Guardian’s job to serve its people,
and it won’t allow them to do anything.
Instead, you are expected to spend your days in a blissful torpor, lounging
around in your pyjamas and staring at a mesmerising illuminated hole in the red sky. It’s
a form of slow death, but it’s not a bad life, especially if the alternative is
eking out your days on a miserable mobile Moon.
Naturally, Commander John Koenig
stops all the nonsense, overthrowing The Guardian and dragging his bewildered crew back to their airless plastic prison. Given their tragic history and limited future it seems cruel to take them from Piri. Rightly or wrongly, they
werehappy there. But then Space 1999
is about an endless struggle for a pathetic facsimile of ‘normal’ life, not
about sitting on your silk clad arse and staring happily at the sky all day, so
the bleak metaphysical circus continues.
Peterson is a
contemporary artist from Los Angeles who specialises in starkly rendered depictions of epic
violence: a mix of graffiti, mythology and fantasy. His semi-naked, shaven
headed figures battle constantly amongst themselves, or commit atrocities to others.
They remind me of the Brutals in Zardoz, heavily armed savages bred
to kill and rape and keep the world a savage and terrifying place.
Peterson's art stirs in me the memory of when I was a child and would spend hours drawing enormously detailed scenes of dead soldiers, crocodiles, murder, pools of blood, people being thrown into pits full of spikes, that sort of thing. It was probably the peak of my creativity. If I'm honest, I've ploughed rather an arid furrow for the last forty years.