Archive of ‘music’ category

Currently {4.13.16}

car

This has been a strange month.

A few weekends ago, on a trip up to North Florida on a rainy Saturday morning, we ended up on the side of the highway, sinking into a ditch.  A massive white pickup truck (I have dreamed about this truck multiple times since then, and I always see it when I close my eyes now) began to merge into our middle lane without looking or realizing we were there. In avoiding a collision with him, we shifted back to an empty lane on the right, but began to hydroplane on the wet roads. At that point, I closed my eyes and began to brace myself for impact.  I don’t know exactly what happened after that, but we were basically all over the road–facing oncoming traffic at one point–and seconds later we ran into a small copse of trees and a swampy ditch in the median between the north and southbound traffic.

I remember looking at the branches scraping at the windshield, noticing our miraculously unspilled coffees and thinking How are we even still alive?

In some parallel universe where my partner keeps a less cool head, this situation could have ended quite differently. The alternate reality us may have ceased to exist that day.
I  don’t care to dwell on that overmuch.

Giles

Giles by Goblinfruit Studio

Kraiza

Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza

My art gallery is ever expanding.  I could lie and tell you that I purchased these things as balm for my fractured soul after the above-mentioned incident, but the truth is that I ordered these things before that. I have long admired Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio’s works–her curious creatures and aberrant animals have been delighting me for years!  I decided it was the right time to provide a home for one of them, and so in the top photo we have Giles in his jaunty blue waistcoat keeping company with other various treasures

In the second photo is Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza. I consider myself a person of hushed passions, silent desires, but I’ll admit, gazing upon these wildly ecstatic women whips me into a bit of a maelstrom. I am so thrilled to have these witches dancing on my walls! Well, eventually. We all know how long it will take for this to happen.

black catcoven vampirella

It’s summer wardrobe time!  And summer wardrobes, as we all know, consist of interesting, dark-themed tee shirts. Right?  Well, that’s what mine consist of, anyhow. Much….like the rest of the year, I guess. Hm.

Black Sunday shirt $19 // Cat Coven Feminism shirt $25 // Vampirella shirt $23

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Reading:

The very excellent Sabbat Magazine’s Maiden Issue, which is full of magics from some of my favorite artists, writers and visionaries. A++ 5 stars would be ensorcelled again.

X’s For Eyes by Laird Barron. This took a chapter or two to catch my attention, but I’m glad that I stuck with it, because X’s For Eyes is a lot of fun.  I am about two-thirds of the way through (it’s only about 100 pages or so) and it’s like…a pulp-cosmic-noir adventure with Hank and Dean Venture except less incompetent and more demented.

Giant Days Vol 2. I’ll just come out and say that I will always support anything John Allison has a hand in. His webcomic Bad Machinery (formerly Scary Go Round and Bobbins) is the only webcomic I still read…and it’s the one that I actually started reading many years ago that got me into webcomics in the first place.  I even got to interview him once! That was a total dream come true. And once he mentioned my polyvore stuff on his blog, or in the comments of his blog, as inspiration for some of his character’s fashions! Which…that makes me sound totally stalkery, so we’ll move on. Anyway, Giant Days is also a lot of fun, following Esther, Susan, and Daisy through weird, slice-of-life college life adventures.

The Beauty: I haven’t actually started this one yet, but doesn’t this sound intriguing? “Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away.”

Listening to Mamiffer’s The World Unseen. I’ve loved this experimental duo since discovering them quite by accident back in 2010 or so. This new effort flickers with loss and light and is described as an “exploration of subconscious and psychic bonds between the past and present” and an “eight-song aural lexicon that vacillates between Arvo Pärt’s delicate minimalist beauty, Thomas Köner’s narcotic pulses of noise, and Richard Pinhas’ sublime textural patterns.”

Watching: The Fly and Angel Heart.  Can you believe I had never seen either one of those movies?  I enjoyed them both immensely.  That was obviously the role Jeff Goldblum was born to play and it was nice to see Mickey Rourke looking like a dream boat before his face became the unfortunate plate of wet cat food that it is now.  (Sorry, Mickey Rourke).

Doing: Saw a live taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, attended a They Might Be Giant’s show, gardening, and knitting all of the things that gave me trouble last year.

What about you all?  What have you been up to lately? Seen anything fun? Reading anything interesting?  Had any near-death experiences?  Fill me in!

little world

little world from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

A new mix for tender dreams and small, gentle things.
{Image: Ebru Sidar}

Track list: Blue Crystal Fire, Arborea | Bugbear, Wickerbird | New Ways, Daughter | Ferring Rife, Wyrdstone | House Of Skin And Bones, Dana Hubanks | Old Growth, The Feral Trees | Love Song to the Stars, Emma Berkey | Wings Of The Dawn, Sierra Hull | All The Colors Of The Dark, Marissa Nadler

Currently {3.01.16}

writing

Doing: For Hexmas, I was gifted with several books for writers–writing prompts, inspiration, that sort of thing.  I really only do a certain kind of writing, which is to say I blog. Mostly about personal things and the things that interest me.  I do this both for myself, and for whatever outlets want to feature some of my scribblings.  I don’t know that I ever want to do more than that, but it occurred to me that I am awfully one-note and it wouldn’t hurt to flex my writing muscles and challenge my creativity more, even if I am the only one who ever sees whatever these exercises produce or inspire.  For example, I am definitely not a writer of fictions!  But it might be fun to try.  We’ll see.   Pictured is A Year of Creative Writing Prompts, but I’ll also be delving into Ghost Stories and How to Write Them, and What It Is, by Lynda Barry (which was recommended to me by so many brilliant people, so I have high hopes!)

book stack

Reading: Speaking of books! My current bookstack:

The Darker Sex: Tales of the Supernatural and Macabre by Victorian Women Writers
You Have Never Been Here:  Stories by Mary Rickerts (“lush & alchemical”, say reviewers!)
The Book of Nightmares, poetry by Galway Kinnell
Ghostly A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger

LUNA

Face stuff! People, I am going to be 40 in a few months.  Am I freaked out about it? Not especially.  I still feel like a dorky 14 year old in my heart and bones and soul, and I suspect I’ll feel that way on my deathbed…so 40, 50, 80, whatever. Just numbers.

I am, however, trying to treat this year as a very special marker on my timeline, though;  everyone thinks of 40 as a “milestone” type of birthday, and I’m part of this world, so I am not immune to that type of thinking. I am tackling all of the projects that might have intimidated me (i.e. The Occult Activity Book–which sold out in three weeks time! Holy crap!) I am trying to tie up loose ends on things that have been hanging around too long, and I am definitely trying to take better care of this meat suit I’ve been shackled with during my tenure on Earth.

As part of that, I’m getting fancy with my face! Two of my favorite products right now are:

Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil, which is a retinoid complex for calming and repairing damaged skin with blue tansy and chamomile and IS BLUE (I feel like a warrior goddess when I dab it on at night) and I wake up with the most amazing, velvety feeling skin. It’s definitely pricey, but it will last a good long while it looks good on my shelf! Ha, like anyone is looking at my shelves, I know.

Le Baume Lip and Dry Skin Balm; I recently ran out of my beloved Nivea lip balm, the kind that comes in the little tin, and which smells like vanilla.  I have been trying to replace it, and in doing so have found a lot of lip balms that I hate. Le Baume is the first one I have come across that I am thrilled with.  I have a list of no-nos for lip balms but at the very top is no mint, nothing mentholated.  Mint one of the grossest smelling/feeling/tasting things ever, like you just smeared toothpaste on your lips (I feel that way about mint-flavored foods, too. Mint is for toothpaste and that’s it.  End of story.) Anyway, non-minty lip products are tough to find!  I also like a product with a nice ratio of waxiness to slippiness. Le Baume fits the bill perfectly. It’s got a sort of…herbal(?) smell, which must be due to the high concentrations of Marula, Perilla and Calendula.  Anyway, I just love it.  I may have found a holy grail.  Plus the packaging is adorable.

Listening: I’m pretty predictable.  If it’s mopey or kind of haunted sounding, that’s most likely what I am listening to.  Ever since BBHMM though, I have been keenly interested in what Rhianna’s been up to, and I was surprised by how much I am enjoying Anti right now. I’ve read that this was an album that’s been in the works for a number of years and that everyone was expecting some sort of opus, and that’s not what they got with Anti…which doesn’t really mean much to me since I’ve never really listened to Rhianna.  Anyhow, I am not a great reviewer of things, but this seems to me a fairly self-reflective bunch of songs. I also hear that she had a lot of control here and made exactly the sort of album she wanted to make, and you can somehow hear that here.  There’s not very much in the way of radio-friendly type of stuff. It’s the sort of thing I’d want to turn off all of the lights and lay on the floor and listen to in the dark.  That’s my idea of a good time.

The Dark Mysteries of Professor Jack

Jack Shear, artist's rendering

Jack Shear, artist’s rendering (Artist: Tenebrous Kate)

Ha!  I used a Gothic novel generator for the title of this interview, it’s pretty cheesy, but I kind of love it anyway.  As opposed to another one I picked out: The Bitter Vengeance of Professor Jack…which is maybe potentially slanderous?

Or …is it?

Read further and determine for yourselves my dear innocents, and learn more of this mysterious gentleman and his dark obsessions.  His fascinations align closely with many of my own, and, I suspect yours; I invite you to partake in the insights and secrets that he has been gracious enough to divulge today, and I pray that we do not live to regret this beautiful, terrible knowledge.

Jack and I began our correspondence in the winter of 2010.  It could have been any time during that year, but for dramatic purposes we will say that it was in bleak midwinter, the landscape treacherous, hardened by a killing frost;  a moonless night, an unexpected, brittle rap at the frozen windowpane…

(Except in this case, it was an unexpected email from an intriguing stranger who wanted to chat about a mutual love of music! It was actually a pleasant thing—and a welcome diversion,  and the beginning of a lovely friendship.)

Jack actually teaches Gothic and Decadence literature–that part was not just mentioned for drama and intrigue–and is also a published author of several RPG related materials. I had so many questions for him, and I am certain that the answers are of keen interest to the folks who read my ramblings here; if you have a love for Gothic tropes, for horror fantasy games, for dark music, film, and literature, you are certain to enjoy the following transcript.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and Jack–thank you for indulging me. You are a gem, and I am pleased to know you!

Jack Shear

Mlle Ghoul: Your answer to what is best in life differs slightly from that of our favorite barbarian: “What is best in life? To drink poisonous liqueurs, hallucinate fabulously about dancing girls, and engage in triumphant saber duels with your enemies!” I’d love to know what you get up to in your spare time and how closely it mirrors the duels and dancing girls that I like to envision.
Prof. Jack: Credit where credit is due: that bit of “biography” was written for me by my longtime friend and frequent collaborator Tenebrous Kate. She knows me far too well; I think she really captured the main points of my personality and predilections there. To be honest, I used to get out a lot more in my younger years, but these days I prefer a quieter kind of decadence: a nice intoxicating beverage, a beautiful bit of prose or cinema to get lost in, and a night in with my charming companion is my current preference.

As for saber duels, it’s probably fair warning to anyone who makes an enemy of me to note that I always triumph in the end.

I am intensely curious (read: nosy as hell. I am very nosy) about young Jack! Can you pinpoint a time in your childhood wherein you developed a fascination for the Gothic novel or gothic tropes/conventions? Can you talk about how it led to your current career path and the other writings that you do?
I actually remember my first exposure to the Gothic: my aunt bought me a couple issues of the comic book The House of Mystery, and by some stroke of fortune those issues featured J. M. DeMatteis’s ongoing “I…Vampire” story. “I…Vampire had Gothic conventions written into the plot an characterization as flavor, and the covers of those issues were rich in the Gothic aesthetic; it was all candelabras and crumbling castles. I could not get enough of it.

As for how that early exposure to the Gothic shaped by current career path and the kind of creative work I do, I can tell you that when I find pleasure in an aesthetic I get absolutely fixated on it. I don’t just want to indulge in it, I want to overindulge in it! I moved on from those early Gothic comics to checking out Poe, Stoker, and Shelley from the library; from there I delved into the lesser known Gothics. I never burnt out this fascination I have for the genre. If anything, over the years it has only intensified.

When I started taking academia seriously, I knew I wanted to share my passion for the literature with young, impressionable minds who maybe hadn’t dove into those dark waters yet. And so here I am, teaching an introductory course on Gothic fiction, as well as similar classes on the literary impact of the Jack the Ripper murders, the recent (and archly Gothic) television series Penny Dreadful, and Decadent literature.

Gothic shelfie

Gothic shelfie

Can you speak to your favorite elements of a good gothic tale? And for those reading who have been hesitant to jump in to this particular genre, can you recommend a reading list of few decent “starter” gothic tales? (Perhaps a few advanced for those whom this is old hat?) Are there any so awful, so atrocious that you would caution against reading them? Feel free to include those as well!
My favorite elements of any Gothic tale are the moments of absurdity. Horror tales are a dime a dozen, but what sets the Gothic apart is its propensity to get really weird, to skirt the line between sublime terror and overwrought, and potentially laughable, excesses.

If someone were new to the Gothic, I’d recommend Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Everyone thinks the story will be familiar, but Shelley’s novel has depths that are often missing from our “pop-culture” version of the Frankenstein story. Following that, I’d point people to a few Poe short stories (“The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat,” especially) or Oscar Wilde’s peerless The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I’m always pushing people who are already familiar with the main Gothic texts to read Charles Brockden Brown’s novel Wieland. It is amazing and like nothing else written. All I’m going to say is this: the plot revolves around religious mania and ventriloquism. You want to read that, right? James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is another Gothic novel that too many people sleep on.

As for Gothic texts I’d warn people away from, there is a reason that the more obscure Gothic novels remain obscure. For example, Valancourt Press does tremendous work bring forgotten Gothic novels back into print, but I generally wouldn’t recommend them except to other fanatics who share my tastes. There are good books in their catalog, but a lot of them are fairly derivative. [Editor’s note: Valancourt Press brings many more recent horror titles back into print as well, and is definitely worth checking out if you have a love of Gothic or Horror. I have an entire shelf dedicated to beautiful Valancourt editions.]

The Martyr’s Kiss from misterguignol on 8tracks Radio.

We first connected, I believe, through a mutual love of music over at 8tracks, wherein you note that you like music made by artists who “live in their own weird little worlds” and list preferred genres including “spectral folk, murderous americana, doom balladry, dustbowl country, fin de siecle cabaret…”. I’d love to pick your brain regarding your current favorites in this vein! I am also intensely curious as to your musical journey (as a listener and an appreciator) and how you came to listen to this type of music?
It’s funny, I think I went from not being interested in music to being utterly obsessive about it in my early teenage years. Part of it was that I discovered that there were alternatives to what I had been hearing on the radio. Finding bands like Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure, and Bauhaus was a revelation—a revelation that turned me into the kind of questing fool who went looking for obscure records made by maniacs and who spent far too much time in dank goth clubs, but it was a revelation none the less.

As for current favorites, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Batushka’s Litourgiya, a startling debut that mixes black metal with Eastern Orthodox spiritual music. My girlfriend gave me a copy of an Anna & Elizabeth album that is really nice Appalachian folk. The new Hexvessel is captivating. Aside from newer stuff, I’ve also been revisiting Aghast’s Hexerei Im Zwielicht Der Finsternis, a dark ambient record that is about as soothing as the sounds of a witches’ sabbath.

The Hallow, poster design by ArtMachine

The Hallow, poster design by ArtMachine

We often correspond back and forth with film recommendations and such. Is there anything you’ve watched recently that you would suggest to like-minded folks? And what was it about them that appealed to you?
I love horror films, but I’m also extraordinarily hard to please when it comes to movies. According to a lot of people I quite like, It Follows is a modern classic of the form, but I have to admit that I thought it was amazingly mediocre and frequently silly. It feels like I have to watch a pile of movies before I finally strike on something that feels worthwhile. The last movie I really enjoyed without much reservation was The Hallow. I liked the way that The Hallow reworked the themes and imagery we usually associate with “folk horror.” It felt like a fresh take on that niche. The performances were strong, and I admired the creature design.

"Wraith", Jack Shear

“Wraith”, Jack Shear

Your Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque blog is a wonderful resource for fans of horror fantasy gaming and has been praised by bloggers as an “output of depraved creativity” and for your valuable insight. Can you talk to the circumstances under which the blog was originally created and it’s purpose/intended direction? What are some of your favorite topics to blog about over there?
I think most blogs are conceived out of boredom, and mine was no different. I had started reading a few gaming blogs and thought that it might be a nice gesture to put my Gothic-inflected game material out there in case anyone could find a use for it in their own games. It grew from there, but I can’t say it has ever had an intended purpose or direction.

If I had to nail down a motive, it would probably be that I wanted to show people that even an idiot like me could put their stuff out there with a minimum of fuss, that doing-it-yourself was actually viable, but mostly I just post things that interest me.

It’s odd; a lot of people who blog do so because they crave community: they want to be part of a conversation, they want to grow an audience and have fans, they want to find like-minded folks, they want to network, etc. Blogging can be a great venue for that, but I’m so antisocial that it’s never really factored into what I do. I put my stuff out there and if people like it—great!—but if not I’m just going to keep doing what pleases me. It is nice, though, when people go out of their way to tell me that they liked something I wrote.

"Midnight in Krevborna", Jack Shear

“Midnight in Krevborna”, Jack Shear

You have published a number of original titles under the umbrella of Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Publications. Your first offering, I believe, was Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque itself, “a Gothic Fantasy Supplement for old-school fantasy role-playing games”, and which has expanded to include additional world building manuals, as well. I don’t want to presume that you love your Gothic baby best – what can you tell us about your other titles? Which is your personal favorite to play (or DM is your bag, I guess)? Have you had great successes with these offerings? Which seems to be other folks’ preferred fantasy setting?
My favorite is always the thing I’m playing or running right now—which, in this case, is Krevborna, a Bloodborne-inspired Gothic setting I wrote to get a sandbox game going using 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. I am absurdly proud that I did all the art in the pdf myself. I also really like the setting in Jonathan Harper’s Blades in the Dark game; I had a blast exploring the setting in a campaign ran by Andrew Shields and I’m really looking forward for that game to pick up where we left off.

As for other settings, I’ve done things inspired by post-apocalypse trash culture like Planet Motherfucker and my Gothic-in-Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace setting Colonial Ethersea. There’s a lot of unpublished setting work kicking around as well; someday I should do something with the Edward Gorey-esque Slithdale Hollow. Overall, I’ve had far more success with my publications than I would have ever suspected—I thought I would only sell a few copies to close friends, but I sell a small pile of them every month. I have a strange aversion to profiting off my hobby, though; the money I make on my game books gets donated to worthy causes. This is the saddest mark of my success: I’ve actually caught people ripping off my material and claiming it as their own. That’s when you know you’ve arrived.

I think the vast majority of gamers prefer a more standard fantasy approach when it comes to settings for their games. There’s a reason why Wizards of the Coast has really been pushing the Forgotten Realms (a very “vanilla,” semi-Tolkien-esque fantasy setting) as the backdrop for the new edition of D&D: it’s got the recognizable fantasy tropes and is appealingly neutral in tone and flavor. Frankly, it’s an easy setting to understand and fit fantasy ideas into. In contrast, the DIY D&D scene seems to go through cycles. “Gonzo” settings were all the rage for a while, but right now “Weird” crapsack settings (settings where everyone is miserable and everything is grimdark and soggy) seem to be on trend—which is funny because if everything is “weird,” nothing is actually weird. Also, I think those settings are more talked about than played when it gets down to it.

You are also a contributing editor over at Heretical Sexts, a micro-publisher of niche, print material focused on the dark and the bizarre. I hear tell that there is a fantastic Gothic ‘zine currently in the works, which, I imagine, you must have a heavy hand in. What can you tell is about it, what can we expect?
I’m not sure if I have an exact job title at Heretical Sexts, but I think we’ve joked around that my job is “Enabler” or something along those lines. Heretical Sexts is really Tenebrous Kate’s baby, but I’ve always made myself available to workshop ideas, give editorial assistance, and provide writing for some of the collaborative Heretical Sexts ‘zines. It has been wonderful watching Kate’s project grow; I adore seeing my friends develop their artistry and put their lovable weirdness out there into the world. I suppose that is what makes me an enabler.

I believe that the forthcoming Gothic ‘zine, Morbid Fantasies, is the first Heretical Sexts publication that has been wholly written by someone other than Kate. I’m beyond flattered that she offered to put out a lovingly-crafted book of my thoughts on Gothic literature.

Morbid Fantasies is a response to a problem I have with the way that Gothic literature is usually presented. At its inception, the Gothic was a popular genre—it was fiction meant to be read and enjoyed by anyone with an inclination to dark or mysterious content. But somewhere along the way the Gothic became a genre sequestered by scholarly study—talk about Gothic literature was relegated to obscure academic journals instead of it being a literary form for devoted readers. Morbid Fantasies aims to change that. It’s a book that wants to help you learn to love Gothic literature. It gives a brief history of this amazing aesthetic mode, suggestions for what books you should read and what you should be looking for as you read them, and an exploration of the conventions, tropes, and imagery most often found in the literature. It’s a reader’s guide to the Gothic, and I can promise you that it will help you on your way if you are totally new to the Gothic or deepen your love of dark, passionate fiction if you’re already exploring Gothic texts.

Are there any other upcoming projects you can share with us?
Well, I do have a bit of eldritch fun in the Occult Activity Book [Editor’s Note: This is sold out for the time being] that you and Becky Munich just put out! Other than that, I’ve been writing a thing (I’m not sure if it is a book or what yet) about horror and philosophy—something inspired by E. M. Cioran, the Graveyard Poets, and doom metal, mostly. It’s the kind of thing I might finish and then never show anyone.

Miss Vanessa Ives, as illustrated by Caitlin McCarthy

Miss Vanessa Ives, as illustrated by Caitlin McCarthy

Finally–Eva Green: Discuss.
We all need a muse, don’t we? Joking aside, Vanessa Ives is easily my favorite character on television at the moment, and I genuinely feel indebted to Eva Green for making that character possible! Season Three of Penny Dreadful can’t arrive soon enough for me.

This, that, and the other thing (xx)

map-1A Logarithmic Map of the Entire Known Universe created by musician Pablo Carlos Budassi

 

tumblr_inline_nwu56e1CLl1qf7w4f_500Chapter two of Katie Skelly’s My Pretty Vampire is up!

 

best-of-2015Headphone Commutes Best of 2015 lists are becoming available, one at a time.  For those who love: ambient, modern classical, field recording, experimental type sounds.

 

Pimped-PeepPunk Rock Squirrels and Peep-a-lopes: The Rogue Taxidermy Art of Sarina Brewer

 

ec-steiner-1024x461Emperor of Nightmares: The art of EC Steiner

 

isadoraduncan-SCREEN-e1450281835184Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Isadora Duncan, The Ritual of Dance and Freedom

 




The Most Risqué Moments in Silent Cinema
68 fantastic names gathered while watching BBC credits
The bloodiest Shakespeare play: all 74 of the Bard’s on-stage deaths in one show
Essay on Claude Cahun from The Dead Ladies Project
A library’s quest to save the history of fandom
Hot Toddy Recipes to Scald the Mouths of Your Enemies
2016 Books SF/F Editors Want You to Read
Katamari Damacy for your iphone or android! 
PJ Harvey shares new album teaser
Support the dark and strange content you love over at Dirge Magazine’s Patreon page – and have a chance to win some really cool stuff! (Including goods from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, a favorite over here.)

…and yet – something remains…

…and yet – something remains… from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

A new mix; some personal favorites from 2015. I meant to get this done yesterday. Ah, well…procrastinating right into the new year. Nothing’s changed.

Track list: Adolescence, Brown Bird | Witches, Vaginapocalypse | Buried Alive, Hannah Rosa | Darkening Bell, Emily Portman | Cardamom, Weyes Blood | Enchanter’s Nightshade, Eternal Tapestry | Cruel Henry, The Hare And The Moon | All The Land Ablaze, Laura Cannell | Hellebore, Julia Kent | Mirage, Drift | STILLBIRTH, Alice Glass | STONEFIST, HEALTH | Grey Days, Chelsea Wolfe | Black Butterfly, King Dude | From The Pinnacle To The Pit, Ghost B.C. | Den Lille Piges Død, Myrkur | Open Road, Christian Mistress | The Alchemist, Karyn Crisis | Come Wander with Me / Deliverance, Anna von Hausswolff | What Kind Of Man by Florence + The Machine | Album: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful | High By The Beach, Lana Del Rey | Prologue, Richard Moult | Apogee, Johanna Warren | Oracle, Paper Dollhouse | Tristesse Télescopique, Oskar Schuster

15+ things I liked in 2015

Here’s a hodge-podge list of things I either stumbled across or that were recommended to me, in no particular order, that I ended up being pretty thrilled with in 2015.
Previously: 14 things I loved in 2014

BEAUTYIope

The Iope Air Cushion is one of the items I discovered during my Korean beauty product phase earlier in the year that I am still excited about and that I will probably be replacing once it runs out.  It is a “unique formula-soaked sponge that has all the benefits of a BB cream (anti-aging, moisturizing, skin-evening coverage and SPF protection). It comes with an equally innovative non-absorbing puff that wicks the formula off of the sponge and effortlessly applies evenly onto your face, for that dewy no-makeup, makeup look.” What I like most about it is that quick, fast and easy. My time is valuable and when I want to throw a face on in a hurry, this is the best thing in my arsenal.  It’s got a light, lovely fragrance, it feels cooling when you apply it, it’s very hydrating, and it works quite well with my sometimes sensitive and irritable skin. Love, love, love.

 

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LVNEA’s Wild in the Woods is a mossy, loamy scent fragrant with sweetly decaying forest vegetation.  It reminds me of walking around a local pond; there is one spot where the water line meets the exposed tree roots that smells exactly like this subtle, unique perfume.

 

yule

I ordered several of the Icelandic Yule Lad scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s recent Yule update, but it was Ketkrókur who stole my heart. Ketkrókur (Meat Hook) comes down from the mountains on December 23, Saint Thorlak’s Day, to steal your hangikjöt with his hook hand. Rude! The notes for BPAL’s version of this dinner thief consist of “labdanum, patchouli, dragon’s blood resin, and clove” and is spicy and warm, slightly powdery from the dragon’s blood and with a tinge of sweetness from the labdanum. It’s an aggressive scent out of the bottle, but one that quickly settles down and behaves in the most lovely way. It smells nothing like smoked lamb, or metal hooks, or stinky trolls, thankfully.

 

BOOKS

booksI am not a phenomenal reviewer of media (or even a very good one, or a decent one) so I am just going to provide you with a list of books an incomplete sentence or two about each. Please note, not all of these titles were published this year, these were merely books I read this year, and thoroughly enjoyed.

The Doll Collection – Short stories exploring the darkness of the creepy doll trope, but avoiding the clichés. Not a dud in the bunch.
Megahex – Graphic novel about a depressed stoner witch, her cat, and their “friends”. These people are deadbeats and scumbags and basically terrible.
The Vorrh -A genre defying, mythic read, following several storylines (some more engaging than others). The language is dense and deliberate; I wanted to read and re-read and savor every sentence because each one was so perfectly crafted.
A Pretty Mouth -Not quite what I expected and so I’m not going to spoil any surprises. A novella of sorts, following the exploits of one family through the years, though not exactly by a direct path. Witty and decadent and sinister. Recommended to me by a fellow whose tastes I trust implicitly.
Revenants – Recommendaton #2 from the above mentioned gentleman. A highly atmospheric, eerie tale set in a small colonial New England village. Three young woman disappear. Inexplicable incidents follow. Secrets are revealed. Grim reckoning looms.
Harvest Home -Published in the late 60s, details a family’s move from the city to a simple country life ruled by the land, and the discoveries that ensue. A slow burn but worth the effort, and the magic and mystery of the small town life is something that lingered with me, despite…well, if you’ve not yet read it, I will stop there.
The Taxonomy of the Space Between Us – I read several books of poetry this year – stunning collections, all – but this is the one that resonated with me on a very visceral, very emotional level. Devastating and unrelenting, it is a haunting chronicle of grief and and ineffable sibling bonds that remain even after death.
The Wicked + The Divine – The story of reincarnated gods as pop stars; slick, beautiful art and a high concept story line, this wasn’t always easy for me to follow, but it was fun to get lost in.

 

FILM

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I did not watch many movies this year, and I’m afraid the ones I did watch didn’t leave much of an impression on me.  The Duke of Burgundy, however, was absolutely delicious.  I wrote briefly about it back in May, and described it thusly: “Gorgeous lesbian lovers/lepidoptera enthusiasts have minor spat”. I’m really not sure there was much more to  this dreamy film (advertised as “Sex, Bondage, & Butterflies”), but I am fairly certain I could watch it again, and again, and again.

Runners up: Spring and What We Do In The Shadows.

Films I loved, but not as much as I hoped:  Crimson Peak and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

MUSIC

At the very top of my list is Ghost’s Meliora, of course.  If I look at my music library I can clearly observe that this was my most listened-to album this year.  I almost feel like it’s not even fair to list it because it’s so obvious, but there you have it. Below are a handful of other artists whose albums I enjoyed as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary: There’s a lot of books on this list. Films were disappointing. I listened to the same thing over and over. I tried a great deal of cosmetics and beauty products, but only a few were standouts.

…And that’s probably about 15 things, right?  I’ll confess that lost count halfway through.  What have you discovered, re-discovered, or uncovered that was pretty great this year?  Tell me all about it!

Merry Hexmas to you!

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Listen, I’ll level with you here.  There’s no one who can shop for you like you can.

Unless you are providing your friends and loved ones with highly detailed lists which note exactly what something is and where it can be found (which I’ve come to think of as kind of tacky, but your mileage may vary!) it is unlikely you are going to receive that weird/macabre/grotesque/OH DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT item on your list for which you have been longing intensely.

So here’s what you do. Your holiday shopping is, I assume, done and over with, correct? You can breathe a sigh of relief.  Pour a glass of wine…or a shot of whiskey…or whatever your poison is – except – please, for the love of all things holy, not one of those vulgar energy drinks.

It is now time to focus on you and what you want – and no, I am fairly certain it is not that Bath and Body Works gift basket in some gross, fruity scent you’ll never wear or that gaudy hummingbird wind-chime from someone who learned 20 years ago that you liked hummingbirds and never listened when you told them gently that your tastes had changed since you graduated from high school.

(And don’t get me wrong – I love it when people think of me enough to buy me a gift, and I am grateful…I just don’t ever expect someone is going to get me that thing that I really, really, want!)

It is now time to throw a few gifts for yourself under the tree! Consider the following items and please note that they all have the mlleghoul stamp of approval, for they have been purchased solely by and for myself.

Books

amil If you are not already entranced by Segovia Amil’s dark, captivating beauty on instagram, you’ll be bewitched by her words in Ophelia Wears Black, her first published book of poetry. “Ophelia Wears Black is a collection of poetry and prose focusing on the shadow aspects and dark side of the human experience through the eyes of a young girl. Divided into four parts, each mirroring the cycling seasons, we follow Ophelia into her own re-imagined Underworld where she learns to make sense of and find the perfection and necessity of her own inner darkness.”

 

folkI have not been able to put down Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies since receiving it a few weeks ago, it is some of the most compelling, fascinating writing I have ever read on one of my very favorite subject.  Featuring essays and interviews by many great cinematic, musical, artistic and literary talents, Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies is the most comprehensive and engaging exploration to date of the sub genre of Folk Horror and associated fields in cinema, television, music, art, culture and folklore. AND 100% of all profits from sales of the book will be charitably donated to environmental, wildlife and community projects undertaken by The Wildlife Trusts.

 

Music & Art & Baubles

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Lost Voices: Volume 1 – Keening and The Death Wail: Lost Voices explores vocal improvisation in folk culture.  Volume 1: Keening and the Death Wail considers Keening (a traditional improvised vocal lament) practised by women in ancient Ireland and worldwide. Includes a 31 page booklet exploring the history of the art of keening with a cd of audio examples.

Easeful Death labradorite coffin ring from bloodmilk (sorry for my hands, I know those pointy witch claws are en vogue right now, but I can’t knit with those nails and I’d probably put my eye out.)  “Cast immortal in sterling silver, bat wing and leg bones molded from the real thing, are composed into a beautiful setting cradling a labradorite coffin cut jewel.”

Death and the Maiden art print, by artist Tenebrous Kate of Heretical Sexts: “The virginal blush of youth and the icy hand of death, Eros and Thanatos, vanity and decay. Emerging from the imagery found in Medieval depictions of the Dance of Death, the motif of Death and the Maiden is at once macabre and erotic.”

 

Catcoven

Littlest friend bat cloisonné pin from Cat Coven. Perfect for lapels – whether they’re gracing leather jackets or spooky granny cardigans!

 

Hand

A ghostly white resin hand pendant on recycled black leather from artist Alice Rogers of Trances and Portents.

 

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Eau de Mort parody ad art print by the incomparably lovely Becky Munich. This one is a bit of a cheat since it was a gift, but I have several prints from Becky hanging on my walls and there is space for several more -so no doubt many purchases from this talented artist will occur in the future!

 

Fragrant Fripperies

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There’s not a Yule that goes by wherein I am not sorely tempted by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s seasonal winter holiday scents, and how could I resist this years offerings, which included the Icelandic Yule lads (not pictured). The answer is that I could not.

 

House of Orpheus

I also treated myself to a sampler set from The House of Orpheus, which is something I have been meaning to do for a while.  Enodia is lovely beyond compare –
“… ancient goddess of the streets.  She is the Nachtfalter, the moth, the night butterfly. Guided by the moon and associated with Artemis, Hekate and Persephone.  Black Storax would have been in the incense burned in offering to this goddess of the street and so we base this perfume in Black Storax, with notes of Black Agars Wood, Moroccan Myrrh, and Vanilla.   It is exalted by the alchemical oil of silver”.

Also! I’ve loved the candles from Burke and Hare for awhile now, so much so that I tend to burn through their offerings much too quickly.  On a whim, during a recent sale, I picked up Dragon’s Blood: “…fragranced with the precious red resins that create the alluring scent known as Dragon’s Blood. It is a potent and earthy fragrance, infused with cedar wood and patchouli essential oils. The scent combines sweet and spicy notes to form a sophisticated complex blend. “

 

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Lastly some Blackbird incense from CatbirdNYC, in the exclusive fragrances of Violet Hour and Russian Caravan, in addition to a small wooden tealight holder crafted by Peg & Awl for Sisters of the Black Moon.

Have you already been generous to yourself this season?  Well, Merry Hexmas to you! I’d love to get a nosy peek into your loot and see what I might be missing!

 

 

This, that, and the other thing (xix)

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‘Penny Dreadful’ Costume Designer Gabriella Pescucci on Her Dreadfully Delicious Designs [h/t Jack]

 

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Dissecting the Dream of the 1890s: My Skype Date With Those Curious Neo-Victorians [h/t Tanya]

 

janellesuffolk007Live by the sword, die by the sword: haunting new photos and words from Ellen Rogers

 

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Sex, Death, and the Psychedelic Madness of Jean Rollin

 

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Siren undergoing leg reconstruction; Saint Wanderer’s Hospital series from Katie Eleanor

 

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Trash Twins Sarah Horrocks and Katy Skellie talk to us about female vampirism in the films of Jess Franco and Jean Rollin

 …For your ears….

 

 

 

…and a few tidbits to get you into the holiday spirit..

The Yule Scents are live at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab!

Contemporary artists tackle that old baddie, Krampus

Wicked Krampus-inspired fragrances for an authentic smelling Krampusnacht celebration.

The John Waters Guide to Holiday Party Etiquette

NOMI NOËL: GET YOUR HOLIDAY JOLLIES WITH ’SANTA KLAUS NOMI’

Dead Good Gifts, at Death & The Maiden

Gift Guide for Weird Girls at Wolf N Whisky

Goth Gifts for the Darkly Inclined at The Spooky Vegan

And probably my favorite holiday gift list maker of all, Eaumg, has started her series of guides for 2015, starting with A Gift Guide for Niblings & Teens and a Gift Guide for Natural Beauties.

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