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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #51/52a: Sing Cuckoo: The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack and Other Partly-Archived Summerisle Discussions

    The Wicker Man-Cast And Crew-BBC 4-2005-2

    During this year of A Year In The Country I’ve visited the fictional world of Summerisle / The Wicker Man a number of times…

    …and now that the year is drawing to a close, I thought I would visit it once more.

    A while ago I came across a bevy of Wicker Man documentaries that I didn’t know about.

    I had watched various ones previously, the ones included on the DVD releases etc but then one day I stumbled on more online (the magic of the ever-archiving internet and all that).

    Now, I would’ve thought that I would be a bit overloaded with all things Wicker Man-esque but I actually thoroughly enjoyed watching the documentaries or sections of documentaries I found in various ways – it seems that this is the isle that just keeps giving it seems.

    The Wicker Man BBC Scotland On Screen 2009

    The ones in question were:

    One titled online as The Wicker Man BBC Scotland On Screen 2009, in which actor Alan Cumming (with a somewhat artfully arranged fringe) wanders around the locations of The Wicker Man, with how they are today segueing into scenes from the film.

    It features him meeting with the likes of the film’s director Robin Hardy, Britt Ekland’s body double, one of the public house musicians who played in the film and the woman who runs the gallery where the sweet shop scene was filmed (who says something along the lines of some visiting tourists thinking that those who live in the area actually are pagans).

    Alongside which Allan Brown, author of Inside The Wicker Man, film critic/broadcaster Andrew Collins, novelist Christopher Brookmyre and Edward Woodward all appear and comment on the film and its surrounding myths and intrigues.

    The Wicker Man-Cast And Crew-BBC 4-2005-b2

    Then I watched The Wicker Man episode of the BBC 4 series Cast and Crew from 2005, which hosts a round table discussion of the film, featuring Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt being her delightfully eccentric and expressive self (slightly embarrassing/awkward for more reserved British sensibilities to know how to cope with that it has always seemed when I have watched such appearances), director Robin Hardy again, art director Seamus Flannery, associate music director Gary Carpenter and again Edward Woodward (who was filmed separately from the other participants).

    The Wicker Man-Cast And Crew-BBC 4-2005

    One of the pieces of information that stuck in my mind from this documentary was Seamus Flannery saying how the actual Wicker Man sculpture in the film was built from pre-woven panels that were designed to be used as wind baffles in fields for sheep to shelter behind and which they bought very cheaply wholesale for just a few pounds each.

    Robin Hardy also briefly mentions the successor to The Wicker Man that he was planning at the time called May Day (which Christopher Lee was set to appear in and is at baritone, strident pains to make clear that it was not a sequel) and which I assume eventually became The Wicker Tree which was released in 2011.

    Sing Cuckoo- The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack-Gothic-The Dark Heart Of Film-BFIPlayer-BFI

    The one that really caught my eye and mind though was Sing Cuckoo: The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack, which is available to watch on the BFI Player (which I have mentioned a few times previously around these parts) and was recorded around the time of the BFI season Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film in 2014.

    This does what it says on the can and again features Robin Hardy and Gary Carpenter, alongside the musicians Stephen Cracknell of The Memory Band and Mike Lindsay of Tuung (who have both created/released Wicker Man related work), all discussing the soundtrack of the film, its influences, inspirations etc.

    There is something very evocative and moving about this particular documentary and it has a certain classiness to it, a sense of a deep respect for the film both by those shown in it and from behind the camera.

    Part of that is the way it is divided into titled chapters that connect with the themes of the film and its influence; Creation, Isolation, Resurrection, Inspiration and Resolution.

    Sing Cuckoo- The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack-Gothic-The Dark Heart Of Film-BFIPlayer-BFI-Jonny Trunk

    I don’t know if it was a deliberate but those directly involved in the film – Robin Hardy and Gary Carpenter – are filmed  against a featureless black background, whereas Jonny Trunk, Stephen Cracknell and Mike Lindsay are filmed set against tools of their trades (shelves of vinyl records and banks of modular synthesisers).

    There is a touching moment when Jonny Trunk talks about how it is a shame that the soundtrack’s author Paul Giovanni passed away before he could see how it had gone on to gain such an extensive following and possibly even played it live.

    Connected to that, there is a poignancy to all these documentaries; as the years have passed few of the principal participants featured are still alive, with Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, Robin Hardy and Edward Woodward all since having passed away.

    In terms of some of the reasons for the ongoing and expanding appeal of the film and its soundtrack, Stephen Cracknell makes some interesting points about how the songs have become like folk standards for young indie-folk musicians and says:

    “I think it will go on influencing people by giving them this idea of “Wow, you can be playful and sexy and daring and scary, not just reverential with old music and make it new and vibrant”. It stands like a beacon for that really.”

    Sing Cuckoo- The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack-Gothic-The Dark Heart Of Film-BFIPlayer-BFI-Stephen Cracknell-Mike Lindsay

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    Sing Cuckoo: The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack at the BFIPlayer

    More samizdat transmissions:
    The Wicker Man BBC Scotland On Screen 2009
    Cast And Crew – The Wicker Man

    Local Broadcasts:
    Well, that would be a fair few but here’s a starter or two – The Wicker Man Around These Parts


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  • Ether Signposts #46/52a: The Wicker Man – Summer Isle Books, Bindings, Pounds, Shillings And Pence

    The Wicker Man book collection

    A fair old while ago, back in the first year of A Year In The Country one of the posts included a consideration of various DVD etc editions of The Wicker Man.

    In a similar spirit, I thought I would bring together a gathering of some of the various Wicker Man related books that have been published…

    …there have now been enough to warrant their own section within a library.

    There are other related books and editions out in the world as well as the ones below but that library section could well include:

    The Quest For The Wicker Man-Benjamin Franks-bookFirst off there is The Quest For The Wicker Man: History, Folklore And Pagan Perspectives by Benjamin Franks, Stephen Harper, Jonathan Murray and Lesley Stevenson, which is a more academic take on the film.

    There is a somewhat rarer book that accompanies this called Constructing The Wickerman, which includes work by some of the same authors and which was published to coincide with the first academic conference on the film in Glasgow in 2003.

    Studying The Wicker Man-Andy Murray Lorraine RolstonThen there is Studying The Wicker Man from 2017, which is a shorter academic book by Andy Murray and Lorraine Rolston…
    Inside The Wicker Man-Allan Brown-1st edition and revised editionHow Not To Make A Cult Classic – Inside The Wicker Man by Allan Brown, which if memory serves correctly is a good factual and also behind the scenes intrigues view of the film. It was originally published in 2000 (the first book on The Wicker Man?) and reissued in 2010 as a newer revised edition post the US remake.
    Ritual-David Pinner-First Edition-Finders Keepers Edition

    Ritual by David Pinner, which is seen as a forebear and possible influence on The Wicker Man. Originally published in 1967 as a hardback, in paperback in 1968 by Arrow Books with a more overtly possibly exploitation cover image and text and it was republished in 2011 by Finders Keepers Records.

    First editions of the 1967 version now fetch upwards of £400 (blimey etc)… and I like the background info at Finders Keepers site on their new edition and before they republished it how Andy Votel was about to pay a fair few pounds for an original copy and then he thought “I’ll just check the local library catalogue”… and there it was.

    Ah, the good old library system.

    The Finders Keepers edition also features an interesting introduction by Bob Stanley which in an earlier post at A Year In The Country I said this:

    “The introduction opens with a sense of how nature can come to almost dwarf you, how our sense of urban/modern security can easily be dismissed by the ways and whiles of nature.”

    (As an aside, although it was released in conjunction with David Pinner and reproduced from his copy, I like the way the Finders Keepers edition is listed by them as being “Finders Keepers Forgery Number One”.)

    The Wicker Man-The Complete Piano Songbook-with sheet music

    For the 40th anniversary of the film in 2013, alongside the various Bluray/DVD and soundtrack reissues, there was also The Wicker Man – The Complete Piano Songbook published by Summer Isle Songs, with arrangements by Christopher Hussey.

    Alongside the sheet music, it also includes an introduction by film’s Associate Musical Directory Gary Carpenter and various stills from the film.

    The Wicker Man-1st edition and new edition book-Robin Hardy-Anthony Shaffer-foreword Allan BrownThe Wicker Man novel, which curiously was originally published in 1978, five years after the release of the film (and also slightly curiously was released in the US first).

    The novel was written by Robin Hardy, the director of The Wicker Man but is credited as being co-authored by Anthony Shaffer, the writer of the film’s screenplay, as it re-uses much of the screenplay’s dialogue.

    It was republished in 2000, the same year as Allan Brown’s Inside The Wicker Man, with this new edition also  featuring a foreword by him.

    The Wicker Man-Conversations with Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer & Edward Woodward-Stephen ApplebaumAlthough only available as an eBook, The Wicker Man: Conversations with Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer & Edward Woodward, published in 2012 collects 46 pages of interviews by Stephen Applebaum…

    I’m hoping that at some point it will appear as a physically printed book.

    Also of note…
    Your Face Here-Ali Catterall-Simon Wells-The Wicker ManYour Face Here: British Cult Movies Since the Sixties by Ali Caterall and Simon Wells from 2001, which is a fine and very readable collection that focuses on various cult films, with one chapter being specifically about The Wicker Man.

    I’ve written about this book before at A Year In The Country and said:

    “…there is a rigour to the research… the text reflects a genuine love for and appreciation of these films… This isn’t something that is written by rote or which just trots out well visited stories in a cut and paste manner. The authors have put the footwork in, visiting locations, interviewing all kinds of associated folk and bringing forth something of a wealth of new information and connections.”

    nuada-wicker-man-journal-issues…and finally there is Nuada, which was a journal/zine about The Wicker Man which had three editions published in 1999-2000 (a busy period for such things it seems).

    …so, all in all, there have been a fair few Summer Isle related books and bindings (and as mentioned earlier, the above is not a complete list of books and editions)… something of a measure of just how it’s influence and inspiration has grown over the years…

    …and somewhat impressive for a film that took $58,341 in US box office receipts on it’s first release.

    Adjusting that for inflation, it would today mean it had taken $321,575.85 or using the exchange rates back in 1973, £137,185.79.

    So, no small potatoes (or other appropriate harvest crops).

    However as a point of reference, the Top 10 US ranking films back then (The Sting, The Exorcist, American Graffiti, Papilion, The Way We Were, Magnum Force, Last Tango In Paris, Live and Let Die, Robin Hood and Paper Moon) took between $156,000,000 and $30,933,473.

    Which, again, adjusted for inflation today would be $859,872,702.70 to $170,505,442.52.

    Or £366,825,785.39 to £72,738,432.87 in modern day Blighty pounds, shillings and pence.


    The Wicker Man Collage-A Year In The Country-1080

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    The Quest For The Wicker Man
    Studying The Wicker Man
    Inside The Wicker Man
    Ritual at Finders Keepers
    The Wicker Man Song Book
    The Wicker Man novel
    The Wicker Man: Conversations with Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer & Edward Woodward
    Your Face Here
    Nuada journal

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Day #237/365: Your Face Here; peering down into the landfill – a now historical perspective on the stories of The Wicker Man
    Day #90/365: The Wickerman – the future lost vessels and artifacts of modern folklore
    Day #101/365: Gently Johnny, Sproatly Smith, The Woodbine & Ivy band and lilting intentions…
    Week #25/52: Fractures Signals #4; A Behemoth Comes Once More A Knocking…
    Ether Signposts #24/52a: The Wicker Man / Don’t Look Now Double Bill And Media Disseminations From What Now Seem A Long Long Time Ago
    Ether Signposts #25/52a: 138 Layers And Gatherings Of The Wicker Man


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  • Wanderings #36/52a: The Wicker Man Revisited / Refreshed – The Long Arm Of The Lore

    Sight & Sound-2013-The Wickerman-2010-The Films Of Old Weird Britain

    Now, there has been an ever increasing amount written about The Wicker Man and it could be possible to be a tad oversaturated with more considerations of the film…

    …but I recently(ish) read Vic Pratt’s article Long Arm Of The Lore about the film in a 2013 edition of Sight & Sound, at the time of one of the DVD/Bluray brush’n’scrub ups of The Wicker Man…

    And actually, it was a refreshingly calm, considered, reflective, contextual piece that made me pause for thought, consider and re-appreciate the film and its own stories and myths once again.

    In many ways it and the issue of the magazine could be a companion to the 2010 Sight & Sound with The Films Of Old, Weird Britain cover and The Pattern Under The Plough article Rob Young (and leading on from that, that article could also be seen as a companion to his Electric Eden book).

    Both articles explore a sense of an otherly Albion, of the undercurrents and layers of folk tales, customs and histories and their reflections within film, television, culture and music at various points in time.

    Sight & Sound-2013-The Wickerman-2010-The Films Of Old Weird Britain-2

    Vic Pratt’s article is particularly good at placing The Wicker Man in the context of the early 1970s, the what-happened-next of 1960s utopianism and a yearning to return to more authentic, rooted ways – the interest in variations on folk culture being an aspect of such things.

    I particularly liked this sequence, its analogies and the way it intertwines folk, the romance of analogue recording techniques and the myths of The Wicker Man itself:

    “The archivists among us surely long to see a fully restored version of the film derived from 35mm elements, and the new Final Cut should almost provide that, bar a few mainland minutes. Yet folklorists must surely enjoy the flawed long version; that old variation in quality, the sudden grainy sequences, are textural scars that remind us of a checkered past. The multigenerational flaws of decades-old transfer technologies are embedded in the images. Forever incomplete, with something added, something removed, like an old folk ditty with lyrics honed and melodies reshaped by time, The Wicker Man remains splendidly imperfect, the perfect folk film artefact.”

    The article is available to read online but I must admit I enjoyed being able to stop a moment and read it in its original printed form (although it seems to be one of the more hard to find back issues of Sight & Sound, not unsuprisingly considering the cult status of The Wicker Man).

    (File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)


    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #4/365: Electric Eden; a researching, unearthing and drawing of lines between the stories of Britain’s visionary music

    Day #80/365: The Films Of Old Weird Britain… celluloid flickerings from an otherly Albion…

    Day #90/365: The Wicker Man – the future lost vessels and artifacts of modern folklore

    Week #25/52: Fractures Signals #4; A Behemoth Comes Once More A Knocking…

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Read the article here (which also includes an interview with director Robin Hardy).


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  • Ether Signposts #26/52a: Constructing The Wicker Man

    The Wicker Man-construction-production photograph

    I was recently wandering around the  The Wicker Man (1973) Wikia website and posted about its multi-layered archiving of The Wicker Man related material…

    The Wicker Man-cherry picker-under construction-2

    Some of the images I was particularly struck by were those that showed the literal construction of the film’s Wickerman structure/s.

    The Wicker Man-under construction

    The Wicker Man-1973-production notes-sketchAnd quite simply I wanted to post some of them online as well, it gives me a chance to peruse them again myself.

    Also because as I mentioned in my previous post about the related Wikia site, I don’t find seeing such “behind the scenes” images takes away from the myth and mystique of the film, rather that they more seem like part of the layered myths and stories that surround The Wickerman – of which the production of the film, its intrigues and tales are an intrinsic part.

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    The Wicker Man (1973) Wikia (introduction page)
    Behind The Scenes (still pictures)


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  • Ether Signposts #25/52a: 138 Layers And Gatherings Of The Wicker Man

    The Wicker Man 1973-US press book

    I recently went a-wandering to have a look-see if I could fine the original press book for The Wickerman – as I’ve mentioned around these parts before I have something of a softspot for press booklets from back.

    As far as I can see there were two main ones back in 1973; one for the US and one for the UK.

    Despite the cult and collectible nature of the film you can still occasionally find them, although they’re not necessarily cheap; the two I found were priced at/sold for around £26.00 and £325 (ahem!).

    Anyways, as I was having a potter around online I found a site called The Wicker Man (1973) Wikia…

    …and just when you think you know a fair bit about the film, have read a related book or two and seen a documentary or few etc…

    …well, you realise you’re just scratching the surface.

    The Wickerman-rating

    The Wicker Man (1973) Wikia site has 138 different pages on the film, which may not sound like all that many but some of those have literally dozens of photographs, hundreds of pieces of information etc: maps, autographs, scripts, newspaper articles, behind the scenes photographs by the dozen, location photographs then and now, scripts, production notes, floor plans, reunion photographs, memoirs from cast and crew, images from missing scenes, fanzines, construction plans…

    …and that’s to mention just a few of the things that can be found there.

    The Wickerman-lost scene in hairdressers

    Some of my favourite parts of the site are the Behind The Scenes page, in particular the images of the construction of The Wicker Man itself and also the numbered on-set and press photographs taken from contact sheets.

    The Wicker Man-1973-UK press bookThose two parts of the site seem, even though they are on a public site, to offer a semi-hidden view or a glance behind the curtain at it were.

    And interestingly, I don’t find that they ruin the mystique or myths of the film for me, which I can do sometimes with such photographs or “How We Made The Film” documentaries and DVD extras.

    That’s possibly because The Wicker Man has such a multi-layered set of myths around it, some of which are intrinsically connected and interwoven with the production of the film itself and related backstories.

    The Wicker Man-1973-Production notesWillow Umbrella-Christopher Lee-The Wicker Man-1973

    The site is a real labour of love that put me in mind of the Kate Bush Clippings site that I wrote about a while ago, on which there are hundreds or more scans of related magazine etc articles.

    The two sites may well also be interconnected in that both Kate Bush and The Wickerman seem to have come to represent, have spun or exist within some kind of world and myths all of their own; ones that connect with some kind of sense of arcane, layered stories, history and fantasia from this part of the world.

    Because of the vast nature of the site and the way that it is built (and possibly because of my initial sense of “must try and read and see it all”) it can be a bit overwhelming, so I thought a few initial pointers towards starting points and pages that caught my eye might be helpful…

    Directions and Destinations:
    The Wicker Man (1973) Wikia (introduction page)
    All Pages (you may be there a while…)
    Behind The Scenes (still pictures)
    Negative numbers (for on-set and press photographs)
    Images (all images on the site)
    Missing Scenes

    Kate Bush Clippings Site (and around these parts)


    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

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  • Ether Signposts #24/52a: The Wicker Man / Don’t Look Now Double Bill And Media Disseminations From What Now Seem A Long Long Time Ago

    The Wicker Man-Dont Look Now-double bill-The Guardian and The Observer DVDs

    Fairly recently I was in a charity shop and on the counter they had a box full of the DVDs and CDs that used to come free with newspapers…

    That time now seems long, long ago, before the advent and popularity of online streaming services for films.

    The Wicker Man-Dont Look Now-double bill-The Guardian and The Observer DVDs-2

    Anyways, a while after I got home I realised that two of the DVDs I had gotten from the shop were effectively the original double bill cinema release of The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now.

    The version of The Wickerman on the DVD is one of the shorter ones with a runtime of 84 minutes but nonetheless I suppose for Wickerman collectors and completists this would still be something to look out for.

    Finding them also made me curious if there had ever been one of those double bill cinema posters for the two films.

    They were once quite popular and now seem to often capture previous era’s styles and aesthetics.

    The Wicker Man and Dont Look Now-double bill adverts

    However, despite quite a search for one of those double bill posters I couldn’t find one, only a couple of newspaper/magazine adverts.

    So in lieu of an actual double-bill poster I thought I would repost a double page spread from a copy of Film Review magazine back in 1974, showing The Wicker Man side-by-side with its cinematic partner:

    The Wicker Man-Dont Look Now-Film Review Magazine-A Year In The Country-1200

    Directions and Destinations:
    Day #90/365: The Wickerman – the future lost vessels and artifacts of modern folklore
    For Summer Isle completists: The Wickerman and Don’t Look Now


    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

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  • Day #237/365: Your Face Here; peering down into the landfill – a now historical perspective on the stories of The Wicker Man

    The Wicker Man-Your Face Here-Ali Catterall-Simon Wells-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences.
    Other Pathways. Case #39/52.

    And while we’re talking about semi-lost celluloid (see Day #235/365)…

    Although there has been much written about The Wicker Man over the years and across the ether, I tend to be quietly pleased when I come across writing about it on the printed page and in particular in the bound sheafs of books…

    Your Face Here is one of my favourite film books. It was published just after the turn of the millennium. I read it a reasonable number of years ago now but it has stuck in my mind and stayed with me since.

    It is a book which takes a wander through British cult films since the 1960s and has a good old gander and consider of amongst others Blow Up, If…, Performance, Get Carter, Clockwork Orange, Quadrophenia, Withnail & I and The Wicker Man itself, dedicating a chapter to each.

    All fine and/or intriguing films in their own various ways and while that list may seem like a fairly obvious selection of cult films, an almost accepted canon of such things, there are other things at play that make this a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and engrossing read. I can’t quite put my finger on what those things might be but in part I expect it is that there is a rigour to the research without it stepping into the drier grounds of academia and the text reflects a genuine love for and appreciation of these films.

    The Wicker Man-Your Face Here-Ali Catterall-Simon Wells-A Year In The CountryThis isn’t something that is written by rote or which just trots out well visited stories in a cut and paste manner. The authors (Ali Caterall and Simon Wells) have put the footwork in, visiting locations, interviewing all kinds of associated folk and bringing forth something of a wealth of new information and connections.

    If you don’t feel like or haven’t the time to read a full book on The Wickerman, say one of the versions of Allan Brown’s Inside The Wicker Man, then the chapter here acts as a fine precis of the story of the themes, production, loss and part-refinding of The Wicker Man. That story is vastly entertaining in itself and as I type it brings forth images of a good narrative film romp that could well lend itself to being made…

    …plus when re-reading the chapter, it has gained an interesting historical perspective as it was written before the more recent longer versions of the film were made available on various shiny digital discs, the Hollywood remake or the sort of follow-up were sent out into the world. Also the book was published not all that long after Trunk Records made the soundtrack available for the first time and at a point when the films long march towards cultural rehabilitation and inspiration had just started to gather pace.

    In that sense, the chapter now reflects a sense of the ongoing and growing story of this still not completely yet unearthed or unburied film (literally so, if the stories of its negatives being used as motorway landfill are historical fact).

    The Wickerman-Your Face Here-Ali Catterall & Simon Wells-A Year In The Country

    In case you’re wandering the full title of the book in question is Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since The Sixties. It was written by Ali Catterall and documenter of butterflies on wheels Simon Wells.

    The book is currently out of print but can be found for but a few pennies. Well worth a look-see and those few pennies.

    Future lost artifacts from said story here. Pathways that lead to the soundtrack here.


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  • Day #90/365: The Wicker Man – the future lost vessels and artifacts of modern folklore

    The Wicker Man Collage-A Year In The Country-1080File under:
    Trails and Influences: Other Pathways. Case #12/52.

    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…

    Over the years it seems to have become such a touchstone and point of reference for people and there seems to be an exponentially increasing amount of text, articles, referencing and so on which shows no sign of dwindling even a touch.

    Via storage and dissemination through various mediums and artifacts, such celluloid and (once) cathode ray stories could now be considered to be our modern-day folklore or folktales, allowing for a common cultural language in days when people no longer live and share such things with their geographic neighbours to as large a degree as in the past.

    The Wicker Man-Hessian Bag Edition-Insert-A Year In The Country-2The title of the page mentions “future lost vessels”. Why you may ask? Well, one day in years to come it is quite likely that some of the physical artifacts, the digital discs and ferrous cassettes, that have been used to pass on our folk tales from the 1970s onwards may well still exist as objects but will the stories that they contain still be readable by all but a few? The current machines for such things will have more than likely returned once more to the ground from whence they originally came. The stories themselves may well have been re-recorded and transferred to other mediums but the original artifacts will quite possibly just have become symbols or ornaments that represent them…

    But who knows what may happen in the future and what the future story may be of a tale which is already possibly partly buried beneath passing cars (see here about half way down the page for more details).


    And so, this page is a document of some my favourite (or at least the ones I find the most interesting) of the vessels and artifacts of this particular slice of modern day folklore…

    (In memory of possible future lost vessels, only the casing that contains the discs and tapes are shown below, I’ve included a touch of actual vinyl as such things have proved a certain longevity).

    Here goes…

    I think one of my favourite of such things is the hessian bag release of the DVD… it just seems to fit…

    The Wicker Man-Hessian Bag Edition-A Year In The Country 2 The Wicker Man-Hessian Bag Edition-DVD-A Year In The Country

    One of the Dan Mumford poster designs for the 40th Anniversary re-issue of the film…
    The Wicker Man-Dan Mumford poster-A Year In The Country
    …and some variations on the poster via Dark City Gallery
    The Wicker Man-Dan Mumford poster detail-A Year In The Country
    Below on the left is what seems to be one of the rarer DVD issues of the film, featuring part of a still that seems to be something of a favourite out in the world (and which has been used by contemporary pastoral-psych-folk band Sproatly Smith, who also released a 7″ single of Gently Johnny)…

    Nice rarer paperback cover on the right below… well, when I saw nice, it’s in the context of somebody being thrown onto the altar so that people can grow some mildly exotic apples…
    The Wicker Man-The Cult Classic Film Series-A Year In The Country The Wicker Man-Pocker Fiction paperback-A Year In The Country


    Ah, the days of VHS (was this ever released on Betamax? Video 2000?)…
    The Wicker Man-1973 1972-VHS Thorn EMI-Pick Of The Flicks-A Year In The Country copy
    Now, I should really love the hinged wooden box edition of the film but there’s something just slightly off or maybe unloved about it…
    The Wicker Man-Wooden Box Edition-DVD-A Year In The Country
    Something which may well have been responsible for some of the increase in interest over the last decade or so… The Trunk Records vinyl release of the soundtrack album, the first time it had been commercially available…
    The Wicker Man OST soundtrack-Jonny Trunk-Trunk Records-A Year In The Country
    If you should wish to read about how film cults came about in part because of the siren call of ladies in metal bath tubs to the cigar chomping folk behind the scenes…
    The Wicker Man book-Allan Brown-A Year In The CountryThe Wicker Man book-Allan Brown-A Year In The Country 2
    …and a return to VHS, this time with a slightly more sober cover (and more giving away of the plot)…The Wicker Man-VHS video cover-A Year In The Country
    Now this seems to be one of the rarer artifacts out in the world… the 2012 Record Store Day 7″ single release of Willow’s Song/Gently Johnny…
    The Wickerman Willows Songs Gently Johnny 7 vinyl Record Store Day-Silva Screen International-A Year In The Country 2The Wickerman Willows Songs Gently Johnny 7 vinyl Record Store Day-Silva Screen International-A Year In The Country
    …and (almost) finally, Richard Beckett’s poster for the 40th Anniversary (as seen on t-shirts, the aforementioned posters and a new differently edited version of the soundtrack)…

    …plus one of the lesser seen DVD releases. I like the simplicity of this one.
    The Wicker Man-Richard Beckett poster-silver hair variant-A Year In The Country

    The Wicker Man-Studio Canal DVD-A Year In The Country

    So, 12 artifacts to accompany A Year In The Country seems quite an appropriate number.

    I know what, let’s make it a baker’s dozen as I quite like the story behind that phrase…

    A double page spread from a copy of Film Review magazine back in 1974, showing The Wicker Man side-by-side with its cinematic partner Don’t Look Now:

    The Wicker Man-Dont Look Now-Film Review Magazine-A Year In The Country-1200

    (In case you’re curious the cover of that issue featured Sid James, Babs Windsor, Margaret Nolan and Valerie Leon in Carry On Girls… something of a favourite in the Carry On cannon round these parts, a point when the films began to change and reflect a country “gone to the dogs” but before the films just became seedy shams. Anyway, I digress…).

    As an (actual) final note: don’t watch The Wicker Man with an older relative, suggesting a viewing as your mind seems to have momentarily selectively remembered it as a bit of a knockabout light-hearted folkloric musical…

    Ah, we live and learn.

    A few trails and pathways: The appeal for lost Wicker Man materials here and at The Art Shelf here. Corn(flake) rigs via Johnny Trunk at Feuilleton, at Fuel and at Mr Trunk’s home in the electronic ether. A whole slew of Wicker soundtracks here. Richey Beckett’s hand of glory here. An interesting “behind-the-scenes” on the creation of the artwork for the 2012 Record Store Day Willow’s Song/Gently Johnny 7″ here and here. Sproatly Smith and the Woodbine & Ivy band split version of Gently Johnny (something of a favourite) at purveyor of vinyl artifacts Picadilly Records and Static Caravan.

    A baker’s or devil’s dozen here.


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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #31/52a: Summerisle In (Sort Of) Pop #1 – Pulp’s Wickerman

    Forge Dam-Sheffield-Pulp-The Wicker Man-1

    A while ago I read Freak Out The Squares, which is former Pulp member Russel Senior’s autobiography of his time with the band.

    In it there is a section where he talks about a time where pre their fame he and former members of Pulp went on an expedition through underground tunnels beneath Sheffield that were used for sluicing industrial run off, how that journey became increasingly dangerous feeling and that it inspired the Pulp song Wickerman (which was recorded after he left).

    I most probably listened to the song when We Love Life, the album it was on came out but hadn’t remembered it until then.

    Listening to it now it struck me as a curious piece of culture, one that interweaves samples from the original The Wicker Man film soundtrack recording and hence otherly folkloric concerns, alongside a sense of urban exploration, the true history of the band, spoken word, a certain grandiosity in its production (courtesy of producer Scott Walker?), the social history of Sheffield and surrounding areas and a yearning, wistful love story.

    Here are a selection of the lyrics:

    Just behind the station, before you reach the traffic island, a river runs through a concrete channel. 
    I took you there once; I think it was after the Leadmill. 
    The water was dirty & smelt of industrialisation
    Little mesters coughing their lungs up & globules the colour of tomato ketchup. 
    But it flows…
    Underneath the city through dirty brickwork conduits
    Connecting white witches on the Moor with pre-Raphaelites down in Broomhall. 
    Beneath the old Trebor factory that burnt down in the early seventies…
    And the river flows on…
    And it finally comes above ground again at Forge Dam: the place where we first met.


    Jarvis Cocker, who I assume wrote the lyrics, said that he used to live on The Wicker which is a street in Sheffield and so I guess that’s where the title in part comes from.

    In a further connection with otherly folklore, what the real life story of the band wandering through these tunnels also put me in mind of was the underground tunnel sequence in Ben Wheatley’s The Kill List.

    But I won’t talk too much of that as I want to sleep tonight.

    Pulp-The Trees-Sunrise-CD singleThe album We Love Life seems to have been a mixture of classic Pulp-like kitchen sink-esque observation and an interest/attempt to connect with the basics of a more natural life, particularly so in related artwork and on songs such as Trees and Sunrise, alongside which the band played a series of concerts in forests to support its release.

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide: Pulp’s Wickerman


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  • Day #69/365: Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann and rituals away from the shores of albion

    Charles Freger-Wilder Mann-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The CountryFile under:
    Trails and Influences: Other Pathways. Case #8/52.

    Well, as I seem to say here and there, while we’re talking about Charles Frégers Wilder Mann (see Day #65/365), here is his document of folk rituals and costume from other shores.

    And well, if you want to look for an underlying unsettledness to a bucolic pastoralism, look no further.

    Although it’s probably not all that underlying.

    I’m curious as to whether it’s just the exoticness of not having seen them before; that their tropes, designs and roots are not deeply buried in my subconscious which makes these seem so much more dramatic, odd, film like and possibly accomplished or even professional in appearance compared to those found in English folk rites…

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country…and why sometimes do I think of the march and advancement of the simians upon homo sapien in The Planet Of The Apes / The Monkey Planet (circa 1960s and 70s, not later mind)? Or even strangely surreal Stan Lee superheroes and villains?

    With these photographs there is often something unsettling and genuinely scary to some part of me that still feels ten; they strike a chord with that younger me and can genuinely give me the heebie jeebies… these images could well have tumbled from distant lands into high fever childhood Wicker nightmares.

    In one photograph somebody is having a ciggie, which should break the spell but it doesn’t; there’s something about that, his costume, stance and the way he’s staring at the camera that makes it wander off into some very odd almost slasher film territory and more childhood nightmares. These are Sesame Street monsters which have crawled from under the bed and out of the cupboards…


    I think this is one of those posts or days where I shall stop now and let the images speak for themselves.

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The CountryWilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The CountryWilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The CountryWilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The CountryWilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country

    Wilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The CountryWilder Mann-Charles Freger-A Year In The Country

    Peruse the Wilder Mann here. Marvel at the price of the now sold out English text edition here. Fortunately you can still find German and other language editions here. Dewi Lewis, the original publishers of the UK edition here.

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  • Wanderings, Explorations and Signposts 2/52: Penda’s Fen and The Edge Is Where The Centre Is – Explorations of the Occult, Otherly and Hidden Landscape

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is-books-Texte und tone-Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-Mordant Music

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is is a book that focuses on Alan Clarke and David Rudkin’s 1974 British television play Penda’s Fen.

    Aside from the intriguing and multi-layered nature of Penda’s Fen, the book is a fascinating and rather lovely cultural artifact in itself – and a good example of the way in which a relatively small core of television and film work from previous decades which focuses on for example the flipside and undercurrents of the landscape and folklore continues to inspire contemporary work and projects, which draw inspiration from that core but which can also be appreciated, exploratory and inspirational in their own right.

    The book has been released in two editions, both prior to the play’s official DVD/Bluray restoration and release by the BFI in 2016, at a time when it was generally only viewable as a not-officially sanctioned multi-generational blurred digital copy online or at one of the rare public screenings.

    At the core of the book is a conversation between Gareth Evans, William Fowler and David Rudkin where Penda’s Fen is discussed – hence the subtitle of the first edition of the book: David Rudkin and Penda’s Fen: A Conversation.

    In the first edition of the book this was accompanied by several articles, a short biography of David Rudkin, a synopsis of the film and a screening history.

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is-synopsis-books-Texte und tone-Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-Mordant Music
    (Above is the “short” synopsis of the play – which considering the multi-layered nature of Penda’s Fen rather surprisingly captures and represents its themes concisely in but a few words.)

    The second edition has been considerably expanded, redesigned and at times rewritten to include the core conversation, articles, the synopsis etc but with the sections now numbering fourteen, the addition of a flexi-disc by Mordant Music and the subtitle changing to be: David Rudkin and Penda’s Fen: An Archaeology.

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is-inner page 1-books-Texte und tone-Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-Mordant Music

    Both books were designed by Rob Carmichael of SEEN and are collages that seem to reflect a sense of a multi-layered, spectral or hidden/occult exploration of the landscape.

    This is enhanced by them having been printed using the Risograph process, which utilises copying machines which produces print output that seem to exist in its own hinterland somewhere between digital photocopying and hand screenprinting and has a particularly appealing tactile, matt quality.

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is-inner page 2-books-Texte und tone-Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-Mordant Music

    That spectral/hidden sense of the landscape is one of the core themes of the book, with it taking Penda’s Fen as something of a starting point or wellspring for what a number of year/decades later has grown to be a loosely defined cultural exploration of “weird”, “wyrd” or “eerie” Britain – an otherly, at times hauntological unearthing of rural pastures and interests.

    (A number of reasons for such cultural phenomena and interest could be put forward, one of which – as referred to in a quote by Robert Macfarlane in the book – is that it is an attempt to make sense, explain, account for and possibly act as a respite/allow refuge from/act as a bulwark against the current dominant capitalist system: in part a utilising or reconfiguring of the spectral or preternatural as a form of expression, exploration and escape from related turbulence and pressures.)

    The books were published by Texte und Töne in collaboration with the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture: the first edition coincided with/marked the screening of the film/play at The Horse Hospital on the anniversary of King Penda’s death in AD 655 and the second edition coincided with/marked a screening at the Whitechapel Gallery.

    Texte und Tone-Colloqium of Unpopular Culture-books and posters-Nigel Kneale-Pendas Fen-David Peace

    They seem to form a continuum of the unearthing of the weird, wyrd, eerie, occult, otherly, hauntological landscape of Britain by Texte und Töne and the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture which has taken in public events and Risograph printed publications.

    These include the book The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, which was released to mark the event A Cathode Ray Séance: The Haunted Worlds of Nigel Kneale and The Stink Still Here book which is a conversation between Paul Myerscough and David Peace which centres around his novel GB84 and The Stink Still Here: The Miner’s Strike on Film event, both of which focus around the 1984-1985 British Miner’s Strike.

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is-inner page 3-books-Texte und tone-Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-Mordant Music

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is books are edited by Gareth Evans, Will Fowler and Sukhev Sandhu, who aside from taking part in the core conversation, all also have articles in the book/s.

    Sukhev Sandhu’s “You’re Like The English, You Have Foreign Parents” article positions the film in amongst an interior English countryside that is often unknown or unexplored territory:

    “If cities are in the ascendant, it’s the countryside that is increasingly terra incognita in the public imagination. British people, weaned over twenty years on cheap international travel delivered by budget airlines, are as likely to be familiar with Spanish and Greek pastures as they are with their own national interiorities.”

    William Fowler’s Deep Dreaming article considers the countryside as a focus for exploration within film in the 1970s, placing Penda’s Fen within a background of the likes of Psychomania, Children of the Stones, The Ballad of Tam Lin, Winstanley, The Wicker Man and the work of Derek Jarman:

    “The green space became a place to resist authority, explore sexualty, open-up portals between different time zones and expose the soul…”

    BFI Sight & Sound-The Films Of Old Weird England-Rob Young William Fowler-A Year In The Country 2

    As an article it explores not dissimilar territory to that which he, alongside Rob Young, wrote about in the The Films of Old Weird Britain issue of Sight & Sound magazine in 2010 and indeed could well be a companion piece to their articles in that issue.

    Indeed “open-up portals between different time zones” implies a not too dissimilar sense of cultural exploration as Rob Young has referred to as a form of “imaginative time travel”.

    If you have never seen Penda’s Fen or are not likely to watch it, the two editions of The Edge Is Where The Centre Is are able to stand alone as fascinating explorations and documents of the underlying patterns, myths and stories of the landscape and rural areas – books which, as Sukhev Sandhu says of Penda’s Fen, are:

    “…a deconstruction of the pieties of the English landscape tradition at the same time as a loving wassail to the occult potential of that very cartography…”

    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is at Texte und Töne.
    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is at SEEN.
    The Edge Is Where The Centre Is at the BFI.

    Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:
    Day #4/365: Electric Eden; a researching, unearthing and drawing of lines between the stories of Britain’s visionary music
    Day #15/365. The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale
    Day #80/365: The Films Of Old Weird Britain… celluloid flickerings from an otherly Albion…
    Day #143/365: Central Office Of Information + Mordant Music = MisinforMation
    Day #191/365: Penda’s Fen; “Cherish our flame, our dawn will come.”
    Wanderings #36/52a: The Wicker Man Revisited / Refreshed – The Long Arm Of The Lore


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  • Chapter 1 Book Images: Electric Eden – Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music – Folk Vs Pop, Less Harvested Cultural Landscapes and Acts of Enclosure, Old and New

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields-book-Stephen Prince-front coverAs mentioned at the start of this year, later in the year (probably around March/April time, more details to come) I am going to publish a text based book called A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields which across 52 chapters collects, revises, revisits and interweaves the writing from the first three years of A Year In The Country.

    Each week of this year I will be posting a gathering of images, alongside text extracts from the book, which are intended to become an online “cut out and keep” set of visual accompaniments to the chapters of the book.

    So, without further ado…

    Chapter 1: Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music: Folk Vs Pop, Less Harvested Cultural Landscapes and Acts of Enclosure, Old and New

    Extracts from the text of the book and accompanying online images:

    Rob Young-Electric Eden-book covers-1st edition-2nd edition-US edition

    (Electric Eden) the 2010 book by Rob Young, served as an ongoing reference for much of the earlier years of A Year In The Country.

    It is an epic tome of a book which, in simple terms, is a journey through British folk and pastoral music and related culture from its roots to the modern day, but instead of serving as a straightforward documenting of such things, is more an exploration of its undercurrents, of at times semi-hidden or overlooked cultural history and its interconnected strands.

    The book travels with folk revivalist collectors such as Cecil Sharp, the social idealism of William Morris and Ewan MacColl, the late 1960s/early 1970s folk rock of the likes of Fairport Convention and Pentangle, the acid or more experimental folk of Comus and Forest, The Wicker Man film from 1973 and related occult folklore, contemporary esoterically interconnected hauntological practitioners such as Ghost Box Records, the pastoral tinged work of pop music explorers Kate Bush, David Sylvian and Talk Talk and pastoral speculative/science fiction.

    There is a sense within the book of folk and related culture seeming to point towards an otherly Britain: an imagined Albion of hidden histories and sometimes arcane knowledge, wherein there is still the space or possibility to sidestep some of the more ubiquitous, dominant and monotheistic tendencies of modern day culture and systems.

    Forest-Full Circle

    Kate Bush-Lionheart-vinyl-A Year In The Country

    The Wicker Man-construction-production photograph

    Ghost Box Records logo

    Steeleye Span-All Around My Hat-single-1975-The Wombles

    Which brings things round to to The Wombles and what happens when folk meets or tries to become pop. What appeared to happen in the mid-1970s is that music arrived at a point where one of folk rock’s more popular bands Steeleye Span have a hit single with their version of the traditional folk song “All Around My Hat”, which reached number five in the UK singles charts in 1975.

    The single was produced by Mike Batt, who also oversaw records for the novelty pop band The Wombles: these were a musical offshoot of an animated children’s television series originally broadcast from 1973-1975 where furry, pointy-nosed creatures who live in burrows on Wimbledon Common spend their time recycling rubbish in creative ways.

    All Around My Hat is folk that has wandered quite a way from its roots and seems intrinsically to be nearer to pop, a kind of glam romp with folk trappings.

    Which is not to dismiss this version as it is a rather catchy and full of life interpretation, with the video and the song capturing a certain point in time and period nuances of British cultural history: of pop music and culture not yet overly-styled, honed and marketed, which in its own particular way is still from a less tamed cultural landscape.

    This is one of the themes of Electric Eden; a sense of a taming of the cultural and at points literal landscape, of what Rob Young presents as music and culture of a utopian or visionary nature that draws from the land and folk culture.

    Acts of Inclosure map-A Year In The Country

    “He has discussed the connection between such areas of work and culture and how there is a connection to historic acts of land enclosure and clearance; the way in which from around 1760 onwards common land was put into private ownership by government Inclosure Acts, forcing agricultural workers towards the newly expanding cities and factories and how this displacement could be one of the roots of the British empathy with the countryside, with relics such as songs or texts from the world before this change having come to be revered as they seem to represent or connect to a pre-industrial “Fall” golden age.


    Details of the book and the collection of its accompanying online images can be found at the Book’s Page, which will be added to throughout the year.


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  • The A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields Book and A Visual Accompaniment

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields-book-Stephen Prince-front coverThe A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields text based book will be published around March/April 2018.

    It is subtitled “Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology.”

    Across 52 chapters and 340 pages the book gathers, revisits and revises writing from the first three years of A Year In The Country, alongside some new wanderings and is intended to draw together and connect layered, at times semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts; wandering from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators and pioneers, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions.

    Below is an online “cut out and keep” set of visual accompaniments to the chapters of the book, which will build to include all the chapters throughout 2018.

    You can also view the accompanying online images alongside text extracts from the book via this link.


    Chapter 1: Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music: Folk Vs Pop, Less Harvested Cultural Landscapes and Acts of Enclosure, Old and New

    Rob Young-Electric Eden-book covers-1st edition-2nd edition-US edition

    Left to right: the first and second British editions and the American edition of Rob Young’s Electric Eden book (2010-2011).

    Forest-Full Circle

    The gatefold cover and vinyl of Forest’s album Full Circle (1970).

    Kate Bush-Lionheart-vinyl-A Year In The Country

    The cover and vinyl of Kate Bush’s second album Lionheart (1978).

    The Wicker Man-construction-production photograph

    Construction scaffolding for statue in The Wicker Man film (1973).

    Ghost Box Records logo

    Ghost Box Records logo/artwork.

    Steeleye Span-All Around My Hat-single-1975-The Wombles

    The cover of one of the editions of Steeleye Span’s All Around My Hat single (1975) and characters from The Womble’s television series (1973-1975).

    Acts of Inclosure map-A Year In The Country

    A period map showing enclosure/inclosure of the land.



    Chapter 2: Gather in the Mushrooms – Early Signposts and Underground Acid Folk Explorations

    Gather In The Mushrooms-Bob Stanley-The British Acid Folk Underground-album-A Year In The CountryGather-In-The-Mushrooms-Bob-Stanley-The-British-Acid-Folk-Underground-album-inner sleeve artwork copy0001-A Year In The Country-Gather In The Mushrooms-back

    Artwork from the Gather in the Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974 compilation album. Released in 2004 and curated by Bob Stanley.

    Gather In The Mushrooms album-folk-Bob Stanley-Vashti Bunyan sleevenotes image

    Once upon a time lost-lady-of-folk Vashti Bunyan as featured in the sleeve notes to Gather in the Mushrooms.

    Morning Way-Trader Horne-Judy Dyble-A Year In The Country-2

    CD insert cover for Trader Horne’s Morning Way album from 1970, featuring former Fairport Convention member Judy Dyble and Jackie McAuley.

    The Pentangle-Basket of Light-album cover The Sallyangie-Children Of The Sun-Love In Ice Crystals-cover

    Cover art for The Pentangle’s Basket of Light album, featuring their version of Lyke Wake Dirge and The Sallyangie’s Children of the the Sun, featuring a young Mike Oldfield and his sister.

    Forest-Full Circle-psych folk-acid folk-A Year In The Country

    Gatefold photograph from Forest’s 1969 self-titled debut album.

    Early Morning Hush-Folk Underground-Bob Stanley-album-A Year In The CountryEarly Morning Hush-Notes from the UK Folk Underground-album-inner sleeve artworkEarly Morning Hush-Notes from the UK Folk Underground-album-tracklisting

    Artwork from the Early Morning Hush: Notes from the UK Folk Underground 1969-1976 compilation album from 2006, also curated by Bob Stanley.



    To be continued…


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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #48/52a: Kelli Ali’s The Kiss and Cinematic Conjurings

    Kelli Alli-Rocking Horse-album and EP-1

    I recently wrote about The Sneaker Pimps’ and Kelli Ali’s versions of Willow’s Songs from The Wicker Man soundtrack, with Kelli Ali being the vocalist on both versions.

    Vashti Bunyan-Lookaftering-Gentle Waves-The Green Fields Of Foreverland

    In an interconnected manner, a while ago I came across The Kiss from Kelli Ali’s 2008 album Rocking Horse, on which she took a more folk orientated direction and which contains gentle, pastoral, lulling songs that may well share a subtly fabled landscape with Vashti Bunyan and some of the solo work of Isobel Campbell/The Gentle Waves such as The Green Fields Of Foreverland.

    (As mentioned when I was talking about those versions of Willow’s Songs at A Year In The Country previously, Max Richter produced Rocking horse and also produced Vashti Bunyan’s 2005 album Lookaftering, which was part of her return to recording around that time.)

    A track on Rocking Horse that has very much stood out for me is The Kiss.

    Rather than me thinking of folk so much when I heard it, it more made me think of one of those wordless songs that you find on the soundtrack to an obscure late 1960s/early 1970s continental film, maybe a semi-forgotten giallo or the like… a hazy corner of cinema that seems to conjure an atmosphere and world parallel but distant to our own.

    The Duke Of Burgundy-Cat's Eyes

    In an interconnected manner of conjuring a sense of continental hinterlands/never-never lands, it also seems as though it could be a forebear of both the bucolic otherworldly explorations of Cat’s Eyes on their soundtrack for Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy film and maybe also the cosmic aquatic folklore of Jane Weaver/Septième Souer’s Fallen by Watchbird album…

    Jane Weave-Septieme Soeur-Finders Keepers Records-Bird

    …or possibly the experimental work on Jane Weaver’s side of the Finders Keepers Records released La Rose De Fer / Intiaani Kesä, in particular Parade of Blood Red Sorrows, which in that just mentioned parallel world is the soundtrack to a tender, fever dream of a film in my mind’s eye.

    Finders Keepers Records-Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders soundtrack

    That Finders Keepers reference is quite appropriate as, linking back to sound tracks to semi-lost films, if I had stumbled on The Kiss on a Finders Keepers release of a semi-forgotten soundtrack then it would not have sounded out of place, possibly filed next to the soundtrack for Valerie and Her Week of Wonders or other Czech New Wave conjurings of their own cinematic worlds and fantasia.

    Conjuring is a word that I keep thinking of when I think of The Kiss; it conjures a sense of a film that seems to exist just out on the edges of my consciousness, reality and the further flung reaches of cultural history.

    The Butterfly-Kelli Ali-2c

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    Kelli Ali’s The Kiss (and it’s Epilogue)

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #6/365: The Fallen By Watchbird – Jane Weaver Septième Soeur; the start of a journey through cosmic aquatic folklore, kunstmärche and otherly film fables…
    Day #150/365: Parade Of Blood Red Sorrows
    Week #1/52: The Duke Of Burgundy and Mesmerisation…
    Ether Signposts #6/52a: Peter Strickland – six films that fed into The Duke of Burgundy
    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #28/52a: Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders Unreleased Variations Away From Bricks And Mortar
    Wanderings #29/52a: Broadcast; constellators and artifacts (revisiting)
    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #47/52a: Summer Isle In (Sort Of) Pop #2 – The Sneaker Pimps’ How Do / Kelli Ali’s Willow’s Song


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  • Ether Signposts #48/52a: A Further Addition to a Library of Albionic Undercurrents – It’s Psychedelic Baby’s Issue 2

    Folk-and-folk-horror-books-Seasons-They-Change-Electric-Eden-Witches-Hats-Field-Studies-Adam-Scovell-Psychedelic Baby

    Although a magazine/periodical rather than a book, I think with its focusing on 1960s and 1970s British folk, underground and acid/psych folk, issue 2 of It’s Psychedelic Baby! magazine could well be added to the small but growing library of Albionic undercurrents that I have mentioned around here before and which includes the books Seasons They Change, Electric Edden, Witches Hats & Painted Chariots, Field Studies and Folk Horror.

    This is a description of the magazine from the Psychedelic Baby site:

    Dedicated to British psychedelic folk. New issue of printed version projected from the well-known, leading psych on-line site It’s Psychedelic Baby. After the previous issue covering exclusively the US psychedelic folk scene, this new issue covers the 1960s and 1970s British folk scene, with exclusive interviews of members from acts such as Fresh Maggots, Comus, Mellow Candle, Dr Strangely Strange, Spirogyra, C.O.B., Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Pererin, Courtyard Music Group, Magic Carpet, Sunforest, Oberon, etc.

    Its Psychedelic Baby Issue 2-British 1960s 1970s acid psych folkThe magazine is published by Guerssen Records who specialise in psychedelic, folk and progressive reissues and has cover art by Justin Jackley.

    That cover art is effectively a painted collage which at first glance seems to mix and meld British bucolia with a 1960s American psych atmosphere, with the lead image being an interpretation of an image from Trees 1971 album On The Shore…

    …but then after a moment or two other things start to register – the disturbing creature from Comus’ First Utterance album lurks in one corner and in the background are standing stones, druids around a Stone Henge like monument and what appears to be a relative of The Wicker Man, while in amongst the flowers stand a mushroom or two that I expect may well have particular properties…

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions And Destinations:
    Psychedelic Baby Issue 2

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Ether Signposts #11/52a: A Small But Dedicated Growing Library Of Albionic Undercurrents & Folk Horror


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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #47/52a: Summerisle In (Sort Of) Pop #2 – The Sneaker Pimps’ How Do / Kelli Ali’s Willow’s Song

    The Sneaker Pimps-How Do-Willows Song-Becoming X-Spin Spin Sugar-Kelli Ali-The Wicker Man

    Sneaker Pimps How Do is a version of Willow’s Song from The Wicker Man soundtrack and is on their 1996 album Becoming X, which had the song as its last track and is also a B-side for their single Spin Spin Sugar.

    Sneaker Pimps were linked to the trip hop genre at the time and had a fair degree of commercial success with the album selling over a million copies and a number of Top 40 and Top 10 singles were released from it.

    (Trip hop was a British and early 1990s originated, generally downbeat, atmospheric loose genre of music that often used hiphop beats, fusing them with electronica and sometimes also mixed elements of dance, soul, dub etc – those who are well known in connection to it would include Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead.)

    At the time I more thought of Sneaker Pimps as left-of-centre electronic pop than triphop but there are elements of both in their music and although I probably listened to How Do at the time I may well not have realised its origin.

    The Wickerman Willows Songs Gently Johnny 7 vinyl Record Store Day-Silva Screen International-A Year In The Country 2

    It was a curious thing for a quite pop orientated band – even if a more left-of-centre one – back then to include a song from The Wicker Man soundtrack.

    Although it was a known film, its extended and ever growing cultdom hadn’t really started to gather pace yet and Trunk Records’ release of the never-before-released soundtrack was a couple of years off, so information about it was probably still relatively thin on the ground.

    The Wicker Man-Trunk Records release-OST-vinyl-soundtrack-map

    In an interview at the time, when asked what his perfect film to create a soundtrack for, Chris Cornell of the band said this:

    The whole band is into a film called The Wicker Man, it’s an sort of obscure 70s English film, and the last track on our album, How Do, is a cover-version of a track from that film, which is originally a traditional folk tune. So, that music and filmwise is everybody’s sort of favorite film, and I think I would have liked to have written for that. In the future – well, I can’t speak for everyone else here, but something along those lines.

    (In connection to information about The Wicker Man being thin on the ground at the time of How Do, is the above mention of Willow’s Song being a traditional folk tune; without more information, in the setting of the film and the way in which it and the soundtrack seem to conjure in part a sense of being documents of actual folklore, it would be easy to think of it as being traditional rather than having been written specifically for the film by Paul Giovanni.)

    Anyways, How Do is something of a melding of styles and elements; it opens with samples from The Wicker Man and is in part a gentle, lulling atmospheric pop song with a touch of triphop and as it progresses it increasingly incorporates swirling, almost helicopter like electronic sounds.

    Kelli Ali-Rocking Horse and Butterfly

    In 2008 Kelli Ali, who was the singer with Sneaker Pimps at the time of Becoming X, released a pastoral, folk inflected album called Rocking Horse on One Little Indian, which was produced by Max Richter (the producer of once lost-lady-of-folk Vashti Bunyan’s 2005 Lookaftering album).

    Although not expecting performers to purely explore one set genre, when I came across Rocking Horse I remember being quite surprised by this more folk direction, knowing Kelli Ali more for her work with Sneaker Pimps.

    However, looking back at the above comments by Chris Cornell and on rediscovering Sneaker Pimps’ cover of Willow’s Song, it is less surprising and you could maybe drawn a line from it to the possible roots of Rocking Horse.

    After Rocking Horse Keli Ali self-released called Butterfly in 2009, which is a more intimate, acoustic extension of Rocking Horse and in part features new versions of songs from that album.

    On Butterfly there is also another version of Willow’s Song, which takes it back nearer to its purely imagined folkloric roots and although being her own interpretation it is closer to how the song was performed for The Wicker Man’s soundtrack and indeed would not seem all that out of place if heard amongst the other music in the film.

    The Wicker Man-soundtrack-OST-vinyl-Kelli Ali-Butterfly-Willows Song-2

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    How Do by The Sneaker Pimps
    Willow’s Song by Kelli Ali

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #18/365: Willows Songs
    Day #101/365: Gently Johnny, Sproatly Smith, The Woodbine & Ivy band and lilting intentions…
    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #31/52a: Summer Isle In (Sort Of) Pop #1 – Pulp’s The Wickerman


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

    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

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

    Nowt too odd in that you may well think.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hmmm. Food for thought.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    A Fiend In The Furrows-A Year In The Country

    Along which lines…

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yvonne Salmon-Alchemical Landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  • Ether Signposts #15/52a: The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch

    The Delaware Road-Buried Treasure Records

    Well, if being a hauntologist was a job (which I suppose at times it is in terms of creating and releasing records etc) then The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch event on 28th July 2017 could be considered a hauntological jolly or a works outing.

    (If you should not know “jolly” is a now rarely used and possibly old fashioned phrase that means a holiday or break and which now seems to refer to previous eras and ways of doing such things).

    Possibly by the nature of it, it is more a hauntological working day out than strictly speaking purely r’n’r.

    And just as with all good jollys, they’ve even hired a charabang to get you there.

    The venue is not quite your normal, common or garden establishment:

    “The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon Hatch, in the Borough of Brentwood in the English county of Essex, is a large underground bunker maintained during the cold war as a potential regional government headquarters. Since being decommissioned in 1992, the bunker has been open to the public as a tourist attraction, with a museum focusing on its cold war history.”

    The event has been put together by Buried Treasure Records, which is a UK label UK “specialising in archived electronic, tape, radiophonic, jazz, psych, folk & library sounds” and which put out the rather intriguing The Delaware Road album, of which this event is an extension of.

    The Delaware Road event-July 28th 2017-2

    The event and its themes are described as:

    “An occult conspiracy exploring a secret, abandoned Britain.

    “London, 1968. Two brilliant musicians create innovative sound using reel to reel tape. Whilst working for a large media organisation they stumble upon a conspiracy with seismic implications for themselves and for Britain. Exploring folklore, magic, propaganda, television & radio broadcasting, counter-culture & early, electronic music, The Delaware Road is an incredible, alternative vision of Britain during the second half of the 20th century.

    “This special performance takes place deep underground in a nuclear bunker, hidden in remote Essex woodland. The audience is free to explore the secret, cold war facilities where they will encounter a host of performers, experimental artists & musicians. This immersive mix of theater, film & live music will appeal greatly to fans of classic British science fiction & horror such as Quatermass, Dr Who, The Devil Rides Out & The Wicker Man.”

    The Delaware Road poster
    (As an aside this poster puts me in mind of Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting video, Peter Reich’s A Book Of Dreams which inspired it and related fringe religious/science explorations.)


    Blimey, what a lineup (including some AYITC sometimes travellers) and one which could be filed alongside the first Further event at the Portico Gallery, which will also features Howlround, in terms of exploring particular strands of spectrally related culture.

    Delaware-Road-bundle-survival kit-resonance FM

    There was a Survival Kit auction in aid of Resonance FM which featured numerous records, prints etc from those taking part. That has now been bought/won but the related special edition of the OST show is still available to listen to.

    If your fears about Cold War dread have abated enough to take this particular subterranean trip then I expect this will be a fine and unique evening out (or under, as it were).

    (File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Destinations and Directions:
    Buried Treasure
    The event’s Facebook Page
    The Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit on OST
     & via DJ Food
    The auction for the Survival Kit
    What Is The Delaware Road?


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  • Ether Signposts #10/52a: From the Forests, Fields and Furrows: A Folk Horor Introduction by Andy Paciorek / Where To Begin by Adam Scovell

    Folk Horror Revival website logo

    I recently wrote about Folk Horror Revival and the growing in interest in folk horror.

    If you should be curious for a definition of this loose cultural grouping then I would recommend Andy Paciorek’s article From the Forests, Fields and Furrows: An Introduction, which can be found at the Folk Horror Revival site.

    In it he talks about where the phrase is thought to have first been used/popularised and gives a broad overview of folk horror.

    However, when I say definition, one overarching exact description is a difficult thing to achieve, as he says in his article:

    “…one may as well attempt to build a box the exact shape of mist; for like the mist, Folk Horror is atmospheric and sinuous. It can creep from and into different territories yet leave no universal defining mark of its exact form.”

    A Fiend In The Furrows-A Year In The Country

    A particular point of interest in the article is when he talks about Folk Horror book author Adam Scovell’s describing a chain of elements that comprise a folk horror film, which he spoke about at a paper written for the Fiend In The Furrorws conference on folk horror which was held at Queen’s University Belfast in September 2014.

    This chain of elements includes: Landscape, Isolation, Skewed Moral Beliefs, Happening/Summoning.

    Andy Paciorek goes on to put forward his thoughts in relation to these, which I briefly excerpt from below:

    “Landscape: Some consider that the setting should be rural for the film to be ‘Folk’, but I think a broader view may be considered. The tradition of the horror may indeed have rustic roots and pastoral locations may provide the setting for many of the stronger examples, but people carry their lore and fears with them on their travels and sometimes into a built-up environment.”

    The Wicker Man-Hessian Bag Edition-A Year In The Country 2

    “Isolation and Skewed Moral Beliefs: In these instances, ‘Isolation’ does not refer to being entirely alone but may refer to characters such as Sergeant Howie in The Wicker Man finding themselves alone within a group whose moral beliefs and practices are utterly alien to their own.”

    “Happening / Summoning: The Happening/Summoning that falls close to the conclusion of such films may involve a supernatural element such as an invocation of a demon, or it may be an entirely earthly (though no less horrific) event such as an act of violence or a ritual sacrifice.”

    The article is well worth a read as an overview of folk horror, one that is both wide reaching and inclusive, while also giving its “box the exact shape of mist” an overall shape, form and parameters.

    The article includes reference to a considerable number of films and television dramas. However if the considerable number of these induces a sense of “Where do I start?” then accompanying the article with a perusal of Adam Scovell’s “Where to begin with folk horror” that he wrote for the BFI’s website may prove just the ticket as it is a concise collection and consideration of some of the key touchstones in such work.

    (File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Destinations and directions:
    From the Forests, Fields and Furrows: A Folk Horor Introduction by Andy Paciorek
    Where to begin with folk horror by Adam Scovell


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