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

  • 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

    Hollyoaks-Savage Party-folklore-A Year In The Country 4

    “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).”

    Hollyoaks-Savage Party-folklore-A Year In The Country 12

    “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…”

    Hollyoaks-Savage Party-folklore-A Year In The Country 11

    “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.”

    Stealing Sheep-Shut Eye

    Coco-Rosie-Arthur-Magazine-Devandra Banhart-Joanna Newsom

    “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).”

    Halloween on Hollyoaks-trailer-2016

    “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.”

    021-Randall & Hopkirk-Charlie Higson-Vic Reeves-Bob Mortimer-Emilia Fox-Tom Baker-A Year In The Country

    Randall-Hopkirk-Charlie-Higson-Vic-Reeves-Bob-Mortimer-Emilia-Fox-1

    Randall-Hopkirk-Charlie-Higson-Tom-Baker-television series still

    “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.”

    John Barleycorn Reborn Rebirth-Dark Britannica-Cold Spring-A Year In The Country-collage

    “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.”

    Randall-Hopkirk-dancers collage

    stills from The Wicker Man-The Monster Club-Pendas Fen-Curse of the Crimson Altar-2

    “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.”

    tom-baker-doctor-who-wearing scarf

    “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.”

    Gareth Thomas-Blakes 7

    “…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.”

    The League of Gentleman-Royston Vasey sign

    “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.”

    030-Randall & Hopkirk-Charlie Higson-Vic Reeves-Bob Mortimer-Emilia Fox-Tom Baker-A Year In The Country 002-Randall & Hopkirk-Charlie Higson-Vic Reeves-Bob Mortimer-Emilia Fox-Tom Baker-A Year In The Country

    Doomwatch-still altered-states-1980-movie-ken russell

    Raiders of the Lost Ark-last scene-warehouse Scooby Doo-unmasking

    “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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  • From The Unofficial Countryside to Soft Estate – Edgeland Documents, Memories and Explorations: Chapter 18 Book Images

    Karl Hyde-Kieran Evans-Edgeland-Outer Edges-A Year In The Country-lighter

    “Edgelands is a word that refers to the edges of towns and cities that are neither urban nor rural; transitional, undeveloped or developing areas such as the land surrounding power stations, scrublands, wastelands, semi-derelict areas, semi-industrial areas and so forth.

    These are often the places where society creates, stores, repairs, discards, forgets about and disposes of the things it physically needs and they can also be starkly aesthetically neglected, though in contrast and in part because of that neglect or overlooking can also become something of a haven for nature and wildlife.”


    veloelectroindustrial-edgelands-wasteland-photography-harworth-machine-a-year-in-the-country-2(Above: photograph by Veloelectroindustrial.)

    “Marion Shoard was the first person to use the term “edgelands” to describe these areas in her Edglands essay from 2002, where she eloquently describes and defines them and considers how they are often overlooked by society:

    “Britain’s towns and cities do not usually sit cheek by jowl with its countryside, as we often casually assume. Between urban and rural stands a kind of landscape quite different from either. Often vast in area, though hardly noticed, it is characterised by rubbish tips and warehouses, superstores and derelict industrial plant,office parks and gypsy encampments, golf courses, allotments and fragmented, frequently scruffy, farmland. All these heterogeneous elements are arranged in an unruly and often apparently chaotic fashion against a background of unkempt wasteland frequently swathed in riotous growths of colourful plants, both native and exotic… Huge numbers of people now spend much of their time living, working or moving within or through it. Yet for most of us, most of the time, this mysterious no man’s land passes unnoticed: in our imaginations, as opposed to our actual lives, it barely exists… As we ash past its seemingly meaningless contours in train, car or bus we somehow fail to register it on our retinas.””

    The Unofficial Countryside-Richard Mabey-original edition and Littler Toller edition

    “In a continuum from Marion Shoard’s observations, an extensive body of literature and creative work exists which has focused on these hinterlands. One of the early and most renowned documents or celebrations of such overlooked, often unloved parts of our world was Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside book, originally published in 1973 (and reissued in 2010 by Little Toller Books, who specialise in work which takes in a gentle flipside of rural, pastoral and landscape concerns).”

    UNOFFICIAL COUNTRYSIDE-richard mabey-television program film still-1975
    (Above: image from a 1975 television programme also called The Unofficial Countryside, which featured Richard Mabey.)

    “The Unofficial Countryside records Richard Mabey’s explorations and wanderings through edgeland areas and the natural world, which has made a home in places that had previously often been considered inauspicious for plants and wildlife such as inner city car parks, gravel pits and rubbish tips.

    Rather than being purely a natural history document, within the book he also proposes another way of seeing and experiencing nature during our daily lives, whether wild flowers glimpsed from a commuter train, fox cubs playing on a motorway fringe or a kestrel hawking above a public park.”

    Edgelands-Paul-Farley-and-Michael-Symmons Roberts-hardback and paperback books

    “Edgelands – Journeys into England’s True Wilderness is a 2012 book by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts and is a literary, poetic exploration of such areas, in which the authors document their travels, personal memories and connections to these transitional landscapes, taking in along the way childhood dens, container ports, wastelands, ruins, mines and the endpoints for society’s automobiles.”

    Karl Hyde-Edgeland-CD-Kieran Evans-The Outer Edges-film-stroke

    Karl Hyde-Kieran Evans-Edgeland-Outer Edges-A Year In The Country 4

    “In a more audiovisual manner the film, music and photography project by Karl Hyde and Kieran Evans’ Edgeland/The Outer Edges presents a psychogeographic expressive, creative and documentary wandering through what feel like semi-uncharted lands and lives, ones which are overlooked, strewn with debris and contain a faded battered beauty amongst the mixture of nature and pylons.”

    Edward-Chell-Soft-Estate-Bluecoat-Cornerhouse-book cover and 2 other images

    “Edward Chell’s 2013 Soft Estate also makes use of multiple forms, including a book, traditional gallery exhibiting and what are effectively returning to their source installations. It takes as its subject matter such edgeland places when they are found at the side of motorways.

    The phrase soft estate refers to the description given by the UK Highways Agency to the natural habitat that the motorways and trunk roads it manages occupy; an often unstopped-on hinterland that most of us only view as a high-speed blur from the corner of our eyes as we travel past these autobahn edgelands.”

    laser-etched stainless steel, 3D work by Edward Chell

    “Soft Estate interacts with and documents these verges and landscapes, sometimes in a quite literal sense as some of the work is printed using road dust from such places, other work uses (presumably) engine oil, features plant life illustrations from these verges laser etched onto brightly chromed exhaust pipes or uses the same materials and colours as road signs.”

    Edward-Chell-Soft-Estate-Bluecoat-Cornerhouse-3 artworks

    “In (Edward Chell’s) paintings of the tubing which protects sapling trees (many millions of which have been planted on such lands), the mind’s eye sees them rather as gravestones…

    Indeed there is a ghostly, spectral quality to these paintings; they have a hauntological aspect in that although they are created in contemporary times, they also seem like documents of modernity’s future and past.”

    Edward-Chell-Soft-Estate-Bluecoat-Cornerhouse-Little Chef-cafe

    “Intriguingly, some of Edward Chell’s work has been installed in Little Chefs, which are British roadside family cafes/restaurants.

    For many British children, these provided a first taste of what are now regarded as American-style burgers and fries…

    On now-rare sightings of Little Chefs, they feel like endangered species: a quaint remnant of times gone by before the ubiquity of transnational chains and the utilitarian installations of motorway service stations.

    It brings a smile to think of Edward Chell’s work in them, which seems like an apposite, humorous coming together of cultures.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 18 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 at the Ghost Box Guest Shop

    A Year In The Country book-Stephen Prince-Ghost Box Guest Shop

    The A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book is now available at the Ghost Box Guest Shop, where it can be found in the fine company of previous guests including Moon Wiring Club, Howlround, Folklore Tapes, Keith Seatman, Jon Brooks, Children of Alice, The Hardy Tree, Alasdair Roberts, Assembled Minds, Listening Center, The Memory Band and previous guest appearances by various A Year In The Country albums.

    Accompanying notes on the book’s arrival at the Guest Shop can also be found at Ghost Box’s local online newsletter The Belbury Parish Magazine.

    Thanks and a tip of the hat to Jim Jupp and Julian House.

    BJ outerART.indd Ways of Seeing-The Advisory Circle-Jon Brooks-Ghost Box Records-album cover art The Belbury Tales-Belbury Poly-Ghost Box Records-album cover art

    If you should not know of Ghost Box Records, it is:

    “…a record label for a group of artists exploring the misremembered musical history of a parallel world. A world of TV soundtracks, vintage electronics, folk song, psychedelia, ghostly pop, supernatural stories and folklore.

    The parallel world it creates and conjures up is well worth a visit and wander around.

     

    Elsewhere:
    A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields at the Ghost Box Guest Shop
    And at The Belbury Parish Magazine
    Ghost Box Record’s site

    Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:
    1) The book’s page
    2) Ghost Box Records – Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the Panda Pops Disco: Chapter 5 Book Images

     

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  • 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: Chapter 17 Book Images

    Kelvedon Hatch-decommissioned-museum

    “Abandoned and decommissioned bunkers are a subsection of utilitarian brutalist architecture that has come to gain totemic significance and to have a form of romance attached to them.

    This can take a hauntological form where Cold War bunkers in particular have come to represent and be symbols of the spectres of history.

    This connects with a central defining tenet of hauntological strands of interest: explorations of and fascinations with lost futures and areas of culture, artifacts, buildings, institutions etc. which are imprinted with spectres of those lost histories.

    In this sense such bunkers are physical embodiments of the (thankfully) lost futures of end of days conflicts: the unsettling and disquieting counterpart to social and municipal brutalist buildings from a similar epoch and the yearning for lost progressive utopian futures that they can represent…

    (They can be) a somewhat spectral reminder of the Cold War, in both a hauntological and fear-instilling manner.

    Or as writer, illustrator and designer John Coulthart has said bunkers are:

    “…a source of contemporary horror that doesn’t require any supernatural component to chill the blood.””

    The Quietened Bunker-Night and Dawn Editions-release date-A Year In The Country-2

    “Connected to (their) sense of futility or delusional projections of their effectiveness, in 2014 as part of A Year In The Country a themed album called The Quietened Bunker was released.

    This featured work by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan and interpreted the album’s theme via recordings that included field recording subterranean ambience, paranoid industrial distortion, Radiophonic inflected electronica and elegiac end of days sequences.

    (The following is an edited selection of the accompanying notes for the album):

    “The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed.

    These bunkers could be seen as once modern fortresses – reinforced concrete and blast doors replacing moats and stone battlements…

    Now it can all seem like a dream from another world, one where for a number of decades populations lived under the day-to-day threat of total annihilation and where millions was spent on this network of shelters and defences; preparations to allow fiddling once all had burned, such bunkers possibly being nearer to utilitarian national follies than fortresses – indeed, today they are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences…”

    Richard-Ross-Waiting-For-The-End-Of-The-World-bunkers-photographs and cover   

    “(The Quietened Bunker) is part of a lineage of work that explores, is inspired by and documents bunkers, shelters and related infrastructure.

    The book Waiting for the End of the World by Richard Ross published in 2004 is part of this lineage. It contains photographs of active and decommissioned bunkers and shelters around the world, both those built by governmental/military organisations and by private individuals.

    One intriguing thing about some of the photographs of domestic shelters are the details of the way they have been made to feel homely and the amount of aesthetic consideration often given to their entrances, in the face of and opposition to what their occupants would be faced with if their intended purpose was ever called upon…

    (Richard Ross) found a sense of hope and optimism in their repurposing as clubs in St. Petersburg, Russia and how these have become places where people go to celebrate life rather than anticipate destruction.”

      Subterranea Britannica-Cold War Bunkers-Nick Catford-The Royal Observer Corps Underground Monitoring Posts-Mark Dalton-logo and books

    “Other photography-based work which explores such buildings and installations is more strictly documentary in nature, in particular that done by the British based Subterranea Britannica society. Subterranea Britannica’s members:

    “…study and investigate man-made and man-used underground places – from mines to railway tunnels, military defences to nuclear bunkers and everything in between.”

    They have published a number of comprehensive books featuring bunker-related work, including Nick Catford’s Cold War Bunkers (2010) and Mark Dalton’s The Royal Observer Corps Underground Monitoring Posts (2011)…

    Via its publishing activities, the collecting of archival material and photographs and notes from exploratory expeditions to locations by members which are viewable on its website, the society’s work represents a comprehensive mapping of these often once secret or inaccessible to the public places and infrastructure networks.”

    Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-2b Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-3b

    Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-4b Paul Virilio-Bunker Archaeology-Princeton Architectural Press-A Year In The Country-1 

    “A predecessor to the above Cold War bunker related lineage of work is Paul Virilio’s book Bunker Archaeology, originally published in a French edition in 1975.

    This collects his photography and writing on the abandoned World War II German bunkers and related installations that lie along the coast of France.

    Along with their Cold War counterparts, these could also be filed as a form of brutalist architecture as they share a number of similarities in terms of the materials used and their aesthetics.”

    Soviet-Bus-Stops-Christopher-Herwig-Fuel-book cover and photographs

    Jan-Kempenaers-Spomenik-photographs

    “Viewed now they seem to almost be a form of accidental utilitarian art: something they share with the likes of similarly appreciated pragmatic constructions such as telegraph poles, pylons, Soviet era bus stops or even library music.

    Although they were created with a very practical intent, looking at them now they seem nearer to monuments or tributes, reminsicent of the Cold War era Spomenik memorials that Jan Kempenaers photographed and which are collected in his 2010 book of the same name.”

     Planet of the Apes-1968-ending

    “With the structures in Bunker Archaeology, whatever their original intents, viewing them today they could be artifacts from an almost science fiction-esque future that never was, a form of hauntology possibly but one that steps aside from or precedes many of the more often referred to British cultural history related tropes.”

    (The original Planet of the Apes film from 1968 swims into view with its mingling of crashed future/past visitors and part-buried monuments to mankind’s folly.)” 

    The Delaware Road event-July 28th 2017-1bThe Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch-Map and Guid Booklet-Buried Treasure

    Kelvedon Hatch-bunker museum-The Delaware Road event

    (Decommissioned bunkers are even) available to hire for events: one such of which is The Delaware Road event organised by record label Buried Treasure in 2017 and which accompanies their themed album of the same name.

    This event was deeply interconnected with hauntological themes and tropes, featuring a number of performers whose work has been to various degrees linked with such areas of work including Dolly Dolly, Howlround, Radionics Radio, Ian Helliwell and Saunders & Hill.

    It was described as an immersive mix of theatre, film and live music and some of the notes that accompany the event are reproduced below:

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

    “This special performance takes place deep underground in a nuclear bunker, hidden in remote Essex woodland. The audience is free to explore the secret, cold war facilities where they will encounter a host of performers, experimental artists & musicians.”

    As with some of the bunkers in Waiting for the End of the World which have come to be used as clubs, this is a repurposing of such structures for entertainment or cultural purposes, albeit in this case a form of cultural exploration which explicitly refers to and explores the history of them rather than being more strictly hedonistic socialising and abandonment.”

     The Quietened Bunker-secret bunker tourist road signs-A Year In The Country-2The Quietened Bunker-secret bunker tourist road signs-A Year In The Country

    “Returning more directly to the heritage and tourist industry repurposing of such installations, on British roads you can find official road signs that direct you towards the tourist destination of a “Secret Nuclear Bunker”, often appearing on the same sign as one which also points drivers to an industrial estate and various towns.

    Viewing these signs may bring kind of mental disconnect – a mixture of disbelief, humour and relief that we are no longer living in a political situation where these bunkers are considered necessary and possibly a touch of sadness, anger and grief for us having once done so.

    In part this disconnect is due to the very Britishness of names like Chipping Ongar and Chigwell that the road signs also point to.”

    The Quietened Bunker-For Sale-A Year In The Country 

    “Accompanying and interconnected with such road signs are the estate agent signs for when a decommissioned bunker has been made available for sale; the hoardings name the property for sale as a nuclear bunker and list its square footage and acreage of land.

    Begging the question: is this a buyer’s or a seller’s market?

    There is scarcity value to the property but presumably only a very limited number of potential buyers and allowable uses (data storage seems to be one such usage that is mentioned on these boards).

    It would be interesting to see whether these installations are listed on general commercial property websites, so that your search results might bring up a warehouse for rent, listed as having plenty of onsite parking and then a former secret nuclear bunker listed as razor wire and emergency air filtration system included.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 17 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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     Kate Bush-Aerial-A Sky of Honey-vinyl label-side aGrand Designs-television series-logo titleEnglands Hidden Reverse-David Keenan book-Coil-Current 93-Nurse With Wound-b

    “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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    Rita Tushingham-A Taste of Honey-film still

    “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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    The Company of Wolves-film still

    “(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.”

    butter-on-the-latch-josephine-decker-a-year-in-the-country-4

    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

    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

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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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  • Christopher Priest’s A Dream of Wessex – Twentieth Century Slipstream Echoes: Chapter 14 Book Images

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    “Christopher Priest’s 1977 novel A Dream of Wessex came to this author’s consciousness via a trail of cultural breadcrumbs dropped by Rob Young in his book Electric Eden (2010), which explores interconnected and underlying lines of folk and rural orientated British music and culture and how it has been handed down and transformed by successive generations.

    It is featured in the later “Toward the Unknown Region” section of the book wherein the lines through an otherly Britain he has drawn and explored wander towards an almost maelstrom gathering of the more hauntological concerns and hidden landscapes of the likes of exploratory record labels/projects such as Ghost Box Records and English Heretic, public information films that have gathered layers of uncanniness over the years, Oliver Postgate’s gently off-centre animations, the unsettled televisual pastoralism of Penda’s Fen (1974), The Stone Tape (1972) and Children of the Stones (1977) and related folk horror-esque work.”

    Including A Dream of Wessex in amongst such work seems particularly apt as though it was written before the term or concept had been created, at points it reads like part of a manifesto from or description of a release by a hauntologically-inclined record label; the text talks of spectral versions of oneself, time being deposited like layers of sedimentary rock which could be excavated via imagination and the muddy remains of the twentieth century being scattered like shipwrecks across the landscape.”

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    “…one of the main strands of the book involves time-travelling ability developed by participants whose minds have been electronically pooled but which is nearer to a visualisation via technological dream projection equipment.

    In such ways, A Dream of Wessex connects with a hauntological sense of spectral, misremembered and reinterpreted histories and culture and the related creation and exploration of parallel worlds…

    …essentially A Dream of Wessex narrates a mass dream or hallucination, which makes its inclusion in Rob Young’s book at the Ghost Box/hauntological juncture all the more fitting; such activities form part of what he has called experiments in consensual hallucination, whereby the participants willingly allow themselves to become immersed or even subsumed in the dream like atmospheres, phantasms and worlds that particular cultural activity can at times create…

    Within hauntological-related work there is also often a deliberate misremembering of the past, filtering it through your own personal vision, reimagining it in your own form – which is mirrored by the researchers in A Dream of Wessex creating and shaping their own version of the future in their mass projection.”

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    “The cover artwork of the earlier printed editions of A Dream of Wessex further reflect and forebear that Ghost Box/hauntological world and intertwining.

    The original hardback cover from 1977 published by Faber & Faber is quite a traditional landscape painting by Paul Nash but knowledge of the plot of the book and its appearance in the “Toward the Unknown Region” section of Electric Eden seem to infer a subtle sense of otherliness to it.

    The original softback cover from 1978 released by Pan Books features a depiction of a happy couple ensconced amongst the idyll of a rural landscape but then wanders off to more Sapphire & Steel-esque hauntological territory; they are sitting on an incongruous maroon fabric stool that would be more fitting in a gentrified parlour, their outlines glow and their featureless faces reflect only a further imagined idyll, while far off in the distance behind them a red sun hangs over what appears to be some kind of futuristic, scientific building.

    In this sense the cover’s layering of the known, even comforting with elements of the unknown and unsettling atmospheres could be seen as a prescient reflection of some of the defining aspects of what would later come to be thought of as hauntological work.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 14 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 Bear’s Ghosts – Soviet Dreams and Lost Futures: Chapter 12 Book Images

    Jan Kempenaers-Spomenik-A Year In The Country-5 (2) Jan Kempenaers-Spomenik-A Year In The Country-5

    Jan Kempenaers-Spomenik-A Year In The Country-7 Jan Kempenaers-Spomenik-A Year In The Country (4)

    “There have been a number of books and photography projects which could be seen to document a form of former Soviet Union hauntology; work that often focuses on monuments and remnants of Cold War era striving, dreams and far reaching projects…

    Jan Kempemaers’ Spomenik from 2010, contains his photographs of structures that were created in Yugoslavia in the 1960s and 1970s as memorials to the Second World War but which now apparently are largely abandoned.

    These take a largely abstract, geometric, concrete modernist form and there is a brutalist beauty and fascination to them, while they also seem to have tumbled from both the future and the past; despite the all too real history which inspired them, they now seem almost like impossible fictions or props from the fantasies of a cinematic story.”

    Soviet Bus Stops-Christopher Herwig-Fuel-A Year In The Country Soviet Bus Stops-Christopher Herwig-Fuel-A Year In The Country-4Soviet Bus Stops-Christopher Herwig-Fuel-A Year In The Country-2

    “The structures photographed in (Christopher Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops) could also be considered in the eyes of some beholders to have gained elements of being utilitarian or pragmatic accidental art.

    As with the Spomenik photographs, in Soviet Bus Stops some of the more architecturally brutalist designs appear to be artifacts from lost futures, of a time when an empire reached for grand horizons and even the stars.”

     Danila tkachenko-Restricted Areas-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country-2Danila tkachenko-Restricted Areas-Dewi Lewis Publishing-collage gs-A Year In The Country-4

    “…Danila Tkachenko’s Restricted Areas book from 2016, the photographs in which focus on abandoned hardware, secret cities and installations from the Soviet Union during the Cold War period…

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

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

    And as with Spomenik and Soviet Bus Stops the spirit of these photographs seem like a different time and place’s hauntology: a differing but also partly parallel strand to that which has come about in the UK and the West and its sense of reflections on, mourning and yearning for a more utopian future which did not occur.”

    abandoned-soviet-space-shuttle-hangar-buran-baikonur-cosmodrome-kazakhstan-ralph-mirebs-7 abandoned-soviet-space-shuttle-hangar-buran-baikonur-cosmodrome-kazakhstan-ralph-mirebs-20

    “Today there is a considerable amount of photography out in the world and particularly online that focuses on derelict buildings, machinery and so on and which is sometimes referred to as urban exploration or urbex photography.

    However, in amongst the masses of such photography, Ralph Mireb’s images of abandoned and incomplete Soviet era space shuttles (which are a curious simulacra of the American space shuttle in terms of design and can be found at the website Bored Panda) stand out.

    This is in part due to the sheer scale of the infrastructure and buildings that surround them which they document – the space shuttle hangar is many storeys high and dwarves the other structures nearby.”

    abandoned-buran-wooden-wind-tunnel-model

    “In photographs that act as an accompaniment to Ralph Mireb’s, Alexander Marksin has documented the discarded wooden wind-tunnel models of these space shuttles.2

    Due to the materials used, these bring to mind thoughts of a folk art project rather than an institutionally and nationally funded attempt at space exploration, which is heightened as they have been left outside to age, weather, crumble and be slowly reclaimed and covered by nature.”

     abandoned-Raketas-or-Rockets-that-once-plied-the-Volga-and-other-great-rivers-of-the-Soviet-Union-during-the-Cold-War-years

    “In terms of vehicle design, in the Soviet Union there is a cul-de-sac that could well be called “The Shape of the Future’s Past” which takes in abandoned Soviet era hydrofoils and which were known as river rockets.

    These were made from the mid-1950s to mid-1970s and viewed now with their sleek, finned, almost space vehicle like designs appear as prototypes for a mid-century modern, atomic age take on how the future was to be.

    There is a bravery, an optimism, a genuine progressive modernism and venturing onwards and outwards to designs like these that seems to have been lost somewhere along the way, surrendered to a more day-to-day practicality in design.”

     Rebecca Litchfield-Soviet Ghosts-book cover

    “Throughout this chapter a number of times (I refer) to a sense of the science fiction-esque or fantastical, often accompanied by a grand sense of an empire and its once ambitions, which many of these photographs imply.

    This is particularly captured by the cover of Rebecca Litchfield’s Soviet Ghosts, a book released in 2014 which focuses on the extent of abandonment in the former Soviet Union and its satellite states in the Eastern Bloc.

    In the book’s cover image an abandoned and derelict circular stadium has been photographed, capturing the enormous scale and futurist grandeur of this structure…

    To the Western eye, as is similar to varying degrees with much of the above photography and structures, it conjures more a vision of a Flash Gordon-esque empire and future than something grounded in 

    the reality of a still relatively recent earthbound political, economic and societal system.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 12 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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  • 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

    Redshift-Robin Redbreast-The Changes-BBC-BFI-DVD-A Year In The Country

    Robin Redbreast-A Year In The Country-BFI DVD-1970-2John Benjamin Stone-A Record of England-folk customs and traditions-A Year In The Country-5

    “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…”

    The Tomorrow People-4 intro credits stills-1970s

    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.”

    The Owl Service-TV series titles-Alan Garner-A Year In The Country-1200

    The Owl Service TV program-A Year In The Country 2 The Owl Service-TV series titles-Alan Garner-A Year In The CountryThe Owl Service TV program-A Year In The Country 3 The Owl Service TV program-A Year In The Country

    “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.”

    Sky-1975 TV series-A Year In The Country

    Sky-1975 TV British television series-A Year In The Country 3 in a row

    Sky-1975 TV British television series-A Year In The Country Sky-1975 TV British television series-A Year In The Country 6 Sky-1975 TV British television series-A Year In The Country 4Sky-1975 British TV-A Year In The Country 7

    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.'”

    The Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The Country-8The Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The Country 4 The Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The Country 2

    The Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The CountryThe Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The Country 5

    “(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.”

    The Ash Tree-David Rudkin-MR James-A Ghost Story For Christmas-The BBC-A Year In The Country 2

    The Ash Tree-David Rudkin-MR James-A Ghost Story For Christmas-The BBC-A Year In The Country 5The Ash Tree-David Rudkin-MR James-A Ghost Story For Christmas-The BBC-A Year In The Country

    The Ash Tree-David Rudkin-MR James-A Ghost Story For Christmas-The BBC-A Year In The Country 6 The Ash Tree-David Rudkin-MR James-A Ghost Story For Christmas-The BBC-A Year In The Country-10

    “(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.”

    Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country 5 Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country 8 Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country 7

    Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country 3 Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country 2 Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country

    “(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.’

    Play-For-Today-1200-Red Shift-Alan Garner-BFI-BBC-A-Year-In-The-Country-smaller Red Shift-Alan Garner-1978-BBC-Play For Today-A Year In The Country-2 darker Mow Cop-David Byrne-Red Shift-Alan Garner-A Year In The Country

    “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.”

    Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The CountryFilming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 3

    Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 8 Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-Dafydd Rees-A Year In The Country

    Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 4Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 11Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 5

    Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 10Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 2Filming The Owl Service-Alan Garner-Peter Plummer-A Year In The Country 9

    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 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 

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    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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  • 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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    A Year In The Country-Wandering Through Spectral Fields book-pages 12 and 13

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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

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

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

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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

    Broadcast-Wire Magazine-Invisible Jukebox-2005-A Year In The Country

    Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-72.tif

    “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.

    The Children Of The Stones series-intro 2Sky-1975 British television-a year in the countryThe Owl Service TV program-A Year In The Country 3

    (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.”

    Broadcast and the Focus Group investigate witchcults of the radio age-album cover-warp records-Ghost Box recordsbroadcast-mother-is-the-milky-way-a-year-in-the-country-1

    “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.”

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    “#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.”

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    “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

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    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 ”.

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    “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.”

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    “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…”

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    “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.”

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    “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.”

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    “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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  • Folk Horror Roots – From But a Few Seedlings Did a Great Forest Grow: Chapter 6 Book Images

    The Wicker Man-Witchfinder General-folk horror films

    The Wicker Man-1973-film still-villagers

    The-Wicker-Man-poster-1973-Anthony Shaffer-Peter Snell-Robin Hardy

    “Folk horror is a loosely defined genre of fictional works which create an alternative, flipside view of the landscape and pastoralism; these works draw from and/or are frequently set in the landscape, creating unsettled and unsettling tales, in contrast to more bucolic representations of the countryside as a place of calm and restful escape.

    They may tell stories of the patterns underneath the plough, may include elements of a more hauntological nature rather than being purely rurally based and can take in the hidden, layered histories and atmospheres within places.

    There is often a sense of their inhabitants living in, or becoming isolated from, the wider world, allowing moral beliefs to become untethered from the dominant norms and allowing the space for ritualistic, occult, supernatural or preternatural events, actions and consequences to occur.

    As a phrase, “folk horror” conjures images of a trio of British films released between 1968 and 1973; Witchfinder General (1968), The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and The Wicker Man (1973).

    Looking back today such films could be seen as a result or offshoot of there being, at the time of their production, a growing interest in folk music and culture, which was accompanied by a romantic sense of wishing to return to and embrace simpler and more natural or rural ways of living.

    However rather than being an expression of such inclinations and idyllic bucolia, folk horror’s often bleak nihilistic nature and stories seem to be more an expression of the souring of related dreams and yearnings: a rural/folk reflected curdling of 1960s utopian optimism as it entered the 1970s.”

    Barbara Steele-Curse Of The Crimson Altar-A Year In The Country 19

    Curse of The Crimson Altar-for one night only

    “…both Witchfinder General and The Blood on Satan’s Claw featured Tony Tenser as their executive producer… films which could be seen to have their roots and onscreen expression in both the more art inclinations of their directors (Michael Reeves and Piers Haggard respectively) and the exploitation aspects of their producer Tony Tenser.

    Although over time critical appreciation has tended to tip more towards the art side of things, without both sides of this coin one could debate whether these films would have existed or have come to be such resonant cultural artifacts…

    Tony Tenser, with his exploitation sensibilities, seems to have been partly responsible for a considerable portion of the late 1960s/early 1970s arrival of folk horror as he was also executive producer on Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968), which deals with some of the themes of folk horror (a rural setting, connections to the old beliefs and magic).

    This film is particularly memorable in its conjuring up of phantasmagorical occult scenes, which are made all the more striking by a film-stealing Barbara Steele as Lavina Morley, Black Witch of Greymarsh, who is dressed in striking, opulent and almost surreal folkloric garb, including a behorned headdress.

    She serves as mistress of the film’s woozily transgressive dreamlike ritual ceremonies, helping create almost a film within a film…”

    Black Sunday-film-Mario Bava-Barbara Steele

    Miss-Jessell-Clytie-Jessop-manifests-by-the-lake-The Innocents 1961-A Year In The CountryThe Innocents-O Willow Waly-George Auric-Isla Cameron-Finders Keepers 7 inch vinyl-Finders Kreepers-A Year In The Country 5

    Et Mourir De Plaisir-Blood And Roses-1960-Roger Vadim-Il Sangue e la Rosa posterEt Mourir De Plaisir-Blood And Roses-1960-Roger Vadim-6

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    Et Mourir De Plaisir-Blood And Roses-1960-Roger Vadim-5

    “The late 1960s to around the mid 1970s was the main era for the production of the initial, classic examples of film and television that have come to be known as folk horror.

    However, in terms of cinematic forebears, around 1960 there was a small grouping of horror and/or supernatural films which could be seen as being part of a lineage that would one day become or bring about what is known as folk horror.

    These include Mario Bava’s Black Sunday from 1960, also starring Barbara Steele, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents from 1961 and Roger Vadim’s Et Mourir De Plaisir (or Blood and Roses to use its American title) from 1960.

    Their tone and expression varies from the classic black and white gothic and grotesque horror of Black Sunday to the almost decadent aristocratic Technicolor sensuality of Et Mourir de Plaisir via the repressed supernatural hauntings amongst the reeds and willows of the British countryside in The Innocents.”

    The Stone Tape-1972-logo credits-Nigel KnealeBeasts-TV series-Nigel KnealeThe-Owl-Service-TV-program-A-Year-In-The-Country-3b

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    The Children Of The Stones series-intro 3Whistle and I'll Come To You-tv drama

    The Ash Tree-David Rudkin-MR James-A Ghost Story For Christmas-The BBC-A Year In The CountryRobin Redbreast-A Year In The Country-BFI DVD-1970-2

    Pendas Fen-David Rudkin-A Year In The Country

    Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders seven inch-Finders Keepers Records-Record Store Day 2017-2Queens of Evil-1970-Le Regine-A Year In The Country 4

    “On British television a number of series and plays were produced around a roughly similar period to The Wicker Man, The Blood on Satan’s Claw and Witchfinder General, which could to varying degrees be connected to the phrase folk horror.

    Such programmes could include the work of Nigel Kneale such as the pre-hauntological investigations of The Stone Tape (1972) and the nature terrors and conflicts of The Beasts (1976) and other notable series including the made-for-children but curiously disquieting likes of The Owl Service (1968) and Children of the Stones (1977).

    Alongside which the BBC’s Ghost Stories for Christmas, which often adapted M.R. James fiction, such as Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968), The Ash Tree (1975) and Play for Today broadcasts including Robin Redbreast (1970) and Penda’s Fen (1974), contain many of the themes of folk horror; landscape-set tales of the supernatural, the persecution of those who practice the old ways, the flipside and undercurrents of the land/history, rural isolation and sacrifice.

    You could also cast the net wider and include the Czech New Wave fantasia of Valerie and her Week of Wonders (1970) and the high-fashion fairytale-gone-rotten in the woods of Italian-made Queens of Evil (1970).”

    Folk-Horror-Review-larger logo

    Folk Horror Revival-logo

    The Alchemical Landscape-Yvonne Salmon-A Year In The CountryA Fiend In The Furrows-Folk horror conference-Queens University belfast

    “When A Year In The Country began in 2014, now-disappeared websites such as Folk Horror Review, which intermittently posted about such films and television as those mentioned above, felt like still fairly off the beaten track places: a wandering through the briars and undergrowth of a not overly harvested eldritch rural cultural landscape. This has changed somewhat in recent years.

    While not quite yet an overtly mainstream genre name, as an example of how embedded folk horror has become as a descriptive phrase and cultural strand, if you should type it into a search engine then many millions of results will be returned.

    Alongside which, a focal point of interest such as the website and social media group Folk Horror Revival has an online following which at the point of writing numbered in five figures, and in 2016 hosted its Otherworldly event at The British Museum.

    Folk horror has also become a legitimate area of academic research as shown by conferences/events such as The Alchemical Landscape and A Fiend in the Furrows, which have concentrated on associated areas of study, accompanied by screenings of related film and television.”

    Ghost Box Records-In A MomentThe Book of the Lost-Emily Jones-The Rowand Amber Mill-CD albumTales From The Black Meadow-A Year In The Country

    She Rocola-Burn The Witch-all versions-revisiting-A Year In The CountryShe-Rocola-Ellen-Terry-beetlewing-dress-Zoe-Lloyd-Mrs-Nettleship-A-Year-In-The-Country-1px stroke

    “In wider culture elements and influences of folk horror can be found in a number of areas and projects.

    This is particularly so within music, including the sometimes Midwich-ian or Nigel Kneale-esque parallel worlds of Ghost Box Records and projects such as The Book of the Lost (2014) and Tales from the Black Meadow (2013), which alongside other elements featured music intended to accompany imagined, layered backstories which draw from the tropes of folk horror.

    A song such as She Rocola’s “Burn The Witch” (released in 2014 by A Year In The Country) and its glacial, haunting tale of love and persecution could well be a soundtrack to a lost classic British folk horror film: one which may have accompanied the canonic trio of such things back when.”

    Edgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-3b

    “While the Marshlight Software computer game Edgelands (2017) takes folk horror themes into interactive realms and is described as a psychogeographical folk tale:

    “Magic and folklore… entangle the modern world… in an uncanny rustic adventure… you soon find yourself exploring an uncanny rustic twilight landscape in which familiar rural landmarks overlap with otherworldly occurrences, creating a dream-like blurring of the ordinary and the supernatural.””

    1-The-Wicker-Man-Witchfinder-General-folk-horror-films

    “Over the years from but a few seedlings, folk horror as a cultural strand has created ever growing reverberations that are still being felt throughout culture and indeed which may now only be truly flowering and finding fully fertile ground.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 6 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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  • Ghost Box Records – Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the Panda Pops Disco: Chapter 5 Book Images

    Ghost Box Records-logo-hands

    “Via its record releases, events, videos and artwork Ghost Box conjures its own particular parallel world: one that harks back to some previous age, though not necessarily a time or place that strictly ever existed but which could be said to loosely take place approximately from around the early 1960s to the late 1970s and which also looks towards some form of a related lost utopian, modernist and progressive future.”

    THE_BBC_RADIOPHONIC_WORKSHOP-album-BBC records and tapesSeasons-David Cain-Jonny Trunk-BBC-A Year In The Country

    “There is a hazy familiarity to the work of Ghost Box due to the way it references cultural forms and work such as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, public information films, library music and educational literature from earlier eras, but the resulting aesthetic and parallel world is not a retreading, rather an often quietly unsettling reimagining or as they put it themselves, a misremembering.”

    Belbury Tales-Belbury Poly-Ghost Box-A Year In The CountryBelbury Poly-Belbury Tales-Rob Young-Julian House-Ghost Box Records-A Year In The Country 3

    “…a poster that accompanied the Ghost Box-released Belbury Poly’s Belbury Tales album from 2012 talks of the record taking in: “…medievalism, the supernatural, childhood, the re-invention of the past, initiation and pilgrimage (both spiritual and physical).””

    The Advisory Circle-Mind How You Go-Ghost Box Records-Jon Brooks-vinyl-A Year In The Country

    “Midwich-ian could be an apposite phrase to use in reference to such atmospheres that Ghost Box at times conjure, in the sense of it referring to the preternatural occurrences within a bucolic English village that can be found in John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos novel from 1957 and its film adaptation as Village of the Damned in 1960.

    That subtle sense of unease is something that can also be found on The Advisory Circle’s “And The Cuckoo Comes” from the early Ghost Box-released album Mind How You Go (2005).

    It uses a vocal sample of nature-related studies, observations or prose that I do not know where it came from, although it conjures a sense of being an artifact from the 1960s or 1970s.

    A brief half-listen of the words imply that it should be all pastoral delight as it describes the changes of the seasons. However, it is anything but an idyllic journeying through such things:

    “In the summer, well, it’s usually cold and sometimes it snows.
    The winds blow. In the autumn the flowers are out and the sun shines.
    In the winter, the leaves grow again on the trees.
    And in the spring the winds blow and the leaves fall from the trees.
    And the sun shines and the leaves grow again on the trees.
    And sometimes it snows… and the cuckoo comes.”

    The dislocation in the words seems hidden as their delivery flows quite naturally, causing initial association with its fractured quality more with the song’s multi-layered, swirling, repetition.”

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

    “Ghost Box-related work… often has a very playful element which intertwines with the more parallel world or occult side of things.

    This is particularly present on the Belbury Poly album New Ways Out from 2016, which Electric Sound magazine described as:

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

    That quote creates anticipation of a sense of fun or playfulness from the album and indeed New Ways Out has that via a set of rather catchy pop hooks, but with that playfulness being quietly filtered through a Ghost Box parallel world filter.”

    The Soundcarriers-The House Of Julian-Julian House-Ghost Box Records-2

    Ghost Box Records-Julian House-See They Await Us-A Year In The Country Ghost Box Records-Sketches and Spells-The Focus Group-Julian House-Rouges Foam-A Year In The Country Good Press Gallery-Julian House-A Year In The CountryJulian House-The House Of Julian-Ghost Box Records

    Ghost Box Records-Julian House-Summer Wavelengths-Retrospective and Q&A-Broadcast-Bob Stanley-A Year In The CountryThe Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards-Ghost Box Records-Julian House designBroadcast and The Focus Group video still-A Year In The Country 2 Broadcast and The Focus Group video still-A Year In The Country 1 Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age-video-Julian House-1

    “Ghost Box co-founder Julian House is generally responsible for much of the design work for the label, and the resulting visual work plays an important part in creating the overall Ghost Box world, myths and aesthetic and the hazy familiarity referred to earlier.

    It often plays with or conjures a sense of being parallel world governmental departmental or educational literature, the utilitarian nature of which seems to have quietly stepped to a place elsewhere.

    At times the work contains Op art mandalas and geometric shapes, and while they may share an hallucinogenic quality with it they do not put me in mind so much of 1960s-esque psychedelia but rather they often contain a more subtly unsettled, darker aspect and atmosphere.

    The Ghost Box design work is often created in part or whole via collage and found images but this is not always perfectly polished and may be presented nearer to a form of raw visual jump cutting where components are cut out inexactly, often leaving parts of their original background still present.

    This is not dissimilar to the way in which Julian House’s Ghost Box musical output under the name The Focus Group, abruptly and irregularly cuts and splices samples and other elements, a technique that is also present in his collaborative musical and video work with Broadcast.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 5 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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  • Cuckoos in the Same Nest – Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings: Chapter 4 Book Images

    The Owl Service-TV series and band-The Wicker Man-Radiophonic Workshop-Broadcast-Focus Group-Children of the Stones-Ghost Box Records-3

    “A curious occurrence in an area or two of music and culture is the way in which folk music and folkloric-orientated work, of the underground, acid, psych, wyrd and otherly variety, has come to share common ground with synthesised work and electronica, of a left field and hauntological variety.

    This is an area of culture where the use, appreciation and romance of often older electronic music technologies, reference points and inspirations segues and intertwines with the more bucolic wanderings and landscapes of exploratory, otherly pastoralism and folk culture, a part of the cultural landscape:

    “…planted permanently somewhere between the history of the first transistor, the paranormal, and nature-driven worlds of the folkloric…” (author, artist, musician and curator Kristen Gallerneaux.)

    On the surface such folkloric and electronic musical and cultural forms are very disparate and yet both have come to explore and share similar landscapes.”

    The Owl Service-The View From A Hill-albumBroadcast and the Focus Group investigate witchcults of the radio age-album cover-warp records-Ghost Box recordsGather In The Mushrooms-Bob Stanley-The British Acid Folk Underground-album-A Year In The Country

    “…looking back to some of the early cultural explorations that would lead to A Year In The Country, three of the first albums that provided some of the seedlings, wellsprings or inspirations were The Owl Service’s The View from a Hill (2010), Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witchcults of the Radio Age (2009) and the compilation Gather in the Mushrooms (2004).

    These wander respectively from a subtly experimental revisiting and reinterpreting of folk rock that has taken the name of a seminal otherly pastoral book and television series (Alan Garner’s book and Granada Television’s TV adaptation of The Owl Service from 1967 and 1969 respectively), to an overtly experimental sample and synthesiser-created phantasmagorical vocal and dreamlike cut-up exploration of hidden cultural layers and transmissions via a delving and unearthing of late 1960s and early 1970s underground British acid folk.

    Somehow, it all made sense that these things fitted together.”

    The Changes-DVD cover-BFI-BBCAlan Garner's The Owl Service-DVD cover-NetworkChildren of the Stones-DVD cover-Network

    Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape DVD cover-BFIThe Wicker Man-The Directors Cut-DVD cover-strokeDoctor Who-The Stones of Blood-DVD cover-Tom BakerDoctor Who-The Daemons-DVD cover-BBC-John Pertwee

    “Such television series… provide a point of confluence for these areas of otherly folk music and hauntology. To semi-quote the A Year In The Country website and referring back to cultural folklore:

    “In contrast to the often oral telling of tales from the wald/wild wood in times gone by, today the stories that have become our cultural folklore we discover, treasure, pass down, are informed and inspired by, are often those that are transmitted into the world via the airwaves, the (once) cathode ray machine in the corner of the room, the carrying of tales via the zeros and ones of technology that flitter around the world and the flickers of (once) celluloid tales.”

    This cultural folklore would probably take in the likes of television programmes The Changes (1975), The Owl Service (1969), Children of the Stones (1977), The Stone Tape (1972) and the film The Wicker Man (1973), and a touch or two of the odder side of Doctor Who from way back when.”

    While often being set rurally, in contrast to much of popular culture which concerns itself with towns and cities, they have come to be touchstones or lodestones that seem to invoke a hidden, layered history of the land but which also encompass and intertwine with a wider hauntological, parallel, alternative version of Britain.

    Some of their musical accompaniments could well be said to form an early part or antecedent of the meeting of the strands of otherly folk and hauntology.”

    The-BBC-Radiophonic-Workshop-Delia Derbyshire

    “In the above list the “patterns beneath the plough” are soundtracked by imagined and re-imagined folk music (The Wicker Man), synthesised elsewhere explorations by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (The Changes, Doctor Who and The Stone Tape), spectral yet beautiful choral nightmares (Children of the Stones) and quite frankly still unnerving and experimental collaging (The Owl Service).

    All quite different musically/aesthetically and yet all conjuring both (to again quote the A Year In The Country website) “an underlying unsettledness to the bucolic countryside dream” and a Midwich-ian take on the landscape.

    If you should consider the descriptions of the above soundtracks, you may well find that a line could be drawn between them, the earlier description of three early A Year In The Country wellspring albums and much of more recent work that could be called hauntological and/or which explores the outer reaches and undercurrents of folk music.

    These two strands of otherly folkloric and hauntological work and culture may appear at first to be cultural cuckoos in the same nest but have come to be fellow travellers in an alternative landscape, informing and accompanying one another’s journeys; this is a sharing of ground founded in similar exploratory and sometimes visionary or utopian spirit rather than divided by aesthetics.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 4 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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  • Hauntology – Places Where Society Goes to Dream, the Defining and Deletion of Spectres and the Making of an Ungenre: Chapter 3 Book Images

    Day 162-Hauntology-A Year In The Country

    The Owl Service TV program-A Year In The Country 2Children Of The Stones-TV series-A Year In The CountryThe Changes-1975-BBC-A Year In The Country-8

    Daphne Oram-Radiophonic WorkshopBruton Music Flexi-Steens Dilemma-via James CargillSeasons-David Cain-Jonny Trunk-BBC-A Year In The Country

    “Although it is hard to precisely define what hauntology is, it has become a way of identifying particular strands of music and cultural tendencies. As a cultural form it is fluid, loose and not strictly delineated but below are some of the recurring themes and characteristics of hauntological work:

    1) Music and culture that draws from and examines a sense of loss of a post war utopian, progressive, modernist future that was never quite reached.

    2) A tendency to see some kind of unsettledness and hidden layers of meaning in public information films, TV idents and “a bit too scary and odd for children though that is who they were aimed at” television programmes from the late 1960s to about 1980, which include the likes of The Owl Service (1968), Children of the Stones (1977) and The Changes (1975).

    3) Graphic design and a particular kind of often analogue synthesised music that references and reinterprets some forms of older library music, educational materials and the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, often focusing on the period from around 1969 to 1979 and related culture which is generally of British origin.

    4) A re-imagining and misremembering of the above and other sources into forms of music and culture that seem familiar, comforting and also often unsettling and not a little eerie, creating a sense of work that is haunted by spectres of its and our cultural past, to loosely paraphrase philosopher Jacques Derrida.

    5) The drawing together and utilising of the above elements to conjure a sense of a parallel, imagined, often strange or Midwich-ian Britain.”

    Day 162-Hauntology-A Year In The Country faded 2

    “For a while the phrase hauntology when used to refer to a genre of music had been deleted on Wikipedia.

    As author Simon Reynolds – who as just mentioned was, along with Mark Fisher, one of the first people to use the phrase hauntology in relation to such culture – points out, those doing the deleting have taken a fair few steps to make sure their own comments on Wikipedia are not deleted or modified. “Do as I say and not as I do” as it were.

    Just as with deletion via consensus, a larger mass of consensus does not necessarily mean something is correct, but typing the word “hauntology” alongside “music” into a search engine at the time of writing brought up 170,000 pages to look at, while “hauntology music genre” returned over 50,000 results.

    That would tend to imply that there is not a “consensus to delete” in the wider world, or at the very least there is a “consensus to discuss, explore, consider, create and debate”.

    So, maybe rather than deleting the whole notion, making the debate around whether hauntology exists part of its page would have been a more reasonable or culturally democratic thing to do.”

    Pye Corner Audio-Sleep Games-Ghost Box Records-album artwork Pye Corner Audio-Stasis-Ghost Box Records-album artwork

    Beyond The Black Rainbow-still-1
    “The creation of work which conjures a parallel world via a misremembered past need not necessarily draw purely from one particular period or set of cultural reference points, as has often been the case with hauntological work but rather that concept and process could be used as a general framework to also explore other eras and cultural areas.

    To a certain degree this has been the case in the earlier mentioned hypnagogic pop, which draws more from the 1980s period and related culture and Italian Occult Psychedelia which focuses on non-British culture and Pye Corner Audio, who Ghost Box Records have released recordings by, appears to also extend the hauntological palette to incorporate a more 1980s VHS-esque aspect…

    …while a film such as Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) could be seen as a form of hauntological work in its creation of a parallel world that creates a “Reagan era fever dream”.”

     

    Online images to accompany Chapter 3 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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  • Gather in the Mushrooms – Early Signposts and Underground Acid Folk Explorations: Chapter 2 Book Images

    Gather In The Mushrooms-Bob Stanley-The British Acid Folk Underground-album-A Year In The CountryGather-In-The-Mushrooms-Bob-Stanley-The-British-Acid-Folk-Underground-album-inner sleeve artwork copy0001-A Year In The Country-Gather In The Mushrooms-backGather In The Mushrooms album-folk-Bob Stanley-Vashti Bunyan sleevenotes image

    While Wandering down the A Year In The Country pathways, there have been an awful lot of cultural reference points that have inspired, influenced and intrigued (the three I’s as it were).

    The Gather in the Mushrooms album is one of the first. It is a 2004 compilation curated by Bob Stanley who is a member of the band Saint Etienne, subtitled “The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974” and it does what it says on the can.

    The period of time that the album focuses on was a point in music/culture when the likes of Fairport Convention were reinterpreting traditional folk music, combining it with the more contemporary elements of rock to produce what has come to be known as folk rock.

    Acid or psych folk was an extension or offshoot of such work, which often tended to wander down more overtly exploratory or experimental avenues and at times intermingled aspects of psychedelia with folk and rock elements.

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

    The first lines on “Morning Way”, a track on Gather in the Mushrooms are “Dreaming strands of nightmare are sticking to my feet”, followed closely by a somewhat angelic female voice in counterpart. It is odd and appealing.

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

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

    Subcultural/countercultural movements tend to be thought of as having sprung from the cracks beneath the city’s walkways, whereas acid/psych folk seems to have been created by participants who were either physically located out in the cottages and meadows or who used a form of imaginative geographical travel to create a culture which, in contrast to urban influenced and inflected cultural movements, was hazily narcotically pastoral.

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

     

    Text extracts from and online images to accompany Chapter 2 of the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book:

    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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