• Week #39/52: An elegy to elegies for the IBM 1401 / notes on a curious intertwining

    IBM 1401-1402-1403-A Users Manual-Jóhann Jóhannsson-A Year In The Country-1bFile Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    At the moment there seems to be a romantic nostalgia for certain elements of older technology, particularly in relation to music – whether connected to creation and recording and / or related physical objects; of appreciating / returning to a certain level of awkwardness and inconvenience to things – sometimes in actuality, sometimes more as an idea or mixed and matched with contemporary zeros and ones techniques and distribution.

    Connected to the above, I suppose could be the relatively recent fanatical upswing in modern day shellac musical encasings and a love of all things analogue.

    Curiously, somehow or other the use, appreciation and romance of such older technologies segues and intertwines with the more bucolic surrounds, wanderings and landscapes of A Year In The Country,  a part of the cultural landscape “…planted permanently somewhere between the history of the first transistor, the paranormal, and nature-driven worlds of the folkloric…” (to quote Kristen Gallerneaux)…

    Hmmm.

    More of such things another time maybe.

    IBM 1401-A Users Manual-Jóhann Jóhannsson-A Year In The Country-4

    Anyways, travelling along such lines…

    Recently, in rather unexpected surroundings I came across an album called IBM 1401, A User’s Manual by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

    The IBM 1401 was a computer that was produced from 1959 until 1971 – which seems like a rather long stretch for digital technology in these rather brisk times – and were intended as a replacement for unit record equipment which processed things on punched cards (and more of those such things another time maybe), being a more new fangled tape drive based machine.

    Anyways (again), Mr Jóhannsson’s father was a maintenance engineer on such 1401’s and he programmed their memory so that electromagnetic waves could be picked up by a radio receiver that sat on top of the computer and created music via this technique.

    When the computer was rendered obsolete, his father gave it a farewell ceremony that included playing some of the short melodies he had composed – some of these were recorded on reel to reel tape recorders

    IBM 1401-A Users Manual-Jóhann Jóhannsson-A Year In The Country-2

    There’s a certain, well more than a certain, poignancy to the imagery this conjures up and the sense of affection for a set of computer workhorses that this gent had kept ticking along.

    Not a million miles away, in its own way, from tales of those in the countryside who kept workhorses essentially as pets on working farms after their superseding by friends with four wheels rather than four legs.

    Anyways (again again) much later after this earlier bidding farewell, Jóhann Jóhannsson found the tapes and created his own elegy to an elegy – hence IBM 1401, A User’s Manual.

    When I first discovered about this album, I was fascinated by it, the story of it, the story of the tapes and how they were made, the visions, sounds and images it conjured in my mind.

    IBM 1401-A Users Manual-Jóhann Jóhannsson-A Year In The Country-1(The first truly pocket computer indeed. Available with a selection of micro-accessories.)

    So, through the easy and ubiquity of the ether based opposite of the earlier mentioned awkwardness, within moments I started to listen to the album.

    It was interesting hearing the music Mr Jóhannsson had created as it doesn’t take the Radiophonic-esque bleeps, whirs, crackles and whistles of earlier technology route that might be more immediately expected, rather this is a much more almost classical, elegaic body of work that layers the original recordings and excerpts from maintenance instructions.

    Those instructions, particularly in Part Two: IBM 1403 Printer seem to belong more to say those you would find for a mechanical engine than something we now connect with computers – notes on keeping oils topped up and ball bearing maintenance for instance; reflections of a world, time, place and ways that now seem far, far removed from our own.

    A modern day User’s Manual here. Notes on it’s wellspring here and here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #39​/​​​​52​​: No More Unto The Dance – A Moment Of Optimism

    no-more-unto-the-dance-image-4-week-39-a-year-in-the-country

    bc-no-more-unto-the-dance-image-4-week-39-a-year-in-the-countryTranmission sent, received, transmitted: Dave Thompson in his Spincycle section at Goldmine Magazine:

    “…never loses sight of the beat, the heartbeat that every great club has (or had), that gave every one its own sense of purpose and desire, be it a prohibition speakeasy or a chill-out room in a rural barn.

    “Such imaginings are haunting, layering one another with emotional imagery that cannot help but lead the ghosts onto the floor, a disco queen here, a rave scene there, the scent of northern soul, the smell of teen spirit.  By the time it’s over, you feel as though you’ve been dancing all night; by the time you’ve recovered, you want to do it again.”

    Tip of the hat indeed.

     

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  • Week #38/52: Mr Haines – “our most non-hauntological hauntologist” – the evidence mounts

    Like Haines-Maximum Electronic Rock N Roll
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Mr Luke Haines has been calledour most non-hauntological hauntologist” and one of his recent(ish) album releases  seems to but add credence to that description (or should that be title?).

    Shall we look at the more recent evidence? Well, aside from the title of said album, a perusal of the track titles finds the following information:

    Luke Haines-A Year In The Country

    Hidden patterns in TV idents and related ephemera? Cold war dread? If one checks the information found in previous case law I think one will find it all points to one particular thing and (non)genre.

    Hmmm.

    Making an album with pocket synthesizers you’ve bought for a tenner each off popular ether commerce sites can only be a good idea…

    …and well, without looking into it further I think that’s what he’s done.

    Luke Haines-A Year In The Country-4

    I say without looking into it further as Mr Haines seems to be a man who keeps himself busy digging up, weaving with and creating cultural myths (and then wandering off for a caravaning holiday with them)…

    …and in the spirit of such things, beyond a sentence or two said as an almost aside about his possible future use of those tuppence ha’penny audio-electrical-oscillating devices when discussing a rock and roll cookery book (of all things) that he’d been working on and a brief perusal of an album accompanying video I have let the (possible) myth of the whole album being recorded on such things intact for myself.

    Luke Haines-Korg Monotron-A Year In The Country

     

    Peruse Mr Haines talking about such pocket money audio creation devices and related work here.

    His home in the ether and for this particular (non-hauntological) hauntological delving here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #38​/​​​​52​​: No More Unto The Dance – Future Dissolvation

    no-more-unto-the-dance-image-3-week-38-a-year-in-the-country-copy

    Audiological exploration by A Year In The Country from the album No More Unto The Dance.

    no-more-unto-the-dance-image-3-week-38-a-year-in-the-country-bcNo More Unto The Dance transmissions sent, received, transmitted: amongst fine company at The deXter Bentley Hello GoodBye Show.

    Tip of the hat to Mr Bentley…

     

     

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  • No More Unto The Dance – Dawn and Night editions pre-order

    Dawn Edition £12.00. Night Edition £25.00.No More Unto The Dance-both editions-A Year In The CountryAudiological explorations by A Year In The Country.

    No More Unto The Dance is a reflection of nightlife memories and the search for the perfect transportative electronic beat, a collection of reverberations that have fragmented with the passing of time; a mixtape that envisions echoes of times lost in the once seemingly endless dreams of a club.

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

    Pre-order available via our Artifacts ShopBandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Release date 3rd October.

     

    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, 5 x stickers, 1 x makeup mirror, one-off unique print.
    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition front-A Year In The Country copy No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition opened-A Year In The Country copyNo More Unto The Dance-Night Edition all items-A Year In The CountryNo More Unto The Dance-Night Edition booklet-A Year In The Country copy
    No More Unto The Dance-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 signed and numbered on the reverse.
    5) 4 x  badge set, contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.
    6) 5 x vinyl style stickers.
    7) 1 x makeup mirror.
    8) 1 x one-off unique print, hand signed and numbered on the reverse. Printed on textured fine art cotton rag paper.

     

    Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £12.00.
    Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.
    No More Unto The Dance-Dawn Edition front-A Year In The Country copy

    No More Unto The Dance-Dawn Edition opened-A Year In The CountryNo More Unto The Dance-Dawn-Edition-back-Midnight-Sun-A-Year-In-The-Country-copy-1
    No More Unto The Dance-Dawn-Edition-white-black-cd-Midnight-Sun-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.

     

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 4-A Year In The Country
    Notes and Scribings:
    No More Unto The Dance is a reflection of nightlife memories and the search for the perfect transportative electronic beat; a collection of reverberations that have fragmented with the passing of time.

    It is a document of life once lived in the very heart of metropolises, immersed in their subcultures: a time that was predicated in part by a passion for club culture, dancing, dressing up and related explorations carried out with the obsession, enjoyment and energy of youth.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 2-A Year In The Country

    Much of that gradually (or sometimes not so gradually) faded away or took other pathways.

    The world in which this recording was made does still come alive at night but it is more likely to be the nocturnal foraging and wanderings of wildlife rather than in a low-ceilinged basement lit by a strobe light.

    The music presented here is the soundtrack to those basements, filtered through the looking glass of a life far removed from the bright lights and big city, the dressing up and dancing but a memory – a world far, far apart, almost that seems to belong only to the worn and aged pages of a faded, forgotten magazine.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 1-A Year In The Country

    The journey it takes envisions a mixtape of memories and echoes of those pages, of 12”s bought because of the primal rush their electronics would bring on when listened to in a record shop, the lucky dip of unknown records bought hopefully from the racks of bargain basements, the more abstract/triphop beats to be found in intriguingly designed/obscure sleeves and to times lost in the seemingly endless dreams of a club; a time when the future burned with the brightness, optimism and idealism of youth.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 3-A Year In The Country

    The album plays as one continuous 40 minute piece, which is made up of the 12 tracks below. Preview individual tracks at our Soundcloud Mark II Ether Victrola.

    Memories and Echoes:
    1) Dark days. 00:00.
    2) Fractures. 03:16.
    3) Plaintive Resonations. 06:06.
    4) Future Dissolvation. 09:41.
    5) Airborne At Five Minutes To Midnight. 13:13.
    6) In The Midnight Sun. 15:52.
    7) A Moment Of Optimism. 18:41.
    8) The Experiment Ends. 23:20.
    9) After The Dream. 27:06.
    10) When Did It All Break? 32:21.
    11) A Revisiting Of Familiar Tropes. 35:52.
    12) A Fanfare And A Last Hurrah. 38:31.

    Artwork/packaging design by AYITC Ocular Signals Department.

    Audiological Transmissions Artifact #5
    Library Reference Numbers: ATA005N / ATA005D

    Pre-order available via our Artifacts ShopBandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Release date 3rd October.

     

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  • Week #37/52: Edge Of Darkness, stepping into the vortex, reshuffling and sweeping the board…

    Edge Of Darkness-1985-BBC A Year In The Country-4
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Talking of non-populist work in a populist framework (see here)… Edge Of Darkness, 1985.

    When I recently re(rere? rerere?) watched this, a comment by Dennis Potter – by way of Mark Fisher – seemed to become somewhat stuck in my mind, about how successful the “occupying forces of neo-liberalism” had been, in reference to changing and controlling the landscape, freedoms and concerns of mainstream television / culture.

    Now, I can enjoy work that is purely intended to be entertainment or escapism, no problems with that but I find Edge Of Darkness particularly interesting as it shows that exploratory, nuanced, layered, politically engaged television can be just as entertaining as more purely escapist work.

    Also, that it can be just as popular with viewers and with critics (4 and then 8 million viewers on its first and then quickly repeated runs and 6 wins / 11 nominations at the BAFTAs).

    Edge Of Darkness-1985-BBC A Year In The Country-2

    As a very brief precis it concerns a police detective whose daughter is killed, who when he attempts to investigate this is drawn into the very depths and heights of a swirling vortex of state, hidden state, political and business duplicity/scheming, both above and literally below the land (Boschian is a phrase that comes to mind). I shall not say more in case you haven’t seen it…

    It puts the lie to the sense of the eighties as being a time purely of lightweight froth of a certain type or types and the omnipotent rise of a Milk Snatcher-esque view of the world.

    Edge Of Darkness-1985-BBC A Year In The Country-3Edge Of Darkness, along with fellow companions such as The Singing Detective and The Monocled Mutineer from a similar time*, shows that era more as one that was sparking with rearguard actions against those “occupying forces“.

    (*All of which seemed to somewhat blow a young-ish mind and make it think “Ah, this is what television can do/be.”)

    The world it presents looks very real, lived in, almost dour at points and in pallette but also it is flaring with vivid dark undercurrents. In a way it shows a very sleazy world that the lead character Craven steps into – or maybe he had always been there but just in a more day-to-day, prosaic manner than this.

    Although it has been described as an eco-thriller, I actually think it’s quite hard to strictly define it in terms of genre or to say precisely what its political stance is; there is a strong sense of it being anti a kind of nuclear despotism but this isn’t a didactic, hectoring piece. It is more work that is densely steeped in the ambiguities, corruption and shifting standpoints of that earlier mentioned vortex.

    It is also a very human, at time tender tale that takes in the love for and commitment to family. Decency is another word that comes to mind.

    And with decency in mind, in some ways it travels from a more conventional, almost noirish lone-wolf / knight in armour tale and descends into some form of madness, perhaps one which reflects the participants states of mind and the worlds in which they are stepping or working.

    An almost final scene where conspirators and those who battled against them are shown dining and quaffing together reminded me of the end of Animal Farm, where those who rose up can nolonger be told apart from those against who they rose.

    Squabbles seem to be put to one side during an almost hallucinatory hellish oligarchical meal.

    By the end of things, there is little sense of things having been resolved, although it is cathartic to a degree and leaves one with some kind of sense of hope.

    It also made me think of Sapphire and Steel; another example of non-populist work within a populist framework, wherein not everything is thoroughly explained, tidied and neatened up for its audience but wherein fairly visionary, unique tales are also rather entertaining and gripping television.

    Edge Of Darkness-1985-BBC A Year In The Country-1b-stroke

    And just as with Sapphire and Steel, by the end there is a sense of having been betrayed by your own side in some way or at least the landscape and chessboard within which you have been operating has been quietly reshuffled and reorganised behind the scenes in order to suit the needs of those within the hierarchy.

    Peruse Edge Of Darkness further here and here.

    A home in the ether: one of those rare places in amongst the zeros and ones that you come across that have survived the mayfly-like spans of such things and which already seem to belong to another age entirely can be found here.

     

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  • The Quietened Bunker – A Gathering Of Transmissions

    transmissions-sent-the-quietened-bunker-a-year-in-the-country-9b-with-stroke
    Transmissions sent, received, transmitted:

    Well, there have been a fair few The Quietened Bunker broadcasts and related scribings.

    Below is a selection or two of such things.

    the-gated-canal-community-radio-show-front-follow-the-geography-trip-a-year-in-the-countryThe Gated Canal Community Radio Show – a fine collaborative effort from the labels Front & Follow and The Geography Trip; “…what are your top 5 pylons?”.

    Bliss Aquamarine – considerations of the album courtesy of Kim Harten, ending on this note; “David Colohan of United Bible Studies contributes a soundtrack-esque piece that is stark yet beautiful, a sense of hope shining through the abandonment like flowers arising triumphantly through crumbling concrete.”

    Evening of Light – further audiological gatherings and wanderings, including a dual visiting to The Quietened Bunker.

    Terrascope – a consideration of the album amongst other admirable layered, considered writing;
    “…the drifting drones of “Drakelow Tunnels” is music for ghosts. Created by Grey Frequency the track is stark and beautiful, you can almost see the figures that endlessly walk the abandoned corridors, lost souls frozen in time.”

    shindig-magazine-issue-59-quietened-bunker-review-page-91Shindig! – wherein you can find The Quietened Bunker considered by Mr Paul Osborne, nestled amongst and alongside the likes of psych, garage, folk, exploratory synthesized work, the freewheelers of Psychomania, Ms Delia Derbyshire and fellow early electronic music investigators and instigators. You cannot say fairer than that indeed.

    The Freakzone – courtesy of Mr Stuart Maconie and his nationally institutional show of musical curiousity.

    Music Won’t Save You – amongst ongoing musical reflections from over the seas, courtesy of Mr Raffaello Russo.

    The Crooked Button – broadcast amongst the experimental and subterranean delvings of this rather excellently monikered show.

    you-the-night-the-music-radio-show-sine-fm-a-year-in-the-country

    You, The Night & The Music – and a further dual broadcast to be found in the company of musical intriguements curated by Mr Matthew Handley.

    mark-losing-the-sunday-experience-a-year-in-the-country

    The Sunday Experience – a lyrical, flowing consideration; “…a most alluring waltzing orbital sorrowfully sighing in the starry outlands mournfully transmitting crystalline cosmic distress calls from forgotten far off outposts to its long since fallen creator as it observes the heavenly nightlights in states of gracefall dulling, diminishing and disappearing…”

    Retromania – interlinked personal, historical wanderings by Mr Simon Reynolds (updated and somewhat extended since the last time it was mentioned around these parts).

    Syndae 353 and 354 – a literal dual broadcast courtesy of work from The Quietened Bunker, in amongst all manner of electronic music journeying and roving.

     

    Well, all I can say is thankyou and a tip of the hat (or two) to all involved in the above and also to Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, 
Panabrite, 
Polypores, 
Unknown Heretic, Listening Center,
 Time Attendant and 
David Colohan for carrying out the explorations contained within the album.

    Thankyou kindly good sirs and ladies.

     

    And the album itself? Well…

    The Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The CountryThe 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…

    It can be found around these parts here and at Norman Records here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #37​/​​​52​​: No More Unto The Dance – Plaintive Resonations

    no-more-unto-the-dance-image-2-week-37-a-year-in-the-country

    Audiological exploration by A Year In The Country from the album No More Unto The Dance.

    no-more-unto-the-dance-image-2-week-37-a-year-in-the-country-bc“…the world in which this recording was made does still come alive at night but it is more likely to be the nocturnal foraging and wanderings of wildlife rather than in a low-ceilinged basement lit by a strobe light…”

    Available to pre-order on 19th September 2016 at our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola. Release date 3rd October 2016.

     

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  • Week #36/52: Gone To Earth – “What A Queen Of Fools You Be”, Something Of A Return Wandering And A Landscape Set Free

    Gone To Earth-1950-Powell and Pressburger-Jennifer Jones-poster-costume-A Year In The Country
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Hmmm. Gone To Earth.

    In some ways it is a caddish melodrama, with the untamed rural main female character marrying the local priest (the “good man”) but being lead astray by the almost moustache-curling-baddie wants and takings of the local squire.

    However, it is much more than that and as you watch it you can feel it straining at its period restrictions re sexuality, desire, faithfulness and respectability.

    (Sin, acceptance, redemption, retribution and repression may well also be appropriate words round about now.)

    It is a non-populist / exploratory work presented in a populist framework – often something of a favourite way of presenting things around these parts – and there is just something, well, odd about it that is hard to quite put your finger on.

    And it has a genuinely shocking, I expect particularly non-focus-grouped (!), non-populist ending that just left me, well, shocked.

    (Also, if memory serves correctly, that shock was heightened by the film being very quickly over in terms of run time after the ending: in contrast to modern films where 5-10 minutes of credits rolling up the screen is not uncommon, here there are very few credits and therefore time at its tail end to reflect and take things in.)

    Jennifer Jones-Gone to Earth-1950-Powell and Pressburger-A Year In The Country-2

    And talking of that not quite being able to put your finger on such things, it made me think of the gentle but not necessarily gentling “other” view of the landscape to be found In The Dark Half, of which I said back when:

    There is a subtle sense that you are looking in on a magical otherly world. There are folkloric elements to the film but it’s not so much those which give the sense of a world with it’s own rules and even magic. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but there’s a certain lush, soft beauty to the rundown estate and it’s nearby countryside in the film (which is good to say as a contrast to the often standard British realist cinema take on such things)… but in that lush beauty there is a sense of something else, something unsettling.

    In Gone To Earth, that otherlyness is less overtly dark and the possible poverty is presented more as a deeply rooted bucolic way of of life but…

    Gone To Earth-1950-Powell and Pressburger-Jennifer Jones-A Year In The Country-3b

    …within its world (and it is most definitely its own world) the British landscape is also not presented in a realist manner, rather here it has a Wizard Of Oz-esque, Hollywood sheen of beauty, glamour and quiet surreality, which in part it is given by the vibrant colours of the Technicolor film process but it is something more than just that, something not quite so on the surface, that runs more deeply in the furroughs of the things…

    And talking of most definitely their own worlds…

    In some ways the air of not-quite-real-ness makes it seem like the forerunner to the more fairy tale side of the Czech New Wave (in particular Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders and possibly Malá Morská Víla / The Little Mermaid) and also to the style, character and imagery of a younger Kate Bush, of a free spirit cast on, upon and amongst the moors.

    And talking of deeply in the furroughs of things…

    I’ve seen it said about Kate Bush that in her work she could be seen as channelling something ancient, which is something that seems to also apply to the Powel and Pressburger film Gone To Earth, it seems to somehow delve and dig deeply amongst the land and related archetypes; this is a tail where faiths old and new are part of and/or mingle amongst folkloric beliefs and practises.

    Jennifer Jones-Gone to Earth-1950-Powell and Pressburger-A Year In The Country-4

    Hmmm. Writing about it all makes me want to wander back, watch and appreciate it once again.

    Most definitely a film that would appreciate a good old considerate, respectful, modern day Bluray brush and scrub up (I may well be looking hopefully in the general direction of Criterion here).

    Other pathways and wanderings around these parts:

    “Other” visions of the landscape:
    Day #21/365: In The Dark Half

    Interrelated Powel and Pressburger intertwinings and a very particular Lionheart-ess:
    Day #108/365: Let me grab your soul away – Kate Bush and darkly cinematic flickerings through the meadows, moors and mazes…

    Forerunnings to be:
    Day #247/365: Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word and voyages through other playful fancies from behind the once ferrous drapes…

    Further forerunners, signpostings, (Electric) Edenic wanderings and other non-populist sylvan-Sylvian-ic pop:
    Day #326/365: Harp In Heaven, curious exoticisms, pathways and flickerings back through the days and years…

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #36​/​​​52​​: No More Unto The Dance – Dark Days

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 4-A Year In The Country

    Audiological exploration by A Year In The Country from the album No More Unto The Dance.

    bc-no-more-unto-the-dance-bandcamp-track-1“No More Unto The Dance is a reflection of nightlife memories and the search for the perfect transportative electronic beat, a collection of reverberations that have fragmented with the passing of time; a mixtape that envisions echoes of times lost in the once seemingly endless dreams of a club…”

     
    Available to pre-order on 19th September 2016 at our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola. Release date 3rd October 2016.

    Also will be available from Norman Records.

    More details here.

     

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  • A Year In The Country – No More Unto The Dance pre-order and release dates

    Dawn Edition £12.00. Night Edition £25.00.
    No More Unto The Dance-both editions-A Year In The Country
    Audiological Transmissions Artifact #5

    Available to pre-order on 19th September 2016 at our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola. Release date 3rd October 2016.

    Two limited editions: Dawn fold-out and Night boxset.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition all items-A Year In The CountryNo More Unto The Dance-Dawn Edition opened-A Year In The Country

     

    Notes and Scribings:
    No More Unto The Dance is a reflection of nightlife memories and the search for the perfect transportative electronic beat; a collection of reverberations that have fragmented with the passing of time.

    It is a document of life once lived in the very heart of metropolises, immersed in their subcultures: a time that was predicated in part by a passion for club culture, dancing, dressing up and related explorations carried out with the obsession, enjoyment and energy of youth.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 4-A Year In The Country

    Much of that gradually (or sometimes not so gradually) faded away or took other pathways.

    The world in which this recording was made does still come alive at night but it is more likely to be the nocturnal foraging and wanderings of wildlife rather than in a low-ceilinged basement lit by a strobe light.

    The music presented here is the soundtrack to those basements, filtered through the looking glass of a life far removed from the bright lights and big city, the dressing up and dancing but a memory – a world far, far apart, almost that seems to belong only to the worn and aged pages of a faded, forgotten magazine.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 1-A Year In The Country

    The journey it takes envisions a mixtape of memories and echoes of those pages, of 12”s bought because of the primal rush their electronics would bring on when listened to in a record shop, the lucky dip of unknown records bought hopefully from the racks of bargain basements, the more abstract/triphop beats to be found in intriguingly designed/obscure sleeves and to times lost in the seemingly endless dreams of a club; a time when the future burned with the brightness, optimism and idealism of youth.

    No More Unto The Dance-Night Edition landscape sticker 3-A Year In The Country

    Memories and Echoes:
    1) Dark days
    2) Fractures
    3) Plaintive Resonations
    4) Future Dissolvation
    5) Airborne At Five Minutes To Midnight
    6) In The Midnight Sun
    7) A Moment Of Optimism
    8) The Experiment Ends
    9) After The Dream
    10) When Did It All Break?
    11) A Revisiting Of Familiar Tropes
    12) A Fanfare And A Last Hurrah

     

    Available to pre-order on 19th September 2016 at our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola. Release date 3rd October 2016.

     

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  • Coming Soon – No More Unto The Dance

    No More Unto The Dance-A Year In The Country

    Audiological explorations by A Year In The Country.

     

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  • Week #35/52: Belbury Poly’s New Ways Out and strutting your stuff at the Panda Pops disco

    The Belbury Poly-New Ways Out-Ghost Box Records-Jim Jupp-A Year In The Country
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    I think the first thing I read about The Belbury Poly’s New Ways Out album was this quote from Electronic Sound:

    …transporting you to those especially daft places only BP can – Tizer-fuelled 70s youth club discos with side-rooms for Ouija boards…

    Well, that caught the old attention somewhat and made me chuckle indeed.

    One of the aspects of that quote that caught my eye was that it made me anticipate a sense of fun or playfulness from the album.

    And indeed The New Ways Out has that via a set of rather catchy pop hooks, with that playfulness being quietly filtered through a Belbury Poly / Ghost Box view.

    In another cultural landscape, maybe one where (to semi-quote Mr Mark Fisher) “…the circuit between the avant-garde and the mainstream isn’t broken…“, on a Thursday evening I would expect to hear the words “And now, on Top Of The Pops, The Belbury Poly with The New Harmony…”

    …and 7″s of Playground Gateway would be piled up in Woolworths.

    (I find myself thinking The New Harmony should be on its own 12″ single release, in a time before such things became rarities and pretty much as expensive to buy as an LP. The songs length and epic-ness would seem to lend itself to such a format).

    In part, for me, the album seems to conjure up / refer to an imagined, indefinable golden age of synthesized exploration, one where such things were intertwined with the pop / mainstream music world and charts.

    The Belbury Poly-New Ways Out-Ghost Box Records-Jim Jupp-poster etc-A Year In The Country-3

    This is experimental / explorative music but it’s such things not as a moody teenager in its bedroom with the curtains drawn, more one that has got itself down that Panda Pops disco and is having “a bit of a boogie”.

    (As an aside, I tend to think of youth club discos from back when as being more Panda Pops rather Tizer fuelled – perhaps different geographic fizzy pop distribution areas in the days before universal brand ubiquity and organisation of such things.)

    In my minds eye, on that just mentioned episode of Top Of The Pops, The New Harmony would have shared a set of stages on a show that featured Kraftwerk, Donna Summer at her Moroder peak, Lieutenant Pigeon, a band playing a Chin and Chapman classic, The Wombles (said without any irony, I like The Wombles) and possibly a folk band having their pop moment in the charts inbetween moonlighting for The Bagpuss soundtrack…

    …or maybe, if it was a particularly good week and just to show that the avant-garde / mainstream circuit was alive and functioning well, some early-ish work by Ms Kate Bush.

    Ah, we can but dream.

    A particular highlight of the album is The New Harmony – which seems to channel the aforementioned Kraftwerk, Donna Summers at her Moroder Peak and… well, who knows quite what?

    Which is one of the things with this album – often it reminds you of something but you don’t know quite what that something is, it’s just on the edge of memory. There is a sense of reference points and lines drawn from the past but without it being overly or overtly retro – it is more that it exists in a separate slipstream of its own.

    The Belbury Poly-New Ways Out-Ghost Box Records-Jim Jupp-stacks gs-A Year In The Country

    Anyway, back to The New Harmony.

    When I first heard this particular song, after a while I felt like I needed to look up to check that somehow it wasn’t playing on a seamless loop. It has a sort of endless, almost Kafka-esque quality (well, in a warm, synthesized Ghost Box manner), a sense of never leaving and it seems to make time lose traction.

    Playground Gateway ends the album and in that other slipstream world it begins as though it would be the second single off the album, starting with a knockabout schoolyard glam chant air before it wanders off to soundtrack science fiction explorations featuring gleaming golden crystal, floating cities that our hero approaches via a winged white horse.

    Yes indeed.

    Meanwhile, Starhazy is the slightly more challenging third single that was played on late night radio, the devoted fans loved it (I can see the headlines now “Police called to break up pitched battle between Polyites and Numanoids”) and the audience on Top Of The Tops did their “not quite sure if I like this / if I should dance to this” that they often did for such things.

    It wouldn’t necessarily have been quite as big in the charts but would still have had gents at EMI etc popping champagne corks to a backdrop of one those upward travelling sticky taped sales charts.

    This particular vocal led song made me think of the likes of post-industrial bands such as Coil but without the sometimes portentous gloom and manner that can sometimes be found around those cultural parts.

    Hey Now Here He Comes is the album’s other glam-stomp (with a mild pastoral air) that the record company wanted as an A-side in the UK, but which due to scheduling and contractual problems only came out as a small quantity of 7″s in Belgium and many years later was rediscovered and featured on the second volume of the Velvet Tinmine.

    As always with the releases sent forth into the world from Ghost Box, the packaging and design adds an extra layer of  complimentary, constellatory elements to consider and peruse.

    The Belbury Poly-New Ways Out-Ghost Box Records-Jim Jupp-inner-A Year In The Country

    In this instance, the cover design of a cathode-ray trailed title / logo is lovingly crafted by Mr Julian House, as is often the traditional way with their releases but also inside is a fine piece of pen-smithery / illustration by Jim Jupp, the chap behind all things Belbury Poly.

    This has a gentle bucolic air while also somehow managing to convey just a slight atmosphere of off-centre-ness, for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on and it seems to be both contemporary but also to have tumbled from a never-was but is out-there-somewhere children’s television show from back when.

    To begin to sum things up and coming back to that air of playfulness and the earlier moody teenager analogies, this is experimental, avant-garde, layered and culturally underpinned music that’s had a Babycham or two, learnt to kick it’s feet up, had a birrova laugh and maybe even scuffed a knee or elbow or two at morning break.

    Something of a breath of fresh air. Thankyou to Mr Jim Jupp and all concerned.

    Listen to and peruse New Ways Out here, in slightly newer, more fangled manner at one of Ghost Box’s ether victrolas here and amongst the notifications of The Belbury Parish Magazine here.

    A few other related pathways and wanderings around these parts:

    Day #52/365: The Advisory Circle and ornithological intrigueries…
    Day #59/365: Signals and signposts from and via Mr Julian House
    Day #64/365: Belbury Polys Geography Of Peace
    Day #65/365: Mr Jim Jupp’s parish circular
    Day #205/365: The interfaces between the old ways/cathode rays; twelve spinnings from an (Electric Edenic) Invisible Ghost (Juke)Box
    Day #297/365: The Department of Psychological Navigation and fragments of fragments of a conversation…
    Week #8/52: The Untold Story Of The British Space Programme and explorations by / courtesy of Misters Jupp, Hollings, Seatman and Mrs Oram…

    (Which would be more than a few it seems…)

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #35/​​52​​: Howlround – Torridon Gate (excerpt)

    Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-2Revisitation #6.

    We thought it would be nice to wander back to Howlround’s Torridon Gate which was produced in the following manner:

    All of the music on this album was created from a single recording of a front garden gate on Torridon Road in Hither Green, London. These sounds were captured using a contact microphone and processed, looped and edited on three reel-to-reel tape machines with all electronic effects or artificial reverb strictly forbidden…

    Transmissions sent, received, transmitted…

    Back when there was a fair amount of considering and scribing about the album. Below is a selection of just a few of such things:

    “…the missing link between Ekoplekz and On Land, or  Stahlmusik gaseously expanded into Kosmische Musik…
    Simon Reynolds at Blissblog.

    Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-tape cutting loop spool

    Torridon Gate is a different beast, essentially a manipulated field recording of a garden gate. But what a gate!… The Torridon Gate is a sonic symbol of a time and place, preserved by Howlround as a reminder not only of durable things, but of durable memories.  Few would recognize this as a field recording; it comes across as an experimental electronic piece, haunted by echo and hum.  The expected creaks are present, yet in these recordings, one can also hear ghosts… If one’s gate sounded like this, would one venture outside to close it?  Perhaps not.  But one’s gate does sound like this; we’re simply unable to hear it.  This is the whole point of A Year In The Country’s Artifact Shop –  to uncover what is veiled, even if it remains beyond our comprehension.
    Richard Allen at A Closer Listen.

    Torridon Gate will transport you – from Jupiter’s Moons to the Mines Of Moria. You might be led to believe that the Gate is an extraterrestrial artifact to fold space and time, but in fact, it’s just an ordinary garden gate.”
    Forest Punk

    Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-A Year In The Country-Day Edition-reel with transparent text page on top

    Beautifully different, utterly chillingly and curiously affecting. …There is something… at play here; a desire to manipulate sound, twist it into shapes that emote, that frighten, entrance and ultimately affect the listener on a deep, instinctive, physical and emotional level…”
    Grey Malkin at The Active Listener

    The gate’s squeaks become sounding mountains, and clouds of melodic atmospheres float through the piece. It’s an ordinary object made hauntingly strange.
    Louise Gray at Music Works.

    Howlround’s recording succeeds by obfuscating the source, rendering the ‘real’ unreal and transforming the ordinary into an other-worldly phenomenon…
    Robin Tomens at Include Me Out.

    Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-A Year In The Country-Day Edition-front of booklet

    This third album from London’s finest manipulators of magnetic tape, Howlround, is a slow burning, deeply atmospheric corker.  Produced entirely from recordings made from the gate referenced in the title, the duo of Robin (the Fog) and Chris (Weaver) have coaxed a dizzying array of unsettling and even sorrowful sounds from this most functional of objects and have layered them to astonishing effect.
    Ian Holloway at The Quiet World.

     

    Howlround related wanderings around these parts:
    Day #142/365: Fog Signals/Ghost signals from lost transmission centres

    Day #296/365: Howlround’s ether handbill… and a hop, skip and jump to curious links between mirror world reflections of our times, the work of previous audiological explorers, certain English gents and printed/bound spectral considerations…

    Day #356/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #6; fading vessellings

     

    Howlround can be found in the ether here. Erstwhile Howlround-ers Robin The Fog and Christopher Weaver can be found here and here.

    The album can be found at our Artifacts Shop and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola.

     

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  • Week #34/52: Restricted Areas – Further Wanderings Amongst A Bear’s Ghosts

    Danila tkachenko-Restricted Areas-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country-2
    File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 wanderings

    Not so long ago I came across Danila Tkachenko’s Restricted Areas work and it somewhat haunted me.

    There is limited space on the shelves of A Year In The Country’s archival storage but this is a particular book which has been found a home there and I am rather glad it has as each time it catches my eye and mind, it causes me to briefly stop and wander.

    The photographs are of abandoned hardware, secret cities and installations from the Soviet Union during the Cold War period.

    Danila tkachenko-Restricted Areas-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country

    They include experimental laser systems, former party headquarters, antenna built for interplanetary connection with bases on other planets which were planned for once upon a time, a city where rocket engines were produced which was closed to outsiders until 1992, the world’s largest diesel submarine becalmed and landlocked, a former mining town which has now become a bombing trial field, a particularly striking amphibuous vertical take-off aeroplane built in a very limited edition of but two, space capsules left sadly alone and so forth.

    In many ways, the spirit of the photographs seem like a different time and places hauntology, a differing but also partly parallel strand to that which has come about in the UK / the West and its sense of an observation / mourning / yearning for a more utopian future which never came about.

    Danila Tkachenko says of the places, structures, equipment, vehicles and mechanisms he has photographed:

    Those places lost their significance together with the utopian ideology which is now obsolete. The perfect technocratic future that never came.

    Interestingly, every photograph is of a snow covered / bound scene but this is not referred to anywhere in the text.

    This lends a stark, isolated and also kind of naturally cleansed and beautiful, minimal aesthetic to these photographs of stilled monuments to a past and future that is no more.

    Danila tkachenko-Restricted Areas-Dewi Lewis Publishing-collage gs-A Year In The Country-4

    Looking at the images again now, there is a certain iconographic nature to them, their shapes, silhouettes and geometries seem inherently imbued with, to capture and distill a certain progressive, utopian, striving Soviet philosophy.

    Danila tkachenko-Restricted Areas-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country-3

    Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing (something of a returning point of interest around these parts I tend to find), it is a particularly handsomely produced book; initially opening in an unusual tri-fold manner which reveals a map of the areas of this former empire, before progressing to accompanying text / imagery and which for some reason makes it feel like / me think of some lost cartographers document.

    I think one of the things that appeals is that there is a certain calmness to the book, which is I expect in no small part due to there actually being quite a small number of images contained therein, as opposed to an almost overwhelming, possibly jading deluge that is difficult to take in during one viewing / journeying through, as may sometimes be the case in larger volumes.

    Although the work / book stands on its own as something of a unique document, it could also be seen to be part of a small but quietly growing library of Soviet ghosts, some of which I have visited around these parts before.

    These would include  Jan Kempenaers Spomenik, which documents memorials from behind the once iron curtain, Christopher Herwig’s recording of the accidental utilitarian art of Soviet Bus Stops and the literally betitled Soviet Ghosts by Rebecca Litchfield, which is a Westerner’s view and wandering of often stately, still elegant Soviet Era abandoned buildings and infrastructure.

    I could well also add Stephen Coate’s X-Ray Audio, which is a book which researches bootleg LPs that were produced in that previous era and utilised x-ray plates rather than vinyl / shellac.

    Visit Restricted Areas at Danila Tkachenko home in the ether here and at Dewi Lewis Publishing here.

    Find the other just mentioned bear’s ghosts elsewhere in the ether here, here, here and here.

     

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  • Audiological Transmission #34/​​52​​: She Rocola – Burn The Witch

    She Rocola-Burn The Witch-Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town-Day Edition-front of booklet-A Year In The CountryRevisitation #5.

    Now, we have something of a soft spot for this here track and its companion.

    In amongst the A Year In The Country releases it may well be a turning down more overtly folk horror (or should that be folk noir, more of which in a moment?) pathways, accompanied by the phantasmagorical remembering of childhood rhymes to be found in Molly Leigh, which is inspired by Ms Rocola’s…

    “…personal folklore and that of her home town; childhood experiences of chasing her playmates around Molly Leigh’s grave and the rhymes which accompanied such games. It is an audiological conjuring of hazy, sleepy small-hours memories and dreams from those times.

    Transmissions sent, received, transmitted: the single garnered some rather fine considerations and scribing, a pairing of which are below:

    She Rocola conjures one the most bewitching releases of the last few months… Burn The Witch” begins with urgent stabs and wails of violin and an immediate sense of foreboding. Rocola intones the witches’ fate, vocal harmonies layering ghostlike amidst the baroque setting, her voice endlessly repeating “make her leave my mind”… a subtle but powerful spell. Inspired by “childhood memories and by formative viewings of late-night folk-horror films from in front of and behind the sofa” this is a hallucinatory and haunting piece of folk noir.

    “Second track “Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town” is a music box filled shimmer of dread, acoustic guitars casting spectral shadows under the repeated nursery rhyme mantra of the verse. The voice of the witch speaks, intertwining with the sounds of the children’s twisted game. It is both utterly unique and completely hypnotic; this is gothic folk like you have never heard before.

    By Grey Malkin (of The Hare And The Moon) at The Active Listener.

    She Rocola-Burn The Witch-revisiting-artwork-A Year In The Country

    … few 45s of the last couple of years can catch up with this one… Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town” is the kind of nursery rhyme you never learned at your mother’s knee, but which buried itself in your memory regardless, to peer out of the soil whhile you’re hopscotching past, and wrap bony fingers round your ankle; “Burn the Witch” is freakish fiddles (by Andrea Fiorito) that scratch behind She’s icy vocal and spectral harmonies, a Hammer film condensed to two minutes of sound and effects.

    By Dave Thompson (author of many a tome or two or hundred or so) at Goldmine.

     

    Burn The Witch wanderings around these parts:She Rocola-Burn The Witch-Ellen Terry beetlewing dress-Zoe Lloyd-Mrs Nettleship-A Year In The Country
    Day #39/365: Burn The Witch by Ms She Rocola, a stately repose amongst the corn rigs and Victorian light catching

    The Victorian light catching in question is the photograph of Ms Rocola that accompanied the release, by Zoe Lloyd:

    a stately repose amongst the rural landscape and corn rigs, a folkloric meandering through the textures of Sarah Moon and Deborah Turbeville (this particular entrancing of the soul was created using light catching techniques from previous eras – traditional wet plate to be more precise)...

    She Rocola-Burn The Witch-all versions-revisiting-A Year In The Country
    Night, Day, Arising, Owl Light and Dawn encasements:

    Day #273/365: Artifact #39/52; She Rocola Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother town CD released – Night / Day Editions

    Day #280/365: Artifact #40/52; She Rocola Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town; The Arising Edition – archival print and 3″ CD released

    Day #304/365: Artifact #43/52; She Rocola Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town CDs released – Owl Light / Dawn Editions

     

    Burn The Witch (2014):
    Words; She Rocola. Music: Andrea Fiorito. Vocals: She Rocola. Violin: Andrea Fiorito.

    Recorded and produced by Joe Whitney and Andrea Fiorito.

    Elsewhere in the ether: She Rocola. Mr Whitney.

     

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  • 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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