• Week #33/52: Bunker Archives #4; Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology and accidental utilitarian art

    Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-2b
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    I relatively recently came across Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology work/book, which collects his photography and writing on the abandoned German bunkers and related installations that lie along the coast of France.

    These could well be filed as a form of brutalist architecture, they share more than a few similarities in terms of the materials used and their aesthetics – although if this is a form modernism it is the one you don’t want to come around for tea, thankyou very much.

    Strangely though, considering their once aggressive/defensive intentions, there seems to be a beauty or even poetry to these structures – some kind of unifying flow or even philosophy behind them.

    Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-1

    (Which I suppose, unfortunately, in a way there was – although I was more referring to a cultural/artistic aspect than their political underpinning. However I suppose such things were more than a little intertwined.)

    Now, I am wary of making light of such things, considering their history but they seem to almost be a form of accidental utilitarian art, something they share with say the likes of similarly appreciated pragmatic constructions such as telegraph poles, pylons, Soviet era bus stops or even library music…

    Although they were created with a very practical intent, looking at them now they seem nearer to monuments or tributes and remind me of the Cold War era Spomenik memorials that Jan Kempenaers photographed.

    With both sets of structures, whatever their original intents, viewing them today they could be artifacts from an almost science fiction-esque future that never was, a form of hauntology possibly.

    Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-3b

    That science fiction-esque quality seems particularly present in some of the structures that have been partly covered by/sunk into the sand – there is something about them that makes me think of sentient or anthropomorphic crashed spaceships, alongside their actuality as bunkers and defensive outposts.

    (The original Planet Of The Apes film comes to mind with its mingling of crashed future/past visitors and part buried monuments to mans’ folly.)

    Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-4b

    As a final point, the photograph I find the most chilling is the one that shows an observation tower which was disguised as a church.

    As mentioned recently around these parts, John Coulthart described The Cold War Bunker as “a source of contemporary horror that doesn’t require any supernatural component to chill the blood.

    In an interconnected, antecedent manner, this particular structure does that and has a sense of belonging to almost folk-horror-like tropes and imagery.

     

    The reissue of the book can be found here and here.

    A few intertwined pathways around these parts:

    Day #229/365: A Bear’s Ghosts…

    Day #279/365: The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society

    Day #282/365: Further appreciations of accidental art; Poles and Pylons

    Week #9/52: Christopher Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops, echoes of reaching for the cosmos, folkloric breakfast adornment and other artfully pragmatic curio collectings, encasings and bindings…

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #33​/​​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Waiting For The Blazing Skies

    The Quietened Bunker-David Colohan-A Year In The Country-1400-2

    Audiological exploration by David Colohan from the album The Quietened Bunker.

    The album is available via our Artifacts Shop, at our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.

    The Quietened Bunker-David Colohan-A Year In The Country-BCTransmission sent, received, transmitted: intertwined cultural considerations and wanderings by John Coulthart at Feuilleton:

    …The Cold War bunker is more than another empty space… a source of contemporary horror that doesn’t require any supernatural component to chill the blood.

     

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  • The Quietened Bunker – Night and Dawn editions released

    The Quietened Bunker-Night and Dawn Editions-release date-A Year In The Country-2Audiological Transmissions Artifact #4
    The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

    Audiological contents created by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.

    Both editions hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by
    A Year In The Country.

    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Released today, 15th August 2016.

     

     

    Night Edition. Limited to 52 copies. £25.00.
    Hand-finished box-set contains: album on 1 x all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet, 4 x badge pack, 4 x sticker pack & landscape format sticker.
    The Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-opened-A Year In The Country

    The Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-inside of booklet-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-all-black-cdr-A-Year-In-The-Country
    Further encasement details:
    1) Booklet/cover art custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
    2) Contained in a matchbox style sliding two-part rigid matt card box with cover print.
    3) Fully black CDr (black on top, black on playable side).
    4) Black string bound booklet: 12 pages (6 sides printed);
    Printed on textured fine art cotton rag paper, heavy card and semi-transparent vellum.
    Hand numbered on the reverse.
    5) 4 x  badge set, contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.
    6) 4 x vinyl style sticker pack, contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.
    7) 1 x vinyl style landscape format sticker.

     

    Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £12.00.
    Hand-finished 1 x white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.
    The Quietened Bunker-Dawn Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe-Quietened-Bunker-Dawn-Edition-opened-A-Year-In-The-Country-1

    The Quietened Bunker-Dawn Edition-back-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-white-and-black-CDr-A-Year-In-The-Country
    Further encasement details:
    1) Custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
    2) Includes 25mm/1″ badge, secured with removable glue on string bound tag.
    3) Back of one insert hand numbered.

     

    Notes and Scribings:
    The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed.

    The Quietened Bunker-Panabrite-A Year In The Country

    They could be seen as once modern fortresses – reinforced concrete and blast doors replacing moats and stone battlements.

    However, these subterranean fortresses would likely also have been places of entombment – somewhere that those who once ran the infrastructure and defence of the nation would watch the days pass as supplies dwindled and the inevitable time came when the air filters would give out, all long before the world would become habitable again.

    Accompanying the main bunkers in the UK were a network of hundreds of small underground monitoring posts which would report on the size of an attack and the resulting fallout. Manned by volunteers, they were to be operational for just three weeks.

    The intention was that these would form part of a network of civil defence and management, accompanied by government issued Protect and Survive leaflets/broadcasts that would have offered advice on how to protect home and hearth via little more than whitewashing windows as blast protection and forming a shelter by leaning mattresses against an inner wall of your house.

    Time Attendant-Crafty Mechanics-The Quietened Bunker-A Year In The Country-with stroke

    Looking back, such preparations can seem a reflection of some kind of madness or delusion in the collective consciousness and the halls of power – a tilting at windmills that was necessary to protect national psyches from the reality and aftermath of the sudden use and descending of mechanisms with almost indescribable destructive power.

    Now it can all seem like a dream from another world, one where for a number of decades populations lived under the day-to-day threat of total annihilation and where millions was spent on this network of shelters and defences; preparations to allow fiddling once all had burned, such bunkers possibly being nearer to utilitarian national follies than fortresses.

    Indeed, today they are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences.

    The Quietened Bunker reflects on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

     

    The Quietened Bunker-Dawn and Night editions-opened-release date-A Year In The CountryFurther Audiological Contents Details:
    1) Lower Level Clock Room – Keith Seatman
    2) Drakelow Tunnels – Grey Frequency
    3) The Filter’s Gone / The Last Man Plays The Last Piano – A Year In The Country
    4) Aggregates II – Panabrite
    5) Bunker 4: Decommissioned – Polypores
    6) Comms: Seen Through The Grey – Listening Center
    7) Crafty Mechanics – Time Attendant
    8) Crush Depth – Unknown Heretic
    9) Waiting For The Blazing Skies – David Colohan

    Artwork / packaging design and fabrication by AYITC Ocular Signals Department

    Audiological Transmission Artifact #4
    Library Reference Numbers: ATA004N / ATA004D

     

    “…a conceptual compilation of excellently eerie electronic music…” Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash

     

    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Released today, 15th August 2016.

     

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  • Week #32/52: Bunker Archives #3: Wargames, Hollywood phantoms and phantasms and the only winning move is not to play

    Wargames-1983 film-A Year In The Country
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Continuing on from a theme of Cold War / apocalypse dread gone pop (see here), I recently sat down and rewatched Wargames, a 1983 mainstream Hollywood film, which alongside a tendency in the early to mid-eighties for pop music that was themed around such things to do well commercially, this film was placed fifth in that years highest grossing films in the US.

    It is a film that I guess was largely aimed at a young adult / teenage audience and it shares some aspects / tropes / archetypes with classic John Hughes teen comedies from around that time but, well, this isn’t so much about being just a geek and an outsider and maybe getting the girl, this is about being a geek and an outsider and getting the girl but to a background of computer hacking and apocalyptic mutually assured destruction superpower conflict.

    Ferris Bueller-John Hughes-War Games-1983-A Year In The Country-2
    (Spot the mildly parent worrying, goof-about doppleganger…)

    Actually, it doesn’t just share some aspects / tropes with those comedies –  it shares a main actor in Matthew Broderick, who was also the loveable goof-about seize-the-day-er Ferris Bueller.

    Both share the same resourceful grown-ups system manipulation skills with computers (one changes his number of absent days on the school computer, the other his grades and almost instigates worldwide destruction and conflict. Comme ci comme ça and more of such things in but a moment).

    Is this a game or is it real?

    Wargames is based around a defence computer which is in charge of launching a US attack playing a, well, wargame after the film’s main character hacks into it when looking for a new range of more harmless computer games and asks to play a game with it. The computer can’t distinguish between games or reality and thinks that to win it must literally carry out an attack.

    One period curio aspect of the film is the seeming omnipotence of the young hacker, his ability to do more or less anything, to break into anywhere; which ties in with a back then media obsession with such things and the hacker as another example of youthful possible folk devil.

    There seems to be an ongoing theme of young adult fiction / films dealing with dystopian and/or apocalyptic scenarios – in contemporary times The Hunger Games does just that, Nicholas Fisk’s books/series such as The Tripods did similar back when.

    What is different with Wargames is that this isn’t set against some harmless future fantasy despotism or alien invasion brought down by resourceful teenagers but rather the threat here was very real and present in the world and popular consciousness.

    Wargames-film 1983-posters-A Year In The Country-3
    (A certain internationalism…)

    What you see on those screens up there is a fantasy, a computer enhanced hallucination. Those blips are not real missiles. They’re phantoms.

    In line with those other fictions, Wargames also seems to have as its core a sort of wish fulfilment or empowerment of the teenager as the one who will save the day, who will beat the evil power or who has the right-headed way of looking at things rather than the pigheaded (or sometimes more or less absent) adults.

    I’ve seen Wargames described as “popcorn friviolity”, which would seem to imply that it’s just escapist, throwaway fun that sat alongside other such escapist, throwaway fun.

    While this is undoubtably a thoroughly enjoyable and yes, fun, film, even now it’s also rather underlyingly tense, in part due to its presentation and plotting but in large part because of the just mentoned reality of the threat it deals with.

    Even now, that is the case but back in 1983 when the Cold War was at one of its peaks?

    (As an aside, fun and seriousness don’t have to preclude one another. Entertainment and message/debate are not necessarily mutually exclusive states. Such ways of seeing things are probably part of a cultural reviewing and consideration whereby it can be hard to admit to “worthy” work as also being the f(un) word.)

    Wargames-1983 film-A Year In The Country-2

    Talking of games… One thing I thought when watching the film is that it is strange to think that many of the instruments, mechanisms and associated infrastructure from the Cold War are still out there.

    Or rather that should probably be under there as they are often placed below ground for protective / stealth purposes (as indeed is much of the technology / equipment of War Games – several of its big set pieces and locations are in underground bunkers and control centres).

    It is as though the game has been put to one side of the collective consciousness but the pieces haven’t been cleared from the chess board, more the whole thing has been swept under a literal and figurative subterranean covering. Semi-forgotten but not gone.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #32/​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Crafty Mechanics

    Time Attendant-Crafty Mechanics-The Quietened Bunker-A Year In The Country-with stroke

    Audiological exploration by Time Attendant from the album The Quietened Bunker.

    The album is available via our Artifacts Shop, at our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.

    BC-Time Attendant-Crafty Mechanics-The Quietened Bunker-A Year In The Country-with stroke 2Transmission sent, received, transmitted: Considerations of The Quietened Bunker at A Closer Listen:

    Time Attendant’s “Crafty Mechanics” contains the elements of a club track, but is not for dancing; it’s what a club might sound like if all the machines wound down. 

     

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  • Week #31/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #2; Songs For The Bunker – The Once Was Ascendance Of Apocalyptic Pop

    Frankie Goes To Hollywood-Two Tribes-OMD-Two Tribes-Jona Lewie-Stop The Cavalry-Trailblazers-Sky Arts-A Year In The Country
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Now, I’m wary of sounding like an old curmudgeon, waving my stick around and saying “It was all once fields around these parts and you could tell what they were singing about and that about wasn’t just always boys, girls and going out” but casting my mind back there seems to be a very particular corner of pop music that once dealt quite specifically with Cold War apocalypse / dread.

    This wasn’t niche music – these were records that would reach at least the top twenty of the UK pop charts, maybe even become the toppermost of the poppermost and be the number one selling records of their time (generally around 1980-ish to the mid-eighties).

    Also, this was at a time when doing so meant they were a large part of the national conversation / consciousness and may well mean selling hundreds of thousands or more of physical singles.

    There are more but to mention just a few:

    Nena’s 99 Red Balloons, The Pirahnas Tom Hark and spoiler alert for if you think it’s a nice, slightly melancholic pop song (as did I until I found out differently relatively recently) – Strawberry Switchblade’s Since Yesterday.

    Then there’s Ultravox’s Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (essentially a song based on a book about deciding how you will live through the end via wind carried fallout in a country that has avoided the main attack), OMD’s Enola Gay and something of a surprise for a pop poppet – Nik Kershaw’s I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

    I could well also include Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry – which while it is more a general anti-war song, also seems to imply some kind of time schism in its mixing of references to early twentieth century and Cold War conflicts…

    Kate Bush-Breathing-Never For Ever-Nik Kershaw-I Wont Let The Sun Go Down On Me-Trailblazers-Sky Arts-A Year In The Country

    …and possibly even Blondie’s Atomic, which although its lyrics are minimal and almost abstract, with its sense of dramatic dread (and glamour) and the accompanying post-apocalyptic-disco video / mushroom cloud single cover, I think it may well belong amongst this corner of pop music.

    And possibly the chart success daddy of them all (in the UK at least) Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes.

    Now, as I say these were hardly niche pop songs. Here are a few UK peak chart positions:

    99 Red Ballons – No.1. Tom Hark – No.6. Since Yesterday – No.5. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes – No.3. Enola Gay – No.8. I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – No.2. Stop The Cavalry – No.3. Atomic – No. 1. Two Tribes – No.1 (for nine weeks indeed).

    Even something like Kate Bush’s Breathing, which I think of as a hit but it didn’t reach the then all important Top 40, peaking at No. 48, seems to linger in pop memory and the album it was on went to number 1.

    The background to all this was one of the heightened points of the Cold War and international defence policy that seemed to “subscribe to the point of view that the more dangerous we make the world, the safer we are“.

    That quote is from a fascinating documentary which is part of a series called Trailblazers:

    Narrated by Noddy Holder, this eye-opening series examines the key moments that have shaped musical history, starting with a look at the origins of disco music.”

    Blondie-Atomic-The Smiths-Ask-Nena-99 Red Balloons-Trailblazers-Sky Arts-A Year In The Country

    There is one episode that focuses on the above loose gathering of chart topping protest pop, something of a surprising cuckoo in the nest amongst the more obvious looks at say disco, funk, punk and goth (the last worth watching in part to hear Mr Noddy Holder say in his inimitable manner “Goth, not me guv” and describing Madchester related bands when signalling the end of mainstream goth popularity as “Baggy panted vampire hunters”).

    Although the description of the episode talks about the evolution of such protest songs “from western swing and country to gospel, jazz and rockabilly“, actually it largely focuses on the early to mid-eighties of chart pop.

    One of the most fascinating sections is where Frankie Goes To Hollywood producer Trevor Horn talks about the Protect And Survive public defence instruction voiceover parts on that just mentioned daddy of them all, Two Tribes.

    Apparently it went something like this:

    Paul Morley – sort of the philosophiser/organiser/provocateur behind ZTT, who were FGTH’s label, which was co-owned by Trevor Horn –  had a bootleg of Protect And Survive information films, which at the time were classified (before they were, you know, freely available on popular commercial internet video channels or to buy on DVD).

    Rather than steal / sample the voiceovers from them, they hired Patrick Allen who had done them for the actual government broadcasts (at the time his was a nationally known, possibly intended to be reassuring voice, as he also did well known television commercials such as for Barratt Homes).

    It cost them about £1000 (which seems cheap now) but when they showed him what he was to read, he said “I don’t think I can do this. Where have you got this from? You know I had to sign the Official Secrets Act before I did this?

    And then apparently he went “F*** it, I’m going to do it. You know you missed a few bits out. There was one bit that particularly upset me…

    (That bit, if you should wish to know, concerned disposals. I shall say no more.)

    The Pirahnas-Tom Hark-Dancing With Tears In My Eyes-Ultravox-Strawberry Switchblade-Since Yesterday-Trailblazers-Sky Arts-A Year In The Country

    It’s strange to think and write about all this as it seems such a million miles away from popular music entertainment and its concerns today and although in a way all such things could really say was…

    When two tribes go to war, a point is all you can score“…

    …well, at least it was being said – and was part of a wider sense of the then alive and well functioning of the “circuit between the experimental, the avant-garde and the popular” (to quote myself quoting Mr Mark Fisher).

    I think I shall leave the last word to program participant Billy Bragg: he says about when in recent times he was listening to The Smiths Ask single (more a large scale cult rock band release but it still peaked at No.14) in the car with his teenage son and when the lyric went “Because if it’s not love, then it’s the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb that will bring us together“, his teenage son asked “What bomb?“.

    Mr Braggs response was he thought “plus ça change“.

    More information on the episode of Trailblazers here. Peruse “The Official Charts” (I feel that should be in bold with stars) here. The more now-an-archiving-than-chart-topping home of ZTT in the ether here. A considerable number of other such related popsongs and not-so-popsongs can be found here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #31/​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Aggregates II

    The Quietened Bunker-Panabrite-A Year In The Country

    Audiological exploration by Panabrite from the album The Quietened Bunker.

    The album is available via our Artifacts Shop, at our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.

    BC-The Quietened Bunker-Panabrite-A Year In The CountryTransmission sent, received, transmitted (or should that be scribed?): there’s a rather fine and lovely handwritten consideration of The Quietened Bunker at Was Ist Das?

    Tip of the hat to Ned indeed.

    Was Ist Das?-The Quietened Bunker review extract-A Year In The Country

     

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  • The Quietened Bunker. Night and Dawn Editions preorder.

    Dawn Edition £12.00. Night Edition £25.00.
    The Quietened Bunker-Night and Dawn Editions-front-A Year In The CountryAudiological Transmissions Artifact #4
    The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

    Audiological contents created by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.

    Both editions hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by
    A Year In The Country.

    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Release date 15th August 2016. 

     

    Night Edition. Limited to 52 copies. £25.00.
    Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet, 4 x badge pack, 4 x sticker pack & landscape format sticker.
    The Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-opened-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-inside of booklet-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-all-black-cdr-A-Year-In-The-Country
    Top of CD.                                                            Bottom of CD.

    Further encasement details:
    1) Booklet/cover art custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
    2) Contained in a matchbox style sliding two-part rigid matt card box with cover print.
    3) Fully black CDr (black on top, black on playable side).
    4) Black string bound booklet: 12 pages (6 sides printed);
    Printed on textured fine art cotton rag paper, heavy card and semi-transparent vellum.
    Hand numbered on the reverse.
    5) 4 x  badge set, contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.
    6) 4 x vinyl style sticker pack, contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.
    7) 1 x vinyl style landscape format sticker.

     

    Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £12.00.
    Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.
    The Quietened Bunker-Dawn Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe-Quietened-Bunker-Dawn-Edition-opened-A-Year-In-The-Country-1The Quietened Bunker-Dawn Edition-back-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Bunker-white-and-black-CDr-A-Year-In-The-Country
    Top of CD.                                                          Bottom of CD.

    Further encasement details:
    1) Custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
    2) Includes 25mm/1″ badge, secured with removable glue on string bound tag.
    3) Back of one insert hand numbered.

     

    Notes and Scribings:
    The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed.

    The Quietened Bunker-Night Editions-landscape sticker artwork-A Year In The Country

    They could be seen as once modern fortresses – reinforced concrete and blast doors replacing moats and stone battlements.

    However, these subterranean fortresses would likely also have been places of entombment – somewhere that those who once ran the infrastructure and defence of the nation would watch the days pass as supplies dwindled and the inevitable time came when the air filters would give out, all long before the world would become habitable again.

    Accompanying the main bunkers in the UK were a network of hundreds of small underground monitoring posts which would report on the size of an attack and the resulting fallout. Manned by volunteers, they were to be operational for just three weeks.

    The intention was that these would form part of a network of civil defence and management, accompanied by government issued Protect and Survive leaflets/broadcasts that would have offered advice on how to protect home and hearth via little more than whitewashing windows as blast protection and forming a shelter by leaning mattresses against an inner wall of your house.

    The Quietened Bunker-landscape artwork 3-A Year In The Country

    Looking back, such preparations can seem a reflection of some kind of madness or delusion in the collective consciousness and the halls of power – a tilting at windmills that was necessary to protect national psyches from the reality and aftermath of the sudden use and descending of mechanisms with almost indescribable destructive power.

    Now it can all seem like a dream from another world, one where for a number of decades populations lived under the day-to-day threat of total annihilation and where millions was spent on this network of shelters and defences; preparations to allow fiddling once all had burned, such bunkers possibly being nearer to utilitarian national follies than fortresses.

    Indeed, today they are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences.

    The Quietened Bunker reflects on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

     

    Further Audiological Contents Details:
    1) Lower Level Clock Room – Keith Seatman
    2) Drakelow Tunnels – Grey Frequency
    3) The Filter’s Gone / The Last Man Plays The Last Piano – A Year In The Country
    4) Aggregates II – Panabrite
    5) Bunker 4: Decommissioned – Polypores
    6) Comms: Seen Through The Grey – Listening Center
    7) Crafty Mechanics – Time Attendant
    8) Crush Depth – Unknown Heretic
    9) Waiting For The Blazing Skies – David Colohan

    Artwork / packaging design and fabrication by AYITC Ocular Signals Department

    Audiological Transmission Artifact #4
    Library Reference Numbers: ATA004N / ATA004D

     

     

    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Release date 15th August 2016. 

     

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  • Week #30/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #1; A Lovely Day Out / Not Your Average Des Res

    The Quietened Bunker-secret bunker tourist road signs-A Year In The Country
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Talking of decommissioned bunkers that “…are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences” (see here)…

    Sometimes you see something and your mind literally stops in its tracks trying to process it.

    The first time I saw a photograph of a road sign for a decommissioned “secret” bunker was just one of those.

    (It was actually in B*llocks To Alton Towers – Uncommonly British Days Out.)

    I know that these signposts are for tourist attractions that are trading on the once confidential nature of these installations but still…

    The Quietened Bunker-secret bunker tourist road signs-A Year In The Country-2

    …I just find that I have some kind of disconnect when I see them – a sort of mixture of disbelief, humour, relief that we are nolonger living in a political situation where they are considered necessary and maybe a touch of sadness/anger/grief for us having once done so.

    In part I think that disconnect is due to the terribly, terribly Britishness of names like Chipping Ongar and Chigwell, their often positioning in amongst day-to-day normal housing or the gentle grey-green of the land but juxtaposed with these signposts to once-end-of-days refuges.

    Should I laugh or shake a fist? I’m not quite sure.

    The Quietened Bunker-secret bunker tourist road signs-A Year In The Country-3 copy

    (As an aside, for some reason the signpost above is one of my favourites – if that is an appropriate word to use at this point. I don’t think that it’s an official roadside sign, more probably one that’s been privately errected but there’s something about its quiet neglect, the hand done repair / change.

    In one photograph I have seen of it, nature is encroaching and the sign is covered with a layering of green algae and somehow there’s some kind of poignancy, beauty and a touch of melancholy to it.)

    The Quietened Bunker-For Sale-A Year In The Country

    Accompanying and interconnected with such road signs are the estate agent signs for when one such place is up for sale.

    Now I first heard of such a thing on the radio a while ago but it never occurred to me that there would be literal, actual hoardings advertising them.

    I find it hard to not stop at this point and start making up sketches for a sitcom called Whoops Apocalypse – except that’s already been done.

    When I saw this particular sign, once my mind had stopped being stopped in its tracks, I kind of jokily but seriously started to wander about the practicalities of such things.

    Is it a buyer or a sellers market? There is scarcity value to the property but I expect only a very limited number of potential buyers and allowable uses (data storage seems to be one such usage that is mentioned on these boards – so no A3 planning permission for a spacious and yet still bijou and intimate diner then?).

    Are such things listed on general property / commercial property sites, so that your search results would bring up say a warehouse for rent, listed as having plenty of onsite parking and then a former secret bunker listed as razor wire and  catastrophic occurrence / emergency air filtration system included?

    My already more than slightly confused and bemused mind boggles.

    Well, I feel I should end this post on a further note of I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #30​/​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Drakelow Tunnels

    The Quietened Bunker-Grey Frequency-Drakelow Tunnels-A Year In The Country

    Audiological exploration by Grey Frequency from the album The Quietened Bunker.

    Pre-order 1st August 2016. Release date 15th August 2016.

    The album will be available via our Artifacts Shop, at our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.

    The Quietened Bunker-Grey Frequency-Drakelow Tunnels-A Year In The Country-700The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decomissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

    Looking back, such preparations can seem a reflection of some kind of madness or delusion in the collective consciousness and the halls of power – a tilting at windmills that was necessary to protect national psyches from the reality and aftermath of the sudden use and descending of mechanisms with almost indescribable destructive power.

    “Now it can all seem like a dream from another world, one where for a number of decades populations lived under the day-to-day threat of total annihilation and where millions was spent on this network of shelters and defences; preparations to allow fiddling once all had burned, such bunkers possibly being nearer to utilitarian national follies than fortresses.

    Indeed, today they are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences.
    (From the notes that accompany The Quietened Bunker.)

    Audiological contents for the album created by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.

    Further details of The Quietened Bunker can also be found amongst the reaping and ingatherings of Heathen Harvest.

     

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  • Fractures – ether wanderings and a gathering of transmissions

    Fractures-digital distribution and gathering-2-with stroke

    Alongside its corporeal encasements at our Artifacts Shop and amongst the zeros and ones of our Bandcamp Ether Victrola, the Fractures album has gone a-wandering and winding its way through the ether and is now available at various new(ish) fangled places to peruse and contemplate, including:

    Amazon / iTunes / Spotify / CD Baby / Deezer … to name but a few of the myriad of such places…

     

    Fractures can also be found amongst transmissions, scribings and considerations via…

    Electronic Sound-Christopher Dawes-Push-Fractures-A Year In The Country

    The rather fine paper and/or zeroes and ones pages of Electronic Sound (nestled amongst the work, innovations and discoveries of Mr Bob Moog and other audiological modulation explorers)…

    The transmissions, considerations and curating of Mr Ed Pinsent at The Sound Projector

    In an “at home setting” at Include Me Out

    Golden Apples Of The Sun Radio Show-Claude Mono-RTRFM-A Year In The Country-Fractures

    And also at Claude Mono’s ongoingly intriguing transmissions at The Golden Apples Of The Sun here and here (which can also be found amongst traditional airwaves transmissions and their archiving at RTRFM here).

    Keith Seatman-Test Transmission Archive Reel 26-The Hare And The Moon-Fractures-A Year In The Country

    And finally, as something of a late inclusion and in an interwoven / interweaving manner, work from Fractures can also be found at Keith Seatman’s Test Transmission Archive Reel 26.

    Much appreciated and tip of the hat to all concerned.

    Further details on Fractures and the work created for it by Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska / Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, Polypores, David Colohan and our good selves can be found here.

     

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  • Week #29/52: Hauntology and the genre that dare not speak its name

    A-Pylons-A Hankering After The Past?-A Year In The Country-2
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Something interesting has happened in the world of culture since the first spin-around-the-sun of A Year In The Country.

    Back then, what had come to be labelled as hauntology seemed to be something of a critical / cultural / theorertical darling, something that people and sections of the media seemed genuinely intrigued, fascinated and inspired by.

    Since that time, it seems to have changed from critical darling to cultural whipping boy and indeed become a (loose) genre of which people dare not or want to not speak its name.

    I mean this literally as I have seen it written as say h**ntological, sometimes just the letter H or more generally referred to with a slightly (or more than slightly) dismissive tone.

    (As an aside I am referring more explicitly, though not exclusively, about areas of music which have been labelled hauntology, rather than the wider philosophical use of the term.

    As a futher aside, I am not trying to join a possible chorus of naysayers, I still find myself rather fond / intrigued by hauntology as a cultural form / set of ideas and think it still has a leg or two – I am more merely commenting on and acknowledging related cultural changes, interests, perceptions and its possible stasis and / or evolution.)

    A-Pylons-A Hankering After The Past?-A Year In The Country-1b

    I think what has probably happened is (A): a lot of cultural things which are critically revered often seem to end up being reviled, almost as part of a knee jerk, automatic cultural cycle and circle and (B): there has come to be too much of a reliance on a set number of tropes and cultural reference points.

    I think Claude Mono of the rather fine The Golden Apples Of The Sun site / radio show puts this rather well as an introduction to his recent Exploration Series No.1 – Hauntology episode:

    …By way of a brief introduction let me just say I think Hauntology is a rich and rewarding musical and visual aesthetic but one that can be done really badly – you know a bus-ride of nostalgia and electronics – full of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, British public information films of the 1970s, eerie soundtracks, concretism, and brutalist architectural imagery – well there certainly is some of that but hopefully a little bit more such as some crucial reference points and an incredible live track from Broadcast, some drum and bass, and 80s band Japan…

    I think “…there certainly is some of that but hopefully a little bit more…” is a particularly important point around all such goings on.

    A-Pylons-A Hankering After The Past?-A Year In The Country-1

    When a cultural movement / gathering / style / genre becomes too codified, too set in its ways (too pipe and slippers?) then often apart from to its die hard followers and/or those that appreciate an endless self-referential looping it can begin to loose its way as a vital and/or exploratory force.

    Saying such isn’t a call for endless stylistic novelty, more just a note that adding a few new ingredients to a well worn and tested recipe is often not a bad thing.

    Or maybe using the spirit of say hauntology as a starting point rather than seeing its codified elements and references as unwaverable guidelines.

    And that spirit?

    Well aside from the aesthetics of such things, which I do appreciate, so I’m not dismissing them but to get to the core of things I think I may well need to quote myself back when I was considering hauntology’s unmaking as a genre:

    Music and culture that draws from and examines a sense of loss of some kind of utopian, progressive, modern(ist?) future that was never quite reached…

    A-Pylons-A Hankering After The Past?-A Year In The Country-3

    Essentially a reaction against a certain shall we say starboard leaning totality of thought that seems to abound today.

    Inherently political work in a way. If not overtly, then at least in spirit. Port leaning shall we say, in a further “dare not speak its name” manner.

    As an almost finishing note, cultural forms and wellsprings are generally hardy things.

    They rarely disappear from the landscape completely; they may become un or less fashionable, wander off into niches to quietly continue their journeys, maybe to periodically be revived, revisited or provide inspiration at future points in time.

    And as a finishing note, I am put in mind of Jeanette Leech’s thoughts and writings in her notes to the Weirdlore compilation, where she discusses the use of genre names and the brief shining of media and general cultural interest spotlights on a particular niche of exploratory folk music:

    When light is not on a garden, many plants will wither. But others won’t. They will grow in crazy, warped, hardy new strains. It’s time to feed from the soil instead of the sunlight.

    And talking of hardy cultural forms, considerations of previous “…deletion of spectres and the unmaking of a genre…” can be found around these parts here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #29/​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Lower Level Clock Room

    The Quietened Bunker-29 of 52-Keith Seatman-A Year In The Country-stroke

    Audiological exploration by Keith Seatman from the album The Quietened Bunker.

    Pre-order 1st August 2016. Release date 15th August 2016.

    The album will be available via our Artifacts Shop, at our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.

    The Quietened Bunker-29 of 52-Keith Seatman-A Year In The Country-BC-stroke 2-700pxTransmission sent, received, transmitted:

    There is an excellent, evocative piece on The Quietened Bunker and personal related history / explorations of an abandoned Cold War Monitoring Post by writer Simon Reynolds at his Retromania blog:

    Managed to get it open and we climbed down there. The ladder was like one of those you get on the outside of a silo or inside of the turret of a submarine. At the bottom was a rather confined chamber, with bunks and loads of sandbags. There might have been some other paraphernalia down there – gas masks, maybe. What I do remember vividly is the shaft of summer light coming down the stairwell and the dust motes irradiated in it… Then we climbed back up and out and once again were surrounded by thistles and cow pats.

    (If you should wander in that direction then a peruse of the comments section and related links connected to Mr Reynolds and Subterranea Britannica is highly recommended – you may well stumble upon a rather surprising piece of light-catchery from back when.)

     

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  • The Quietened Bunker – preorder and release dates

    The Quietened Bunker-Night and Dawn Editions-front-A Year In The Country
    Pre-order 1st August 2016. Release date 15th August 2016.
    Will be available via our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola.

     

    Audiological Transmissions Artifact #4
    The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

    Audiological contents created by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.

     

    Night Edition. Limited to 52 copies. £25.00.
    Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet, 4 x badge pack, 4 x sticker pack & landscape format sticker.
    The Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The Country

     

    Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £12.00.
    Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.The Quietened Bunker-Dawn Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe-Quietened-Bunker-Dawn-Edition-opened-A-Year-In-The-Country-1

    Both editions hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by A Year In The Country.

     

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  • Week #28/52: Symptoms and gothic bucolia

    Symptoms-1974-BFI-A Year In The Country-3
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    For a while the BFI’s Flipside release of Symptoms kept catching my eye.

    Nothing too unusual there, I seem to have been following the releases since way back when the series started and usually check in every now and again to see what subterranean / mondo / forgotten / exotica / odd b-movie / occasional slight strand of otherly pastoralism they’ve given a good old brush and scrub up to.

    Aside from that usual level of interest, something kept nagging away quietly at the back of my mind about Symptoms, although I think that I knew nothing or very, very little about the film, its plot, history etc.

    Then I came across a review wherein it was described as “…gothic-bucolic…” and “…the sort of thing that begat hauntology and Peter Strickland…”.

    This short piece ended “…it’s a revelation“.

    Well, that was me hooked. Actually, that was me hooked at the phrase gothic-bucolic, which seemed to strike a certain note and resonance with and well, just intrigued me.

    As a quick precis of the film’s history and story it was made in 1973, came out in 1974, received a fair amount of critical attention / praise and then largely disappeared for the best part of forty years.

    It is the tale of two young women who go for a break in a large countryside located house, wherein one of their mental states begins to splinter and fracture.

    Now, where to start about the film? I feel as though I could easily write a short(ish) book about it…

    I don’t seem to remember Peter Strickland mentioning the film in any interviews, nor listing it as one of the films that fed into / influenced / were an inspiration for The Duke Of Burgundy but the first time I watched it, in many ways Symptoms very much reminded me of that film – to the point where I almost want to watch them side-by-side, in a split screen manner.

    Symptoms-1974-BFI-A Year In The Country-4

    It could almost be seen as a companion or sister piece to The Duke Of Burgundy, although one that is more overly troubled and troubling. Not so much a forerunner, more that somehow it has tumbled back (or should that be forward?) in time from that film.

    That sense of connection and even sisterhood is possibly increased by Angela Pleasance in Symptoms bearing some kind of physiognomic similarity to Chiara D’Anna in The Duke Of Burgundy.

    Both have a slightly unworldly, almost childlike air to them, although Angela Pleasance’s character is more otherworldly than just unwordly, as compared to Chiara D’Anna’s character’s slightly brattish pique; Ms Pleasance’s character feels nearer to The Woman Who Fell To Earth.

    The setting and setup is not all that dissimilar from The Duke Of Burgundy – two women living in a relatively isolated rurally set grand house that is decorated in a slightly faded, slightly aristocratic, gilt framed manner.

    (As an aside, Symptoms slightly put me in mind of the work of Deborah Turbeville and the use in her photographs of crumbling textures, decaying glamour and grandeur, a certain langour to its characters and the edge-of-rural isolation setting.)

    The Duke Of Burgundy seems to exist more in its own self-contained, quietly fantastical world, one where any possible external world or infrastructure are not seen or acknowledged – indeed only a visiting creator of “esoteric” furniture and an academy for the study of insects and the occasional brief reference to a neighbour are ever made.

    Symptoms acknowledges the outside world – London and visitors from there are mentioned or indeed visit, the women visit the local village for supplies but their world still has the intensity of a couple alone, one which increasingly collapses and intensifies into itself; anything outside of the house and/or their relationship is seen as and indeed feels like an intrusion.

    Symptoms-1974-BFI-A-Year-In-The-Country-3-collage

    However, there is a distinct difference to the two films and their general tone / atmosphere: despite its main characters sometimes troubles, The Duke Of Burgundy’s pastoral idyll seems richly honey toned – mellifluous is a word that comes to mind. It is a world that you may well want to step into and not mind spending time there.

    Symptoms is probably almost the exact opposite. Despite a certain entrancing beauty, this is most definitely a gothic bucolia. There is a calm here, row boating on leaf filled water and even Duke Of Burgundy-esque carefree bike rides but also some kind of almost unbearable build up of pressure and tension.

    It has a subtly fractured dreamlike quality and although I can find myself relaxing, sinking into and enjoying Symptoms views of nature and escape, at the same time this is very much part of the film’s enclosed, self-contained, even possibly claustrophobic world, all overhanging branches and wooded enclosure rather than wide open spaces.

    At points light breaks through the trees but it seems to only just be breaking through, to be almost battling or momentary.

    Apart from a few initial incongruous seeming Carnaby-Street-become-tourist-attraction, latter-period-hippie garments, it is a film that is difficult to quite place in a particular era and to a degree it seems to exist in its own time and space, almost a never never land separate from a particular decade. This is despite its muted, grey-green atmosphere that seems rather prevalent in film/television from the point of its making and which possibly reflects the fractured nature of the times and culture in which it was made.

    I can’t quite tell if this not being able to precisely pinpoint a decade is in part due to a certain sharpness, a certain glamour and style to the imagery that doesn’t quite seem to belong to the early 1970s and/or in part and interconnectedly due to the contemporary high definition restoration of the film.

    This is something I often seem to feel with high-end brush and scrub ups to films and other flickering tales from the past; a certain sense of dissociation with regards to the world I am watching, possibly due to the push and pull of the aesthetics of technological processes from different eras.

    Symptoms-1974-BFI-A-Year-In-The-Country-2-collage

    Anyways, back to Symptoms.

    That sense of dread: suffice to say that although not overly stuffed time-wise with such things, this is a film that does, well, not so much wander as lunge, spark and darkly shatter into intense, particularly unsettling physical violence.

    In a way, for myself, although in an inherent part of the film, this is when it is at its weakest – when it veers towards more obvious genre tropes and I think it is much more interesting when its (deeply) unsettled atmosphere is held at bay and its mystery is left intact rather than being given full unflinchingly brutish expression.

    Associated posters and promotion from when it was released seem to often have focused on those genre tropes but this isn’t really that kind of film. It is odder and more of its own than such standard exploitative fare.

    There is a layering, intelligence and unspokeness here, that seems to battle with and against its genre expectations.

    So, Symptoms.

    A revelation indeed.

    One that leaves me drawn to it and also slightly on edge just casting back to it – something it shares for myself with that other unsettling pastoral film work Kill List – although there the genre transgressive and visceralness is much closer to the surface.

    (I feel an involuntary shiver would be appropriate here and maybe a nice cup of tea and a wander around a not-so-unsettling garden or two.)

    Symptoms has been sent forth into the world around this part of the world by the BFI and over the water by Mondo Macarbro.

    Trailers can be viewed here and here. Take a walk in the woods here.

    Other wanderings and sisterhood mesmerisations can be found around these parts here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #28​/​​​​52​​: Helix – United Bible Studies

    United-Bible-Studies-Doineann-print-artwork-croppedRevisitation #4.

    From the album Doineann by United Bible Studies, which is available at our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola.

    Doineann was the fourth release during A Year In The Country’s first spin-around-the-sun.

    It is a fine piece of collaborative, exploratory work, featuring Natalia Beylis, David Colohan, Richard Moult, Paul Condon, Áine O’Dwyer, Emer Brady, Jez Creek, Casey Denman, Gary Morrison, Enda Trautt, Alison O’Donnell, James Rider, Michael Tanner and Declan Kelly.

    (Helix itself is played by by David Colohan, Natalia Beylis and Richard Moult.)

    When it was sent out into the world it gathered a number of also rather fine considerations and scribings.

    Excerpts from and signposts to a few of those are below:

    The ever shifting landscapes of UBS converge once more, this time in a predominantly instrumental vein that echoes rainswept moors, moss-streaked doldems and a rainy gray that is as beautiful as it is chilling… Alison O’Donnell’s vocal for “Across the Blackened Fields” feels as old as time, and if you’ve ever wondered why there’s such a powerful haunted folk insurgence happening now, this album is one of the key reasons why.
    Dave Thompson, Goldmine Magazine

    United Bible Studies-Doineann-Day Edition-front of booklet-A Year In The Country-narrower border

    Despite a fluid and ever-changing membership (not to mention an admirably diverse collection of musical instruments and noise-making gadgets) United Bible Studies have honed an original and at times unmistakeable sound in their prolific thirteen-year recording history. To put it in perhaps overly simplistic terms, they have one foot in the ambient/drone camp and the other in wyrd world of psych-folk. But more important is their willingness to embrace unconventional musical structures and at times do away with these structures altogether, instead creating collage-like, improvisational pieces that owe more to sound art and contemporary composition than they do to traditional or popular music.
    Thomas Blake, Folk Radio UK

    …rooted in Irish and British folk music, but experimental and improvisational from day one: not afraid to throw in synths, manipulations, crunchy guitars, sax, non-European instruments… folky and pastoral in some ways, but at the same time it’s modern and slightly ‘off’… unsettling.
    Oscar Strik, Evening Of Light

    “…sonorous narration of mysterious vanished worlds… steeped in magic and oblique romance… wrapped in a precious casket preserved intact from some distant era and today perpetuated by the feeling of a collective of musicians who continued undeterred in their own explorations of another human and sound dimension…
    (Translated by ether automations)
    Raffaello Russo, Music Won’t Save You

    United Bible Studies-Doineann-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The Country

    Helix enters on a waterfall of cascading piano, the combination of Richard Moult’s buzzing electronics and field recordings alongside Colohan’s organetta providing a clearing for the notes to shimmer and repeat. It is utterly beautiful but also icy; there is a sense of winter in this music.
    Grey Malkin of The Hare And The Moon at The Active Listener

    One imagines such editions being buried in time capsules or cemented in stone walls for future generations to mull over: sedimentary layers of history… the collective presents a mixture of intricate instrumentals and Maypole-esque vocal works.  The singers waft through the speakers like passing madrigals, here for a moment and then gone…
    Postrockcafe, A Closer Listen

    An impressive aesthetic unity which may have found its fullest expression on Doineann…”
    On interwoven landscapes and work: “…reanimation of the mythic countryside, underscored by liminal drones, residual folk forms and improvisation…
    Alex Neilson, The Wire

    United Bible Studies-Doineann-booklet inner page artwork-A Year In The Country

    United Bible Studies ether victrola home can be found here.

     

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  • Week #27/52: Sapphire & Steel, various ghosts in the machine and a revisiting of broken circuits…

    Sapphire and Steel-ghosts in the machine-A Year In The Country-1
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Loss or non-loss within past/future media seems to be something that I return to around these parts…

    Along which lines…

    I’ve recently(ish) been watching/rewatching Sapphire & Steel (while fairly constantly thinking “What a fine program this is”)…

    One of the things that struck me was that despite it being on shiny modern(ish) day discs full of zeros and ones, it is particularly not brushed, scrubbed up and remastered – there are glitches, banding, small transmission-breaking-through crackles of interference at the edges of the screen, light trails and so on.

    Often I appreciate a good brush and scrub up on say certain opulent celluloid delights but I think with Sapphire & Steel it would be particularly inappropriate; these marks and infractions feel like an inherent part of the series, its spirit and aesthetic. In these days of exact duplicatory ease, there is something intriguing about these particular “faults” (?), particularly in the context of the never-never world of Ms Sapphire and Mr Steel and a commercial, official release.

    Sapphire and Steel-ghosts in the machine-A Year In The Country-2

    They are the ghosts in the machine, as it were…

    Which brings me to Ghosts In The Machine.

    This was a mid-to-later 1980s late night program on the UK’s Channel 4 television station (one of but four at the time indeed) that was dedicated to showing experimental/avant-garde video work; things you would be more likely to see in a gallery setting than via the mainstream television broadcast infrastructure.

    Non-populist television within a populist framework.

    Sapphire and Steel-ghosts in the machine-A Year In The Country-3

    I (hazily) remember that at times there would be advert breaks with no adverts.

    I assume this was because of a mixture of the late hour, Channel 4’s still then minority output remit and well, quite frankly people probably couldn’t see the marketing potential for say fizzy sugared water after a 10 minute almost still framed broadcast of a pond which showed reflections of people who weren’t there diving in.

    (I’m having to, I expect, loosely paraphrase or guestimate there as such things are but fractions and fractures of memory today).

    It was all quite thrilling seeming at the time, a glimpse into obscured culture that I just can’t imagine being seen in amongst the transmissions of one of the big broadcasters today, no matter how late the hour.

    Sapphire and Steel-ghosts in the machine-A Year In The Country-4

    It puts me in mind of (that gent who is mentioned around these parts from time to time – or more) Mark Fisher’s comments about about “the breaking of the circuit between the avant-garde, the experimental and the popular” (to quote myself quoting him) – this was a brief moment when there was a spark generated by a few hair thin strands of connection in that circuit.

    Ah, we can but dream…

    Non-transuranic escapades around these parts here. Other consideration of loss and ghosts in other mechanisms here. Broken cultural circuits at the cliff edge here and amongst unearthly gardens of delight here.

    Elsewhere in the ether: the pleasantly dated introductory passages for Ghosts In The Machine
    (I and II) at the ever reliable TV Ark here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #27/​​52 ​​- Nine of Swords (Excerpt #1) – Michael Tanner

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-box set-A Year In The Country-lighterRevisitation #3.

    Audiological exploration excerpt #1 by Michael Tanner from the album Nine of Swords.

    This was the third album released in our first spin-around-the-sun and was created via a process whereby nine tarot cards were allocated to nine sonorous, percussive instruments and played in the order of their drawing from the deck.

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-booklet-A Year In The Country

    This is a 54 minute or so journey for which sonorous is particularly apt word; it is immersive and enveloping, while at the same time it seems to hint at a quietly shimmering darkness just on the edge of things – restful, drifting and yet…

    New age might also be an appropriate signpost but probably nearer in spirit to say the expoloratory / experimental work which could be found on Light In The Attic’s I Am The Centre: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990 than the more obvious tropes of such things.

    Michael Tanner-Nine of Swords-inner page-2-A Year In The Country

    I think now would be a good point to hand over to the Nine of Swords related scribings by Grey Malkin at The Active Listener:

    This is an album to focus on and to pay attention to, perhaps an album for late nights or early mornings; there is something contemplative at heart here, this music invites reflection. The glistening of the water bowls merges into the gentle waves of temple bells, at times creating a solid, reverberating mass whilst at others a more distant echo. There is great beauty in this recording, nothing is rushed and the sound is crystalline and pure. The world outside seems to grow quieter around the music, as if in step. This is not easy listening however, but a demanding and focused album which commands your complete attention.

    Michael Tanner-Nine of Swords-inner page-1-A Year In The Country

    Considerations of Nine of Swords at Music Won’t Save You here:
    “…ghostly sounds that evoke the English tradition… imbued with dark magic…” (translation courtesy of ether auto).

    Earlier considerations of Mr Tanner’s early work around these parts:
    Day #120/365: Plinth’s Wintersongs
    …and to quote myself about such things, this “…could be loosely described as a kind of folkloric or pastorally themed ambient or even soundscape album but I don’t think it’s an easy piece of work to pigeonhole in such a way…

    …in parts it may be a journey through a certain kind of pastoral reverie there is also something else going on amongst the hills and trees. There’s heartbreak in the pathways of it’s songs at points; Hearth makes my mind wander towards losses along the byways of life…”

    A previous Nine of Swords revisiting around these parts:
    Day #350/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #3; A balm to contemporary intensity of input…
    (
    Wherein I may well visit the aforementioned I Am The Centre and indeed wandered-from-the-centre new age work.)

    Nine of Swords encasements around these parts:
    Day #245/365: Artifact #35/52; Michael Tanner – Nine of Swords CD album – Night/Day editions

    Day #338/365: Artifact #48/52; Michael Tanner Nine of Swords limited edition CD released – Dusk / Dawn Editions

    Mr Tanner’s Bandcamp Ether Victrola can be found here.

     

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  • Fractures – a gathering of transmissions

    Fractures-transmission gathering-2Transmissions sent, received, transmitted from and via Fractures:

    Feuilleton-John Coulthart-Fractures-A Year In The Country-1px stroke
    A Fractures personal and cultural interweaving by Mr John Coulthart, residing in his rather fine Feuilleton ether curatorial home and repository of work.

    More Than Human Radio-Records-A Year In The CountryEther transmissions of Time Attendant’s Fractures exploration can be found via the transmissions of  Radio: More Than Human (the ether airwaves broadcast station of the interrelated More Than Human Records).

    The Seance radio show-James Papademetrie-Pete Wiggs-A Year In The Country
    Mr Keith Seatman’s Fractures explorations can be found beside the seaside, beside the sea at The Séance, courtesy of Mr Papademetrie and Wiggs.

    Free Form Freakout-Fractures-A Year In The Country-2
    Said work by Mr Seatman can also be found amongst rather fine company and wanderings by Mr David Perron at Free Form Freakout.

    You the night and the music-radio show-mat handley-A Year In The Country
    …and indeed, may well also be found in amongst the ongoingly intriguing airwaves curations of Mr Matt Handley at You, the Night & the Music.

    Music Wont Save You-Rockerilla-Fractures-A Year In The CountryFurther support, scribing and considerations from over the seas by Mr Raffaello Russo, sent forth via Music Won’t Save You and in corporeal printed form at Rockerilla.

     

    A tip of the hat to all concerned. Thanking you kindly.

     

    Fractures-Dawn-Notes-1200

    Audiological contents created by Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Polypores, The Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska/Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.

    Ghost-Box-Records-logo-Guest Shop-Fractures-A Year In The CountryFractures can be found in corporeal form at our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola, the Ghost Box Records Guest Shop and at Norman Records.

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  • The Quietened Bunker – Coming Soon

    BC-Bunker-Dawn and Duskfall-cover

    Audiological explorations by:
    Keith Seatman
    Grey Frequency
    A Year In The Country
    Panabrite
    Polypores
    Unknown Heretic (The Owl Service / The Straw Bear Band / Rif Mountain)
    Listening Center
    Time Attendant
    David Colohan (United Bible Studies)

     

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