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  • The Wicker Man – Notes on a Cultural Behemoth: Chapter 10 Book Images

     The Wickerman-rating

    “The Wicker Man… has become something of a towering cult celluloid behemoth. This is particularly the case amongst all things on the flipside of folkloric, as well as within areas of culture that have come to be known as folk horror…

    At its heart, The Wicker Man could be viewed as a mystery thriller, although in actuality it is a film which defies categorisation, mixing elements of fantasy, horror and musical.

    Within its enclosed rural setting it intertwines folkloric practices, pagan rituals, reimagined and reinterpreted traditional and folk music, unfettered sexuality and an older religious faith in conflict with a more contemporary Christian belief system.

    These elements, along with a background of its at-times troubled production and distribution, have come to create a heady mixture, which includes imagery and a soundtrack that have gained iconic status and the creation of an almost myth-like set of stories and reference points which surround it and that have reverberated throughout wider culture.” 

    The Wicker Man-Dan Mumford poster-A Year In The Country 

    “In 2013 a ’40th Anniversary’ – possibly misleadingly named – Final Cut of the film, running at 91 minutes, was released cinematically as well as on DVD and Blu-ray.

    This was not a complete, cinematic quality version of the film but rather an intermediate director-approved version which, as with earlier restored versions, featured segments which had varying levels of reproduction due to original source materials not being available.

    In one sense, the sections where the quality varies are appealing; the shift in quality can give these scenes a slightly surreal, almost parallel plains of 3D or cutout look, similar to the effect that viewing a faded set of images through a Viewmaster children’s toy might do.

    It would be interesting to see the entire film represented in this manner, to step away from the ongoing quest for a picture perfect representation of the tales of The Wicker Man and to embrace its otherworldliness more overtly with regards to its visual presentation.”

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

    Day 16-Willows Songs b-Finders Keepers-A Year In The Country Day 16-Willows Songs back-Finders Keepers-A Year In The Country

    The Wickerman-Trading cards-A Year In The Country-9The Wickerman-Unstoppable Trading Cards-Binder-A Year In The Country

    The Wickerman-trading card collection 1-A Year In The Country

    The Wickerman-RBeckettWickerman-A Year In The Countrynuada-wicker-man-journal-issues

    The Wicker Man book collection

    “While waiting for an actual final complete version there have been an ever-proliferating number of re-releases of the film and its soundtrack that have been released on video tape, DVD, Blu-ray, CD and vinyl, alongside period and modern associated posters, trading cards, books, zines, magazine articles and so forth.

    The resulting releases have become part of a whole not-so-mini industry that could keep industrious collectors busy but there are a few related items of particular interest.

    One is Willow’s Songs: an album released in 2009 by unearthers of rare and sometimes previously lost recordings Finders Keepers Records and which aims to showcase the British folk songs that inspired the soundtrack to The Wicker Man…

    Its lyrics tell a tale of agricultural dispossession and intriguingly it is not credited to a performer on the album, which in these times of instant knowledge about almost everything via online searches adds a certain appealing mystique that this author is loath to puncture.”

     The Wicker Man OST soundtrack-Jonny Trunk-Trunk Records-A Year In The CountryThe Wickerman Willows Songs Gently Johnny 7 vinyl Record Store Day-Silva Screen International-A Year In The Country 2

    “One of the curious things with The Wicker Man soundtrack (and indeed the film itself ) is that this is a case of where something authentic has been created from an inauthentic or commercially-orientated premise.

    The soundtrack has come to feel as though it features songs which have belonged to these isles for centuries: ones which are deeply rooted in the land, its folklore and history, when in fact a number of them were written and all were recorded especially for the film.”

     Ritual-David Pinner-First Edition-Finders Keepers Edition

    “Finders Keepers Records also reissued Ritual in 2011, which is the 1967 book by David Pinner, the basic idea and structure of which was in part the inspiration for what became The Wicker Man after David Pinner sold the film rights of the book to future Wicker Man cast member Christopher Lee in 1971.

    In both, a police officer attempts to investigate reports of a missing child in an enclosed rural area and has to deal with psychological trickery, seduction, ancient religious and ritualistic practices.

    The Finders Keepers reissue contains an introduction by writer and musician Bob Stanley called “A Note On Ritual”, which serves as an overview of and background to this very particular slice of literature which deals with pastoral otherlyness, the flipside and undercurrents of bucolia and folklore:

    ‘…be warned, like The Wicker Man, it is quite likely to test your dreams of leaving the city for a shady nook by a babbling brook.’ (Bob Stanley on Ritual from the introduction.)” 

    Inside The Wicker Man-Allan Brown-1st edition and revised edition The Wicker Man book-Allan Brown-A Year In The Country 2Your Face Here-Ali Catterall-Simon Wells-The Wicker Man

    The Wicker Man has been extensively written about over the years, both online and in print, including Allan Brown’s entertaining and extensive unearthing and researching of the background and myths that surround the film in his book Inside The Wicker Man: How Not to Make a Cult Classic…

    A concise and revealing look at the film is also included in the 2002 book Your Face Here by Ali Catterall and Simon Wells…

    There is a rigour to the research in the book without it stepping into the sometimes drier grounds of academia and the text reflects a genuine love for and appreciation of these films…

    …the chapter now reflects a sense of the ongoing and growing story of this now quite well harvested in one form or another film, albeit one which through its ongoing appreciation and cultural inspirations/reverberations still occupies apparently quite fertile and not yet completely unearthed or unburied ground.” 

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

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

    “Of the reams of writing on The Wicker Man, Vic Pratt’s article “Long Arm of the Lore” from the October 2013 issue of the BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine is well worth seeking out…

    The article intertwines the cultural and historical context of the film, the romance of analogue recording techniques and the inner and wider myth and folkloric aspects of it…

    In it Vic Pratt places The Wicker Man in its period cultural context of changing times and mores, considering how the children of the 1960s had grown up and taken their place in respectable society and sometimes the media, bringing or infiltrating their countercultural interests with them, possibly having lost some of their political fervour while also looking for the more authentic or spiritually fulfilling but not via traditional avenues.

    The article describes how accompanying this was a sense of folk custom, witchcraft and the occult no longer being quite such marginalised or extreme interests; they had become the stuff of relatively mainstream film, television, music and publishing and a reflection of this can be seen in the themes of The Wicker Man…

    In many ways, both this and the issue of the magazine could be seen as a companion to the August 2010 Sight & Sound issue, which has as its cover strapline “The Films of Old, Weird Britain”, accompanied by a Wicker Man-like, landscape myths and folk horror-esque illustration and features “The Pattern Under the Plough” article by Rob Young as its main feature.

    That article delves beneath the topsoil of British cinema to find a rich seam of films and television which take the landscape, rural ways, folklore (of the traditional and reimagined varieties) or ‘the matter of Britain’ as their starting point…”

    Winstanley-1975-Kevin Brownlow-Andrew Mollo-A Year In The Country 10Akenfield film 1974sleep furiously-Gideon Koppel-Aphex Twin-A Year In The Country

    Derek Jarman-Journey to Avebury-still Patrick Keiller-Robinson in Space-film still Chris Petit-London Orbital-film still

    Quatermass and the Pit-Nigel Kneale-bluray cover artPendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country 3

    “(Rob Young’s The Pattern Under the Plough article) further contextualises The Wicker Man, placing it alongside other such folk horror films as Witchfinder General. It then goes on to consider an interrelated loose grouping of films and television which in part explore those flipside Albionic cracks in the landscape.

    These include Winstanley (1975) and its dramatising of historical English Civil War era searching for an earthly paradise, the journey through a rural year of Akenfield (1974), the almost straight documentary that also seems to quietly explore the undercurrents of the land Sleep Furiously (2008)…

    It also includes considerations of and connects the above with the art film experiments and psychogeography (a form of explorative wandering) of Derek Jarman’s Journey to Avesbury (1971), Patrick Keiller’s Robinson in Space (1997) and Chris Petit’s London Orbital (2002), the atavistic memories of Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and the layered spectral rural history tales of Penda’s Fen (1974).

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

    “The Wicker Man has also acted as a wider source of musical inspiration and influence, branching out into more mainstream and even chart music. The band Sneaker Pimps recorded a song called “How Do”, which is a version of “Willow’s Song” from The Wicker Man soundtrack and includes samples from the film…

    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. At the time of How Do’s release The Wicker Man was a known film but its extended and ever growing cultdom had not really started to gather pace yet and Trunk Records’ release of the soundtrack was still a couple of years away, so information about the film was probably still relatively thin on the ground.”

     Kelli Ali-Rocking Horse and Butterfly

    “In a possible further example of the ongoing influence of the film, 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 record label One Little Indian, which was produced by Max Richter…

    (On her album) 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 than the Sneaker Pimps version and indeed would not seem all that out of place if heard amongst the other music in the film.”

    Pulp-We Love Life-CD-back of cover-2001 Pulp-The Trees-Sunrise-CD singleForge Dam-Sheffield-Pulp-The Wicker Man-1Kill List-Ben Wheatley-A Year In The Country-4

    “In a further Wicker Man connection with one time chartbound bands, Pulp included a song called “Wickerman” on their 2001 album, We Love Life.

    The song is a multi-layered 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 life history of the band, spoken word, a certain grandiosity in its production (possibly courtesy of producer Scott Walker), the social history of Sheffield and surrounding areas and a yearning, wistful love story…

    …members of Pulp went on an expedition through tunnels beneath Sheffield that were used for sluicing industrial run off… that journey became increasingly dangerous feeling and… it inspired the Pulp song Wickerman…

    …what the real life story of the band wandering through those tunnels also brings to mind is the underground tunnel sequence in Ben Wheatley’s 2011 film Kill List, and its related occult vision of folkloric machinations; lines from which could be connected backwards to The Wicker Man and its flipside views, expressions and interpretations of folklore and an unsettled take on pastoralism.”

     The Wicker Man-construction-production photograph The Wicker Man-1973-Production notes The Wickerman-lost scene in hairdressersWillow Umbrella-Christopher Lee-The Wicker Man-1973

    “Along with the above books, articles and records which explore and/or draw inspiration from The Wicker Man there are an extensive number of websites and documentaries which focus on the film.

    One of the most in depth of such websites is The Wicker Man (1973) Wikia site which on a recent visit had 138 different pages related to the film…

    Of particular note are the images of the construction of The Wicker Man structure used in the film and also the numbered on-set and press photographs taken from contact sheets.

    Even though they are on a public site these seem to offer a semi-hidden view or a glance behind the curtain of the film.

    However, despite this they do not diminish the mystique or myths of the film, which can sometimes be the case with such photographs or “How We Made the Film” documentaries and DVD extras.

    This is 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, all of which have become part and parcel of its intriguing nature.”

     The Wicker Man BBC Scotland On Screen 2009 

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

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

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

    “Further behind the scenes views and discussion can be found in a now quite considerable number of The Wicker Man documentaries, including those on the various DVD/Blu-ray releases of the film and also in documentaries which were originally broadcast on television.

    These include:

    1) The Wicker Man/BBC Scotland on Screen (2009), in which actor Alan Cumming wanders around the film’s locations, with how they are today segueing into scenes from the film…

    This features… 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).

    2) The Wicker Man episode of the BBC 4 series Cast and Crew (2005), which hosts a round table discussion of the film.

    (Which includes) cast members 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 this)…

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

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

    (Another Wicker Man related documentary is) Sing Cuckoo: The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Sound track… 

    (Which features) the musicians Stephen Cracknell of The Memory Band and Mike Lindsay of Tuung (who have both created and released The Wicker Man-related work) and Jonny Trunk who is variously an archival record researcher, collector, writer and was responsible for the release of the first commercial edition of The Wicker Man’s soundtrack via his label Trunk Records…

    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-Stephen Cracknell-Mike Lindsay 

    “In terms of some of the reasons for the ongoing and expanding appeal of the film and its soundtrack, Stephen Cracknell makes an incisive point 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.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 10 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    Details of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields 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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  • Sing Cuckoo: The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Soundtrack and Other Partly-Archived Summerisle Discussions: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #51/52a

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

    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.

    Blimey.

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

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

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

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

    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).

    Hmmm.

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

    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.

    DIGITAL IMAGE

    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…

    Hmmm.

    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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  • A Year In The Country – Spectral Fields – Wyrd Kalendar Mix 1; Chapters 1-13

    A Year In The Country-Spectral Fields-Wyrd Kalendar Mix 1-Chris Lambert

    Throughout the year Chris Lambert, author of amongst other works Tales from the Black Meadow, is planning on creating four mixes which each explore 13 chapters of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book.

    Tales from the Black Meadow-Chris Lamber-Nigel Wilson-book-front and back covers

    They will include a selection of music tracks, trailers, clips from the book etc which in various ways connect with and reflect the wanderings in the book.

    A-Year-In-The-Country-Wandering-Through-Spectral-Fields-book-Stephen-Prince-6 copies-front cover and back cover

    The first mix is now online and can be listened to at Mixcloud and read about at the Wyrd Kalendar site.

    And rather fine it is. At points it made me laugh out loud, at other times it was good to revisit some old audio friends, at others just to be able to step back and appreciate the intermingling and interweaving of tracks, styles, text and ideas.

    It also made me wander if it is possible to sponsor a stile, in the same way that you see say public benches that have been sponsored by people?

    I’m not sure but in the meantime, hop over the Ghost Box stile and wander the Spectral Fields with Mr Lambert

    I-Spy books-Trees-The Sky

    A quiz for all the family:

    While you wander the Spectral Fields, in an I-Spy manner, can you match the chapters and song titles below?

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

    Chapters explored in the Spectral Fields Wyrd Kalendar Mix 1:

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

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

    3. Hauntology: Places Where Society Goes to Dream, the Defining and Deletion of Spectres and the Making of an Ungenre

    4. Cuckoos in the Same Nest: Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings

    Julian-House-Intro-design-Ghost-Box-Records-A-Year-In-The-Country-5-stroke

    5. Ghost Box Records: Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the
 Panda Pops Disco

    6. Folk Horror Roots: From But a Few Seedlings Did a Great Forest Grow

    7. 1973: A Time of Schism and a Dybbuk’s Dozen of Fractures

    8. Broadcast: Recalibration, Constellation and Exploratory Pop

    The Book of the Lost-Emily Jones-The Rowand Amber Mill-CD albumThe Book Of The Lost-A Year In The Country

    9. Tales From The Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex: The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks

    10. The Wicker Man: Notes on a Cultural Behemoth

    11. Robin Redbreast, The Ash Tree, Sky, The Changes, Penda’s Fen Red Shift and The Owl Service: Wanderings Through Spectral Television Landscapes

    12. A Bear’s Ghosts: Soviet Dreams and Lost Futures

    13. From “Two Tribes” to War Games: The Ascendancy of Apocalyptic Popular Culture

     

    Albion Country Band-Battle of the Field

    Songs etc included in the Spectral Fields Wyrd Kalendar Mix 1:

    “We’re going to take a slightly different route…” – The Kalendar Host
    I Was a Young Man – The Albion Country Band
    Glistening Glyndebourne – John Martyn
    Black Country Rock – David Bowie

    Gather In The Mushrooms-Bob Stanley-The British Acid Folk Underground-album-A Year In The Country 0001-A Year In The Country-Gather In The Mushrooms-back

    Love in Ice Crystals – The Sallyangie
    Morning Way – Trader Horne
    Children of the Stones – Sidney Sager
    Caged in Stammheim by Demdike Stare

    The Quietened Village-album CD cover-A Year In The Country-1px strokeThe Stone Tape-1972-logo credits-Nigel Kneale

    Flying over a Glassed Wedge vs. The Stone Tape – Howlround
    Playground Gateway – Belbury Poly
    Mind How You Go Now – The Advisory Circle
    Forgotten Places – Hoofus
    The Magic Yard – Lubos Fiser

    Hoofus-The Edgelands-game soundtrack-album artwork-HoofusEdgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-3b

    Loomings – Hoofus
    Witch Hunt – Frog
    Trailer – The Final Programme

    Dark and Lonely Water-6-A Year In The Country copy

    The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water – Central Office of Information
    The Be Colony – Broadcast and The Focus Group
    I See, So I See So – Broadcast and The Focus Group

    Noahs Castle-television series-1979-1980-John Rowe-A Year in The Country-5Noahs Castle-television series-1979-1980-John Rowe-A Year in The Country-6

    Noah’s Castle – Jugg

    Tales From The Black Meadow-A Year In The Country Tales From The Black Meadow-Professor R Mullins-Chris Lambert-A Year In The Country

    Tales from the Black Meadow (Main Theme) – The Soulless Party
    The Book of the Lost – Rowan Amber Mill and Emily Jones

    Berberian Sound Studio-Equestrian Vortex-Julian House-Peter Strickland

    The Equestrian Vortex – Broadcast
    Corn Rigs – Magnet
    Wickerman – Pulp

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

    Gently Johnny – Magnet
    How Do – Sneaker Pimps
    Searching for Rowan – Magnet

    The-Owl-Service-TV-program-A-Year-In-The-Country-3bThe-Owl-Service-TV-series-titles-Alan-Garner-A-Year-In-The-Country-b

    The Owl Service – Ton Alarch
    The Dream of Gerontius/Penda’s Fen/Robin Redbreast – Edward Elgar
    The Tomorrow People – Dudley Simpson
    Red Shift Trailer – Phil Ryan
    The Changes vs. The Ash Tree – Paddy Kingsland

    The Owl Service-Garland Sessions-album artwork

    The Bear Ghost – The Owl Service

    Wargames-1983 film-A Year In The Country

    WarGames – clip
    Dancing with Tears in my Eyes – Ultravox
    WarGames Theme – Arthur B. Rubinstein
    Since Yesterday – Strawberry Switchblade
    The Game Begins – Arthur B. Rubinstein
    I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me – Nik Kershaw
    Edge of the World (End Title) – Arthur B. Rubinstein
    Coming Soon – The Kalendar Host

     

    Thanks indeed to Mr Lambert for being such a helpful and informative Kalendar Host and for the work involved. A tip of the hat to you good sir.

    Wyrd Kalendar-book cover-Chris Lambert-Andy Paciorek-Folk Horror Revival-Wyrd Harvest Press

    Elsewhere:
    Tales From The Black Meadow – the book (or few), the CD (or few), the project
    The Wyrd Kalendar book by Chris Lambert and Andy Paciorek (published by Wyrd Harvest Press / Folk Horror Revival)
    A Year In The Country – Spectral Fields – Wyrd Kalendar Mix 1; Chapters 1-13 at Mixcloud
    The mix at the Wyrd Kalendar website
    Tales from the Black Meadow – the book by Chris Lambert
    Chris Lambert’s own writing website

    Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:
    The A Year In The Country Wandering Through Spectral Fields book

     

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  • “Savage Party” and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) – Glimpses of Albion in the Overgrowth: Chapter 20 Book Images

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    “In 2012 in the earlyish days of planning for A Year In The Country there was a trailer being broadcast for an episode called “Savage Party” of the British television youth-orientated soap opera Hollyoaks.

    The trailer is basically a high street-esque take on some of the visual language, themes and tropes of the flipside or undercurrents of folkloric culture expressed in the likes of The Wicker Man (1973): a glimpse of Albion in the cultural overgrowth, a step through the gates into the secret garden (with spangly hotpants as your attire).”

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    “It shows the young folk entering a gated slightly magical-seeming woodland; they are often animal masked, behorned and May Queen crowned and enter an unsupervised carnivalesque atmosphere which seems to subtly hark back to earlier almost pagan times…”

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    “And yes the trailer is a simulacra of folklore-inspired culture but still enjoyable…

    For some reason this promotional video blurs those lines a touch. It is joyous, ridiculous, a copy and also created with some sense of love or passion for its source material, even if that is but a flickering, passing moment of interest.”

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    “The trailer’s soundtrack is Stealing Sheep’s “Shut Eye” (2012), which is a lovely catchy sort of psych-folk indie-pop song, with the band’s music reminding me in a way of a more youthful, British Coco Rosie  (the sister duo who were loosely connected with American freak folk in the 2000s, along with the likes of Devandra Banhart and Joanna Newsom).”

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    “Curiously in 2016 there was a “Halloween on Hollyoaks” trailer which drew from one of the other more flipsides of filmic culture, Italian super- natural horror and interconnected giallo, and was basically a homage to Dario Argento’s Suspiria film from 1977.”

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    “The appearance of such less thoroughly travelled themes in mainstream culture can seem like something of an unexpected treat when it is treated in a respectful manner and done at least reasonably well.

    Along which lines, a soft spot should be reserved for the turn of the millennium remake of television series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) that was broadcast in 2000-2001, and which was produced by Charlie Higson, who also wrote and directed some episodes, and starred comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer alongside Emilia Fox and gloriously white-haired former Doctor Who Tom Baker.”

    Hot Fuzz-film-Simon Pegg

    “…it often shows a great love for a whole slew of fantasy, television, literature, crime horror and science fiction films etc. from years gone by in the way that it references and draws from them.

    “The episode Man of Substance in particular, which seems to predate Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg’s Hot Fuzz film of 2007 by a year or few in a number of its themes, borrowings and the story of a sleepy country idyll gone bad and is rather folk horror-like in its setting and plot.”

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    “I guess we should have known something was not quite right when shown the unsettling monument on the way into the village that looked as though it should have been on the cover of one of the John Barleycorn Reborn series of dark Britannica compilation albums of wyrd, exploratory, underground etc folk that were released by Cold Spring beginning in 2007.”

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    “Along the way the episode wanders into the territory of and borrows from: The Wicker Man, The Monster Club, Curse of the Crimson Altar, Hansel and Gretel, Witchfinder General, The Bloody Judge and Penda’s Fen.”

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    “And just having Tom Baker, possibly still the archetypal Doctor Who, in amongst it all makes the episode fundamentally interconnected in the minds of watchers of a certain vintage with particular culture and tropes.”

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    “…and that is before we get to Gareth Thomas, who once starred as a freedom fighter in the cult science fiction series Blake’s 7 (1978-1981), who here plays a real ale pushing pub landlord who later appears in his festival garb only to be revealed as a centuries-old medieval lord of the manor.”

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    “Randall & Hopkirk is not necessarily as dark but thinking back this episode may have shared some ground with the similar time period’s The League of Gentleman series that was broadcast from 1999-2002 and its mixing of horror and comedy in a rural setting gone bad where “You bain’t be from round here” is the general refrain.”

    The Wicker Man OST soundtrack-Jonny Trunk-Trunk Records-A Year In The Country

    “Just prior to its broadcast the The Wicker Man soundtrack had been first released in 1998 via the efforts and investigating of Jonny Trunk and Trunk Records and this is thought to have been one of the sparks that ignited that growing interest.

    However, the number of different references to fantastic fictions from before that time in the series suggest its creator had a knowledge, interest and love of such things that stretches back some way.”

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    “The episode Fair Isle is set on an isolated island called Strait Isle which has its own laws and ways of doing things, produces its own unique foodstuff under the direction of an eccentric lord ruler and includes high jinx with the locals in a very local hostelry, all of which further echo The Wicker Man.

    That episode also features Doctor Who-esque folkloric costumed creatures, ecological worries that have shades of the series Doomwatch (1970-1972), transformations which echo Ken Russell’s Altered States film (1980), a hiding of relics which harks back to The Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and even an “I would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids” Scooby Doo-esque unveiling of the baddie.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 20 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    Details of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields 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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  • Kill List, Puffball, In the Dark Half and Butter on the Latch – Folk Horror Descendants by Way of the Kitchen Sink: Chapter 16 Book Images

    Kill List-Ben Wheatley-A Year In The Country-2Kill List

    “…folk horror is a film genre which as a cultural strand has created ever-growing reverberations and led to and/or inspired more recent work.

    One such piece of work is Ben Wheatley’s thoroughly unsettling film Kill List from 2011. As a film it is an intriguing, fascinating, inspiring piece of work. An online discussion about the film said “some pieces of culture are the thing that they purport to be about”; this is a film about evil.

    Visually, if not thematically, it shares similarities with the grittier side of social realism British cinema. For a large part the world it represents, although about the lives of somewhat shady mercenaries, is presented in an every day, social realist, kitchen sink manner.”

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    “It does not feel like an esoteric otherly world, at least initially; people are shown having dinner, a couple argues about money and so forth. But something else lurks and creeps in; a symbol is scratched behind a mirror, a descent begins and the mercenaries are drawn into an arcane, hidden world and system.

    In many ways the film feels like a sequel to 1973’s The Wicker Man, or at least of its direct lineage or spirit, exploring the themes of that film but through a modern day filter of a corruption that feels total and also curiously banal; there is a sense of occult machinations and organisations but also of just doing a job, of the minutiae of it all…

    The film utilises tropes from more recent horror and possibly voyeuristic exploitational film but seems to layer and underpin this with what psychogeographic thought has called “the hidden landscape of atmospheres, histories, actions and characters which charge environments”: occult in both the literal and root meaning of hidden.”

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    “Continuing on from Kill List, kitchen sink or realist folk horror is a description that could be applied to other films such as Josephine Decker’s Butter on the Latch (2013), Alastair Siddons In the Dark Half (2011) and Nicholas Roeg’s Puffball (2007).

    These films take some of the recurring themes of folk horror (precised by Adam Scovell, author of the 2017 book Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange, as featuring landscape, isolation, skewed moral beliefs and a happening or summoning) but which strip away some of the more fantastical presentation and sometimes stylisation that can be found in The Wicker Man or 1970’s Queens of Evil and utilise a more “rooted in the real world” approach.”

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    “Puffball is… set in a remote part of the countryside, it is a television-esque kitchen sink folk horror film that mixes Grand Designs with the music of Kate Bush and England’s Hidden Reverse.

    (Grand Designs is a long-running British television series that documents people spending often large sums of money custom building unusual homes for themselves and their families, England’s Hidden Reverse is a 2003 book by David Keenan that focuses on the work and music of Coil, Current 93 and Nurse With Wound and posits the idea that they represent the real English cultural underground. The soundtrack to Puffball features Coil and Nurse With Wound, with the music to the film all sinister portents and drones that veers upwards and outwards, venturing into more normal climes and back again.)

    In the film new age-ish imagery intermingles with “are-they-real or not?” folkloric and witchery shenanigans, tales of fertility battles, fertility ending with ageing and the slick yuppie-like outsiders gutting and rebuilding a cottage that was previously the site for intense local loss in a possibly inappropriately modern, minimalist, over-angled style.

    In some ways it feels like the story of the old ways battling with the new: of the arrogance of money and man trying to push out the mud and nature of the land.”

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    “(Robin Redbreast) is reminiscent of the Play for Today television drama Robin Redbreast from 1970 in the sense of the entrapping of an outsider in fertility rites and rituals and the use of a slightly simple man of the land for those ends.

    Puffball adds a graphic, almost dissolute sexuality to that realism. This is not an easy film in parts: it is both unsettled and unsettling in various ways.”

     The Wicker Man and Dont Look Now-double bill adverts

    “As an aside, (Puffball) is loosely connected back to early 1970s folk horror by the appearance of Donald Sutherland, and being directed by Nicolas Roeg, it is but a hop, skip and jump from them to The Wicker Man via Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 film Don’t Look Now, in which Donald Sutherland stars and which was released cinematically as part of a double bill with The Wicker Man.”

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    “Further connecting Puffball to kitchen sink, the film also features the bird-like late beauty and fascinating screen presence of Rita Tushingham, who appeared in A Taste of Honey (1961), which is known as one of the classic 1960s kitchen sink/British new wave films; here she is all staring eyes and grasping country ways.”

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    “Throughout the film Kate Bush’s song “Prelude” from her 2005 album Aerial, which features the angelic voice of her son accompanying her piano playing, appears and reappears, interconnecting the themes of the film and its stories of progeny to come and those lost.

    Puffball is also further connected to Kate Bush’s work through two of its actors: Donald Sutherland appeared in the video for her 1985 single “Cloudbusting”, while one of the film’s lead actors is Miranda Richardson, who was also one of the main cast members in Kate Bush’s The Line, the Cross & the Curve film which accompanied her Red Shoes album from 1994.”

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    “(Puffball) also has the more exploitation friendly title The Devil’s Eyeball (puffballs are large round white fungi, also known by this other name). The imagery which accompanies The Devil’s Eyeball version of the DVD release makes the film look nearer to a cheap b-movie, teenage friendly take on say the 1984 gothic fantasy-horror film The Company of Wolves, which is in part an adult take on the fairy story Little Red Riding Hood and could be considered an early example of folk horror with its tales of deceitful ravenous wolves in the wood.”

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    “In the Dark Half takes some of the tropes familiar from British social realist cinema such as a rundown estate on the edge of the countryside, family loss or dysfunction and a sense of social depravation or lack of chances to escape but wanders elsewhere with them.

    It is not quite magical realism, but rather the subdued, downtrodden landscape is given a subtle sheen which creates a sense that you are looking in on a magical otherly world.

    There are folkloric, borderline folk horror elements to the film, but it is not so much those which create the sense of a world with its own rules and even magic.

    Rather via its visual presentation there is a certain lush, soft beauty to the rundown estate and the nearby countryside: a refreshing view of such things in contrast with gritty, realist and sometimes-dour cinematic presentations of similar locales.”

     butter-on-the-latch-josephine-decker-a-year-in-the-country

    Joesphine Decker’s Butter On the Latch was discussed in the BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine… with the headline “Dark Pastoral” and with “Lovely, dark and deep” written below a picture of a solitary wooden shack-like building in an isolated moorland landscape, with two female figures approaching it from the edge of the frame.

    It is an intriguing image and pair of descriptions which, while not overtly signalling such things, seemed to conjure up a dreamlike, rather classy take or variation on folk horror.

    Along with the above, a well-known online commerce site has this description of the film:

    “At a Balkan folk song and dance camp in the woods of Mendocino, California, Sarah reunites with her old friend Isolde and with a song she learned years before about dragons who entwine themselves in women’s hair and carry them off through the forest, burning it as they go.”

    …while Butter on the Latch interacts with cinematic tropes and conventions, it beats its own fragmentary path through them; the film is imbued deeply with a sense of dread and dysfunction and following those just mentioned conventions there’s a sense of waiting for something terrible to happen in a conventional thriller or slasher manner.”

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    As a moment or two of calm amongst that dread, at points the film may just stop, pause and focus on close ups of woodland foliage. There is an entrancing beauty captured in such moments: you hope to remain ensconced in them but in this tale that is not how things are to be.

    This is a form of folk horror where “folk” could be taken as implying “being from the wild woods”; these are woods that seem both tamed and untamed, connected to civilisation and yet those within it have also crumbled away from it.” 

    Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares-album-4AD Inland-Empire-spotlight-David Lynch-film still

    “…the music that accompanies the film and which is played in the camp is to the untutored ear in part not far removed from the stately, elegiac, otherly album of Bulgarian folk songs Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares which 4AD released in the 1980s. While the film is also reminiscent here and there of the lower-fi aesthetics of David Lynch’s 2006 film Inland Empire; Hollywood but at a far, dark remove.”

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    The hand-held documentary feel is complimented or should that be fractured by surreal flashes of staring faces in the woods and other intriguing, hypnotic, yet terribly unsettling images and sounds, often with a more overtly folk horror/horror aspect; such split second moments, even if you pause or try to watch the film frame by frame are hard to quite fathom, explain or take in. To again quote Sight & Sound magazine:

    “Decker creates a weave of woozy camera movements and abrupt cuts that at once trouble and open up the viewer’s perception.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 16 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    Details of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields 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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  • A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields – Book Released

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-front and back cover

    Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology

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    “The first book of it’s kind to catalogue all these disparate strands, many of which cross over time and space to influence one another.” DJ Food575px by 1px line

    Released today 10th April 2018.

    Available now at Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia etc.

    Currently out of stock at our Artifacts Shop and Bandcamp page.

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    Paperback: £15.95. Ebook £6.95
    338 pages. Author: Stephen Prince
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    “An essential field guide to a distinct aesthetic that remains loosely defined, like a fluttering night moth that would die if pinned down.Ben Graham, Shindig!575px by 1px line

    A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields is an exploration of the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams and where they meet and intertwine with the parallel worlds of hauntology; it connects layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, journeying from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions.

    In keeping with the number of weeks in a year, the book is split into 52 chapters and includes considerations of the work of writers including Rob Young, John Wyndham, Richard Mabey and Mark Fisher, musicians and groups The Owl Service, Jane Weaver, Shirley Collins, Broadcast, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Virginia Astley and Kate Bush, the artists Edward Chell, Jeremy Deller and Barbara Jones and the record labels Trunk, Folk Police, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.

    Also explored are television and film including Quatermass, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, Phase IV, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, Bagpuss, Travelling for a Living, The Duke of Burgundy, Sapphire & Steel, General Orders No. 9, Gone to Earth, The Changes, Children of the Stones, Sleep Furiously and The Wicker Man.

    The book draws together revised writings alongside new journeyings from the A Year In The Country project, which has undertaken a set of year-long journeys through spectral fields; cyclical explorations of an otherly pastoralism, the outer reaches of folk culture and the spectres of hauntology. It is a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land.

    As a project, it has included a website featuring writing, artwork and music which stems from that otherly pastoral/spectral hauntological intertwining, alongside a growing catalogue of album releases.

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    Download two sample chapters at this web page: Contents list and sample chapters575px by 1px line
    “Author Prince has pulled together a mass of material culled not only from the website and its associated albums, but also a great deal more that was written specifically for the book. And the result is spellbinding.” Dave Thompson, Goldmine575px by 1px line

    “This incredibly well-researched book, which is obviously written by a man with an enormous passion for this subject, is probably as comprehensive as it is possible to be.

    “Stephen Prince’s densely packed tome covers everything from folkloric film and literature to electronic music to acid folk to folk horror to the dystopian fiction of John Wyndham and the classic unearthings of Nigel Kneale to the formation of under-the-furrows record labels like Trunk, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.

    “If you’re already interested in folk culture and want to be astonished by how deeply its roots run, you’ll treasure A Year in the Country enormously.

    “Almost every one of the 52 chapters sideswiped me with a revelation that is already making me look at a genre I love with new, more appreciative eyes.

    “Books this culturally valuable don’t grow on hedgerows, so make sure you harvest it immediately.” Ian White, Starburst

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    The book has been designed/typeset by Ian Lowey of Bopcap Book Services and edited by Suzy Prince, who are the co-authors of The Graphic Art of The Underground-A Counter-Cultural History.575px by 1px line

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    An excellent compendium of Prince’s musings and meditations on all things wyrdly bucolic, uncanny, and elegiac, spanning a spectral spectrum from Richard Mabey to Zardoz, Virginia Astley to Sapphire & Steel.Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash

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    An online “cut out and keep” set of visual accompaniments to the chapters of the book can be visited here and text extracts from the book can be visited here, both of which will build throughout 2018 to include all 52 chapters.

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-Chapter 1 to 10 contents list copy

    Book Chapter List:

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

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

    3. Hauntology: Places Where Society Goes to Dream, the Defining and Deletion of Spectres and the Making of an Ungenre

    4. Cuckoos in the Same Nest: Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings

    5. Ghost Box Records: Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the
 Panda Pops Disco

    6. Folk Horror Roots: From But a Few Seedlings Did a Great Forest Grow

    7. 1973: A Time of Schism and a Dybbuk’s Dozen of Fractures

    8. Broadcast: Recalibration, Constellation and Exploratory Pop

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    9. Tales From The Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex: The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks

    10. The Wicker Man: Notes on a Cultural Behemoth

    11. Robin Redbreast, The Ash Tree, Sky, The Changes, Penda’s Fen Red Shift and The Owl Service: Wanderings Through Spectral Television Landscapes

    12. A Bear’s Ghosts: Soviet Dreams and Lost Futures

    13. From “Two Tribes” to War Games: The Ascendancy of Apocalyptic Popular Culture

    14. Christopher Priest’s A Dream of Wessex: Twentieth Century Slipstream Echoes

    15. Sapphire & Steel and Ghosts in the Machine: Nowhere, Forever and Lost Spaces within Cultural Circuitry

    16. Kill List, Puffball, In the Dark Half and Butter on the Latch: Folk Horror Descendants by Way of the Kitchen Sink

    17. The Quietened Bunker, Waiting For The End of the World, Subterranea Britannica, Bunker Archaeology and The Delaware Road: Ghosts, Havens and Curious Repurposings Beneath Our Feet

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    18. From The Unofficial Countryside to Soft Estate: Edgeland Documents, Memories and Explorations

    19. The Ballad of Shirley Collins and Pastoral Noir: Tales and Intertwinings from Hidden Furrows

    20. “Savage Party” and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): Glimpses of Albion in the Overgrowth

    21. Uncommonly British Days Out and the Following of Ghosts: File under Psychogeographic/Hauntological Stocking Fillers

    22. Gone to Earth: Earlier Traces of an Otherly Albion

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    23. Queens of Evil, Tam Lin and The Touchables: High Fashion Transitional Psych Folk Horror, Pastoral Fantasy and Dreamlike Isolation

    24. Luke Haines: Our Most Non-Hauntological Hauntologist

    25. Tim Hart, Maddy Prior and “The Dalesman’s Litany”: A Yearning for Imaginative Idylls and a Counterpart to Tales of Hellish Mills

    26. Katalina Varga, Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy : Arthouse Evolution and Crossing the Thresholds of the Hinterland Worlds of Peter Strickland

    27. General Orders No. 9 and By Our Selves: Cinematic Pastoral Experimentalism

    28. No Blade of Grass and Z.P.G.: A Curious Dystopian Mini-Genre

    29. The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids: John Wyndham, Dystopian Tales, Celluloid Cuckoos and the Village as Anything But Idyll

    30. Folk Archive and Unsophisticated Arts: Documenting the Overlooked and Unregulated

    31. Folkloric Photography: A Lineage of Wanderings, Documentings and Imaginings

    32. Poles and Pylons and The Telegraph Appreciation Society: A Continuum of Accidental Art

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    33. Symptoms and Images: Hauntological Begetters, the Uneasy Landscape and Gothic Bucolia

    34. The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water: Public Information Films and Lost Municipal Paternalisms

    35. Magpahi, Paper Dollhouse and The Eccentronic Research Council: Finders Keepers/Bird Records Nestings and Considerations of Modern Day Magic

    36. Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before: Whispering Fairy Stories until They are Real

    37. The Owl Service, Anne Briggs, The Watersons, Lutine and Audrey Copard: Folk Revisiters, Revivalists and Reinterpreters

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    38. The Seasons, Jonny Trunk, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Howlround: A Yearning for Library Music, Experiments in Educational Music and Tape Loop Tributes

    39. An Old Soul Returns: The Worlds and Interweavings of Kate Bush

    40. The Stone Tape, Quatermass, The Road and The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale: Unearthing Tales from Buried Ancient Pasts

    41 Folklore Tapes and the Wyrd Britannia Festival: Journeying to Hidden Corners of the Land/the Ferrous Reels and Explorations of an Arcane Research Project

    42. Skeletons: Pastoral Preternatural Fiction and a World, Time and Place of its Own Imagining

    43. Field Trip-England: Jean Ritchie, George Pickow and Recordings from the End of an Era

    44. Noah’s Castle: A Slightly Overlooked Artifact and Teatime Dystopias

    45. Jane Weaver Septième Soeur and The Fallen by Watch Bird: Non-Populist Pop and Cosmic Aquatic Folklore

    46. Detectorists, Bagpuss, The Wombles and The Good Life: Views from a Gentler Landscape

    47. Weirdlore, Folk Police Recordings, Sproatly Smith and Seasons They Change: Notes From the Folk Underground, Legendary Lost Focal Points and Privately Pressed Folk

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    48. The Moon and The Sledgehammer and Sleep Furiously: Visions of Parallel and Fading Lives

    49. From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, Wintersongs, Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails: Lullabies for the Land and Gently Darkened Undercurrents

    50. Strawberry Fields and Wreckers: The Countryside and Coastal Hinterland as Emotional Edgeland

    51. Zardoz, Phase IV and Beyond the Black Rainbow: Seeking the Future in Secret Rooms from the Past and Psychedelic Cinematic Corners

    52. Winstanley, A Field in England and The English Civil War Part II: Reflections on Turning Points and Moments When Anything Could Happen

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-Chapter 37 to 52 contents list

     

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  • Robin Redbreast, The Ash Tree, Sky, The Changes, Penda’s Fen, Red Shift and The Owl Service – Wanderings Through Spectral Television Landscapes: Chapter 11 Book Images

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    “Robin Redbreast is a 1970 television programme, which although it was originally made and broadcast in colour, now only a black and white version is known to exist. It contains a plot and atmosphere that draw you in, grip and unsettle you…

    (It is not) an as-overtly visual representation of folkloric rites as say The Wicker Man is (apart from one brief moment where the locals gather, clad in folkloric attire, which could almost be a photograph by late 19th/early 20th century documenter of folk customs Benjamin Stone or a modern day re-enactment of his photographs); it does not have the broad cinematic sweep or cult musical accompaniment of that film but this is a different creature.

    It is a more intimate, enclosed story, a television play with I expect a relatively small budget, a small cast and a quite limited number of locations but none the worse for it.”

    The Omega Factor-TV series-A Year In The CountryNoahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The Country-6Quatermass-1979-The Conclusion-Nigel Kneale-A Year In The Country 2

    “…some of the most intriguing pieces of work leading up to and during the creation of A Year In The Country have been the introduction and end title sequences to some of those television series and plays from the late 1960s to mid 1970s; this probably extends to around 1980 to take in Children of the Stones (1977), Sky (1975), The Tomorrow People (1973-1979), Noah’s Castle (1979), The Omega Factor (1979) and the final series of Quatermass (1979).

    They often seem to represent a very concise, at points quite surreal capturing of the otherly spirit of the various series, related flipside and undercurrents of bucolia, hauntological concerns and a particular era…”

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    Penguin Modern Poets-Julian House-Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age-A Year In The CountryJulian House-Intro design-Ghost Box Records-A Year In The Country

    “The intro sequence for The Tomorrow People is a collage of images that include geometric science fiction-esque shapes, a single eyeball, cosmological swirls, a hand opening and closing, a shadowy figure in a doorway etc.

    It could be a mixture of the stark, darkly pastoral covers of The Modern Poets series of book covers from the 1960s and 1970s and Julian House of Ghost Box Records’ design work tumbling backwards and forwards through time, filtered somehow through an almost Woolworths-esque take on such things but still having a particularly unsettling air.”

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    “The Owl Service’s intro sequence mixes and layers imagery that includes tinted largely monochromatic images of the forest, pulsating geometric circles, a candle flame flickering against a black background, hands making bird silhouettes and a mirrored illustration where the same elements can be seen as both owls and flowers.”

    Children Of The Stones-TV series-A Year In The Country The Children Of The Stones series-intro 3

    “Children of the Stones’ intro is presented in a more realist, visually conventional manner, though it still more than hints at flipside tales of the land.

    To a soundtrack of a memorable, spectral, eldritch and wordless choir, it features multiple images of ancient standing stones, variously shown as ominous looming structures, with the sun refracting over them or in a layering of the past and present as they are pictured next to local village housing.”

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    Sky is another of those “Hmmm, what was in the water at TV commissioning meetings in the seventies to think that these were quite normal programmes for children’s television?” series, which over time has grown layers of exoticism…

    It is a sort of rurally-set children’s television version of The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), with a cockney alien and ecological overtones which the promotional information describes somewhat esoterically as:

    ‘Out of the sky falls a youth, not of this place or time, ‘part-angel, part-waif ’, a youth with powers he can neither control or understand… nature itself rejects him and takes on the cadaverous body of Goodchild in sinister personification of the forces of opposition… He speaks of time travellers ‘Gods you call them’ who had tried again and again to help the people of Earth… Sky must find the mysterious juganet, the cross-over point in time, that is the key to his return to his own dimension.'”

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    “(In The Changes) black and chain-wearing louche beatnik styled robbers and brigands roam the land and at points the series wanders off into a milder version of Witchfinder General (1968) territory where those who are suspected of using machinery or even saying their names are seen as “wicked sinners” and considered to be witches…

    ..in one of the memorable phrases from the series overhead electricity (and so on) cables become known as “the bad wires” and people are not able to pass underneath them as this brings a return of The Noise and the madness which compelled people to destroy technology…

    The source of The Noise and the machine smashing/rejecting madness is eventually tracked down by Nicky and her companion to a form of sentient lodestone which has been uncovered in quarry workings.

    Although it is not explained what this stone is or how it came to be, we are told that it had given magical powers to Merlin in ancient historical times and it is now trying to take Britain back to what it considers to be a better pre-industrial time by psychically inducing the rejection of machinery…

    How on earth did this come to be made as children’s entertainment? In particular the first episode where the madness has gripped mankind and the machines are being smashed in the streets: the scenes of which have an unnerving intensity…

    …The Changes could be seen as a reflection of some of society’s fears of social breakdown at that time and the threats represented by a reliance on modern technology which needed modern fuel, which was at that time under threat due to a crisis in oil supplies.”

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    “(The Ash Tree television play from 1975, based on a story by M.R. James) shares some themes with Witchfinder General in its dealing with folk horror and persecution.

    M.R. James’ short story was adapted for television by David Rudkin, who for a while seemed to be the go-to chap for otherly Albion-ic television and also wrote Penda’s Fen…

    In many ways The Ash Tree could sit quite comfortably amongst the not-so-salubrious fare that littered the faded cinemas of mid 1970s Britain; it has that nasty, unsettling feeling to it that a fair few cinematic releases from that period did, possibly reflecting a wider sense of corruption and malaise in society…

    There is little beauty in this landscape and its rolling fields. Bleak is a word that comes to mind; these are moors and feeding grounds full of judgement, punishment, voyeurism and unexplained carrion.”

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    “(Penda’s Fen) is a tale which takes in the revival of ancient pagan kings, hidden underground government facilities (cities?), left-wing truths, ranting and paranoia, substitute Mary Whitehouse-esque self-appointed moral majority figures, awakening sixth form adolescent sexuality, alternative religious histories and theological study, fancying your local milk man, demons, army cadet forces, William Blake’s Jerusalem, the threat and worry of the never stopping industrial conveyor belt, returning dead classical musicians who wish to see the silver river and verdant valleys but who are actually staring at a flaking brick wall, the battle of religion against older gods, a birthday cake, adoption, fertility, almost breaking the fourth wall self-criticism about himself in David Rudkin’s script, angelic riverside visitations and Kenneth Anger-esque phallic firework dreams…

    It could be a head spinning melange and collage of freakish, cult film making but it is not; although in its hour and a half (actually, its first half hour) it manages to have covered more topics than a whole catalogue of other films may do, this is a very cogent and coherent film which at its core deals with conformity, coming of age and mankind’s sacred covenant with the land.’

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    “Red Shift from 1978 shares some similarities with Penda’s Fen: it is a visionary take on the landscape and its stories and histories, older forms of worship, tales of coming of age and a priggish not always likeable teenage protagonist…

    In part it could be seen as an exploration of the literary, intellectual and cultural idea that similar, interconnected things continue to happen in the same places over time, almost as though places become nodes or echo chambers for particular occurrences or a kind of temporal layering occurs: something which is also explored in Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape from 1972.”

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    Filming the Owl Service (1970)… is long out of print and rare as hen’s teeth to find second hand, which is a shame as it is a fine companion piece to the series, full of rather lovely photographs, artifacts, anecdotes, background story, prop sheets and designs from the filming and the series itself.

    The book is split into three parts; an “Introduction” by Alan Garner in which he discusses the making of the film, some of what inspired the original book, the coincidences around it and so on, “Our Diaries” by his children who took nine weeks off school while it was being made to be on and around its filming and “Making the Film” by its director Peter Plummer.

    Some of the points of interest from the book are:

    (Please note: there are 12 such points in the A Year In The Country book.)

    5) When Peter Plummer introduced the actors to Alan Garner for the first time and asked if they looked right, Alan Garner’s recollection of it was that it was a “nasty experience”:

    “I wanted to run. They looked too right. It was like a waking dream. Here were the people I’d thought about, who’d lived in my head for so long; but now they were real. I couldn’t accept that they were only actors.”

    6) Alan Garner had based the part of Huw on Dafydd, an actual gardener from one of the locales of filming, but a Dafydd as he had imagined him being at the age of forty. When he saw them together he said that it “was like seeing father and son”. Apparently the two people in question when they saw one another said:

    Dafydd: “I wish I was young and forty again.” Raymond: “Now I know what I’ll look like at eighty.”

    The book leaves a sense that Dafydd was a very particular kind of person, one of those people who seem to have been part of the land forever, an archetype almost.

    11) Alan Garner is one of the villagers in one scene in the series and apparently he was a foot taller than all the actual local people who were in the series and they all found it hard to behave normally when the man-made storm rain hits them.

    Alan Garner: “…as soon as the solid water hit us we all gasped and yelled, and looked like anything but villagers out in a storm.” Dafydd: “We must be dumb and waterproof.”

    Alan Garner: “That scene is still odd, because I was about a foot taller than anybody else, and I look like the village freak – which may be what Peter was after all the time.”

    12) The end of Alan Garner’s section is a quote taken from a letter sent by Dafydd, referring to the time during the filming and The Stone Of Gronw, which the production had commissioned to be carved, prepared and set in place for the series:

    “It was a good time… I have been to the stone. It is lonely now.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 11 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    Details of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields 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 – Print Book Preorder – Ebook Available Now

    A-Year-In-The-Country-Wandering-Through-Spectral-Fields-book-Stephen-Prince-6 copies-front cover

    Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology

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    Print book preorder today 1st March 2018. Released 10th April 2018. Price: £15.95.
    Preorder available at our Artifacts Shop and Bandcamp page.

    Ebook released today 1st March 2018. Price: £6.95.
    Available now at Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia etc.

    The print book will also be available via Amazon’s worldwide sites from 10th April 2018.

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    338 pages. Author: Stephen Prince575px by 1px line

    A-Year-In-The-Country-Wandering-Through-Spectral-Fields-book-Stephen-Prince-6 copies-front cover and back cover

    Download two sample chapters at this web page: Contents list and sample chapters

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    A Year In The Country is a set of year-long journeys through spectral fields; cyclical explorations of an otherly pastoralism, the outer reaches of folk culture and the spectres of hauntology. It is a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land.

    As a project, it has included a website featuring writing, artwork and music which stems from that otherly pastoral/spectral hauntological intertwining, alongside a growing catalogue of album releases.

    In keeping with the number of weeks in a year, the book is split into 52 chapters which draw together revised writings from the project alongside new journeyings. Connecting layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, it journeys from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions.

    It includes considerations of the work of writers including Rob Young, John Wyndham, Richard Mabey and Mark Fisher, musicians and groups The Owl Service, Jane Weaver, Shirley Collins, Broadcast, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Virginia Astley and Kate Bush, the artists Edward Chell, Jeremy Deller and Barbara Jones and the record labels Trunk, Folk Police, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.

    The book also explores television and film including Quatermass, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, Phase IV, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, Bagpuss, Travelling for a Living, The Duke of Burgundy, Sapphire & Steel, General Orders No. 9, Gone to Earth, The Changes, Children of the Stones, Sleep Furiously and The Wicker Man.

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields-book-Stephen Prince-front coverA-Year-In-The-Country-Wandering-Through-Spectral-Fields-book-Stephen-Prince-back-cover-published version

    The book has been designed/typeset by Ian Lowey of Bopcap Book Services and edited by Suzy Prince, who are the co-authors of The Graphic Art of The Underground – A Counter-Cultural History.

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    An online “cut out and keep” set of visual accompaniments to the chapters of the book can be visited here and text extracts from the book can be visited here, both of which will build throughout 2018 to include all 52 chapters.

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-Chapter 1 to 10 contents list copy

    Book Chapter List:

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

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

    3. Hauntology: Places Where Society Goes to Dream, the Defining and Deletion of Spectres and the Making of an Ungenre

    4. Cuckoos in the Same Nest: Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings

    5. Ghost Box Records: Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the
 Panda Pops Disco

    6. Folk Horror Roots: From But a Few Seedlings Did a Great Forest Grow

    7. 1973: A Time of Schism and a Dybbuk’s Dozen of Fractures

    8. Broadcast: Recalibration, Constellation and Exploratory Pop

    9. Tales From The Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex: The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks

    10. The Wicker Man: Notes on a Cultural Behemoth

    11. Robin Redbreast, The Ash Tree, Sky, The Changes, Penda’s Fen Red Shift and The Owl Service: Wanderings Through Spectral Television Landscapes

    12. A Bear’s Ghosts: Soviet Dreams and Lost Futures

    13. From “Two Tribes” to War Games: The Ascendancy of Apocalyptic Popular Culture

    14. Christopher Priest’s A Dream of Wessex: Twentieth Century Slipstream Echoes

    15. Sapphire & Steel and Ghosts in the Machine: Nowhere, Forever and Lost Spaces within Cultural Circuitry

    16. Kill List, Puffball, In the Dark Half and Butter on the Latch: Folk Horror Descendants by Way of the Kitchen Sink

    17. The Quietened Bunker, Waiting For The End of the World, Subterranea Britannica, Bunker Archaeology and The Delaware Road: Ghosts, Havens and Curious Repurposings Beneath Our Feet

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-Chapter 11 to 37 contents list

    18. From The Unofficial Countryside to Soft Estate: Edgeland Documents, Memories and Explorations

    19. The Ballad of Shirley Collins and Pastoral Noir: Tales and Intertwinings from Hidden Furrows

    20. “Savage Party” and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): Glimpses of Albion in the Overgrowth

    21. Uncommonly British Days Out and the Following of Ghosts: File under Psychogeographic/Hauntological Stocking Fillers

    22. Gone to Earth: Earlier Traces of an Otherly Albion

    23. Queens of Evil, Tam Lin and The Touchables: High Fashion Transitional Psych Folk Horror, Pastoral Fantasy and Dreamlike Isolation

    24. Luke Haines: Our Most Non-Hauntological Hauntologist

    25. Tim Hart, Maddy Prior and “The Dalesman’s Litany”: A Yearning for Imaginative Idylls and a Counterpart to Tales of Hellish Mills

    26. Katalina Varga, Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy : Arthouse Evolution and Crossing the Thresholds of the Hinterland Worlds of Peter Strickland

    27. General Orders No. 9 and By Our Selves: Cinematic Pastoral Experimentalism

    28. No Blade of Grass and Z.P.G.: A Curious Dystopian Mini-Genre

    29. The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids: John Wyndham, Dystopian Tales, Celluloid Cuckoos and the Village as Anything But Idyll

    30. Folk Archive and Unsophisticated Arts: Documenting the Overlooked and Unregulated

    31. Folkloric Photography: A Lineage of Wanderings, Documentings and Imaginings

    32. Poles and Pylons and The Telegraph Appreciation Society: A Continuum of Accidental Art

    33. Symptoms and Images: Hauntological Begetters, the Uneasy Landscape and Gothic Bucolia

    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-Chapter 37 to 52 contents list

    34. The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water: Public Information Films and Lost Municipal Paternalisms

    35. Magpahi, Paper Dollhouse and The Eccentronic Research Council: Finders Keepers/Bird Records Nestings and Considerations of Modern Day Magic

    36. Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before: Whispering Fairy Stories until They are Real

    37. The Owl Service, Anne Briggs, The Watersons, Lutine and Audrey Copard: Folk Revisiters, Revivalists and Reinterpreters

    38. The Seasons, Jonny Trunk, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Howlround: A Yearning for Library Music, Experiments in Educational Music and Tape Loop Tributes

    39. An Old Soul Returns: The Worlds and Interweavings of Kate Bush

    40. The Stone Tape, Quatermass, The Road and The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale: Unearthing Tales from Buried Ancient Pasts

    41 Folklore Tapes and the Wyrd Britannia Festival: Journeying to Hidden Corners of the Land/the Ferrous Reels and Explorations of an Arcane Research Project

    42. Skeletons: Pastoral Preternatural Fiction and a World, Time and Place of its Own Imagining

    43. Field Trip-England: Jean Ritchie, George Pickow and Recordings from the End of an Era

    44. Noah’s Castle: A Slightly Overlooked Artifact and Teatime Dystopias

    45. Jane Weaver Septième Soeur and The Fallen by Watch Bird: Non-Populist Pop and Cosmic Aquatic Folklore

    46. Detectorists, Bagpuss, The Wombles and The Good Life: Views from a Gentler Landscape

    47. Weirdlore, Folk Police Recordings, Sproatly Smith and Seasons They Change: Notes From the Folk Underground, Legendary Lost Focal Points and Privately Pressed Folk

    48. The Moon and The Sledgehammer and Sleep Furiously: Visions of Parallel and Fading Lives

    49. From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, Wintersongs, Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails: Lullabies for the Land and Gently Darkened Undercurrents

    50. Strawberry Fields and Wreckers: The Countryside and Coastal Hinterland as Emotional Edgeland

    51. Zardoz, Phase IV and Beyond the Black Rainbow: Seeking the Future in Secret Rooms from the Past and Psychedelic Cinematic Corners

    52. Winstanley, A Field in England and The English Civil War Part II: Reflections on Turning Points and Moments When Anything Could Happen

     

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  • Tales from the Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex – The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks: Chapter 9 Book Images

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    “Over the years, the notion of soundtracks for imaginary films, or even visual work which creates imagery from imaginary films has often appealed. An example of such is the album Tales from the Black Meadow (2013).

    This is part of a multi-faceted project which has taken the form of, amongst other things, books, album and video work, taking as its core story the imagined story of Professor R. Mullins who went missing in 1972 in an area known as the Black Meadow atop the North Yorkshire Moors.

    The accompanying story tells of how he left behind an extensive body of work regarding his investigations of the folklore and oral history of the Black Meadow, in particular with regard to the phenomena of a local disappearing village…

    Even though it is widely known that it is a created history, revisiting the project leaves some lingering doubt.

    It plays with a hauntological sense of misremembered and faded cultural memories through the documentary backstory and the use of created archival material.”

    The Book of the Lost-Emily Jones-The Rowand Amber Mill-CD albumThe Book Of The Lost-A Year In The CountryThe Book Of The Lost-1-A Year In The Country

    “A further example of such imagined soundtracks is The Book of the Lost (2014): a collaboration between Emily Jones and The Rowan Amber Mill. As a project it draws from the folk horror likes of The Wicker Man (1973), Witch Finder General (1968), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and Psychomania (1973) and creates a world and backstory for the resulting music.

    Instead of an imagined documentary as is the case with Tales from the Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost creates the soundtrack to episodes from an imagined period television series, which are called to life via the project and accompanied by details of their casts, synopsis, crew, production companies etc…

    The setting is reminiscent of early 1970s British portmanteau horror: the type that often featured Joan Collins. In particular, Tales from the Crypt (1972) or Tales That Witness Madness (1973), films which have a certain period charm, entertainment value and cultural interest but which also reflected a time when British cinema was tumbling and hurtling towards its own demise via its focus on cheap exploitation fare, sex comedies or schlock and horror.”

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    “Along loosely similar lines is The Equestrian Vortex: a film-within-a-film that appears in Peter Strickland’s cinematically released 2012 film Berberian Sound Studio; this is set in and around 1970s Italian giallo film culture, creating the phantasmagorical closed world of a recording studio which is being used to produce the sound effects for that film.

    As with The Book of the Lost, it draws from many of the classic tropes of folk horror and lists credits for an imagined cast, director, soundtrack and so forth.

    Created by Julian House of Ghost Box Records/Intro design agency and soundtracked by Broadcast, The Equestrian Vortex appears purely as an introductory sequence created using found imagery and via sound effects in Berberian Sound Studio but without ever showing the actual film. It offers a brief window into the complete film; when watching it, there is a wish to see the full-length version, to seek out something that logically does not exist.

    This is a reflection of the strength of such work as the above-imagined soundtracks and films; they present only glimpses and fragments of the imagined worlds, tales and histories that they are said to come from, drawing on shared and sometimes faded cultural memories, leaving the viewer/listener space to weave, create and imagine the fully finished programmes and films.”

    Online images to accompany Chapter 9 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    Details of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields 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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  • Broadcast – Recalibration, Constellation and Exploratory Pop: Chapter 8 Book Images

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    “Broadcast… are an odd, intriguing cuckoo in pop’s nest; they have been described as avant-pop, which is probably heading along the right lines. Their recordings feature a mixture of electronic and acoustic elements, melodic pop and more experimental audio techniques.

    While their work as a whole connects with, signposts, layers, explores and takes inspiration from a wide variety of cultural reference points, including psychedelia and Czech New Wave film, although this is more in a reinterpreted rather than recreated manner.

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    (James) Cargill also discusses how British children’s television of the late 1960s and 1970s such as Children of the Stones (1976), Sky (1975) and The Owl Service (1969) and their odd, sometimes unsettling, “why were they like that when they were intended to be viewed by children?” atmospheres were also a reference point for the album…

    He comments that he only half remembers the programmes, that they are just fragments of memory and that is part of the attraction of them, he does not want to know everything about them and how having watched them on breaking up television receptions or an old faded video recording added something to the aspects which made the memory of them interesting.

    (He also) says that in order to watch these shows you need to recalibrate yourself, as these previous era’s broadcasts had a different, slower pace; the modern mind and viewer is not necessarily always geared towards their rhythms.”

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    “Trish Keenan of Broadcast has been quoted as saying that the avant-garde without the popular can be rubbish, the popular without the avant-garde can be rubbish, which could almost be seen as a manifesto for the group and their work: their exploration and blurring of the boundaries between the two.

    (Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age) more overtly steps towards the avant-garde than pop or popular music but if you should want to hear a melding of those two sides then a visit to their Mother is the Milky Way release from 2009 may well be the thing to do…

    Mother is the Milky Way could be seen as the summation of a particular set of peaks and aims of Broadcasts work: a collection that gathers both their more pop and avant-garde influences, mixing, matching and balancing both sides of such things in a way that somehow makes its mixture of quite off centre jump cuts, lo-fidelity nuances, a certain dreamy surreality, dissonance, scattering and gathering of pop melodies and the use of reversed and found sounds all seem very accessible.”

    Broadcast-Haha Sound-album art cover-Julian House-Warp RecordsValerie And Her Week Of Wonders soundtrack-BMusic-Finders Keepers-Trish Keenan-Broadcast-A Year In The Country

    “Czech New Wave film has been referenced and mentioned as a point of inspiration by Broadcast a number of times over the years, in particular the unsettling fairytale-like Valerie and her Week of Wonders (1970). On their 2003 album Haha Sound the song “Valerie” was inspired by the film and its soundtrack album which was released in 2006 by Finders Keepers Records featured sleeve notes by Trish Keenan, in which she wrote:

    “Not since The Wicker Man has a soundtrack occupied my mind like Valerie and her Week of Wonders. It was like a door had been opened in my subconscious and fragments of memories and dreams rejoiced right there in my living room.”

     Broadcast and The Focus Group-2-I See, So I See So-2

    Broadcast and The Focus Group-Witchcults video-Julian House

    “The visual elements of Broadcast’s work, including the packaging of their albums, videos and live projections have been an inherent part of their exploratory avant-pop nature.

    Generally this aspect has been instigated and/or created by Julian House, at points to varying degrees in collaboration with the band and for Witch Cults they produced the #1: Witch Cults and #2: I See, So I See So videos, which feature two of the more conventional songs on the album.

    …(the videos are) layered, occult (in the sense of hidden) collages of the land, bucolia as imagined through a lysergic glass darkly and pop filtered through the avant-garde…

    Of the two #1: Witch Cults is the more overtly surreal, with the normal world and its colours very rarely making an appearance and the video containing imagery which seems to invoke a sense of an otherworldly rural summoning.

    The video features (presumably) Trish Keenan’s silhouette flickering and strobing in the landscape in ritualistic stances, as the natural world melds and dissolves into an unsettling almost psychedelic set of images before the more conventional melody of the song also dissolves to become a gently unsettling set of tinkling noises accompanied by what may be roaring wind.

    The final section of the video promises a return to the ease and calm of an almost natural world and sunset with the reappearance of the lone silhouetted figure in a windswept landscape but it is only the promise as once again the imagery melds and layers to become some kind of ritualistic summoning.”

    Broadcast and The Focus Group-2-I See, So I See So-5Broadcast and The Focus Group-2-I See So I See So-1

    Broadcast and The Focus Group-2-I See, So I See So-3Broadcast and The Focus Group-2-I See, So I See So-4

    The Tomorrow People-4 intro credits stills-1970sThe Owl Service-TV series titles-Alan Garner-A Year In The CountryCamberwick Green-opening sequence

    “#2: I See, So I See So is more obviously set in a recognisable real, realist or natural world, but it is still very much a view through the looking glass. Connecting back again to James Cargill’s comments about children’s television broadcasts from earlier eras and their unsettled atmospheres, the video and its layering of geometric shapes, objects and the natural world brings to mind the introduction sequences of the likes of The Tomorrow People (1973-1979) and possibly The Owl Service or maybe some flipside Camberwick Green-esque (1966) animation series and seems to shadow, layer and reflect such things but without being a replication…

    Elsewhere in the video a box is filled with objects, shapes and a staring disembodied eye, which also seem to connect back to a previous era’s children’s television, although it is a view of such things through an avant-garde, experimental film co-op filter.”

    broadcast-wire-magazine-a-year-in-the-country-4Shindig Magazine-Broadcast-James Cargill-Thomas Patterson-A Year In The CountryBroadcast-Trish Keenan-photograph

    United States of America-band 2-A Year In The CountryUnited States of America-band 3-A Year In The CountryUnited-States-of-America-1200-2-band-3-A-Year-In-The-Country

    “It is difficult to fully describe or categorise Broadcast’s work on the likes of Witch Cults and Mother is the Milky Way but in (an article in Wire magazine) Joseph Stannard describes it as “occult pop laden with pagan psychedelia”, which along with the earlier mentioned avant-pop description, is again probably heading in the right direction.

    Psychedelia and 1960s influences are often mentioned in reference to Broadcast, in particular the influence of the group The United States of America, whose solo eponymous album released in 1968 melded elements of melodic pop music, psychedelia, the avant-garde and art rock in a manner not dissimilar at points to Broadcast…

    The music (Broadcast) have released is both contemporary and also seems to belong to some separate time and place all of its own, with psychedelia incorporated in a manner nearer to an explorative portal then rosy-eyed nostalgia:

    “I’m not interested in the bubble poster trip, ‘remember Woodstock’ idea of the sixties. What carries over for me is the idea of psychedelia as a door through to another way of thinking about sound and song. Not a world only reachable by hallucinogens but obtainable by questioning what we think is real and right, by challenging the conventions of form and temper.”

    Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Zero Books-hauntology-A Year In The Countrybroadcast-logo-a-year-in-the-country-2Broadcast-The Wire Magazine-A Year In The Country

    “Mark Fisher in his 2014 book Ghost of my Life talks about how it is the culture that surrounds and constellates around music that has been as important as the music itself in conjuring seductively unfamiliar worlds, that during the 20th century these gatherings of culture acted as a probe for such explorations and alternatives to existing ways of living and thinking.

    Broadcast are a fine, brightly shining example of such constellations and constellators and to this day continue to act as a guide to such explorations and alternative pathways of culture.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 8 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    Details of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields 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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  • 1973 – A Time of Schism and a Dybbuk’s Dozen of Fractures: Chapter 7 Book Images

    Fractures-Night and Dawn Editions-A Year In The Country

    Fractures 21 of 52-Sproatly Smith-A Year In The Country-1200

    A Year In The Country has often meandered over to the year 1973 and the culture that was produced around that time, and this has been reflected and explored, both in posts at the main website and a related album release.

    When perusing culture later than this particular year it is often the case that something in its spirit or atmosphere represents a move towards a sea change in society and the associated political, social and economic realignment…

    In 2016 as part of A Year In The Country, the themed conceptual compilation album Fractures was released, which took as its inspiration 1973 as a particular cultural and historical juncture and explored related themes.

    In the album sleeve notes, some notable events and cultural productions were then listed, which are gathered below, together with other appropriate points of interest from 1973 which were originally included in a related post on the A Year In The Country website.

    Together they form a dybbuk’s or devil’s dozen (ie. 13) of those junctures and signifiers and provide a glimpse into part of the character of that point in time which was undoubtedly an era of schism.”

    Delia Derbyshire in Room 12, along with her full panoply of equipment.

    “1) Electronic music innovator and pioneer Delia Derbyshire left The BBC and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop: she deliberated later that around then “the world went out of time with itself ”.

    1973-Blackout-power cut-A Year In The Country

    1973-uk-power cut-blackout-the three day week-A Year In The Country-2 1973-uk-power cut-blackout-the three day week-A Year In The Country-3

    “2) Electricity blackouts in the UK: these were due to industrial conflicts and the resulting restrictions on power production, with a state of emergency and the three day working week being declared by the then-government in order to attempt to conserve energy supplies.”

     The Wicker Man and Dont Look Now-double bill adverts

    “3) The Wicker Man film was released: quite possibly the touchstone for all things interconnected to A Year In The Country, explorations of an otherly Albion and the flipside or undercurrents of folkloric culture.”

    The Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The Country 2

    “4) The Changes children’s television series was recorded but remained unreleased: its plot concerns a world that has undergone a form of induced psychosis, resulting in the rejecting and destroying of all modern technology…”

    Richard Mabey-The Unofficial Countryside-Little Toller Books-A Year In The Country Richard Mabey-The Unofficial Countryside-The World About Us-documentary-Little Toller Books 2

    “5) Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside book was published: an early and influential study of transitional/liminal edgeland spaces and where the city meets nature.”

     Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country

    “6) The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water was released: probably the definitive hauntological public information film – all scattered debris, a ghostly black-clad figure and the distinctively chilling voice of Donald Pleasance in a film intended to warn children of the dangers of careless or foolhardy behaviour near water but which had the effect of traumatising considerable swathes of its viewers.”

     Psychomania 1971-screenshot-A Year In The Country

    “7) Psychomania film was released: Nicky Henson stars as the leader of a gang of returned from the grave zombie motorcyclers who terrorise the locals in rural and small town 1970s Britain.

    This is a curiously British, low key and understated take on biker and other myths that seems far removed from say the often glamorous cinematic presentations of American biker culture…”

     Judy Dyble-Delia Derbyshire-Vashti Bunyan-Shelagh McDonald-lost women of folk-elelectronic music

    “8) Sometime Fairport Convention and Trader Horne member Judy Dyble stepped back from making music; her departure from music could well be filed alongside that of Delia Derbyshire’s and for a number of years she would become one of the lost voices of British exploratory folk music from the later 1960s and earlier 1970s, alongside the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Shelagh Macdonald.”

    World On A Wire-1973-A Year In The Country

    “9) The Michael Fassbinder-directed German television series World on a Wire was released; this was a rather prescient representation of virtual reality and also in the world it created went curiously against the grain of more gritty, murky atmospheres which were often prevalent in films and television of the time.”

     Soylent Green-film poster

    “10) The film Soylent Green was released: this was part of a film mini-genre of ecology and resources having gone to heck in a hand-basket which was prevalent in the 1970s.”

     The Final Programme-1973-still-pinball-pop art

    The Final Programme-1973-film still

    “11) The Final Programme film was released: it is mentioned previously about films released prior to 1973 often seeming as though they still contained elements of 1960s psych/mod sharpness: however, this is something of a cuckoo in the nest…

    ..the film shows decadence having tipped over into darkness as was often the way with culture from around 1973…

    …it also seems to connect more directly with 1960s culture, particularly in terms of its dandified, frilly shirted, counter-cultural anti-hero and pop-art-esque giant-sized pinball table set.”

     Blue Blood-1973-Oliver Reed

    “12) Blue Blood film was released: the plot involves a debauched young aristocrat who entrusts the running of his estate to his butler, played by a glowering Oliver Reed, who begins to control and dominate his master and appears to possibly have demonic intent.

    The film shares some similar territory to the corrupt, insular decadence of the 1970 film Performance (and maybe a touch of 1963’s The Servant in the way that power balances blur and tip between master and servant).

    Who knows if this particular celluloid story would be made today? “Unsettling” and “troubling” are words that come to mind.”

    Quatermass-1979-The Conclusion-Nigel Kneale-A Year In The Country 2

    “13) The initial deadline for Nigel Kneale to deliver the script for the final Quatermass series: looking back, this series and its depiction of a society which was in a state of collapse seems in part to be a reflection of a continuum of real world societal strife throughout the 1970s.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 7 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book, alongside some text extracts from the chapter:

    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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