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Alan Moore And Coil-Themed Night For Brighton Festival
Ben Graham , April 24th, 2017 15:07

Iain Sinclair, Viv Albertine and more also confirmed for series of Odditorium events. Photo courtesy of Joe Brown

Brighton Festival returns to the city next month with a plethora of events and exhibitions organised under the watch of this year's guest curator Kate Tempest.

As usual, the main festival is accompanied by a lively and eclectic counterpoint in the form of the Brighton Fringe, which arguably better represents the city's own creative spirit and singular local talent. The Fringe Festival's central hub is the Old Steine Gardens, a few yards inland from the Palace Pier, which is transformed for the duration by the erection of two impressive performance spaces, the Spiegeltent and the Bosco Tent, plus more.

An undoubted highlight for those of a more counter-cultural bent will be the six events organised by author, musician and BBC Radio presenter Dr David Bramwell under the banner of The Odditorium, after the long-running podcast and recent acclaimed book of the same name. Alternating between the Spiegeltent and the Bosco Tent, the Odditorium events include talks on the unsung female trailblazers of modern music, a celebration of the work of Coil, Psychic TV and Current 93, and a return to Brighton by Watchmen, V For Vendetta and Jerusalem author Alan Moore, who dazzled at last year's flagship Odditorium event, Adventures On The Edge of Culture.

"The Odditorium is a fortnightly podcast exploring both counterculture past and present, and the passions and obsessions of everyday people," Bramwell explains. "Each episode features a guest speaker recorded at one of our live events and is co-hosted by myself and Dave Mounfield, with episodes ranging from Werewolf Erotica to 'BDSM and the Archers’. For the past few years The Odditorium has toured different UK festivals with themed events including occultism, utopia, death and hauntings, and guests including Stephen Mallinder, Rupert Sheldrake and Alan Moore."

On May 10, Viv Albertine and Sarah Angliss will discuss Pioneering Women in Music. Former Slits guitarist, and author of the acclaimed memoir Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys, Albertine will be talking about the female artists who have inspired her. These include Yoko Ono, Patti Smith and Nina Simone. Musician and roboticist Sarah Angliss meanwhile will chart the life and work of groundbreaking electronic musician, composer and co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Daphne Oram.

The next night, former Blondie bassist turned respected author on the esoteric and occult, Gary Lachman, will talk about the career of Colin Wilson, the prolific and influential writer and thinker best known for his seminal study of literary alienation, The Outsider. Wilson is the subject of Lachman's new biography, Beyond The Robot: The Life And Work of Colin Wilson.

On May 17, Music and Magick: An Esoteric Note celebrates the ritualistic and magical underground music scene of the eighties and early nineties, specifically the work of Coil, Current 93 and Psychic TV / Throbbing Gristle that bridged the gap between post-punk, industrial and the modern primitive movement. Writer Graham Duff’s talk ‘Sublime Fragments: The Art of John Balance’ will look at the Coil founder’s paintings and visual practice, while host Sooxanne Rolfe will examine the life and work of Genesis P Orridge in a collage piece taking in COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and the current Pandrogyny project.

Lisa Jayne, of Brighton experimental band Map 71, will talk about the lyrics of David Tibet and the influence of Current 93 on her own practise, with specific reference to paganism, menstrual blood and alchemy, while tQ contributor, poet and writer Ben Graham will explore the literary and magical influences that informed the movement in an imaginative ritual performance backed by Nick Hudson and Ash Babb of queer gnostic art-rock collective The Academy of Sun. This psycho-geographic multi-media piece will bring together Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, William Burroughs, Derek Jarman and Sussex folklore in an attempt to re-energise Brighton's counter-cultural currents for a new generation of transgressive outsiders.

May 24 sees a confluence of three of our most exciting contemporary writers, as Alan Moore, Iain Sinclair and John Higgs come together to present The Ghosts of Watling Street. Inspired by Higgs’ latest book, they journey through Britain’s hidden history, myth and culture via one of Britain’s oldest roads, Watling Street, running from Dover to Wales via London and Northampton. Along the way they discover a country haunted by John Crow, St Alban, William Blake, James Bond and Rod Hull and Emu. There will also be music from David Bramwell’s 8-piece band, Oddfellows Casino, accompanied by folklorist Chris Hare and the Shoreham Sea Shanty Choir, and a discussion of the 1974 Alan Clarke Play for Today Penda’s Fen, a hauntological classic of Old Weird Albion.

Bramwell returns on 25 May for an evening based around the recent best-selling book The Odditorium: The Tricksters, Eccentrics, Deviants And inventors Whose Obsessions Changed The World, which he co-edited with Jo Keeling. Three of the book's contributors will be speaking about their subjects. John Higgs will look at the career of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, the avant-garde artist and poet who may have been the true creator of Duchamp's Fountain, which changed the whole course of modern art. Emma Kilbey will discuss the work of author Ayn Rand, the controversial darling of the American libertarian right, and Dr Diarmuid Hester will speak on the life of self-styled 'supermasochist' Bob Flanagan, the American performance artist who overcame the effects of cystic fibrosis through hardcore S&M. Dr Bramwell will be analyzing the life and work of radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, whose books were burnt by the US establishment but whose theories around orgone energy nevertheless had a profound impact on countercultural thought and art.

Finally, on May 31, David Bramwell will give a talk based around his memoir The Haunted Moustache, taking in 19th Century sideshow magicians, spiritualism, ayahuasca, Brighton eccentrics, Salvador Dali, shamanism and the meaning of memory, myth and magic. The Haunted Moustache started life as a one-man show for Brighton Fringe in 2009, where it won the Outstanding Theatre award, before being dramatized as a Sony award-winning Radio 3 show in 2011 and being published in book form last year.

Tickets for all events, as well as more details, are available here.

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