• Ether Signposts #43/52a: Axel Hoedt’s Dusk And Final Celebrations

    Axel Hoedt-Dusk-Steidl

    In the first year of A Year In The Country I posted about Axel Hoedt’s Once A Year book, which featured folkloric costumes from the Fasnacht carnival in southwestern Germany.

    Axel Hoedt-Dusk-Steidl-3

    Back then I said of his photographs:

    There’s a sense of being in amongst the denizens of a land far from the twee fields of folklore with this particular slice of carnivalesque dressing up… The creatures his photographs capture… seem like the darker urban cousins of Charles Frégers Wilder Mann, which in themselves are not all cuddly and light… but Axel Hoedt’s once a year capturees are voyagers from further flung outlands and less well-lit crevices of imagination.

    Axel Hoedt-Dusk-Steidl-4

    Axel Hoedt-Dusk-Steidl-2In his next book Dusk he seems to wander amongst further more shadowed corners of folkloric rituals, again from southwestern Germany but also venturing to Austria and Switzerland.

    The images in Dusk seem to blend documentary portraits of those in folkloric costume, fine art and contemporary fashion explorations and related imagery.

    They conjure a particularly unsettling atmosphere, not one of carnivalesque revelries but rather one which seems to possibly unearth the far reaching, less civilised tales and times from which these carnivals and folkloric rituals may have once sprung.

    Along which lines, the information on the book at his publishers Steidl Books states the following:

    Hoedt reminds us of what carnival once used to be: a final celebration before the dawning of hard times.

    Brrr.

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    Dusk at Steidl Books

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Day #272/365: Axel Hoedt’s folkloric club kid rogues gallery and symbolic expulsions…
    Day #69/365: Charles Frégers Wilder Mann and rituals away from the shores of albion
    Ether Signposts #32/52a: Charles Frégers Yokainoshima – Island Of Monsters

     

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  • Ocular Signals #42/52a: Image P/2a

    Image-P2a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Wanderings #42/52a: The Unexpected Arrival Of Spectral Containment Systems #2

    ghost-box-records-in-a-moment-simon-reynolds-daniel-barrow-sight-and-sound-bfi-december-2015-a-year-in-the-country-1
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    Well, I was reading a copy of Sight & Sound magazine from a while ago when I came across a feature on Ghost Box Records.

    Nowt too odd in that you may well think.

    No, except this is the British Film Institute’s monthly film magazine, not the British Film Institute’s film and occasionally music monthly magazine.

    Although it’s not really that odd, considering the role soundtracks and sound design play in film and particularly considering the film/television points of interest that feed into the Ghost Box world (or parallel worlds), it was just unexpected I guess.

    in-a-moment-ghost-box-dj-food-a-year-in-the-country-stroke

    The article in question is a concise revisiting and gathering by Daniel Barrow of the influences, strands of interest,  hauntological/spectral world or mythology the Ghost Box label/project has created around the time of their In A Moment retrospective ten year compilation that was released in 2015.

    However the article ends with “…perhaps now the ghosts are all fled in the blinding light of commerce”.

    This is in reference to the way in which areas of culture that fed into Ghost Box which were once more a cult reserve (for example odd 1970s British children’s television, folk horror films such as The Wicker Man, Quatermass, Public Information Films, Radiophonic-esque electronica etc) have now become just another part of the general media, cultural and related commercial landscape and that using and weaving with such source material has possibly therefore to a degree run its course.

    I think it’s an interesting point that has merit and is worth consideration but at the same time it makes me think “Well, maybe the thing to do at such times of possible widespread over harvesting and visiting, is just to keep doing what you do/are interested in”; along with if needs be/the will takes you that way, being careful of not becoming too caught purely in your own furroughs without ever straying to new fields or looking for new seedlings.

    These things go in cycles, sometimes the media and cultural/commercial spotlight will shine on a particular area of culture, that area can then become over mined or familiar and then the spotlight moves on.

    Jeanette Leech-Seasons They Change-The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk-A Year In The CountryWeirdlore-Folk Police Records-Jeanette Leach-Ian Anderson-fRoots-Sproatly Smith-A Year In The Country 3

    To once again quote Jeanette Leech, author of Seasons They Change, when discussing such things in relation to the brief more overground interest in what was known as freak folk, underground folk and other descendants of acid/psych folk in the early 2000s:

    “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.”

    Joanna Newsom-2-Arthur Magazine-A Year In The CountryCoco Rosie-Arthur Magazine-A Year In The CountryFaun Fables-2-Arthur Magazine-A Year In The Country

    Hmmm. Food for thought.

     

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #52/365: The Advisory Circle and ornithological intrigueries…

    Day #65/365: Mr Jim Jupp’s parish circular

    Day #72/365: Arthur magazine and the brief flickering of freak folk

    Day #85/365: Weirdlore: Notes From The Folk Underground and legendary lost focal points…

    Day #93/365: Seasons They Change and the sweetly strange concoctions of private pressings…

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

    Wanderings #15/52a: The Unexpected Arrival Of Spectral Containment Systems #1

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Peruse the issue of Sight & Sound in question hereMr BarrowIn A Moment considerations and light catcheryThe aforementioned spectral containment systems home in the ether.

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #42/52a: Somewhat Out Of Kilter Harvest Songs

    Farm image-1

    Now, I was watching the television one night when an advert came on for bagged salad and the accompanying music made me smile and shake my head just a touch.

    The premise of the advert is that the company responsible for the lettuce always seeks out the “very best sunlight” to grow their lettuce.

    In the advert we are shown a subtly cartoon-like picture perfect, I assume continental farm and a CGI anthropomorphic tractor sets off to cross the fields of lettuce (not quite sure what it’s doing as the fields don’t need ploughing as the crops are already growing) and is admonished by the farmer to not block the sunlight with its shadow.

    The soundtrack to the advert is Nik Kershaw’s single “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, reached number 2 in the UK singles chart in 1984 and the tractor happily sings the song as it goes about its undefined work.

    Farm image-3

    The word denuded comes to mind about now, as in a song being denuded of its meaning.

    Only the chorus of the song (“I won’t let the sun go down on me, I won’t let the sun go down”) is heard in the advert but in actuality the song is a satirical take and reflection on Cold War conflict, dread and potential annihilation.

    Always something to choose when you want to imply that you grow happy and healthy lettuces I find.

    Farm image-2

    Below are some of the other lyrics to the song:

    Forty winks in the lobby, make mine a G&T
    Then to our favorite hobby, searching for an enemy
    Here in our paper houses
    Stretching for miles and miles
    Old men in stripy trousers rule the world with plastic smiles

    Mother nature isn’t in it
    Three hundred million years
    Goodbye in just a minute,
    Gone forever, no more tears
    Pinball man, power glutton, vacuum inside his head
    Forefinger on the button, is he blue or is he red

    I know that it’s quite likely that at the time people didn’t always necessarily realise what the song was about, it was just another catchy pop song that filled the airwaves, the Thursday night Top Of The Pops slot and the pages of the likes of Smash Hits magazine but hearing it used in this context still made me quietly shake my head in a “The modern world hey?” manner.

    Farm image-4

    The song was part of a loose gathering of successful UK chart singles around the mid-1980s that I wrote about in the second year of A Year In The Country, under the tag of “apocalyptic pop” – the link for which you can find below.

     

    (File Post Under: Cathode Ray & Cinematic Explorations, Radiowave Resonations & Audiological Investigations)

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    Out Of Kilter Harvest Songs

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

     

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  • Artifact Report #42/52a: All The Merry Year Round – Pre-order and Release Dates

    All The Merry Year Round-album cover-A Year In The Country

    Artifact #6a

    Pre-order 7th November 2017. Release date 28th November 2017.

    All The Merry Year Round is an exploration of an alternative or otherly calendar that considers how traditional folklore and its tales now sit alongside and sometimes intertwine with cultural or media based folklore; stories we discover, treasure, are informed and inspired by but which are found, transmitted and passed down via television, film and technology rather than through local history and the ritual celebrations of the more longstanding folkloric calendar.

    However, just as with their forebears there is a ritualistic nature to these modern-day reveries whereby communal or solitary seances are undertaken when stepping into such tales via flickering darkened rooms lit by screens, although their enclosed nature is in contrast to more public traditional folklore rituals.

    Accompanying which with the passing of time some televisual and cinematic stories continue or begin to resonate as they gain new layers of meaning and myth; cultural folklore that has come to express and explore an otherly Albion, becoming a flipside to traditional folklore tales and sharing with them a rootwork that is deeply embedded in the land.

    In amongst All The Merry Year Round can be found wanderings down such interwoven pathways, travelling alongside straw bear and cathode ray summonings alike.

    Featuring:
    United Bible Studies
    Circle/Temple (Dom Cooper of Bare Bones and Rif Mountain)
    Magpahi
    Cosmic Neighbourhood
    Field Lines Cartographer
    Polypores
    A Year In The Country
    Sproatly Smith
    Pulselovers
    The Hare And The Moon & Jo Lepine (The Owl Service)
    Time Attendant
    The Séance (Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne and James Papademetrie).

     

    Will be available via our Artifacts Shop and Bandcamp.

     

    (File Post Under: Encasements / Artifacts – Artifact #6a)

     

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  • Ether Signposts #42/52a: Matthew Lyons and a Populuxe Mid-Century Modern Parallel World

    Matthew Lyons-illustration-harvest timeMatthew Lyons-illustration-mountain

    I recently(ish) came across Matthew Lyons illustrations…

    Matthew Lyons-illustration-triangles

    They put me in mind of if Boards Of Canada existed in a mid-century modern populuxe parallel world, of intriguing widescreen science fiction epics from a future past that never was and seem to seamlessly blend a sense of being contemporary and retro futurism.

    Matthew Lyons-illustration-dome and grid
    While the above image makes me think of a still from a parallel world mid-century modern version of the film Phase IV.

    Lovely stuff…

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    Matthew Lyons website

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Day #209/365: Signal and signposts from and via Mr Julian House (#2); the worlds created by an otherly geometry
    Wanderings #13/52a: Boards Of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest; Stuck At The Starting Post / Tumbled From A Future Phase IV?

     

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  • Ocular Signals #41/52a: Image O/2a

    Image-O2a-3rd-year-A-Year In The Country-stroke
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #41/52a: (Revisiting) Travelling For A Living

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-1

    Back in the first year of A Year In The Country I wrote about Travelling For A Living, Derrick Knight’s 1966 documentary about folk singers The Watersons.

    Back then it was quite a hard film to track down – it had been available on video tape once upon a time, it could be found in an out of print boxset and I think it was available at the BFI’s Mediatheques (there were a handful of these around the UK in cinemas, libraries etc, which had a number of screens and headphones where you could watch archived films, television etc).

    Anyways, with the advent of the online BFIPlayer in more recent times, you can now watch Travelling For A Living relatively easily online, so I thought I would revisit it.

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-7

    The film follows The Watersons throughout their life on the road, playing at folk clubs, recording in studios, at home in Hull as friends and other performers visit (including a fleeting rare glance of folk singer Anne Briggs).

    Although it was released in 1966, it seems to belong to an earlier much more kitchen sink, almost post-war period.

    Often representations of British life and social history from that time focus on a swirling, colourful, pop-mod-about-to-be-psych Swinging London metropolitan view of things.

    Travelling For A Living presents a more gritty Northern contrast to that (although no less vital), an almost alternative history view of culture at that time which seems to have been semi-written out of popular cultural history.

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-3

    However, quite possibly, the locations and music shown in Travelling For A Living was nearer to the day-to-day life of more of the nation than that of Swinging London; more backroom of a local pub than Kings Road high life, club and boutique orientated.

    Travelling-For-A-Living-Derek-Knight-The-Watersons-A-Year-In-The-Country-8b-in a row

    I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to the film is that it provides a glimpse or two of a culture which, though it existed in what is now looked back upon as a time of swinging Britannia and heading towards the psychedelia of the late 1960s summer of love, appears to be very separate from the more often considered views and aesthetics of the time.

    This is a much more grassroots, kitchen sink, gritty culture/counter-culture and to my eye makes me think more of the 1950s than the 1960s; all monochrome steaming breath and black wearing beat style.

    In a way it reminds me of images of the 1980s Medway garage punk scene, such as those taken by Eugene Doyen; it shares that sense of a culture that is occurring separate to the mainstream stories and histories of the time and shares a similar kitchen sink, no frills and fripperies aesthetic.

    (From the first year post on Travelling For A Living.)

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-2

    Folk music is often associated with rural areas and tradition but in Travelling For A Living it is generally shown in amongst a much more Northern town setting – the film featuring extensive evocative terraced house street views and is connected to the harsh realities of the local fishing industry from which some of the traditional songs The Watersons sing originated.

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-6

    At one point their musical producer talks about how all the other music that they’ve heard – Ella Fitzgerald, more contemporary work by the likes of The Rolling Stones, music hall, jazz etc – edges into their music.

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-5

    (I could add pub singing to that as their take on folk singing seems in part to have developed from and could be connected to the oral, communal tradition of pub singing, which developed in the local area after the war and the demolishing of the music hall, with the associated music moving into pubs: at one point Norma Waterson say of pub singing “This is our tradition, it’s what we were brought up on.“)

    Him saying that got me wandering as to how much The Watersons were replicating the past and how much they were creating their own take on traditional music.

    This music doesn’t exist today as a living form but only in odd corners of memory; selected, hidden in the early recordings, notes and jottings treasured in the collections of Cecil Sharpe House. From these still warm ashes The Waterstones created music which is then seen to be very much alive.” (From the narration to the film.)

    There were relatively few recordings of traditional folk available at the time, it being more an oral tradition and often existing outside or before the widespread recording of music or only have been recorded in written form by the likes of folk music researchers and revivers such as Cecil Sharpe in the early 20th century.

    (As a connected aside, in the film The Watersons are shown visiting and listening to the archives of Cecil Sharpe House.)

    Therefore reference points and memories of this earlier music may well have been fragmentary in nature and not have leant themselves to exact replication; possibly meaning that music created by The Watersons back then was in part an almost hauntological, hazy remembering of folk music – one that is both a homage to earlier traditional folk and which has also to a degree over the years come to represent what traditional folk music sounds like.

    Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-3b

    (File Post Under: Cathode Ray & Cinematic Explorations, Radiowave Resonations & Audiological Investigations)

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    Travelling For A Living

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #11/365: Lal Waterson – Teach Me To Be A Summers Morning
    Day #242/365: The return of old souls; fleeting glances of Anne Briggs
    Day #243/365: Travelling For A Living; tea served in the interval at nine o’clock and a return to populous stories and wald tales

     

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  • Wanderings #41/52a: Research and Investigations of the Spectral Landscape

    Fiend In The Furrows-The Alchemical Landscape-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    Within academic work there has grown an increasing space for, research and interest in a vast variety of often quite fringe or leftfield cultural work.

    Once upon a time, not actually all that long ago (although in the decades), you could count the number of say media studies courses available at UK universities on less than the digits of one hand.

    Now, well, if you should wander through a university’s library, peruse their prospectuses and/or areas of expertise and research interests of their staff you are almost as likely to come across mentions of say niche cinema as for example more traditional philosophical thought.

    A Fiend In The Furrows-A Year In The Country

    Along which lines…

    There has been a small but growing gathering of interest in things otherly folkloric, the spectral landscape and related/intertwined hauntological work in academia, part of which has lead to a number of related events and conferences, including:

    A Fiend In The Furrows was a 2014 conference on “Perspectives on Folk Horror in Literature, Film and Music”, which was held at Queen’s University in Belfast.

    Timecode-Hauntology 20 Years On-Jacques DerridaA Fiend In The Furrows-Folk horror conference-Queens University belfast

    Hauntology: 20 Years On, a one-day academic symposium at the National Media Museum organised by the Communication Culture and Media Research Group which is part of the University of Bradford and which focused on the legacy of philosopher Jacques Derrida, who coined the phrase/concept hauntology.

    The Quest For The Wicker Man-Benjamin Franks-bookWhile in 2003 there was a three day academic conference on The Wicker Man called The Wicker Man: Readings Rituals and Reactions at the University of Glasgow, which lead to the production of a book which collected essays based on the papers presented at the conference called Constructing The Wicker Man published in 2005, which in turn lead to a further academic collection of essays, The Quest for the Wicker Man: Historical, Folklore and Pagan Perspectives, which featured an intertwined set of writers and editors.

    More recently in Glasgow in 2017 as part of the Merchant City Festival there was an event called Deconstructing The Wicker Man, which involved a screening of the film and also featured discussions by Dr Jonny Murray who was involved in the above University of Glasgow event/Wicker Man book and Dr Lizanne Henderson of the University of Glasgow.

    Yvonne Salmon-Alchemical Landscape

    Travelling along interconnected cultural pathways, The Alchemical Landscape at the University of Cambridge is a research group which has hosted a number of ongoing events and discussions and focuses in part on “occultural” representations of rural, landscape and spectral work.

    Alongside discussions of The Wicker Man at such events there have been considerations of the pastoral noir aspects of Shirley Collins’ music, folk music traditions in relation to hauntology, numerous folk horror/hauntology related presentations and screenings including the likes of Witchfinder General, The Ash Tree, The Stone Tape and other work by Nigel Kneale and so forth.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Zero Books-hauntology-A Year In The Country

    The events have also included performances, talks etc by the likes of author Chris Lambert, who has contributed to the Tales From The Black Meadow project which creates a multi-faceted fictitious otherly folkloric/hauntological world, Mark Fisher who was the author of hauntology related book Ghosts of My Life and Robin The Fog of Radiophonic-esque tape loop manipulators Howlround.

    Howlround-Drew Mullholland-English Heretic-Sharron Kraus-3

    They have also included a talk by Drew Mulholland whose album The Séance at Hobs Lane, released under the name Mount Vernon Arts Lab, was inspired in part by Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass work alongside “Victorian skullduggery, outlaws, secret societies and subterranean experiences” and which was re-released by Ghost Box Records.

    (As an aside Drew Mulholland has worked both as an independently released musician and as Glasgow University’s geography and astrophysics department’s composer-in-residence. His work in the later 1990s and turn of the century such as the albums The Séance at Hobs Lane and One Minute Blasts Rising To Three And Then Diminishing, which was recorded 100 feet below ground in an abandoned nuclear bunker, can be seen as forebears to hauntological work.)

    Related events have also included Andy Sharp of English Heretic / Eighth Climate, who work within the flipside, undercurrents, occult and hidden reverse of culture, history and the landscape:

    “It is our task at English Heretic, ostensibly, to maintain, nurture and care for the psychohistorical environment of England.”

    And also Sharron Kraus, whose work seems imbued with a sense of very personal research that takes in layered tales of the land, folk music and folklore.

    The Alchemical Landscape-Yvonne Salmon-A Year In The Country

    To a degree and in part, what such events and academic research seem to focus on and reflect is the earlier mentioned interwining of otherly or flipside of folk and rural culture and the more spectral concerns of hauntology, something which is reflected in The Alchemical Landscape’s About page which includes the following text, saying it has two intersecting points of focus, which are:

    “The artistic representation of the British landscape as an uncanny if not haunted space, and the use of comparable ‘spectral’ language to speak about matters of environment, property and value. From economic ghost towns to geomantic visitations, the interest of the Alchemical Landscape project lies with the way these tropes describe the ‘natural’ landscape of contemporary Britain and its geographic, architectural and symbolic histories.”

     

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:

    Day #23/365: Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape – a study of future haunted media

    Day #58/365: Lullabies for the land and a pastoral magicbox by Ms Sharron Kraus

    Day #142/365: Fog Signals/Ghost signals from lost transmission centres

    Day #163/365: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life and a very particular mourning and melancholia for a future’s past…

    Day #167/365: Wandering back through the darkening fields and flickerings to imaginary soundtracks…

    Day #188/365: The Ash Tree; Sacred Disobedience, an unorthodox guidance and further fields In England

     

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  • Artifact Report #41/52: A Year In The Country at Music Won’t Save You

    Music Wont Save You-Raffaello Russo

    Over the months and years Raffaello Russo has written about the A Year In The Country releases at his Music Won’t Save You site and in Rockerilla magazine a fair few times, most recently about The Quietened Cosmologists.

    There have been links to the reviews at A Year In The Country before but I thought it would be good to gather together links to some of those reviews…

    Music Wont Save You-reviews-A Year In The Country

    Michael Tanner – Nine Of SwordsUnited Bible Studies – Doineann / A Year In The Country – Airwaves: Songs From The Sentinels / The Quietened Village

    “Pratica ambientale e spirito folk si fondono nell’operazione, declinati nelle visionarie stille acustiche di The Straw Bear Band e di Sproatly Smith, ma anche nelle allucinate pièce orchestrali di David Colohan e Richard Moult, cartoline da un viaggio in un tempo perduto.” (From the review of The Quietened Village.)

    Music Wont Save You-reviews-A Year In The Country-2

    Fractures / The Quietened Bunker / A Year In The Country – No More Unto The Dance / The Forest/The Wald

    “Il percorso attraverso i misteri di ambienti rurali abbandonati seguito attraverso sei uscite a tiratura limitata nel corso dell’anno dal cenacolo artistico dell’etichetta A Year In The Country ne ha condotto i protagonisti a esplorare luoghi reconditi, memorie cristallizzate in un altrove spazio-temporale e persino a inseguirne visioni spettrali proiettate verso uno spazio in(de)finito.” (From the review of The Forest/The Wald).

    Music Wont Save You-reviews-A Year In The Country-3

    The Restless Field / From The Furthest Signals / A Year In The Country – UndercurrentsThe Quietened Cosmologists

    “Sempre più orientati alle componenti antropiche e post-industriali del paesaggio, gli itinerari tra suono e immaginazione del cenacolo artistico A Year In The Country segnano in “The Quietened Cosmologists” una nuova tappa dedicata alle visioni futuribili allegate a costruzioni funzionali all’esplorazione spaziale.” (From the review of The Quietened Cosmologists).

    The Music Won’t Save You website is an archive of Raffaello Russo’s writing and features literally hundreds of articles and reviews that take in a wide, eclectic selection of music (looking at the indexes on the site is one of those “When does the gent sleep?” moments) and although largely in Italian, if you’re not fluent in that language they can be read in (fractured) English via online translation services.

    Tip of the hat and thanks to him for the support.

     

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  • Ether Signposts #41/52a: Tales From The Kern Baby And Birmingham Library’s Benjamin Stone Archive

    The Harvest Home “Kerr Baby” of 1901. Whalton, Northumberland. 1902. The Benjamin Stone Collection

    A while ago I came across the collection of Benjamin Stone’s work at Birmingham Library, where apparently they have over 17,000 photographs by him:

    Sir Benjamin Stone travelled around the country in search of unusual festivals and customs. This gallery includes May Day festivals, the Sherborne Pageant, Corby Pole Fair and the Northumberland Baal Fires.

    I think I came across the collection following explorations around his photograph of a Kern Baby which is:

    …from a festival called ‘The Harvest Home’ in Northumberland in 1901. This festival was all about celebrating that fact that the farmers had harvested the corn and this would mean that the community had enough to eat for another year. The last corn that was gathered would be made into a human shape, dressed in fine clothes and crowned with flowers and called the ‘Kern Baby’ or ‘Harvest Queen.’ There would be feasting and music to celebrate the harvest.

    Benjamin Stone-Kern Baby-Birmingham Library-2I had written about the photograph in the first year of A Year In The Country and previous to reading the above I think the photograph existed in my head largely unnamed and unexplained, an example of intriguing folkloric costume from the flipside and undercurrents of folklore.

    One of the things I like about the Birmingham Library’s collection is that the photographs are reproduced with their border of Benjamin Stone’s handwritten notes and dates, it adds a certain something and seems to root them in a particular time and place…

    To see more than a brief snapshot of the Benjamin Stone archive’s you’ll need to personally visit Birmingham Library but there are a selection of images available online.

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    The Kern Baby at Birmingham Library
    Benjamin Stone archive of customs and festivals at Birmingham Library

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Day #131/365: John Benjamin Stone; records of folkloric rituals, traditions and light catching from other eras…
    Ether Signposts #5/52a: Homer Sykes Once A Year And A Lineage Of Folk Custom Wanderings

     

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  • Ocular Signals #40/52a: Image N/2a

    Image-N2a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #40/52a: The Unsleeping Eye

    The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-2

    For a while now I’ve been exploring the BFIPlayer’s collection of films, a collection which includes local amateur recordings of British life, left-of-centre independent film, shorts, experimental work etc…

    The Unsleeping Eye made in 1985 is a fascinating time capsule and snapshot of part of Cold War infrastructure.

    It is a documentary about the Flyingdales ballistic missile early warning station on the Yorkshire Moors which featured the iconic golfball-esque radar system (styled after Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome designs).

    Now, in modern day terms this installation cost over twelve billion pounds to build, which would imply that the powers that be took the threat of attack seriously…

    …but then that is contrasted in the documentary with a dramatised scene where a local real life volunteer, one of a network of over 10,000, hears of an impending attack via a warning system transmitted to a small speaker device.

    The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-4

    The gent in question is a pub landlord and the speaker device is shown as being sat on the corner of a shelf in a pub, just below the spirits optics; he rushes outside with a hand cranked air raid siren to alert the local population.

    I kind of shake my head. It’s sort of comic but more tragic I guess:

    “What was that John, two pints and… oh, sorry, I’ve just had a message that the end of civilisation is about to happen. You wanted peanuts as well? I’ll get them in a mo’, just got to take the siren outside. Last orders please.”

    The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-6

    I think this sense of tragedy (absurdity?) is heightened as the program opens with a view of a mechanical siren overlooking what looks like a rural town and the pub that the hand cranked siren is set up outside is a classic British country pub called Hare & Hounds – all whitewashed walls and hanging flower baskets, while the base itself is shown set amongst the rural beauty of the rolling Yorkshire moors.

    The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer

    Although largely focusing on those involved directly in working for Flyingdales, the peace camp outside the base is shown and some of its members are briefly interviewed, as is a local farmer who is patriotically proud of the base and its purpose, saying in a somewhat flowery/poetic manner:

    “They are our eyes – the eyes that Bruce Kent and his delilahs would like to put out.”

    (Bruce Kent is an activist who was well known for his work in the 1980s for CND and during some of that period was its general secretary and chair.)

    At various points the equipment inside the multi-billion pound complex is shown, which is all computers the size of a room that could now probably fit inside the average smart phone, Quatermass-esque dials and equipment, curiously 1960s Batman television series Batcave-like signs on top of equipment and an aquarium (a curious addition which I assume was added to the base to help induce sense of calm in amongst all this quite heavy/serious scanning and surveying).

    And although this is 1985, when a warning simulation is shown inside the complex it seems to recall the 1950s as it is all clanging bells and ticker tape like noises, while towards the end the program there is a montage of missile launches and the tones becomes more than a touch sensationalist in a way, as they shown in all their imposing presence to a pounding Hollywood-esque soundtrack.

    Strange times.

    The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-9

    (File Post Under: Cathode Ray & Cinematic Explorations, Radiowave Resonations & Audiological Investigations)

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    The Unsleeping Eye

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #114/365: Waiting For The End Of The World and havens beneath our feet
    Week #30/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #1; A Lovely Day Out / Not Your Average Des Res
    Week #31/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #2; Songs For The Bunker – The Once Was Ascendance Of Apocalyptic Pop
    Week #32/52: Bunker Archives #3: Wargames, Hollywood phantoms and phantasms and the only winning move is not to play

    Other contemporaneous tales of the flipside of the Yorkshire moors:
    Week #37/52: Edge Of Darkness, stepping into the vortex, reshuffling and sweeping the board…

     

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  • Wanderings #40/52a: Further Natural Calligraphy / Carving The Land / The Story Of Land Art

    The Coast Of England & Wales In Pictures-book-JA Steers-1960-A Year In The Country-2
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    I’ve mentioned before about trees and the patterns they make as being a form of natural calligraphy…

    The images in The Coast Of England & Wales In Pictures by J.A. Steers from 1960 could be seen as a similar thing but rather they are patterns created by the land and tides themselves.

    The Coast Of England & Wales In Pictures-book-JA Steers-1960-A Year In The Country-1 The Coast Of England & Wales In Pictures-book-JA Steers-1960-A Year In The Country-3 The Coast Of England & Wales In Pictures-book-JA Steers-1960-A Year In The Country-4

    What such things put me in mind of in part, are the artworks created in the landscape that can be seen in Troublemakers: The Story Of Land Art, which is a documentary on a number of people in the 1960s onwards who literally carved, excavated and poured often huge, landscape sized work out in the desert, along the coast etc…

    TROUBLEMAKERS-Double Negative-The Story Of Land Art-A Year In The Country

    Spiral-jetty-from-rozel-point-Troublemakers-The Story Of Land Art-A Year In The Country

    Troublemakers-The Story Of Land Art-A Year In The Country

    Blimey might be an appropriate phrase about now. Installation art on a grand scale…

     

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Week #52/52: An Arboreal Collection Or Two And Hello And Goodbye…

    Wanderings #15/52a: Other Views / The Patterns Beneath The Plough, The Pylons And Amongst The Edgelands #1

    Wanderings #31/52a: The Shadow Of Heaven Above

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Troublemakers: The Story Of Land Art at its home in the ether and the accompanying trailer.

     

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  • Artifact Report #40/52a: The Quietened Cosmologists – Released

    The Quietened Cosmologists-six Night and Dawn editions-front

    Artifact #5a

    Featuring audiological explorations by Field Lines Cartographer, Pulselovers, Magpahi, Howlround, Vic Mars, Unit One, A Year In The Country, Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, Time Attendant, Listening Center, Polypores and David Colohan.

    The Quietened Cosmologists is a reflection on space exploration projects that have been abandoned and/or that were never realised, of connected lost or imagined futures and dreams, the intrigue and sometimes melancholia of related derelict sites and technological remnants that lie scattered and forgotten.

    It takes as its initial starting points the shape of the future’s past via the discarded British space program of the 1950s to 1970s; the sometimes statuesque and startling derelict artifacts and infrastructure from the Soviet Union’s once far reaching space projects; the way in which manned spaceflight beyond Earth’s orbit/to the moon and the associated sense of a coming space age came to be largely put to one side after the 1969 to 1972 US Apollo flights.

    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Dawn Edition £11.95. Night Edition £24.95.

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

     

    Preview the tracks at Soundcloud.

     

    Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £11.95.
    Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.

    The Quietened Cosmologists-Dawn edition-front back and opened-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Cosmologists-Dawn Edition-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Cosmologists-Dawn edition-back and badge-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Cosmologists-Dawn Edition-opened-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Cosmologists-Edition-white-black-CD-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.

     

    Night Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £24.95.
    Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet, 4 x badge pack, 4 x stickers, 1 x large badge.
    The Quietened Cosmologists-Night edition-A Year In The Country-2The Quietened Cosmologists-Night Edition-opened-A Year In The Country The Quietened Cosmologist-Night Edition-all componentsThe Quietened Cosmologists-Night Edition-booklet-A Year In The CountryThe Quietened Cosmologists-Night-Edition-all-black-CD-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) 1 x large badge.
    7) 4 x vinyl style stickers.

    The Quietened Cosmologists-Night edition-three booklets-A Year In The Country

    The Quietened Cosmologists-Night Edition-4 sticker designs-A Year In The Country-2

    Further audiological exploration details:

    1) OPS-4 – Field Lines Cartographer
    2) Lonely Puck – Pulselovers
    3) Chayka – Magpahi
    4) Night Call, Collect – Howlround
    5) X-3 – Vic Mars
    6) Voyages Of The Moon – Unit One
    7) The March Of Progress/Frontier Dreams – A Year In The Country
    8) 093A-Prospero – Keith Seatman
    9) Phantom Cosmonauts – Grey Frequency
    10) Adrift – Time Attendant
    11) Mléčný Perihelion Weekend – Listening Center
    12) The Amateur Astronomer – Polypores
    13) Landfall At William Creek – David Colohan

    Artwork/encasment design and fabrication by AYITC Ocular Signals Department

    Artifact #5a / Library Reference Numbers: A010TQCN / A010TQCD

    The Quietened Cosmologists-landscape artwork-4

    “‘Mléčný Perihelion Weekend’ by Listening Center takes us to a strange ticking otherworldy place, a place that feels at once vast and infinite, a haunting slice of space music… The record ends with ‘Landfall at William Creek’, David Colohan’s spectral hammered dulcimer peels away into the inky vastness of space, a beautiful end to a fine record.
    Andrew Young, Terrascope

    The Quietened Cosmologists-landscape artwork-2

    The Quietened Cosmologists’ features a dozen spectral suites, each exploring the various aspects, forgotten histories and what ifs of these golden age adventures… Pulselovers serve up ‘Lonely Puck’ – a wonderfully serene and affectionate love note mailed out from across the outer edges of the cosmos, a transmission from a long lost and forgotten outpost if you like, twinkle toned and radiantly awash in what sounds like shimmering cosmic church bell celebrations… While last one for this brief ride, Field Lines Cartographer’s ‘OPS-4’ with its binary shimmer tones and vapour rubbed ethereal detailing, cuts a finite line between the enchanting and the eerie, a ghost flotilla perhaps a sonic spectre of sorts or rather more, an orbital occurrence with past visions looped on endless replay.
    Mark Barton, The Sunday Experience

     

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  • Ether Signposts #40/52a: Zupagrafika and Lost Future Intertwinings with a Family of Electronic Innovators

    Brutal London-Construct Your Own Concrete Capital book-Prestel-2

    At A Year In The Country there has been a recent series of posts about various dioramas and collectors figures of electronic music innovators.

    Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-6

    In one of the recent posts about those electronic innovator dioramas etc, I mentioned how there is a curious confluence, connection and intertwining between the flipside of or otherly pastoralism and a romantic nostalgia for electronic music techniques and areas of innovation from previous eras such as the work of The Radiophonic Workshop.

    In amongst that intertwining you could well include a romantic nostalgia for brutalist architecture.

    Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-2

    Part of what all such things seem to represent, whether the electronic music innovations of The Radiophonic Workshop, otherly pastoralism or brutalist architecture, is a sense of them containing some form of loss, of lost progressive futures or arcadic rural dreams and ways of life, of being spectrally imprinted with such loss and a layering of related tales.

    So I thought to that growing family of homages to electronic music innovators I would add in Zupagrafika’s Brutal London – Construct Your Own Concrete Capital and Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc.

    Delia-Derbyshire-Bob Moog-Raymond Scott-Daphne Oram-Press Pop figure-Heykidsrocknroll diorama-Zupagrafika-Brutal London East

    Cut out and keep etc…

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    Zupagrafika’s Brutalist explorations and homages

    Local Places Of Interest:
    (We would recommend sturdy walking shoes and bringing a substantial, nutritious packed lunch, as this is something of an intensive tour.)
    Week #39/52: An elegy to elegies for the IBM 1401 / notes on a curious intertwining
    Ether Signposts #4/52a: Brutal London – Construct Your Own Concrete Capital
    Ether Signposts #8/52a: Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc
    Ether Signposts #2/52a: Delia Derbyshire Handmade Diorama
    Ether Signposts #36/52a: Bob Moog Press Pop Figures And Synthesizer Discoveries
    Ether Signposts #37/52a: The Raymond Scott Figure, Something Of A Growing Family Of Electronic Music Innovators And A Dream Center Where The Excitement Of Tomorrow Is Made Available Today
    Ether Signposts #38/52a: Raymond Scott Diorama And Further Additions To The Electronic Innovators Family
    Ether Signposts #39/52a: Daphne Oram Diorama, A Further Addition To A Family Of Electronic Innovators And Pastoral Confluences

     

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  • Ocular Signals #39/52a: Image M/2a

    Image-M2a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country-stroke
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #39/52a: Hoofus and Moss Covered Machines

    Hoofus-Moss Covered Machines

    A while ago I wrote about the “psychogeographic folk” computer game Edgelands by Marshlight Software aka Andre Bosman aka musician Hoofus.

    On further exploration I found this description of Hoofus’ work on their website:

    Hoofus uses drifting oscillators, overlapping frequency modulation, ragged percussion and a sense of tactile interaction between performer and machines to create music of wayward eerie wonder.

    Drawing on ideas of edgelands and peripheries and the intersecting of wilderness with urban / industrial spaces, Hoofus explores the uncanny beauty of the intangible, the occult and the arcane seeping through into the post-industrial 21st century world of reason and corporate compliance.

    Interest piqued, as they say.

    Modern Ritual-Cafe OTO-Laura Cannell-Hoofus
    (Artwork from Modern Ritual event at Cafe OTO.)

    Now, if you should appreciate your electronica experimental but accessible and tinged with spectral/hauntological concerns alongside the flipside of pastoralism… well, Hoofus’ work could well be worth exploring.

    The Hoofus Moss Covered Machines EP is described by Travins Systems Records who released it as follows:

    Having had a CD hung under the Exotic Pylon to be read by the sunshine and broadcast by Jackdaws and a slot on the Laura Cannell remix EP along side Anglia’s own Luke Abbott, Hoofus takes a chariot over to Travin, hurling rural synth shards at passers by and fraying the seems of town and country with analogue experimentation… Foraging in bleak fields and hedgerows for caches of early Icini insular psychedelia, Hoofus unearths five tracks of scoured synth routing’s and complex pedal array electronics, channeling old England and rural dance culture to great effect.

    Horses Brawl-Ruminata-CD cover

    Further wandering amongst Hoofus’ work and I find that Andre Bosman has collaborated with fellow Front & Follow released musician Laura Cannell on Ruminantia by Horses Brawl, which takes fragments of early, lost or forgotten music/folk and reinterprets them in a minimal, improvised style that seems to create contemporary work that is deeply imbued with echoes of the past without being hidebound by tradition.

    (File Post Under: Cathode Ray & Cinematic Explorations, Radiowave Resonations & Audiological Investigations)

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
    Ruminantia by Horses Brawl
    Moss Covered Machines by Hoofus

    Local Broadcasts:
    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #22/52a: Edgelands – Psychogeographical Folk Tales In An Unexpected Realm
    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #29/52a: Front & Follow, Lutine Variations, Fellow Travellers & Offering A Firm Handshake To Sonic Reverie

     

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  • Artifact Report #39/52a: The Quietened Cosmologists at You, the Night & the Music and feuilleton

    The Quietened Cosmologists-cover image and 3 images in a row-A Year In The Country

    John Coulthart has posted about The Quietened Cosmologists and related pathways at his feuilleton site…

    Feuilleton-John-Coulthart-logo banner

    “The ruins of Britain’s own contribution to the Space Race—especially those like the abandoned launch-pad at High Down on the Isle of Wight—are all the more poignant for the gulf between their past ambition and present state of decay.”

    Visit that post here.

    It joins previous A Year In The Country related posts at feuilleton, including:

    UndercurrentsFrom The Furthest SignalsThe Restless FieldThe Marks Upon The LandThe Forest / The WaldThe Quietened Bunker and Fractures.

    You-the-night-and-the-music-radio-show-mat-handley-episode 215-A-Year-In-The-Country

    And in a rounding the circle manner, Mat Handley of Pulselovers whose work is featured on the album, played David Colohan’s Landfall At William Creek from the album on his You, the Night & the Music radio show.

    Originally broadcast on Sine FM, it is archived at Mixcloud, where it can be found amongst fellow The Quietened Cosmologists travellers Keith Seatman and Grey Frequency.

    Thanks to all concerned.

    More details on The Quietened Cosmologists can be found here.

     

    (File Post Under: Encasements / Artifacts – Artifact #5a)

     

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  • Wanderings #39/52a: A Shindig Double Header And Wanderings Amongst Pop Culture’s Semi-Hidden Reverse

    Shindig-issues 59 and 32-Broadcast-Psychomania-Delia Derbyshire-Tape Leader-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    Issue 59 of Shindig! magazine has as its main cover image electronic music innovator Delia Derbyshire and the strapline Tape Leaders – The BBC Radiophonic Workshop & Beyond – The History Of Early British Electronic Music.

    In many ways this issue could well be seen as a companion piece to issue 32 which featured Broadcast on the cover alongside articles on Ghost Box Records, giallo film, Berberian Sound Studio, Mike Heron of The Incredible String Band, Children’s Film Foundation, synthesizer and new age music innovators Emerald Web etc.

    While experimental electronic music, hauntology and the outer reaches of folk often make an appearance/are intertwined in amongst the more 1960s-esque, psychedelic, prog and garage rock side of Shindig!, in these two issues those aspects are more overtly foregrounded.

    Shindig-issues 59 and 32-Broadcast-Psychomania-Delia Derbyshire-Tape Leader-A Year In The Country-2

    Along which lines Issue 59 also features the likes of an article by Vic Pratt on cult undead-in-the-British-countryside-and-provincial-town biker film Psychomania from 1973, around the time it had a restored brush’n’scrub up release by the BFI’s Flipside imprint and 1960s/1970s baroque folk artist Bridget St John.

    While the magazine’s lead article is Out Of The Ordinary which is an intriguing and layered overview of the history of British electronic music.

    The article was written by Mark Brend, author of The Sound of Tomorrow: How Electronic Music Was Smuggled Into The Mainstream and takes as its starting point the release of Ian Helliwell’s book and CD Tape Leaders: A Compendium of Early British Electronic Music.

    Shindig-issues 59 and 32-Broadcast-Psychomania-Delia Derbyshire-Tape Leader-A Year In The Country-4

    Just to add to this issue’s hauntological aspect and related interest in certain aspects of previous era’s television, there is an article by David Dent on once semi-lost late 1960s television series The Tyrant King (directed by Mike Hodges of Get Carter, with more than a touch of psychedelia, a dash of Swinging London and a then rather hip soundtrack courtesy of Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, Cream, The Rolling Stones and The Nice).

    Shindig magazine-issue 59-Emma Tricca-Jane Weaver-Anne Briggs-The Quietened Bunker-A Year In The Country

    You’ll also find in amongst its pages the likes of sometimes Finders Keepers/Bird Records songstress and fringes of folk explorer Emma Tricca, sometimes Finders Keepers/lead Bird Records songstress and sometime cosmic aquatic folklorist Jane Weaver and the crystaline folk of Anne Briggs…

    …oh and even an album which takes as its theme decommissioned and abandoned Cold War infrastructure… or more precisely The Quietened Bunker, which was put out by our good selves.

    Shindig-issues 59 and 32-Broadcast-Psychomania-Delia Derbyshire-Tape Leader-A Year In The Country-5

    …the issue also features a piece called Evolution: Revolution, where Shindig!’s editor-in-chief Jon “Mojo” Mills considers two decades of records where pop was reshaped by electronic music, taking in the likes of Joe Meek to early Human League, via Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Radiophonic Workshop and the Delia Derbyshire/David Vorhaus collaborative album An Electric Storm by White Noise.

    It’s interesting how all such things have come to travel alongside and intertwine with one another… from Radiophonic-esque electronica, to hauntology, to acid/psych/exploratory folk via psychedelia and so on… not necessarily obvious bedfellows but somehow these quite separate cultural strands come together and compliment one another.

    In part, maybe they are all elements or expressions of the undercurrents, sometimes more hidden aspects and reverse of pop and culture in general…

     

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #6/365: The Fallen By Watchbird – Jane Weaver Septieme Soeur; the start of a journey through cosmic aquatic folklore, kunstmärche and otherly film fables…

    Day #100/365: Ms Delia Derbyshire and a day of audiological remembrance and salute

    Day #150/365: Parade Of Blood Red Sorrows

    Day #178/365: The cuckoo in the nest: sitting down with a cup of cha, a slice of toast, Broadcast, Emerald Web, Ghost Box Records and other fellow Shindig travellers…

    Day #303/365: Towards Tomorrow; a selection of cuttings from The Delian Mode, sonic maps, the corporation’s cubby holes and the life of an audiological explorer…

    The Quietened Bunker – Night and Dawn editions released

    Further considerations of a curious intertwining:
    Ether Signposts #39/52a: Daphne Oram Diorama, A Further Addition To A Family Of Electronic Innovators And Pastoral Confluences

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Shindig! and issue 59

     

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