• Ocular Signals #21/52a: Image U/1a

    Image-U1a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #21/52a: Spaceship – Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1

    Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-a prospect of loughton brook-4

    Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1 is the first track from Mark Williamson’s Spaceship album A Prospect Of Loughton Brook, which has been released by Forged River Recordings.

    The music on this album was composed using extensive field recordings from Loughton Brook, a small stream in Epping Forest. Following the stream’s course from its source near Wake Valley Ponds to its confluence with the River Roding.

    The link below is for the short film that accompanies the track.

    Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-a prospect of loughton brook-3

    Together they create a space to drift off into, five or so minutes when the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life go away for just a moment or two.

    The music is formed from a lilting collage of field recordings, accompanied by a simple, minimal piano refrain. The atmosphere it creates put me in mind of Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, the looping calm, uplift and yet quiet plaintiveness of 1/1 from Brian Eno’s Ambient 1 – Music For Airports album and possibly a hint of Harold Budd.

    Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-a prospect of loughton brook-2

    The film contains a gently changing and fading into one another set of photographs which are largely of forests, trees and landscapes, which I assume follows one of the paths the field recordings were made.

    Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-1There is a relatively brief appearance of more urban and man-made areas, which in the overall context of the beauty and escape of the more nature based images feels almost violently jarring, which I suppose may well reflect the reality of such things and related contrasts in environment.

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide: Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1

     

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  • Wanderings #21/52a: Vortex Views / The Extraordinary Beauty Of Birds

    The Extraordinary Beauty Of Birds-Deborah Samuels-Prestel-A Year In The Country-3
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    And while we’re talking about nicely put together books of photography…

    Deborah Samuel’s The Extraordinary Beauty Of Birds.

    This is a book that focuses on, well, birds but not in a normal nature photography manner – the photographs here are nearer to a fine art project detailed study of, well, the details of birds.

    The Extraordinary Beauty Of Birds-Deborah Samuels-Prestel-A Year In The Country-2cThe Extraordinary Beauty Of Birds-Deborah Samuels-Prestel-A Year In The Country-1b

    The photographs often involve close ups of the design, pattern and colours of feathers and other features, eggs are seen in some kind of perfectly captured stillness that blends scientific photography documentation and something much more creative or expressive.

    I was particularly drawn to the images of nests – the swirl, shape and seeming almost vortex of them. They veer ever so slightly towards the sinister in a way I can’t quite put my finger on.

    The Extraordinary Beauty Of Birds-Deborah Samuels-Prestel-A Year In The Country-4

    Well worth a stop, look and see. Just for the sheer beauty of the photographs and also to take in an appreciate a somewhat unique perspective on nature photography.

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    The book at its publishing home in the ether. Deborah Samuel’s home for the work in the ether.

     

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  • Ether Signposts #21/52a: Scarred For Life – 740 Pages Of Growing Up In The Dark Side Of The Decade

    Scarred For Life-Volume One-Book-1While there have been a fair few Christmas market style humorous looks at films, television and paraphenalia from the 1970s, Scarred For Life isn’t in it for the wacky, wasn’t it all funny factor.

    It’s a little more… well, dark and unsettling, particularly if you grew up in a particular era.

    The book is subtitled Growing Up In The Dark Side Of The Decade and is:

    “…an affectionate look at the darker side of pop culture in the 1970s. Public information films, scary kids’ TV show, bleak adult dramas, dystopian sci-fi, savage horror films, violent comics, horror-themed toys and sweets and the huge boom in paranormal paraphernalia; all this and much more is covered in depth.

    It is something of a mammoth 740 page tome that has chapters on The Owl Service, Escape Into The Night, The Tomorrow People, The Changes, Sky, Children Of The Stones, Play For Today, Doomwatch, The Guardians, Quatermass, A Ghost Story For Christmas, The Stone Tape, The Omega Factor…

    (Pause for breath…)

    …Public Information Films (there are over 100 pages just on those), folk horror, dystopian science fiction,  the paranormal boom of the 1970s…

    Scarred For Life-book-contents-c

    Which are just the more overtly hauntologically related sections for starters and the book wanders down a considerable number of other avenues.

    Scarred For Life-book-contents 2c

    A quite phenomenal labour of dedication.

    Apparently this is Volume One, which focuses on the 1970s, with a 1980s book already being worked on.

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    Scarred For Life Volume One

     

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  • Ocular Signals #20/52a: Image T/1a

    Image-T1a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country-stroke
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #20/52a: Microscopic, Archival & Exploratory Nature Films: Minute Bodies, Secrets Of Nature & The Creeping Garden

    Minute Bodies-The intimate world of F Percy Smith-Stuart Staples BFI-1

    As seems to often be the way with culture, things appear and arrive in waves and gatherings and/or groups of things increasingly catch your eye and interest.

    Along which lines, for a while now a series of DVD releases which take an often microscopic look at nature have been catching my eye.

    These include:

    Minute Bodies: The intimate world of F. Percy Smith:

    This meditative, immersive film from Stuart A. Staples and David Reeve is a tribute to the astonishing work and achievements of naturalist, inventor and pioneering filmmaker F. Percy Smith.

    Smith worked in the early years of the 20th century, developing various cinematographic and micro-photographic techniques to capture nature’s secrets in action.

    Minute Bodies is an interpretative edit that combines Smith’s original footage with a new contemporary score to create a hypnotic, alien yet familiar dreamscape that connects us to the sense of wonder Smith must have felt as he peered through his own lenses and seen these micro-worlds for the first time.

    Minute Bodies-The intimate world of F Percy Smith-Stuart Staples BFI-2

    This is to be released around mid 2017 on DVD by the BFI, features a sort of late night free form jazz soundtrack by Tindersticks (of which Stuart Staples is a founding member) with Thomas Belhom and Christine Ott which seems to make more sense the more I watch and listen to the film.

    Secrets Of Nature-BFI DVD-1

    And then there is the more straightforward gathering of earlier twentieth century archival time-lapse, microscopic and underwater cinematography that can be found on the Secrets Of Nature, also released on DVD by the BFI but back in 2010, which when it wanders into stop-motion animation with an accompanying clipped, precise explanatory voiceover seems to have tumbled from an alternative history timeline where Jonny Trunk was in charge of the production of such films:

    Secrets Of Nature-BFI DVD-2 Secrets Of Nature-BFI DVD-3

    Secrets of Nature, a pioneering series exploring animal, plant and insect life, made wondrous worlds and natural processes visible for the first time: sweet peas unfurl in the sunlight, white owls swoop in on their prey, sea life lurks on the ocean floor and moths patiently spin their cocoons.

    These films, made by enterprising men and women at the forefront of science and nature filmmaking, developed groundbreaking techniques of time-lapse, microscopic and underwater cinematography.

    Despite their initial innovative aspects, such films as those on Secrets Of Nature are still at heart nature documentaries (which is not written in a dismissive sense, more just as an observation) but over time, as seems to often be the way with archival material, some kind of other layers of interest can creep into such recordings.

    Viewed now they seem to step beyond their initial more scientific documentary nature and to evoke an intriguing atmosphere of previous eras.

    The Creeping Garden-2014-1

    Of these various nature and often microscopic orientated films/collections, The Creeping Garden is particularly intriguing:

    …feature length creative documentary exploring the work of fringe scientists, mycologists and artists and their relationship with the extraordinary plasmodial slime mould… The slime mould is being used to explore biological-inspired design, emergence theory, unconventional computing and robot controllers, much of which borders on the world of science fiction.

    There is something genuinely unsettling about this film, its premise and footage.

    It brings to mind the underground preternatural intelligence that is shown in the science fiction film Phase IV or possibly the indefinably alive organism of The Andromeda Strain.

    I expect I shall be exploring further…

    The Creeping Garden-2014-2Originally released in 2014, The Creeping Garden DVD/Bluray was released in 2017 by Arrow, with the accompanying book being published by Alchima, a new imprint from FAB Press – whose website seems to focus a fair bit on fringe, giallo and the more transgressive, Midnight-At-The-Scala sides of cinema.

    Despite the provisionally documentary nature of the film, this publishing home seemed somewhat appropriate in terms of The Creeping Garden wandering off down not-quite-so-mainstream exploration and research pathways.

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
    Minute Bodies: The intimate world of F. Percy Smith trailer
    The Secrets Of Nature – various films
    The Creeping Garden trailer

     

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  • Wanderings #20/52a: Watership Down

    Watership Down-Criterion Collection-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    Now, I was somewhat wary of watching Watership Down – I remember seeing it when I was young and finding it in parts genuinely disturbing…

    Anyways, I sat down with the Criterion Collection release to see what I thought a fair few years later on.

    It’s a curious film. It had a U certificate, a number one hit song (penned by Mike “Wombles and Steeleye Span” Batt no less) and I think was marketed quite heavily to/aimed at children but it’s really not a children’s film.

    Well, at least not in a conventional, purely escapist manner.

    Watership Down-Criterion Collection-A Year In The Country-2

    It sort of exists in a land of it’s own (grown-up children’s cinema?) and is quite dark, without being overly oppressive/somber and deals quite specifically with questions of mortality.

    In parts it feels nearer to the fantasy like tales of European/Czech New Wave cinema than home grown, grounded film making – it is both realist and quite fantastical, strongly mixing myth amongst the British natural landscape.

    Watership Down-Criterion Collection-A Year In The Country-3

    I think one of the things that gave it a surreal edge for me was Richard Brier, sitcom stalwart and one of the stars of the gentle self-sufficiency comedy The Good Life, doing the main voice; the sound of him automatically makes me expect that nothing truly bad will happen but well that’s probably not quite the case here.

    Although actually, the scene I was most dreading (I expect you’ll know the one I mean if you’ve seen the film), a dread carried over from younger years, while still quite brutal and disturbing is mercifully brief and not the endless, relentless non-escape that I seemed to remember it as.

    As is often the way, the Criterion Collection release is a lovely thing and rather nicely designed.

    Watership Down-Criterion Collection-A Year In The Country-4

    It seems to reflect the more adult nature of the film’s themes, the sense of myth it explores and the way it wanders amongst a flipside of more bucolic representations of life in the country.

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    The Criterion Collection release and trailer.

     

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  • Ether Signposts #20/52a: Dookits / Doocots, Lost Futures And Fading Sentinels Amongst The Land

    Dookits-Stephen Mclaren-Cafe Royal Books-2

    Of late I have found myself exploring the Café Royal Books archive of their limited edition, one published per week photo booklets and wandering down various related pathways.

    There have been a few of their books that have particularly caught my eye, Stephen Mclaren’s Dookits being one of them.

    This is a book of pigeon lofts in the Eastend of Glasgow, which apparently are now disappearing from the landscape as the related sport/activity falls out of favour.

    Dookits-Stephen Mclaren-Cafe Royal Books-6

    When I looked up the meaning of dookits online I came across a number of definitions which said it was a word that also meant a cupboard without doors or possibly a pigeonhole, with doocots being an alternative word.

    And then after a bit more rummaging around I found that they were not so much pigeon lofts but rather:

    “The often misunderstood doo-cot is used in a complex game of pigeon “kidnap”.

    “The concept: let one bird out to bring a neighbour’s bird back to your doo-cot. On entering the doo-cot, the neighbours bird is captured and becomes the property of the capturer.

    Techniques: All sorts of techniques are used, of which seduction is one of the most common.
    A female in a particularly attractive condition seduces another person’s amorous male back to her loft or to his, depending which one wins.  If seduction doesn’t work, then aggressive males will bully another bird back to their doo-cot, often with heavy blows from the leading edge of their wings.

    “The doo-cot differs from the pigeon loft in that the birds are not housed within the structures and are kept elsewhere in lofts, bedrooms, outhouses.”

    (The above is taken from the Hidden Glasgow website.)

    Dookits-Stephen Mclaren-Cafe Royal Books-1 Dookits-Stephen Mclaren-Cafe Royal Books-4

    A curious game that I’ve never even vaguely heard of before.

    The structures themselves make me think of brutalist architecture aesthetically but maybe brutalist architecture through the filter of the kind of local folk art that you might find in Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s Folk Archive book and project, that takes in the likes of cafe signs and fairground art rather than just the more narrowly defined rural, traditional type of folk art.

    Dookits-Stephen Mclaren-Cafe Royal Books-3

    They also made me think of Cold War defence structures; in particular the Royal Observer Corps Underground Monitoring Posts which are small scale scructures that were intended to be manned by volunteers who would report on the scale of an attack and which have been abandoned but that still dot the land.

    As with those, with some of the dookits there is a sense of them being quiet watchers or sentinels.

    Although again, these would be such structures through a more hands on, from the people, almost folk art filter.

    Dookits-Stephen Mclaren-Cafe Royal Books-5

    There was something about them that made me think they could be the ultimate edgeland structure, to be part of attempts to connect, reconnect with and/or bring a touch of nature amongst sometimes bleak overlooked spaces and at the points where urban built up areas transition, sit alongside and fade into the countryside.

    While they are particularly utilitarian in design and materials there is a strange beauty to the structures. They seem inherently imbued with a kind of stalwart melancholia, possibly in a similar hauntological manner to that which can be found in brutalist and Cold War structures; there is a sense of them being from lost futures, from an almost parallel world or age.

    Directions and Destinations:
    Doocots at Hidden Glasgow
    Dookits by Stephen McLaren at the Café Royal Books archive
    Dookits of Glasgow at Stephen McLaren’s site

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

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  • Artifact Report #20/52a: A Year In The Country Folk Horror Double-Bill

    Recently there have been a couple of A Year In The Country/folk horror related posts online (something of a double-bill that puts me in mind of The Wickerman/Don’t Look Now original cinema double-bill release, which was one of the roots of all such things).

    Folk Horror Revival-logo

    1) A Year In The Country; Notes From The Edgelands at Folk Horror Revival’s website:

    In which Grey Malkin of The Hare And The Moon presents an overview of A Year In The Country, its inspirations, wanderings and audiological explorations:

    “For Folk Horror Revivalists who wish to further explore off the beaten track into the wyrder corners of literature, TV, film and music, you are invited to explore the rich, tangled undergrowth of A Year In The Country… for the last few years AYITC has been quietly but ceaselessly documenting the edgelands of popular culture whilst adding their own unique contribution via such album releases as ‘The Quietened Village’ and ‘The Restless Field’… Alongside their musical excursions, AYITC are keen curators of the unsettling and the bucolic…”

    The Quitened Village-front of both editions-A Year In The Country

    Visit the article at Folk Horror Revival’s website.

    The Hare And The Moon can be found here. They have also contributed tracks to the Fractures and The Forest/The Wald albums released by A Year In The Country. Visit those here and here.

    The Hare And The Moon-Bandcamp Daily folk horror article-A Year In The Country

    2) A Guide Through the Haunting World of “Folk Horror” at the Bandcamp Daily pages.

    In which Louis Patton discusses the background and lineage of folk horror, before wandering through the brambles and briars of folk horror-esque work that can be found at Bandcamp, which includes:

    The imaginary soundtracking of Klaus Morlock’s Bethany’s Cradle, the tribute album to Shirley Collins – Shirley Inspired, The Heartwood Institute’s 1970s folk devil panic that can be found on The Whispering Knights, the post-industrial hidden reverse folk of Current 93’s All The Pretty Horses, the return of the deeply unsettling Comus, the drones and dark ambient work of Nubiferous, further imagined soundtrack work from Thorsten Schmidt and The Owl Service’s rather lovely and also at times unsettling folk revisitings and reinterpretations…

    …and in an intertwined manner with the Folk Horror Revival article, the “A Guide…” post also includes the dark folk explorations of The Hare And The Moon’s Wood Witch.

    the-forest-the-wald-both-editions-a-year-in-the-countryAlongside all of which can be found the A Year In The Country themed album The Forest/The Wald:

    “…a selection of curious drone-folk, cryptic lullabies, and fog-clogged field recordings from artists like Magpahi, Polypores, and Richard Moult.”

    That article can be found at Bandcamp Daily.

    Thanks to Grey Malkin and all at Folk Horror Revival, Louis Pattison, Joseph Keyes at Bandcamp and the contributors to the A Year In The Country albums. Much appreciated.

    (File Post Under: Encasments / Artifacts)

     

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  • Ocular Signals #19/52a: Image S/1a

    Image-S1a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #19/52a: The Ballad Of Shirley Collins Trailer and Wandering Amongst Shadowed Furrows/The Hidden Reverse

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-4

    I fairly recently accidentally came across the first official trailer for Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s documentary film Ballad Of Shirley Collins…

    …they’ve called it a “Teaser” and it is that indeed, it makes me most curious about the finished film.

    One of the things I thought after watching it was how much the trailer reflects the way that Shirley Collins and her work now seem to be intertwined and connect with the modern day tropes, themes and interests in what could variously be called underground, neo or wyrd folk, folk horror and a sort of Arcanic Britannia.

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-5

    In particular this is the case with what I assume are images, sequences and characters within the trailer created by Nick Abrahams (who created similar work for her contemporary Death And The Lady video) which are of a folk horror-esque or otherly folkloric nature.

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-1

    This positioning amongst such strands of folk is also made quite implicit by naming Shirley Collins as “The High Queene Of English Folk” in the trailer, with its connotations of an almost occult, arcane take on such things.

    The definitions, phrases and cultural strands wyrd folk, folk horror and the like which I just mentioned did not overtly exist or at least had not been specifically named as such when Shirley Collins was performing and recording in earlier decades.

    However, looking back at her recording of say the traditional folk song Poor Murdered Woman (as featured on her 1971 album No Roses and the Bob Stanley curated compilation Early Morning Hush – Notes From The UK Folk Underground 1969-1976), although it was inspired by true events, listening to it today with its dark unsettling tone it could well be seen as a pointer or harbinger for the darker elements of folk and folk horror.

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-2

    Moving towards such strands and areas within and around Shirley Collins’ work may also be connected back to David Tibet of Current 93’s championing of it for a number of years and his releasing a compilation of her 1960s and 1970s recordings called Fountain Of Snow back in 1992.

    Current 93’s “idiosyncratic meeting of old English folk, apocalyptic Christianity, and haunted horror” (to quote Louis Pattison) has been called neo-folk, a form of often dark, experimental folk music which emerged from post-industrial circles.

    Such neo folk could also be seen as a further forebear for contemporary interest in wyrd folk and related folk horror-esque music.

    Those post-industrial strands of experimental music also include Nurse With Wound and Coil, which while musically different and not necessarily folk orientated, has been described and connected as being “England’s Hidden Reverse” by David Keenan, in the title of his book of the same name in which he writes about their work.

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-7

    That title creates and captures a sense of the hidden, flipside, underlying strands and patterns of culture which their work often seems to reflect and explore – which connects back to the likes of wyrd folk and its exploration of similar areas and undercurrents within a more pastoral, landscape and rural based context.

    Alongside the connection to David Tibet, such strands are further connected with Shirley Collins’ recent work due to Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown performing on her new album, both of whom have worked with Coil.

    They currently work together as Cyclobe and their releases mix and combine aspects of folk or traditional music and instruments amongst other elements including drone, audio collage, soundscaping and electronic instrumentation within an experimental or exploratory context.

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-6

    In a further intertwining of the underground, darker, flipside and undercurrents of folk related culture, Ossian Brown compiled a book released in 2010 called Haunted Air which collects found photographs of Halloween from previous eras.

    The images in Haunted Air, despite them having originally been family snapshots etc, over time have often gained a genuinely unsettling, otherly air.

    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-3

    Such a gathering and layering of the uncanny over time is also present within The Ballad Of Shirley Collins trailer; at one point a framed photograph is shown of Shirley Collins and her sister Dolly stood either side of what I think is somebody in a traditional folkloric ram’s head costume…

    Once upon a time, although possessing a certain inherently odd or eery aspect due to its intrinsic nature, this may well have been a more standard, typical example of folklore costume.

    However, in the overall context of the trailer and the above cultural points of connection it now seems to belong to considerably more shadowed, unsettled furrows.

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

    ATV Guide:
    The Ballad Of Shirley Collins trailer and accompanying words at Fire Records.
    At the film’s website.
    At Youtube.

     

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  • Wanderings #19/52a: The Folk Roots Of Peak Time Comedians From Back When / Wandering The Layers

    Jasper Carrott at the Fletch-invite-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    When I was younger I used to thoroughly enjoy the likes of then very mainstream, often peak time TV viewing comedians such as Mike Harding, Jasper Carrott and Billy Connolly.

    Back then I didn’t necessarily know or look into all that much the cultural origins or history of such entertainers – they just made me laugh and that was all good and fine.

    Over the years I have accidentally come across things such as an old folk club flyer in an exhibition that features one of those comedians or the documentary Acoustic Routes on folk musician Bert Jansch, that was presented by Billy Connolly, in which he discusses his roots and connections with folk back when, which made me realise these comedians’ folk roots.

    bert-jansch-davy-graham-ralph-mctell-martin-carthy-acoustic-routes-music-from-the-television-documentary-A Year In The Country-strokeMike Harding-One Man Show-A Year In The Country

    Which leads me back to Mike Harding.

    Mike Harding-Walking The Peak And Pennines-book-1

    A recent(ish) charity shop find was Mike Harding’s Walking The Peak And Pennines book.

    It’s a nicely put together book that, well, does what it says on the can/cover – it’s an almost diary like document of Mike Harding walking that part of the country, with some good scenic photography taken by him.

    It was the quote on the back cover that I was drawn to in particular:

    Mike Harding-Walking The Peak And Pennines-book-2 copy“Wherever you walk on the hills, moors and in the valleys of the Peak and Pennines, you walk on the bones of those who have been there before you – from Roman legions to itinerant packmen, from monks to ranting Methodist parsons, from hand-loom weavers to mill poets – and if you listen carefully enough you can hear the echoes of their voices still singing in the wind.”

    The Detectorists-BBC-Mackenzie Crook-Toby Jones-A Year In The Country

    It put me in mind of the quietly left-of-centre-ness take on the layering of the land’s history and tales in Johnny Flynn’s title track for the TV series Detectorists (itself in part a quietly left-of-centre-ness take on the layering of the land’s history and tales):

    “Will you search through the lonely earth for me
    Climb through the biar and bramble
    I’ll be your treasure…
    I felt the touch of the kings and the breath of the wind, I knew the call of all the song birds…
    I’m with the ghosts of the men who can never sing again…”

     

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #316/365: The Detectorists; a gentle roaming in search of the troves left by men who can never sing again

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Later wanderings amongst the byways of folk by the gents who made me laugh:
    Jasper Carrott looking back on his days at the Boggery Folk Club.
    Billy Connolly presenting the Acoustic Routes documentary about sometime Pentangle-r Bert Jansch.
    Mike Harding still listening and transmitting amongst the airwaves.
    Further Midlands folk clubbery from back when.
    Walking The Peak And Pennines For But A Few Pence can be found here.

     

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  • Artifact Report #19/52a: The Restless Field Transmissions and Reviews

    The Restless Field-Night and Dawn Editions-A Year In The Country

    Various airwaves/online transmissions from and reviews of The Restless Field…

    BBC-logo-Radio-4-Freak Zone-Stuart Maconie

    Vic Mars’ Mortimer’s Cross (1461) was played by Stuart Maconie’s on his Freak Zone show at BBC Radio 6, where it can be found in some rather fine company as he celebrates what would have been Delia Derbyshire’s 80th birthday. Visit the show here.

    The Seance Radio show-wider logo

    Sometimes fellow A Year In The Country travellers Mr Pete Wiggs and Mr James Papademetrie played Assembled Minds’ 3am M5 Field Raid on their The Séance phantom seaside radio show, which was originally broadcast on Radio Reverb FM and Sine FM and can be found archived at The Séance’s site here.

    (Visit The Forest / The Wald album which includes The Séance with Lutine’s “pastoral gothic” contribution here.)

    Music Wont Save You website-Raffaello Russo-The Restless Field review

    Raffaello Russo reviewed the album on his site Music Won’t Save You, with the same review also featured in Rockerilla magazine… thanks to him for the ongoing support… Visit the review here.

    We Are Cult website logo-The Restless Field

    Martin Ruddock reviewed the album at We Are Cult:

    “The Restless Field is something quite special, a concept album that shows its references but lets you do the thinking. We Are Cult highly recommend spending a little time in the long grass with it.”

    Visit the review here.

    A Closer Lister-The Restless Field review

    A Closer Listen featured Richard Allen’s review of the album:

    “…the instrumental topography of the current set makes it one of the label’s finest to date… From the very start, the listener gets the feeling that there’s something bigger going on here than the music… Sproatly Smith provides a suitable elegy, calling on ancient intonations to imply something lost, lying just outside the reach of comprehension.”

    Visit the review here.

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

    David Colohan’s Beyond Jack’s Gate and Sproatly Smith’s Ribbons from The Restless Field were played on the You, the Night & the Music radio show by fellow Restless Field traveller Mat Handley of Pulselovers. That show was also originally broadcast at Sine FM and is archived at the YtN&tM Mixcloud page, which you can visit here.

    Blimey, something of a rather decent smorgasbord of transmissions and considerations of the album.

    Aside from the connections to The Restless Field, all the above sites/shows are well worth a wander if you should have a hankering after salving your cultural curiosity.

    Tip of the hat to all concerned.

    The Restless Field-Night Edition-landscape sticker artwork 2-A Year In The Country

    Previous transmissions, reviews etc of The Restless Field:
    Artifact Report #14/52a: The Restless Field at Simon Reynold’s blissblog and the sunday experience

    Artifact Report #16/52a: The Restless Field at Flatland Frequencies, Syndae and whisperandhollerin

    Artifact Report #17/52a: The Restless Field at Sunrise Ocean Bender and John Coulthart’s Feuilleton

     

    The Restless Field-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The CountryThe Restless Field is a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with sometimes more often referred to urban events.

    It takes inspiration from flashpoints in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land.

    The album contains audiological explorations by Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Assembled Minds, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Listening Center, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Polypores, Depatterning, Time Attendant, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.

    Listen to clips/tracks from the album at our Soundcloud Ether Victrola Mark II and at the album’s Bandcamp page.

    Further details on the album can be found here.

    (File Post Under: Encasments / Artifacts)

     

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  • Ether Signposts #19/52a: Martin Parr’s Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland via the Café Royal Books Archive

    Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland

    I’ve written about various photographic books and documents of lost, forgotten and abandoned infrastructure, objects and places before, in particular Josh Kemp Smith’s Illuminating Forgotten Heritage, various books on the ruins of Detroit such as Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled and those that collect views of derelict and left behind relics and reminders of the Soviet Union such as Rebecca Litchfield’s Soviet Ghosts and Daniela Tkachenko’s Restricted Areas…

    …and online there are whole swathes of sites and photography that explore such things…

    …but even amongst something of a plethora of such things, Martin Parr’s Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland particularly caught my eye.

    Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland

    (As with Homer Sykes’ Biddy Boys Ireland 1972 book which I also recently wrote about, this was published by Café Royal Books as part of their limited edition, one book released per week schedule.)

    Perhaps it was the specificity of its subject matter that made me stop and look – one particular make and type of car in one particular part of the world. But I think it was more than just that…

    The photographs were shot between 1980 and 1983 but they seem to hark back to a much earlier era, possibly because the Morris Minor evokes an almost postcard sense of Postwar 1940s and 1950s (although production of the car actually ended in 1972).

    Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland

    (As an aside, the above photograph makes me think of director Philip Trevelyan’s 1971 The Moon And The Sledgehammer and its often backgrounded images of the scrapped cars scattered around the grounds of the rural living-almost-in-the-past family’s home.)

    At times the cars seems to be returning to the earth, not in a crumbling and rusting away manner but rather, as also in the photograph above, it is more a sense of burrowing, encompassing or maybe becoming one with.

    Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland

    Accompanying that, in many of the photographs there seems to be little sense of the hand of man, even in the more urban photographs (apart from in one photograph where cut logs and branches have been quite methodically piled nearer to the car).

    The cars more appear to have just been genuinely left to their own devices, allowing nature, natural processes of decay and a returning to the land to take place, with them becoming part of, entwined by and succumbing to the natural world and landscape.

    Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland

    And as is often the way with this general area of photography, there is a melancholia coupled with a silent resilient grace in the face of the objects’ fate to the photographs.

    That melancholia seems to be offset by the sort of warm, cosy nature of the Morris Minor, something that possibly comes from its curved, friendly design and also possibly is due to the way that it has come to be an iconic representation of a particular era and type of British-ness; it is imbued with a certain little England chocolate boxness but without the overtly twee or negative aspects that can be associated with such things and the cars retain a sense of having been day-to-day, practical workhorses.

    Despite the neglect, abandonment and even the sleeting rain shown in the cover image there is something about the photographs that often puts a smile on my face rather than them seeming overtly, relentlessly bleak.

    That possibly stems from in part from the character of the Morris Minor and may also be due to the rural settings and the associated beauty that is captured in many of the photographs and which lends a certain romance to them.

    Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland Martin Parr — Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland

    This is contrasted to a degree by the photographs which show the Morris Minors in either a more urban, rubbish strewn setting or the more dismembered car which lies on the the edge of a lake or the sea, the second of which contains a certain brutishness rather than a sense of quietly crumbling with grace.

    Anyways, well worth a look-see, although between the limited edition and popular nature of the Café Royal editions and Martin Parr being somewhat well known as a photographer the print edition has sold out.

    However, the images from the book and photographs of the book itself can be viewed via the links below.

    Directions and Destinations:
    Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland at the Café Royal Books Archive.
    Abandoned Morris Minors archival scans.

     

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

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  • Ocular Signals #18/52a: Image R/1a

    Image-R1a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #18/52a: RTÉ Archives – Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965

    Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-2 copy

    I recently wrote about Homer Sykes’ Biddy Boys book, which collected his photographs of folkloric customs and costumes in Ireland in 1972.

    When I was looking up what the Biddy Boys and their traditions were, I came across this footage of the Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions from 1965 in the RTÉ Archives.

    (If you should not know, RTÉ is a semi-state company  and the national public service broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland – not all that dissimilar, from the relatively small amount I know about it, to the BBC in the UK.)

    Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-3 copy

    The footage of the Biddy Boys shown here presents a much more organised, regulated and respectable public face  of such customs than the behind the scenes, at home and in the public house view that can be found in many of Homer Sykes’ photographs, which seem to often reflect a more untamed, celebratory, carnivalesque atmosphere.

    The description of the customs that accompanies the footage say:

    “The Biddy Boys are grown men dressed in costumes, who carry Saint Brigid Dolls called ‘Brideogs’, traditionally made from their grandmother’s hair.”

    Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-1 copy

    In this footage the imagery does not seem to as overtly contain unsettling undercurrents as in Homer Sykes’ photographs, possibly due to it being a more formal “official” public service broadcaster viewpoint but it does contain a sense of these traditions having deep roots within the community and family life as one Biddy is said to have been made using hair cut from a participant’s great grandmother more than a century and a half ago.

    Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-4 copy

    Heres To The Health Of The Barley Mow-BFI-folk customs DVDAnyways, fascinating to watch as a snapshot of a particular time and place, that can be taken as a companion piece from just over the water to the BFI’s Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow DVD set, which gathered documentaries, unseen television reports and silent film footage of British folk customs and ancient rural games.

    ATV Guide: RTÉ Archives – Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965

     

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

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  • Wanderings #18/52a: Further Not-Quite-So-Mainstream Pastoralism And 1970s British Science Fiction Costume And Effects Prototyping…

    Charles Freger-Wilder Mann-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The CountryWilder Mann 001
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    And while we’re talking about worrisome fantastical creatures from back when and not-quite-so-mainstream pastoralism…

    The abominable snowman-doctor who-A Year In The Country-1

    I find the the yetis/abominable snowmen from vintage Doctor Who rather reiminiscent of the folk costumes from over the seas in Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann book.

    Wilder Mann 008

    Wilder Mann 004

    In fact, many of the costumes in Wilder Mann could well be escapees (prototypes?) for the 1970s British BBC costume and creature effect department.

    Wilder Mann 006

    Some of my favourite photographs of the yetis are the behind the scenes ones.

    They’re curiously disarming, especially considering how they once had a nation wanting to hide behind the sofa…

    The abominable snowman-doctor who-A Year In The Country-2

    …particularly this image with the yeti being groomed while “going over lines” with that gent from Gallifrey…

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #69/365: Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann and rituals away from the shores of albion

    Other behind-the-scenes views of fantastical fictions from back when:
    Day #202/365: Filming The Owl Service; Tomato Soap and Lonely Stones

    Wanderings #17/52a: Not So Abounding Faceless Automatons And Not-Quite-So-Mainstream Crafting

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann in it’s natural habitat and at Dewi Lewis Publishing (often worth a look-see at what they’re sending out into the world I find).

     

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  • Artifact Report #18/52a: The Restless Field Released

    Dawn Edition £11.95. Night Edition £24.95.

    The Restless Field-A Year In The Country-dawn and night editions opened-2
    Released today 2nd May 2017.
    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.

    Audiological contents created by Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Assembled Minds, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Listening Center, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Polypores, Depatterning, Time Attendant, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.

    The Restless Field is a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with sometimes more often referred to urban events.

    It takes inspiration from flashpoints in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land.

    References and starting points include: The British Miners Strike of 1984 and the Battle Of Orgreave. Gerrard Winstanley & the Diggers/True Levellers in the 17th century. The first battle of the English Civil War in 1642. The burying of The Rotherwas Ribbon. The Mass Tresspass of Kinder Scout in 1932. Graveney Marsh/the last battle fought on English soil. The Congested Districts Board/the 19th century land war in Ireland. The Battle Of The Beanfield in 1985.

    Preview clips from the album at our Soundcloud Mark II Ether Victrola.

    The Restless Field-Night Edition-booklet artwork-A Year In The Country

    …another exquisitely packaged affair… One of their best efforts so far… murky and ominous as befits the guiding thematic: places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles.” Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash

     

    Dawn Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £11.95.The Restless Field-A Year In The Country-dawn editions opened
    Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with inserts and badge.
    The Restless Field-Dawn Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe Restless Field-Dawn Edition-opened-A Year In The Country The Restless Field-Dawn Edition-back-A Year In The CountryThe Restless Field-Dawn Edition-white black CD-A Year In The Country
    Top of CD.                                                          Bottom of CD.

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

     

    “…a beautifully curated and packaged collection of tracks… The Restless Field is something quite special, a concept album that shows its references but lets you do the thinking. We Are Cult highly recommend spending a little time in the long grass with it.
    Martin Ruddock at We Are Cult

     

    Night Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £24.95.The Restless Field-A Year In The Country-night editions and CD-2
    Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet, 4 x badge pack, 1 x large badge, 2 x landscape format stickers.
    The Restless Field-Night Edition-box front-A Year In The CountryThe Restless Field-Night Edition-opened box-A Year In The Country copyThe Restless Field-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The CountryThe Restless Field-Night Edition-booklet pages-A Year In The Country
    The Restless Field-Night Edition-all black CD-A Year In The Country
    Top of CD.                                                            Bottom of CD.

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

     

    The Restless Field-A Year In The Country-Night edition large badges-3

    Further audiological exploration details:
    1) Ghosts Of Blood & Iron – Field Lines Cartographer
    2) Mortimer’s Cross – Vic Mars
    3) [ fears ] avaunt! upon ‘the’ hill – Bare Bones
    4) 3am M5 Field Raid – Assembled Minds
    5) Agrarian Lament – Grey Frequency
    6) Beneath The Cherry Trees – Endurance
    7) Congested District – Listening Center
    8) Badby 80 – Pulselovers
    9) Ribbons – Sproatly Smith
    10) Graveney Marsh – Polypores
    11) Last Best West (circ. 1896) – Depatterning
    12) Black Slab – Time Attendant
    13) A Mutable History Under A Bright June Sky – A Year In The Country
    14) Beyond Jack’s Gate – David Colohan

    Preview clips from the album at our Soundcloud Mark II Ether Victrola.

    The Restless Field-A Year In The Country-Night edition booklets

    Artwork / encasment design by AYITC Ocular Signals Department.

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

    Artifact #2a
    Library Reference Numbers: A008TRFN / A008TRFD

    The Restless Field-Night Edition-booklet artwork 3-A Year In The Country

    Available via our Artifacts Shop, our Bandcamp Ether Victrola and at Norman Records.
    Released today 2nd May 2017. 

     

    (File Under: Encasments / Artifacts – Artifact #2a)

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  • Ether Signposts #18/52a: Homer Sykes Biddy Boys Ireland 1972 / Café Royal Books

    Biddy Boys Ireland 1972—Homer Sykes

    British traditional folk rituals and costumes have been fairly well documented photographically/in books such as Sarah Hannant”s Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids, Henry Bourne’s Arcadia Britannica and Homer Sykes Once A Year, all of which I have written about around these parts previously.

    However, I hadn’t seen all that much published photography that focused on Ireland…

    Recently though I came across more work by Homer Sykes where he photographed folk customs; Biddy Boys Ireland 1972, published by Café Royal Books.

    The book is a time capsule view of those involved in the customs and traditions surrounding Saint Brigid’s Day.

    One description I found online of those traditions was:

    “The Biddy Boys are a group of males who dress up in straw hats and women’s clothes and who go around houses carrying a straw doll or Brideog. They demand entrance to the house and entertain the occupants with music and song and then demand a reward.”

    Biddy Boys Ireland 1972—Homer Sykes

    Café Royal are an interesting publisher: founded in 2005, every week they publish a new nicely produced zine like booklet in an ongoing similar format, generally in a limited edition of 150 and monochrome, with each book containing work by one particular photographer.

    The books broadly focus on aspects of change within the UK, often reflecting such change by including archival documentary photographs, many of which have not been published before.

    Anyways, Homer Sykes’ Once A Year, which is subtitled Some Traditional British Customs, was something of an early point of reference for what became A Year In The Country and his Biddy Boys photographs are an extension, companion or counterpart to those in Once A Year

    Biddy Boys Ireland 1972—Homer Sykes

    As with his photographs in Once A Year, Homer Sykes’ Biddy Boys photographs are interesting in part because they seem to capture and reflect a place, time and history which though recognisable as being from reasonably recent history, they also seem to be from somewhere almost impossibly distant from our own times.

    And to my eye the costumes in the photographs are genuinely quite odd.

    Biddy Boys Ireland 1972—Homer Sykes Biddy Boys Ireland 1972—Homer Sykes

    That may be partly because sometimes as time passes what was quite normal, in terms of local celebrations and traditions, can gain some kinds of layers of otherlyness… but even so, some of these images seem to have a genuinely unsettling air to them.

    And again, I don’t know if it is the cultural associations that have come to be connected with some folk culture over time but some of the masks worn in the photographs seem as though they should belong in a darker strand of 1970s science fiction/fantasy television, saying Sapphire & Steel or Doctor Who when they tipped over more that way and/or folk horror from back when.

    Biddy Boys Ireland 1972—Homer Sykes

    While the photograph above seems as though Devo/some new wave band had somehow crossed beams and time paths with local folk customs (curiously, looking it up Devo did actually form around a similar time as the photographs were taken).

    Anyways, Biddy Boys is out of print, as is often the way with the Café Royal editions and it does not seem to have been added to their Archive section yet but you can still view a selection of images from it via the links below at their CRB: Notes blog which accompanies their main site:

    Destinations and Directions:
    Café Royal Books: Notes – Homer Sykes Biddy Boys Ireland 1972
    Biddy Boys photograph carousel starts here.
    Café Royal Books: Main site

    PS At the time of writing Café Royal have sold out of copies but Homer Sykes still has some signed copies available from himself. You can contact him via his website and at his Photoshelter site.

     

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

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  • Ocular Signals #17/52a: Image Q/1a

    Image-Q1a-3rd-year-A-Year-In-The-Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations

     

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