burning at both ends

“My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!”

― Edna St. Vincent Millay

I made this sleepless mix in 2003 on a slide into depression after I had to abandon my MA dissertation after three years’ work, like an almost-full-term still birth (I’ve just gone back to give varsity another shot, more than a decade later)… I was djing almost every weekend and hanging out with lost people on drugs talking mostly empty crap at one another until the sun came up. I passed many hours in the company of some beautiful, talented, bored, unhappy, bitter humans… and also a fat complement of irredeemable oxygen thieves. Anything to distract from the rip in the fabric of who I had thought I was, to cackle in the face of hopelessness. It just made me lonelier and lonelier. I would come home with the scabs over the hole in my soul all picked off, and listen to music like this to feel OK.

When we were kids, my dad used to warn us that “late nights make sad mornings”. He was right, though not for the reasons he thought.

Track list:

1. Velvet Underground – After Hours
2. Dntel – Umbrella
3. Lali Puna – Bi Pet
4. Grauzone – Eisbaer
5. The Kills – Space Race/Electric Horse
6. Suzanne Vega – Fat Man & Dancing Girl
7. Richard Hell & the Voidoids – Blank Generation
8. David Bowie – Kooks
9. Faust – I’ve Got My Car & My TV
10. Wire – I Feel Mysterious Today
11. Sparklehorse – My Yoke Is Heavy
12. Yo La Tengo – The Summer
13. My Bloody Valentine – Off Your Face
14. Adorable – Sunshine Smile
15. Slowdive – Alison
16. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Forest Fire
17. The Microphones – I Want Wind To Blow
18. Bauhaus – All We Ever Wanted
19. Einstuerzende Neubauten – Blume
20. Madrugada – Hidden track off Grit
21. Pixies – Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf mix)

paul sharits – n:o:t:h:i:n:g

A portion of the opening movement of Paul Sharits’ 1968 film.

N:O:T:H:I:N:G is a film deplenished of all, of any signified stance and involved only in the manner of film itself. Just the drawing of a bulb, the projector light and a chair remain in the space of the screen. But these are just random disruptions of monochrome frames.

The whole film is built as a vibration of rhythms, ‘energy-colour’, based on the structure of the Tibetan mandala of five Dyani Bouddhas. Formally the composition is centred on the psychic flickering caused by four symbolic colours: white, yellow, red and green. The more the film is next to the centre  that is the centre of the mandala, the empty point, the more the monochrome frames flicker faster, up to invert the speed in the second part of the film (bearing off the centre), the retrograde of the first one. Sharits constructed the structure of the film about the ‘Om’ Nembutsu droning: nevertheless the film can be considered as the visual translation of this sound.

“The screen, illuminated by Paul Sharits’ N:O:T:H:I:N:G, seems to assume a spherical shape, at times – due, I think, to a pearl-like quality of light his flash-frames create… a baroque pearl, one might say – wondrous!… One of the most beautiful films I’ve seen.” – Stan Brakhage

“You are pulled into the world of color, your color senses are expanded, enriched. You become aware of changes, of tones around your own daily reality. Your vision is changed. You begin to see light on objects around you… Your experience range is expanded. You have gained a new insight. You have become a richer human being.” – Jonas Mekas