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