FEATURE/SELECTION/Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail is ecstatic and grateful to have coaxed a guest spot contribution from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this week released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan furnishes us with the first of his ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror fictions.



Surrender – Suicide

 

A Kenneth Anger motorbike gang, gay greasers checking their hair in the switchblade reflection. Using semen as Brylcreem. The homecoming queen dumped like so many empty bottles and cans.

Vega as Vegas.

The backing vocals drift in from a malt shop that was burned down by some queer bashers pre Stonewall and no one flinched. In a world where high school sweethearts go to a drive in to sneakily and fumblingly attempt autoerotic asphyxiation together as they watch Jayne Mansfield crash in slow motion.

When Vega sings, “I surrender to you”, it could be sex or God or just the voices shrieking through the tinfoil mirror of our synapses but aren’t all those things the same? Lynch would play this behind beehived girls in tight red sweaters first lesbian tryst behind a doughnut shop ran by Anton LaVey and Ricki Lake.

 

Which Way To Turn – Bryan Ferry

One of weird uncle David’s mystery blondes in trouble smiles from a smashed picture frame, a Stepford femme fatale. All the memory I can dredge up is here. Artfully hung and shot drapes blow in a late summer breeze. A heatwave desire and hungover regret. Blood on your lips, lipstick oozing out of your wounds. The plastic rum cups Mike gave us in the bar are overturned.

“I can’t control my feelings if I tried” sung with all the hauteur this high society Frankenstein can muster. Ferry is often spoken about as some style icon, ignoring how goofy he has frequently looked. See the Manifesto red leather suit, the Top of the Pops Jealous Guy Alan Partridge outfit or his giant shirt in The High Road. For ages I thought something was lost when he became the figure he started out parodying yet yearning to be on the first Roxy albums but that’s a lazy cliché.

This period is one of straw etching your initials in coke on a mixing desk, high-class session musicians playing three notes then disappearing. Some of my favourite stuff he did. The powder lasts an hour but the regret lingers eternal.

 

Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby

 

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans

 

The personal connections are all but overwhelming here. I band these two together as Lynch used Lou on a soundtrack and Lana IS Dorothy Vallens and Frank Booth and Sandy and Jeffrey. She’s not just the mystery woman in trouble but the architect of your demise. Lou, he’s the man behind the curtain. Whispering these tracheotomy hymns through a straw, through a hole in your wall into your sleeping mind.

I’d put these back to back to dehydrate myself: Lou’s choked murmur of “I could give the whole thing up for you” will never not crumple me. Send this one out to Lou and Rachel, the romantic ideal of my nightmares.

 

Lydia Lunch – I Fell In Love With A Ghost

 

should’ve learned the lesson from Pet Sematary and Vertigo. I’d done all I could but she came back wrong. 

She didn’t reply to anything I said, other than as a series of strangled groans. I heard “yes” where I wanted to hear yes. The first time I caught her crawling spider like along my ceiling, mournfully unaware how she got there should’ve been the tip off. Or the way there was nothing behind her eyes. But even though she’d died and she was now just a beautiful empty vessel, she looked the same. I imagined her side of our conversation the way I did when she was still dead. 

Then she was in the bath. This was progress. She was able to wash herself. I supervised, to keep her safe and because I wanted to. She kept turning the hot tap. The bath water was boiling, smoke was rising and she was crying out pathetically. Water spilling over the edge of the bath. The screams got louder. I tried to turn the hot tap off and she lunged forward and head butted me with a force that sent me unconscious SPRAWLED. 

I came around in a pool of bloody water in time to watch the love of my life disappear down the plughole.

 

Cocteau Twins – Musette and Drums

 

Dylan and Patrick meet in a side street. The snow is still falling lightly, flakes landing on their black leather jackets. They embrace knowing this is truly the last time. The sound of traffic is all but overwhelming but there is not a car to be seen. 

They kiss and blood oozes from Dylan’s lips. He turns, walks away and disappears entirely into thin air. He is dragged out of the sea by trawlers, his arms tied behind his back and his eyes pierced by emeralds: “natural causes”.

Smoke enshrouds us as we reach the clearing. I take your hand and we kiss. The world is ending, the tiny grey pinpricks in the sky are opening up. Remember when I first told you I saw them? Be quiet, the ice is melting. 

 

Xiu Xiu – Botanica de Los Angeles

 

Gersten Hayward is turning tricks now and I want her for her mind as much as her body. That’s okay. I’m turning tricks as well. You get a discount for hiring us as a couple. If you look like a young David Lynch then I don’t charge. 

Her love is free to me and as for the whoring it keeps us in whiskey and hash browns. We watch Mulholland Drive together. She freezes, but not at the scene in the diner. Something suddenly clicks in her. 

“Dan?”

“Yes darling?”

“I’ve got the incredible feeling that I’m not real”

“Gersten I’ve been dreading this conversation. It is true that you are fictional. I am unsure if I am also fictional.”

“How did my mother birth a fiction?”

I show her the clip from The Return where she is cradling her ODing boyfriend and gently tell her that because he was never born he can never die. This is why I am largely anti natalist. Then a client comes by.

 

SSQ – Anonymous

 

The party is over and we watch the nightlife crop itself shorter still through a haze of smoke. A mute TV shows static, like pictures in the fire I just about make out the image of a screaming man watching an emaciated woman disappearing down a plughole. He is entirely naked and smearing his genitals with lipstick. 

Thankfully you / she steps in my way. A cigarette dangles from your drunken lips. You don’t even smoke. You in that black velvet dress. You turn around and bid me to unzip it, smiling at me. 

Then I wake up in their living room. Where I first heard this record. I thought it was a synth pop revivalist record. Something like the Chromatics where it’s so fetishistically close to that mid 80s sound you think it could only have been made in the last ten years. No. It’s actually from the mid 80s and prefaces her hi NRG records.

The girl is real but she wants nothing to do with me. She probably doesn’t even own a black velvet dress. Gersten hasn’t been returning my calls. Maybe I should try ringing her number.

 

Scott Walker – Jesse

 

It’s a shame Lynch and Walker never worked together as this always makes me think of Episode 8. The slow motion Jailhouse Rock chords make me imagine the earth opening itself up to weep. The Penderecki strings that have ran through Scott’s work since as early as Plastic Palace People or It’s Raining Today.

The 50s he dreams of never happened. They are an autistic reflection in a fish bowl. Elvis was weirder than anything you could ever dream up. We don’t deserve rock’n’roll.

I dreamt you were crawling through a tunnel looking for me. My stuck needle entreaties and iconoclast drag. I watch her crawl across the ceiling. I, your supplanter. 

Now I’m day drunk on daydreams on a train and an Indian man is shaking me. “We’ve terminated mate. The train is over”. My psychic next of kin I’d know you in my sleep. I, Supplanter.


FILM REVIEW
WORDS: AYFER SIMMS




Murder On The Orient Express  dir. Kenneth Branagh

You are not on this train for the suspense of finding who killed Ratchett, because you already know it since 1934. In fact when you enter the cinema hall, you already have a clear knowledge of who the main characters all are. There’s going to be a man stabbed twelve times, around the upper chest: to death. Looming over the dead body will be a cast so well chosen that you will not have to think about it at all, they’ll blend like butter on bread and leave you alone to face why you really came to see the movie: to travel on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot onboard, for some glamorous adventures and a sense of folly tinted with Bourbon, champagne and a piquant smell of spices discreetly sprinkled on every passengers’ suitcases.

After David Suchet’s interpretation of Poirot, many of us were shivering at the idea of seeing another interpretation of the “best detective in the world”, figuring it would be hard to render a better version. Yet, Kenneth Branagh has raised the bar, his Poirot is not only mind sweepingly fascinating but also fierce.

He is portrayed a little less risible, a little more human with the profile of a man prone to melancholia and carrying his talent and distastes for “umbalance” like a curse. The emphasis on Poirot’s blue eyes and ash long undulated moustache will guide you through this cinematic bliss: this may be the closest you get to travelling on the Orient Express from Istanbul of which we get a glimpse.

Christie’s heart and soul is here, between the Baghdad and the Nile and the old ‘stamboul, lingering like a breeze, dashing our minds, pulling all our old imagery out with just a few scenes. You will shed a tear or two at the dramatic composure with which Poirot handles the case, fighting his own very soul, until he adds balance to the complexity of the human mind, before setting off again to yet another case…




 

VIDEO/FILM
Words: Dominic Valvona




We are very pleased indeed that the most brilliant artist, and self-confessed Monolith Cocktail follower, Yuliya Tsukermana has contacted us to unveil her stunning new handmade marionette music video for the Austin-based band Man, Woman, Friend, Computer. Currently an artist-in-residence at Mana Contemporary, Yuliya’s latest fifteen-minute “labour of love” film, took four months to create.

Though set to the opening and finale tracks of Man, Woman, Friend, Computer’s self-titled debut album, with a newly-composed interlude between the tracks that connects the songs together, this dreamy often lilting and diaphanous (almost at times like a yearning shoegaze gospel in the manner of Spiritualized) cosmic suite is played out to a timeless diorama performance of atavistic quality craftsmanship.

Yuliya: “Entitled Exordium/Outgrown the film tells the story of a spaceman who comes to terms with isolation and loss as he cares for an injured alien creature. It combines centuries-old Czech marionette techniques with modern materials and found objects, creating an analog reimagining of the space age that points to the the loneliness of the digital world, and to the new distances we create as we try to conquer the old.”


We now share this cosmological peregrination with you. Enjoy.


Man, Woman, Friend, Computer – Exordium/Outgrown from Yuliya Tsukerman on Vimeo.

 






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