Audiological exploration by Grey Frequency from the album The Quietened Bunker.
Pre-order 1st August 2016. Release date 15th August 2016.
“The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decomissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.
“Looking back, such preparations can seem a reflection of some kind of madness or delusion in the collective consciousness and the halls of power – a tilting at windmills that was necessary to protect national psyches from the reality and aftermath of the sudden use and descending of mechanisms with almost indescribable destructive power.
“Now it can all seem like a dream from another world, one where for a number of decades populations lived under the day-to-day threat of total annihilation and where millions was spent on this network of shelters and defences; preparations to allow fiddling once all had burned, such bunkers possibly being nearer to utilitarian national follies than fortresses.
Indeed, today they are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences.”
(From the notes that accompany The Quietened Bunker.)
Audiological contents for the album created by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.
Further details of The Quietened Bunker can also be found amongst the reaping and ingatherings of Heathen Harvest.
Alongside its corporeal encasements at our Artifacts Shop and amongst the zeros and ones of our Bandcamp Ether Victrola, the Fractures album has gone a-wandering and winding its way through the ether and is now available at various new(ish) fangled places to peruse and contemplate, including:
Fractures can also be found amongst transmissions, scribings and considerations via…
The rather fine paper and/or zeroes and ones pages of Electronic Sound (nestled amongst the work, innovations and discoveries of Mr Bob Moog and other audiological modulation explorers)…
The transmissions, considerations and curating of Mr Ed Pinsent at The Sound Projector…
In an “at home setting” at Include Me Out…
And also at Claude Mono’s ongoingly intriguing transmissions at The Golden Apples Of The Sun here and here (which can also be found amongst traditional airwaves transmissions and their archiving at RTRFM here).
And finally, as something of a late inclusion and in an interwoven / interweaving manner, work from Fractures can also be found at Keith Seatman’s Test Transmission Archive Reel 26.
Much appreciated and tip of the hat to all concerned.
Further details on Fractures and the work created for it by Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska / Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, Polypores, David Colohan and our good selves can be found here.
Something interesting has happened in the world of culture since the first spin-around-the-sun of A Year In The Country.
Back then, what had come to be labelled as hauntology seemed to be something of a critical / cultural / theorertical darling, something that people and sections of the media seemed genuinely intrigued, fascinated and inspired by.
Since that time, it seems to have changed from critical darling to cultural whipping boy and indeed become a (loose) genre of which people dare not or want to not speak its name.
I mean this literally as I have seen it written as say h**ntological, sometimes just the letter H or more generally referred to with a slightly (or more than slightly) dismissive tone.
(As an aside I am referring more explicitly, though not exclusively, about areas of music which have been labelled hauntology, rather than the wider philosophical use of the term.
As a futher aside, I am not trying to join a possible chorus of naysayers, I still find myself rather fond / intrigued by hauntology as a cultural form / set of ideas and think it still has a leg or two – I am more merely commenting on and acknowledging related cultural changes, interests, perceptions and its possible stasis and / or evolution.)
I think what has probably happened is (A): a lot of cultural things which are critically revered often seem to end up being reviled, almost as part of a knee jerk, automatic cultural cycle and circle and (B): there has come to be too much of a reliance on a set number of tropes and cultural reference points.
I think Claude Mono of the rather fine The Golden Apples Of The Sun site / radio show puts this rather well as an introduction to his recent Exploration Series No.1 – Hauntology episode:
“…By way of a brief introduction let me just say I think Hauntology is a rich and rewarding musical and visual aesthetic but one that can be done really badly – you know a bus-ride of nostalgia and electronics – full of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, British public information films of the 1970s, eerie soundtracks, concretism, and brutalist architectural imagery – well there certainly is some of that but hopefully a little bit more such as some crucial reference points and an incredible live track from Broadcast, some drum and bass, and 80s band Japan…”
I think “…there certainly is some of that but hopefully a little bit more…” is a particularly important point around all such goings on.
When a cultural movement / gathering / style / genre becomes too codified, too set in its ways (too pipe and slippers?) then often apart from to its die hard followers and/or those that appreciate an endless self-referential looping it can begin to loose its way as a vital and/or exploratory force.
Saying such isn’t a call for endless stylistic novelty, more just a note that adding a few new ingredients to a well worn and tested recipe is often not a bad thing.
Or maybe using the spirit of say hauntology as a starting point rather than seeing its codified elements and references as unwaverable guidelines.
And that spirit?
Well aside from the aesthetics of such things, which I do appreciate, so I’m not dismissing them but to get to the core of things I think I may well need to quote myself back when I was considering hauntology’s unmaking as a genre:
“Music and culture that draws from and examines a sense of loss of some kind of utopian, progressive, modern(ist?) future that was never quite reached…”
Essentially a reaction against a certain shall we say starboard leaning totality of thought that seems to abound today.
Inherently political work in a way. If not overtly, then at least in spirit. Port leaning shall we say, in a further “dare not speak its name” manner.
As an almost finishing note, cultural forms and wellsprings are generally hardy things.
They rarely disappear from the landscape completely; they may become un or less fashionable, wander off into niches to quietly continue their journeys, maybe to periodically be revived, revisited or provide inspiration at future points in time.
And as a finishing note, I am put in mind of Jeanette Leech’s thoughts and writings in her notes to the Weirdlore compilation, where she discusses the use of genre names and the brief shining of media and general cultural interest spotlights on a particular niche of exploratory folk music:
“When light is not on a garden, many plants will wither. But others won’t. They will grow in crazy, warped, hardy new strains. It’s time to feed from the soil instead of the sunlight.”
And talking of hardy cultural forms, considerations of previous “…deletion of spectres and the unmaking of a genre…” can be found around these parts here.
Audiological exploration by Keith Seatman from the album The Quietened Bunker.
Pre-order 1st August 2016. Release date 15th August 2016.
There is an excellent, evocative piece on The Quietened Bunker and personal related history / explorations of an abandoned Cold War Monitoring Post by writer Simon Reynolds at his Retromania blog:
“Managed to get it open and we climbed down there. The ladder was like one of those you get on the outside of a silo or inside of the turret of a submarine. At the bottom was a rather confined chamber, with bunks and loads of sandbags. There might have been some other paraphernalia down there – gas masks, maybe. What I do remember vividly is the shaft of summer light coming down the stairwell and the dust motes irradiated in it… Then we climbed back up and out and once again were surrounded by thistles and cow pats.”
(If you should wander in that direction then a peruse of the comments section and related links connected to Mr Reynolds and Subterranea Britannica is highly recommended – you may well stumble upon a rather surprising piece of light-catchery from back when.)
Audiological Transmissions Artifact #4
The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.
Audiological contents created by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.
Both editions hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by A Year In The Country.
For a while the BFI’s Flipside release of Symptoms kept catching my eye.
Nothing too unusual there, I seem to have been following the releases since way back when the series started and usually check in every now and again to see what subterranean / mondo / forgotten / exotica / odd b-movie / occasional slight strand of otherly pastoralism they’ve given a good old brush and scrub up to.
Aside from that usual level of interest, something kept nagging away quietly at the back of my mind about Symptoms, although I think that I knew nothing or very, very little about the film, its plot, history etc.
Then I came across a review wherein it was described as “…gothic-bucolic…” and “…the sort of thing that begat hauntology and Peter Strickland…”.
This short piece ended “…it’s a revelation“.
Well, that was me hooked. Actually, that was me hooked at the phrase gothic-bucolic, which seemed to strike a certain note and resonance with and well, just intrigued me.
As a quick precis of the film’s history and story it was made in 1973, came out in 1974, received a fair amount of critical attention / praise and then largely disappeared for the best part of forty years.
It is the tale of two young women who go for a break in a large countryside located house, wherein one of their mental states begins to splinter and fracture.
Now, where to start about the film? I feel as though I could easily write a short(ish) book about it…
I don’t seem to remember Peter Strickland mentioning the film in any interviews, nor listing it as one of the films that fed into / influenced / were an inspiration for The Duke Of Burgundy but the first time I watched it, in many ways Symptoms very much reminded me of that film – to the point where I almost want to watch them side-by-side, in a split screen manner.
It could almost be seen as a companion or sister piece to The Duke Of Burgundy, although one that is more overly troubled and troubling. Not so much a forerunner, more that somehow it has tumbled back (or should that be forward?) in time from that film.
That sense of connection and even sisterhood is possibly increased by Angela Pleasance in Symptoms bearing some kind of physiognomic similarity to Chiara D’Anna in The Duke Of Burgundy.
Both have a slightly unworldly, almost childlike air to them, although Angela Pleasance’s character is more otherworldly than just unwordly, as compared to Chiara D’Anna’s character’s slightly brattish pique; Ms Pleasance’s character feels nearer to The Woman Who Fell To Earth.
The setting and setup is not all that dissimilar from The Duke Of Burgundy – two women living in a relatively isolated rurally set grand house that is decorated in a slightly faded, slightly aristocratic, gilt framed manner.
(As an aside, Symptoms slightly put me in mind of the work of Deborah Turbeville and the use in her photographs of crumbling textures, decaying glamour and grandeur, a certain langour to its characters and the edge-of-rural isolation setting.)
The Duke Of Burgundy seems to exist more in its own self-contained, quietly fantastical world, one where any possible external world or infrastructure are not seen or acknowledged – indeed only a visiting creator of “esoteric” furniture and an academy for the study of insects and the occasional brief reference to a neighbour are ever made.
Symptoms acknowledges the outside world – London and visitors from there are mentioned or indeed visit, the women visit the local village for supplies but their world still has the intensity of a couple alone, one which increasingly collapses and intensifies into itself; anything outside of the house and/or their relationship is seen as and indeed feels like an intrusion.
However, there is a distinct difference to the two films and their general tone / atmosphere: despite its main characters sometimes troubles, The Duke Of Burgundy’s pastoral idyll seems richly honey toned – mellifluous is a word that comes to mind. It is a world that you may well want to step into and not mind spending time there.
Symptoms is probably almost the exact opposite. Despite a certain entrancing beauty, this is most definitely a gothic bucolia. There is a calm here, row boating on leaf filled water and even Duke Of Burgundy-esque carefree bike rides but also some kind of almost unbearable build up of pressure and tension.
It has a subtly fractured dreamlike quality and although I can find myself relaxing, sinking into and enjoying Symptoms views of nature and escape, at the same time this is very much part of the film’s enclosed, self-contained, even possibly claustrophobic world, all overhanging branches and wooded enclosure rather than wide open spaces.
At points light breaks through the trees but it seems to only just be breaking through, to be almost battling or momentary.
Apart from a few initial incongruous seeming Carnaby-Street-become-tourist-attraction, latter-period-hippie garments, it is a film that is difficult to quite place in a particular era and to a degree it seems to exist in its own time and space, almost a never never land separate from a particular decade. This is despite its muted, grey-green atmosphere that seems rather prevalent in film/television from the point of its making and which possibly reflects the fractured nature of the times and culture in which it was made.
I can’t quite tell if this not being able to precisely pinpoint a decade is in part due to a certain sharpness, a certain glamour and style to the imagery that doesn’t quite seem to belong to the early 1970s and/or in part and interconnectedly due to the contemporary high definition restoration of the film.
This is something I often seem to feel with high-end brush and scrub ups to films and other flickering tales from the past; a certain sense of dissociation with regards to the world I am watching, possibly due to the push and pull of the aesthetics of technological processes from different eras.
Anyways, back to Symptoms.
That sense of dread: suffice to say that although not overly stuffed time-wise with such things, this is a film that does, well, not so much wander as lunge, spark and darkly shatter into intense, particularly unsettling physical violence.
In a way, for myself, although in an inherent part of the film, this is when it is at its weakest – when it veers towards more obvious genre tropes and I think it is much more interesting when its (deeply) unsettled atmosphere is held at bay and its mystery is left intact rather than being given full unflinchingly brutish expression.
Associated posters and promotion from when it was released seem to often have focused on those genre tropes but this isn’t really that kind of film. It is odder and more of its own than such standard exploitative fare.
There is a layering, intelligence and unspokeness here, that seems to battle with and against its genre expectations.
A revelation indeed.
One that leaves me drawn to it and also slightly on edge just casting back to it – something it shares for myself with that other unsettling pastoral film work Kill List – although there the genre transgressive and visceralness is much closer to the surface.
(I feel an involuntary shiver would be appropriate here and maybe a nice cup of tea and a wander around a not-so-unsettling garden or two.)
Other wanderings and sisterhood mesmerisations can be found around these parts here.
Doineann was the fourth release during A Year In The Country’s first spin-around-the-sun.
It is a fine piece of collaborative, exploratory work, featuring Natalia Beylis, David Colohan, Richard Moult, Paul Condon, Áine O’Dwyer, Emer Brady, Jez Creek, Casey Denman, Gary Morrison, Enda Trautt, Alison O’Donnell, James Rider, Michael Tanner and Declan Kelly.
(Helix itself is played by by David Colohan, Natalia Beylis and Richard Moult.)
When it was sent out into the world it gathered a number of also rather fine considerations and scribings.
Excerpts from and signposts to a few of those are below:
“The ever shifting landscapes of UBS converge once more, this time in a predominantly instrumental vein that echoes rainswept moors, moss-streaked doldems and a rainy gray that is as beautiful as it is chilling… Alison O’Donnell’s vocal for “Across the Blackened Fields” feels as old as time, and if you’ve ever wondered why there’s such a powerful haunted folk insurgence happening now, this album is one of the key reasons why.”
Dave Thompson, Goldmine Magazine
“Despite a fluid and ever-changing membership (not to mention an admirably diverse collection of musical instruments and noise-making gadgets) United Bible Studies have honed an original and at times unmistakeable sound in their prolific thirteen-year recording history. To put it in perhaps overly simplistic terms, they have one foot in the ambient/drone camp and the other in wyrd world of psych-folk. But more important is their willingness to embrace unconventional musical structures and at times do away with these structures altogether, instead creating collage-like, improvisational pieces that owe more to sound art and contemporary composition than they do to traditional or popular music.”
Thomas Blake, Folk Radio UK
“…rooted in Irish and British folk music, but experimental and improvisational from day one: not afraid to throw in synths, manipulations, crunchy guitars, sax, non-European instruments… folky and pastoral in some ways, but at the same time it’s modern and slightly ‘off’… unsettling.”
Oscar Strik, Evening Of Light
“…sonorous narration of mysterious vanished worlds… steeped in magic and oblique romance… wrapped in a precious casket preserved intact from some distant era and today perpetuated by the feeling of a collective of musicians who continued undeterred in their own explorations of another human and sound dimension…”
(Translated by ether automations)
Raffaello Russo, Music Won’t Save You
“Helix enters on a waterfall of cascading piano, the combination of Richard Moult’s buzzing electronics and field recordings alongside Colohan’s organetta providing a clearing for the notes to shimmer and repeat. It is utterly beautiful but also icy; there is a sense of winter in this music.”
Grey Malkin of The Hare And The Moon at The Active Listener
“One imagines such editions being buried in time capsules or cemented in stone walls for future generations to mull over: sedimentary layers of history… the collective presents a mixture of intricate instrumentals and Maypole-esque vocal works. The singers waft through the speakers like passing madrigals, here for a moment and then gone…”
Postrockcafe, A Closer Listen
“An impressive aesthetic unity which may have found its fullest expression on Doineann…”
On interwoven landscapes and work: “…reanimation of the mythic countryside, underscored by liminal drones, residual folk forms and improvisation…”
Alex Neilson, The Wire
United Bible Studies ether victrola home can be found here.
Loss or non-loss within past/future media seems to be something that I return to around these parts…
Along which lines…
I’ve recently(ish) been watching/rewatching Sapphire & Steel (while fairly constantly thinking “What a fine program this is”)…
One of the things that struck me was that despite it being on shiny modern(ish) day discs full of zeros and ones, it is particularly not brushed, scrubbed up and remastered – there are glitches, banding, small transmission-breaking-through crackles of interference at the edges of the screen, light trails and so on.
Often I appreciate a good brush and scrub up on say certain opulent celluloid delights but I think with Sapphire & Steel it would be particularly inappropriate; these marks and infractions feel like an inherent part of the series, its spirit and aesthetic. In these days of exact duplicatory ease, there is something intriguing about these particular “faults” (?), particularly in the context of the never-never world of Ms Sapphire and Mr Steel and a commercial, official release.
They are the ghosts in the machine, as it were…
Which brings me to Ghosts In The Machine.
This was a mid-to-later 1980s late night program on the UK’s Channel 4 television station (one of but four at the time indeed) that was dedicated to showing experimental/avant-garde video work; things you would be more likely to see in a gallery setting than via the mainstream television broadcast infrastructure.
Non-populist television within a populist framework.
I (hazily) remember that at times there would be advert breaks with no adverts.
I assume this was because of a mixture of the late hour, Channel 4’s still then minority output remit and well, quite frankly people probably couldn’t see the marketing potential for say fizzy sugared water after a 10 minute almost still framed broadcast of a pond which showed reflections of people who weren’t there diving in.
(I’m having to, I expect, loosely paraphrase or guestimate there as such things are but fractions and fractures of memory today).
It was all quite thrilling seeming at the time, a glimpse into obscured culture that I just can’t imagine being seen in amongst the transmissions of one of the big broadcasters today, no matter how late the hour.
It puts me in mind of (that gent who is mentioned around these parts from time to time – or more) Mark Fisher’s comments about about “the breaking of the circuit between the avant-garde, the experimental and the popular” (to quote myself quoting him) – this was a brief moment when there was a spark generated by a few hair thin strands of connection in that circuit.
Ah, we can but dream…
Non-transuranic escapades around these parts here. Other consideration of loss and ghosts in other mechanisms here. Broken cultural circuits at the cliff edge here and amongst unearthly gardens of delight here.
Elsewhere in the ether: the pleasantly dated introductory passages for Ghosts In The Machine
(I and II) at the ever reliable TV Ark here.
Audiological exploration excerpt #1 by Michael Tanner from the album Nine of Swords.
This was the third album released in our first spin-around-the-sun and was created via a process whereby nine tarot cards were allocated to nine sonorous, percussive instruments and played in the order of their drawing from the deck.
This is a 54 minute or so journey for which sonorous is particularly apt word; it is immersive and enveloping, while at the same time it seems to hint at a quietly shimmering darkness just on the edge of things – restful, drifting and yet…
New age might also be an appropriate signpost but probably nearer in spirit to say the expoloratory / experimental work which could be found on Light In The Attic’s I Am The Centre: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990 than the more obvious tropes of such things.
I think now would be a good point to hand over to the Nine of Swords related scribings by Grey Malkin at The Active Listener:
“This is an album to focus on and to pay attention to, perhaps an album for late nights or early mornings; there is something contemplative at heart here, this music invites reflection. The glistening of the water bowls merges into the gentle waves of temple bells, at times creating a solid, reverberating mass whilst at others a more distant echo. There is great beauty in this recording, nothing is rushed and the sound is crystalline and pure. The world outside seems to grow quieter around the music, as if in step. This is not easy listening however, but a demanding and focused album which commands your complete attention.”
Considerations of Nine of Swords at Music Won’t Save You here:
“…ghostly sounds that evoke the English tradition… imbued with dark magic…” (translation courtesy of ether auto).
Earlier considerations of Mr Tanner’s early work around these parts:
Day #120/365: Plinth’s Wintersongs
…and to quote myself about such things, this “…could be loosely described as a kind of folkloric or pastorally themed ambient or even soundscape album but I don’t think it’s an easy piece of work to pigeonhole in such a way…
“…in parts it may be a journey through a certain kind of pastoral reverie there is also something else going on amongst the hills and trees. There’s heartbreak in the pathways of it’s songs at points; Hearth makes my mind wander towards losses along the byways of life…”
A previous Nine of Swords revisiting around these parts:
Day #350/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #3; A balm to contemporary intensity of input…
(Wherein I may well visit the aforementioned I Am The Centre and indeed wandered-from-the-centre new age work.)
Nine of Swords encasements around these parts:
Day #245/365: Artifact #35/52; Michael Tanner – Nine of Swords CD album – Night/Day editions
Mr Tanner’s Bandcamp Ether Victrola can be found here.
A Fractures personal and cultural interweaving by Mr John Coulthart, residing in his rather fine Feuilleton ether curatorial home and repository of work.
Ether transmissions of Time Attendant’s Fractures exploration can be found via the transmissions of Radio: More Than Human (the ether airwaves broadcast station of the interrelated More Than Human Records).
Mr Keith Seatman’s Fractures explorations can be found beside the seaside, beside the sea at The Séance, courtesy of Mr Papademetrie and Wiggs.
Said work by Mr Seatman can also be found amongst rather fine company and wanderings by Mr David Perron at Free Form Freakout.
…and indeed, may well also be found in amongst the ongoingly intriguing airwaves curations of Mr Matt Handley at You, the Night & the Music.
A tip of the hat to all concerned. Thanking you kindly.
Audiological contents created by Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Polypores, The Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska/Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.continue reading
Anyways, I was recently(ish) reading about the work by the curator of the Pastoral Noir exhibition, Justin Hopper with and on folk singer Shirley Collins and his associated talk at The Alchemical Landscape…
..which made certain things fall into place.
Pastoral noir is an intriguing phrase. The landscape doesn’t tend to make one think of noir related things…
It depends how you consider or define the word noir; in some ways it is a very city bound, often cinematic/fictional crime related, particular style and aesthetic…
Or you could take Otto Penzler’s view that noir works…
““…whether films, novels or short stories, are existential, pessimistic tales about people, including (or especially) protagonists who are seriously flawed and morally questionable. The tone is generally bleak and nihilistic, with characters who greed, lust, jealousy and alienation lead them into a downward spiral as their plans and schemes inevitably go awry… the likelihood of a happy ending in a noir story is remote… It will end badly, because the characters are inherently corrupt and that is the fate that inevitably awaits them.”
I expect over the years, the use and meaning of noir has become something of a confluence of the two.
Which brings me back to Shirley Collins.
On Early Morning Hush is Shirley Collins version of the traditional folk song Poor Murdered Woman.
I never found this an easy song. Not the music or Ms Collins’ delivery – rather the lyrics and the story they told.
Considering Mr Penzler’s view of noir, this is as much a contextually disjunctured noir tale as say that folk tale from over the seas – Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues – is a contextually disjunctured noir-ish tale.
Along which lines, I think I should (almost) end on what could be considered another pastoral noir, traditional folk song re-interpretation: The Owl Service’s Cruel Mother and its end line;
I think I shall now go away and say have a nice cup of tea and maybe watch Bagpuss or some such thing to clear my mind and spirit (!).
Intertwined considerations and pathways around these parts:
Day #30/365: The Owl Service – A View From A Hill
Day #3/365: Gather In The Mushrooms: something of a starting point via an accidental stumbling into the British acid folk undeground
Elsewhere in the ether: Mr Hopper / Ms Collins.
Audiological exploration excerpt #1 by Hand of Stabs from the album Black-Veined White.
Back during A Year In The Country’s first spin around the sun, Hand Of Stabs created the work for our second release, which takes as it’s starting point:
“…the eponymous butterfly which was last seen in the UK in Rochester, the area in which HoS live, work and explore, in the 1920s…”
Prior to such things, around these parts we had taken a wander amongst their endeavours and titled it “Delving amongst the soil and roots for the hidden stories of the land…”
I think that title came from this consideration of their work: “Their recorded music is resolutely experimental but also very listenable-to, it is both warm and unsettling and although often created in part with resolutely non-electronic equipment, it makes me think of electronica played on and summoned from the land and soil.”
Often experimental musical work is rooted/deeply connected with/created in urban environments but to quote myself Hand of Stabs work could maybe be seen as an exploration of “subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land” rather than built up areas – though to be honest, I think to a large degree they draw from and create their own land / space / world.
They’re not quite like anybody else. And all the better for it.
A different river indeed (to semi-quote Hand of Stabs).
Although, if I was to following intermingled tributaries I may well come to these springs / sources:
“…when I think of Hand of Stabs I’m reminded of the likes of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle, maybe a touch of Einstürzende Neubauten and even Herman Nitsch. There seems to be some kind of line or continuum from such cultural explorers and boundaries pushers to these gents but HoS have replaced forms of aggressive transgression with something more pastoral in its themes, while still creating work very far the centre of things and which delves in the hidden.”
Intriguing. Sometimes mystifying (in the best of ways). Prolific. Busy gents. Peruse their home in the social ether to see what I mean, wherein they may well be involved in documentaries on resolutely independent radio stations, performing in public libraries (hurrah!), improvisations amongst altar bells, providing work for 24 hour broadcasts of “music nobody has heard – in a place where nobody might be listening”, creating a dance accompanied performance around a piano left in the woods for a year…
Actually, listening to Black-Veined White again, what it actually made me think of in part, with its particular subject matter inspiration and spoken word scientific descriptions of a particular rare butterfly, was Peter Strickland’s rather fine, gently phantasmagoric (chimeric?) The Duke Of Burgundy and its own studies and academies of not too distant creatures.
Hmmm, curious. It predates that work somewhat but there could well be a further line drawn…
A previous intertwined revisiting:
Day #349/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #2; the semi-random placing of England’s hidden reverse…
Hand of Stabs Black-Veined White encasements around these parts:
Day #238/365: Artifact #34/52 released; Hand of Stabs Black-Veined White album – Night/Day editions
…and at A Year In The Country’s Bandcamp Ether Victrola.
Back on Day #90/365 of A Year In The Country (which seems like a long time ago now) I wrote:
“I suppose there was a certain inevitability that The Wicker Man would come knocking at the door of A Year In The Country one morning…”
And when wandering various pathways that began with Fractures there was just such a further morning.
The Wickerman has become such a “cultural behemoth (monolith? megalith?)” that it can be a little difficult to know how to approach it.
I think possibly one of the reasons for it gaining such stature is that it is probably one of the only examples of otherly pastoralism/folklore inspired culture that is both a rather quality product and which has genuinely crossed over/become a part of wider pop/popular culture.
Something of a unique beacon then (in more ways than one).
Back during that previously mentioned early morning visitation, I considered how all the various encasements, formats, reissues etc of such story telling would one day potentially become lost, or at least the ability to have them tell their tales may well, as the machines that play such things slowly expire and disappear from view/use.
Such considerations were intertwined with the film’s own myth as being partly lost/incomplete/buried beneath motorways…
…all of which brings me to a more recent stilled encasement.
Back when, a paticular note of childhood was the collecting of themed stickers in especially produced albums.
These would be say of a particular television series and for example five would be bought unseen in sealed packs.
Each sticker had its own place in the album and as these came to be filled, by the unseen/sealed nature of the packs, you may well buy a pack and find that there were none in it which you still needed.
Hence a “swapsies” eco system would develop in the schools of the land.
Which leads me to The Wickerman trading cards that were released a while ago.
With these you can at least buy the full set outright but…
…that is just the “base” set. There are a dizzying number of other collectible items including rarer chase cards, promotional cards, autographed cards, rarer autograph cards, film cells, sketch cards, boxed collections, binders, plates used to print the cards, autographed print plates, master sets, mini master sets and so forth.
If you flip them over, they also join together to form a particular image – further grist to the collectors mill.
Where to start and end would be something of a problem.
The binder for collecting the cards put me in mind of the film/television photo novel tie-ins that used to be released and which I am rather fond of.
Essentially comic books that used stills rather than drawings. Popular on the continent where they were also known as fumées or ciné-romans.
I often find myself hankering after a book collection of stills from a film if I’m particularly drawn to it but it is something that rarely seems to be done (I expect it would be a little costly), particularly for more cult/independent films – these Wickerman trading cards when placed in a binder being about the closest I have found myself perusing of late.
An exception could well be the book version of Chris Marker’s La Jetée – which has parallels with The Wickerman in that it takes a nominally genre fiction and wanders somewhere else altogether with it – although in a way as that film was made up of a story created from still frames (rather than seamlessly flickering ones), it was already a form of photo novel / fumée / ciné-roman.
The source of said trading cards (although there may well be something else there now). A dizzying array via the pecuniarised modern day version of swapsies. Stilled gathering and collecting from around these parts: Day #345/365: Photo romans and a lightness of touch.continue reading
Audiological exploration by Grey Frequency from the album Immersion.
I have something of a soft spot for Grey Frequency and their album that we sent out into the world; their music has a drifting, dreamlike quality intertwined with a quietly threatening ominousness.
Or to quote myself, when listening to their work I have found that “I was travelling and tunnelling through… subterranean passageways, accompanied by a sense of bliss become dread, of creaking, lurking monoliths…”
Or to quote myself further, it is music which “captures a sense of the lost futures and utopias which were once promised; those creaking monoliths are the sounds of the fading half-life of the utilitarian reinforced concrete structures which were once signposts and symbols of those futures and better days. This is music as collapsed edgeland industrial estates and wastelands, where the buzz of the pylons carry electricity to elsewhere, nolonger here and transmission centres have fallen silent.”
Considerations of the album can be found at Heathen Harvest:
“The whole thing looks as a discovery, a document, a forgotten memory or a souvenier – something you may find in an abandoned library, not in a record store…”
Grey Frequency wanderings around these parts…
Day #192/365: When Do We Dream? Cold Geometries and Grey Frequencies
A previous revisiting:
Day #346/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #1; a library of loss
Related ocular signals:
Day #362/365: Signals sent, signals received…
Grey Frequency’s home elsewhere in the ether can be found here. Well worth a peruse and wander.
So, out of curiousity and leading on from Fractures, I thought I would have a wander around the various wanderings and pathways of A Year In The Country, to peruse and investigate how many visitings to the very particular year of 1973 there have been…
Quite a few it would seem.
Along which lines, below is a dybukk’s dozen gathering of such things from around these parts.
1) Day #87/365: Faded foundlings and Tender Vessels…
…still something of a favourite… home made craft-isms that are just a touch or two unsettling.
2) Week #2/52: The Tomorrow People in The Visitor, a Woolworths-esque filter and travels taken…
…ah, that theme tune and intro still seems to quietly disquiet me…
3) Day #343/365: Veils and Mirrors – forebearing, chanellings, rendings, listing of names…
“I have something of a soft-spot for Glynis Jones Veils and Mirrors… It’s a gentle, unsettling (that word again) piece of music that seems as though it has pierced/rended a very particular veil and is quietly, allowing other shadows to come through…”
4) Day #290/365: The first three minutes of Psychomania…
How to describe Psychomania? A sort of British carrier bag zombie version of a biker film? That’s somehow or other getting there. Soon(ish) to have a brush and scrub up via the BFI/Flipside, which is nice.
5) Day #271/365: The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water and a hop and skip to lost municipal paternalisms…
Well, I don’t think it would be right to gather such things and times without wandering towards this. Terrifying a generation for generations. One of Fractures “conspicuous junctures and signifiers” indeed.
6) Day #267/365: Morning Way. Trader Horne.
Ah and there was me thinking “After The Spirit Of… it will be nice to enjoy a touch of early 1970s explorative acid/psych folk” but… “Dreaming strands of nightmare, Are sticking to my feet“. Very lovely work nonetheless.
7) Day #239/365: The jump cuts of hauntological antecedents…
As accidental, hauntological, otherly graphic design goes, this is pretty much there…
8) Day #160/365: Edgelands Report Documents; Cases #1a (return), #2a-5a.
Wanderings amongst the indomatibilities of nature via The Unofficial Countryside. Further Fractures “conspicuous junctures and signifiers“…
9) Day #195/365: World On A Wire; a curiously prescient Simulacron
Ah, nothing like a touch of glamour amongst the grit. Admittedly, it’s all zeros and ones smoke and mirrors…
10) Day #90/365: The Wickerman – the future lost vessels and artifacts of modern folklore
Well, another “I don’t think it would be right to gather such things and times without wandering towards this” moments. Something of a cultural behemoth (monolith? megalith?). Considerations and gatherings of future departed encasements… Fractures “conspicuous juncture and signifiers” number 3 around these parts it would seem.
11) Week #3/52: I Still Dream Of Orgonon; A Book Of Dreams, the rarity of argent chains and moments of discovery…
And still dreaming of such things. May well also include Ms (Mrs?) Kate Bush’s fond farewell when she stepped upon the boards once again. Pop(ular) music as cinema indeed.
12) Week #6/52: Tomorrow’s People, further considerations of the past as a foreign country and hauntology away from its more frequent signifiers and imagery…
Light-catchery from a “Paradise Enclosed” (to quote Mr Rob Young / Electric Eden).
13) 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…
Wellsprings inspired from and via banshee howls… To end on Fractures “conspicuous juncture and signifiers” number 4.
A loop begins to form?
“Sorry sir, your name’s not on the list, you’re not getting in.”
“But I’m a plus one.”
Spectral Containment Invitee #2; Fractures at The Ghost Box Records Guest Shop / Amongst the pages of The Belbury Parish Magazine
Following on from The Quietened Village’s visits around those parts, Fractures is now available amongst rather fine company at The Ghost Box Records Guest Shop.
“The compilation is themed around the notion that the year 1973 was a cultural and psychic tipping point. Contributors include…
Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska/Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.”
In an intertwined manner, it can also be found amongst the pages and notifications of The Belbury Parish Magazine.
Tip of the hat once again to Mr Jim Jupp.
Fractures is a gathering of studies and explorations that take as their starting point the year 1973; a time when there appeared to be a schism in the fabric of things, a period of political, social, economic and industrial turmoil, when 1960s utopian ideals seemed to corrupt and turn inwards.
Audiological contents created by Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska/Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.
Both editions hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by A Year In The Country.
Night Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £25.00.
Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet, print, 4 x badge pack and 2 x stickers.
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) 2 x vinyl style stickers.
7) Print on textured fine art cotton rag paper; numbered on the reverse, selected from one of 7 designs.
Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £12.00.
Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.
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:
Fractures is a gathering of studies and explorations that take as their starting point the year 1973; a time when there appeared to be a schism in the fabric of things, a period of political, social, economic and industrial turmoil, when 1960s utopian ideals seemed to corrupt and turn inwards.
As a reaction to such, this was a possible high water mark of the experimentations of psych/acid folk, expressions of eldritch undertones in the land via what has become known in part as folk horror and an accompanying yearning to return to an imagined pastoral idyll.
Looking back, culture, television broadcasts and film from this time often seem imbued with a strange, otherly grittyness; to capture a sense of dissolution in relation to what was to become post-industrial Western culture and ways of living.
Such transmissions and signals viewed now can seem to belong to a time far removed and distant from our own; the past not just as a foreign country but almost as a parallel universe that is difficult to imagine as once being our own lands and world.
Fractures is a reflection on reverberations from those disquieted times, taking as its initial reference points a selected number of conspicuous junctures and signifiers: Delia Derbyshire leaving The BBC/The Radiophonic Workshop and reflecting later that around then “the world went out of time with itself”. Electricity blackouts in the UK and the three day week declared. The Wickerman released. The Changes recorded but remained unreleased. The Unofficial Countryside published. The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water released.
Further Audiological Contents Details:
1) The Osmic Projector/Vapors of Valtorr – Circle/Temple
2) The Land Of Green Ginger – Sproatly Smith
3) Seeing The Invisible – Keith Seatman
4) Triangular Shift – Listening Center
5) An Unearthly Decade – The British Space Group
6) A Fracture In The Forest – The Hare And The Moon ft Alaska/Michael Begg
7) Elastic Refraction – Time Attendant
8) Ratio (Sequence) – The Rowan Amber Mill
9) The Perfect Place For An Accident – Polypores
10) A Candle For Christmas/311219733 – A Year In The Country
11) Eldfell – David Colohan
Artwork and encasement design by AYITC Ocular Signals Department.
“A year in the country quietly go about their business releasing beautifully packaged music that is influenced by folk, electronica, drone as well as by landscape, time and place. These two compilations each have themes running through them, tying the music together and seemingly telling a story as they unfold.” Terrascope on Fractures and The Quietened Village.
“Another excellent snapshot of current experimental music, showing the coexistence of darkness, strangeness, and profound beauty.” Bliss Aquamarine on Fractures.
Week #23/52: Fractures Signals #2; An Intertwining Of Rather Fine Simulacras / The Work Of Ms Delia Derbyshire / A world out of tune / The Duke Of Burgundy / The Berberian Sound Studio / The Work Of Mr Julian House … And Music And Maths Of The Past But Also Very Much Of The Future
Well, it’s a while since we have considered the work of Ms Delia Derbyshire around these parts…
Recently(ish) I stumbled upon the image above at one of Rook Films homes in the ether. It was labelled with just:
“Delia test shoot… watch this space”
Rook Films, if you should not know, are a film company who have been iinvolved in the production of the likes of The Wickerman’s spiritual social realism/transgression progeny Kill List, the civil war revisitations of A Field In England and the dreamlike states of The Duke Of Burgundy.
Well, I must say, interest piqued indeed.
At the point of writing, I know nothing more about the image or any associated production but I must say it’s a rather fine simulacra/channelling of the spirit of Ms Derbyshire and her work and, well, I have something of a softspot for rather fine simulacras/channellings.
It put me in mind of Mr Julian House’s creation of period recording tape packaging, studio schedules and the like from The Berberian Sound Studio; a particularly rather fine simulacra/channelling (which is something that could be said of the entire film indeed).
Which brings me to Fractures, the recent(ish) audiological exploration sent forth into the world from around these parts.
In the Notes and Scribings for said work, Ms Derbyshire is quoted as saying “Something serious happened around ’72, ’73, ’74: the world went out of tune with itself” (1973 being the year she left The BBC and the now rather iconic Radiophonic Workshop).
Which would seem to be a particularly succinct summing up of “…a time when there appeared to be a schism in the fabric of things, a period of political, social, economic and industrial turmoil, when 1960s utopian ideals seemed to corrupt and turn inwards…” (to quote Fractures).
Various pathways and wanderings: The source of the rather fine simulacra/channelling of Ms Delia Derbyshire and her work. The source of interrelated rather fine simulacra/channelling elsewhere in the ether courtesy of Mr Julian House and to be found around these parts. The source of related music, maths and selective light-catchery.
…and finally, the source of very much indeed: