• Day #253/365: One For Sorrow; Helter skelter, hang sorrow, public minded urgings from times when the lights may well go out of an evening and heading towards Rocket Cottage-isms…

    One For Sorrow-Chloe Rodes-A Book of Old Fashioned Lore-Thomas Berwick-A Year In The Country 1File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #43/52.

    Now, folk music, folklore and traditional English ways can become a somewhat trapped in amber, Toby Jug and chocolate box twee version of such things. The imagined village idyll, lazy afternoons amongst the just goldening grass, striped deckchairs, warm beer and all that.

    Doesn’t sound all that unpleasant in a way but I suppose that I have tended to wander off to the side of such approaches to culture and its older stories.

    (Venturing too far into those bucolic pastures could well become a little “Rocket Cottage”, to semi-quote Rob Young in his book Electric Eden… the point when folk/folkloric concerns, reinterpretations and contemporisations tip over into an almost comedic semi-caricature of themselves.)

    Rocket Cottage-Steeleye Span-A Year In The Country

    Electric Eden-Rob Young-folk-folklore-The Wurzels-Steeleye Span-The Strawbs-A Year In The Country
    Rob Young-Electric Eden-George Ewart Evans-The Changes-folk-folklore-A Year In The Country

    (Above… extracts from a meta-fictional(?) narrative section in Electric Eden.)

    One For Sorrow is a book which quite pleasingly walks a line. It begins with a consideration that despite the modern-day “definites” of science and technology, often now often ancient pieces of lore still belong in and punctuate our day-to-day lives.

    (Along which lines, one of the ongoing points of interest is just how much of such lore was actually based upon informal ongoing observation – everyday scientific collation without the lab coat robes and their conferring of legitimacy, particularly as concerns predictions of the weather).

    One For Sorrow-Chloe Rodes-A Book of Old Fashioned Lore-Thomas Berwick-A Year In The Country 2 One For Sorrow-Chloe Rodes-A Book of Old Fashioned Lore-Thomas Berwick-A Year In The Country 3 One For Sorrow-Chloe Rodes-A Book of Old Fashioned Lore-Thomas Berwick-A Year In The Country 4

    It is a collection of sayings, often rural in origin, from yesteryear and considerations of their uses, meaning and from when they have sprung; there is a rigour to its research and explanations, while maintaining a thoroughly accessible approach.

    Here are a few that caught my eye on a recent revisiting, both in their current incarnations and their lore-ic roots

    Birds of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together… Better a wolf in the fold, than a fine February… You are like what is said that the frying-pan said to the kettle, ‘Avant, black-browes’… Whan the sunne shynth make hey. Which is to say. Take time when time cometh, lest time steal away… While that iren is hoot, men sholden smyte… Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care’ll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a louse for the Hangman… If you run after two hares you’ll catch neither… Cold is the night, when the stars shine bright… As an ook cometh of a litel spyr… Hares may pull dead lions by the beard… If wishes were horses then beggars would ride… Ne’er lose a hog for a half-penny worth of tarre… When the moon lies on her back, then the sou’-west winds will crack…“.

    And so, with that, I shall step a little further away from considerations of such pastoral dreams before the booster rockets are fired up.

    One For Sorrow-Chloe Rodes-A Book of Old Fashioned Lore-Thomas Berwick-A Year In The Country 5As a postscript… planting a tree for prosperity reminded me of another piece of rhyme from a time of turbulence and social consensus ending… Plant A Tree In ’73 (and Plant Another in ’74)…

    …it’s that year again. 1973. It does have a tendency to crop up around these parts.

    I always find it curious how images from the relatively recent past can so quickly come to appear to be from a land, history and culture far away and removed from current times.

    Here are a couple of such things (stumbled upon here):

    Plant A Tree in 73-A Year In The Country 2 Plant A Tree in 73-A Year In The Country
    Electric Eden in the ether and a few of its resting places amongst this year in the country:

    Day #4/365: A researching, unearthing and drawing of lines between the stories of Britain’s visionary music.

    Day #40/365: From the wild woods to broadcasts from the pylons.

    Day #190/365: Acts of enclosure, the utopian impulse and why folk music and culture?

    Out in the ether: the isle is full of noises, the magic box and other considerations.

     

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  • Day #252/365: Artifact #36/52; The Arrival (#3) – Woodland Visitations archival print

    The Arrival (#3): Woodland Visitations archival print. £30.00.
    Artifact 36-print-A Year In The CountryImage L3-A Year In The CountryArtifact 36-numbering-A Year In The CountryArtifact 36-signature-A Year In The CountryArtifact 36-string bound scroll-A Year In The Country
    Limited edition of 52. Each print is signed and numbered.

    59.4cm x 21 cm / 23.4″ x 8.3″.

    Printed with archival Giclée pigment inks on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 100% cotton fine art paper.

    Shipped string tied.

    Free UK shipping.

    Available at our Artifacts Shop.

     

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  • Day #251/365: Broadcast; constellators and artifacts

    Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-6
    File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #32/52.

    I’ve been (pleasantly) slightly surprised and intrigued during this year in the country by just how much I’ve returned to the work and interconnections of Broadcast.

    A fair few years ago now I bought their first full album when it first arrived on these shores and the shelves of bricks and mortar music encasement emporiums… I think I was given/sent the second album as part of previous days of spinning (and occasionally writing about) the platters that matter…

    …and I’d always been aware of their work but hadn’t overly closely observed it all those years ago.

    However, looking back, the first time I consciously sat down (and spent the wee hours into the morning sifting and selecting) and broke open my zeros and ones coin collection to purchase a small number of cultural artifacts that related to this year… well, one of those was the  Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witchcults of the Radio Age album. One of its few other companions was The Owl Service View From The Hill, alongside a touch of literature via Mr Jonny Trunk…

    And in way those three items I expect bring together some of the strands that have had me intrigued and returning to the work of Broadcast over the years…

    …which would be in part the hauntological re-imaginings and yearnings for lost pasts and futures (The Focus Group/Mr Julian House/Ghost Box Records), delving into folk/folklore/the old stories and using the resulting findings as source material for new journeys, alongside returning to hazy memories of cathode ray transmissions that have gained over the years/possessed a certain otherlyness (The Owl Service, in songsmith and visual/textual story forms)…

    Broadcast-Wire Magazine-Joseph Stanndard-Outer Church-Eva Vermandel-A Year In The Country-4…and further delving, rummaging, connecting, sending out into the world small hordes of overlooked cultural treasure (Jonny Trunk/Trunk Records).

    If I was to go back and write down all the cultural connections, touchstones and references from/to that have occurred around Broadcast during this journey, well this page would probably grow way past A Year In The Country’s allotted sustenance and repast time.

    As a first example of such connections, the extract to the left (from an interview with Broadcast, which is in the below mentioned issue of Wire), seems to be a possible antecedent/seedling/fellow traveller for Rob Young’s idea of “imaginative time travel”, that he uses to describe certain strands in music/culture in the pages his Electric Eden; see Day #4/365

    Broadcast and The Focus Group video still-A Year In The Country 2Berberian Sound Studio-Peter Strickland-Julian House-Ghost Box Records-Broadcast-A Year In The Country-9Jonny Trunk-The OST Show-Broadcast-A Year In The CountryShindig Magazine-Broadcast-Julian House-Ghost Box Records-Emerald Web-A Year In The Country

    ...and the to go on to a few more: the recalibrations required in order to adjust to the different pacing of those aforementioned hazy cathode ray transmissions (see Day #33/365), along the lines of The Owl Service, Sky, The Children Of The Stones etc…

    Broadcast-Wire Magazine-Joseph Stanndard-Outer Church-Eva Vermandel-A Year In The Country-4…the “modernist, retro-futurological, hauntological psychedelia” issue of Shinding magazine that took in Broadcast’s past, present and future, Ghost Box Records, Italian giallo film and its referencing/reimagining via Berberian Sound Studio, flickering stories from childhood’s past courtesy of the Childrens Film Foundation (see Day #178/365)…

    (As a second aside, considering the often lysergic themes of Shinding magazine, it would seem a fitting home or at least an inn for the night for Broadcast.)

    …or indeed audiological and visual accompaniments for Berberian Sound Studio itself; see Day #153/365.)

    Shindig-Broadcast-The Children Of Alice-Julian House-Ghost Box-A Year In The Country

    …and then flipping the pages backwards and forwards, it is but a hop, step and jump to return to the design work of Mr Julian House in those aforementioned oft lysergic pages (see above and Day #59/365)

    …the wonderful, sometimes gloriously shambolic OST show and its musicological delvings – hosted by Mr Jonny Trunk and ably assisted by soundscape locative tape wrangler and splicer Robin The Fog, in particular their tribute re-transmitting of the Broadcast guested edition of the program (see also see Day #33/365)…

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

    …the other imagined version of Curse Of The Crimson Altar, with a soundtrack presented and co-ordinated by Broadcast and their laying down of “sonic laws that break through the corrective systems of timing and keys” (see Day #184/365).

    Which is but a few of the points of reference to the work of Broadcast and interconnected cohorts around these parts…

    And while I’m on the subject, on this page are a selection of photographs of/from four of my favourite Broadcast/related cultural artifacts:

    Broadcast-Wire Magazine-Joseph Stanndard-Outer Church-Eva Vermandel-A Year In The Country-1.jpg1) Magazine: Joseph Stannard’s interview with Broadcast from when they were on the front of Wire magazine in 2009. This is a just lovely interview, I daren’t even pick it up again right now as there are too many points of reference and pathways it sends me off on. Good stuff indeed.

    (As an aside, I often find myself particularly drawn to Wire magazine when it is covering what could be considered non-populist or explorative pop music. As Trish Keenan considered, the avant-garde without the popular can be rubbish, popular without avant-garde can be rubbish – see Day #167/365, which could well be some kind of manifesto for Broadcast, one of our most avant-garde-ist pop(ular) music combos.)

    And as an aside to the aside… even within a page on the reference points and pathways that Broadcast have appeared amongst/on during this year in the country, they are cropping up as further reference points.)

    Broadcast-Wire Magazine-Joseph Stanndard-Outer Church-Eva Vermandel-A Year In The Country-3Broadcast-Wire Magazine-Joseph Stanndard-Outer Church-Eva Vermandel-A Year In The Country-2

     

    Broadcast-Sampler2 book-art pop and contemporary graphics-Intro-Julian House-A Year In The Country-22) Book: sampler2 – art, pop and contemporary music graphics; I recently re-stumbled upon this on the shelves of a slightly tumbling/tumble-down bibliotheque almost corner shop… It made me wistful for a particular point in culture and years gone by, being a snapshot of the graphic work that accompanied audio releases just at the slightly abitarily selected point when a duo of a thousand years had passed in our collective history. It was a point just before the zeros and ones cable/airwave transmission of music began to fully take hold and the work contained within tends to veer towards designs to accompany abstract(ish) electronica and is often kind of lovely, slightly arch, slightly distant, deeply philosophic and also thoroughly surface orientated… all descriptions could well also describe much of the music as well as its visual accompaniments.

    Broadcast-Sampler2 book-art pop and contemporary graphics-Intro-Julian House-A Year In The Country-3

    The book was put together by Intro, the “day job” graphical Imagineering company in which Mr Julian House of Ghost Box Records/The Focus Group is a partner and indeed he is one of the co-creators of this particular publication… and sat there, nestled away in amongst the pages is Broadcast and some of his early work for/with them.

    They feel like the cuckoo in the nest in a way. A sneaking in and back through time.

     

    Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country3) Recording: Tender Buttons. Well, what can I say? If I should be talking about non-populist, exploratory pop music, this is that.

    It is resolutely pop music but… It is catchy, fractured, danceable to, heartbreaking, full of what could well be Burroughsian textual cut ups via the Black Country.

    And it does features the “Michael, Michael, Michael… come on, your father was a teddy boy”. Which just makes me shake my head and chuckle. It seems to sum up so, so much of the experience, nature, character and culture of these lands and lives. Probably one of the finest lines or two in English music.

    Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-2 Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-3 Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-5

    (As another aside and in an interconnected manner, I thoroughly treasure Bob Stanley’s line on Trish Keenan, in relation to appreciation of her/her work meaning that she was presented with a “wardrobe of fineries” by swanky fashion design folk; “…she might have had beans on toast for tea, but she was the best dressed girl in Birmingham” (discovered in his touching tribute, via the streams, brooks and tributaries of Caught By The River).

     

    Broadcast-Tender Buttons-Warp-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-7
    4) Visual document: And finally, this particular promotional photograph. Thoroughly modernist (not in the three button suit manner, the other kind of vaguely connected modernist) and makes me think of Alphaville (no, not the pop band, the other Alphaville). This is pop(ular) music and its accompanying imagery at some kind of peak of exploratory sharpness, playfulness and elswhereness (although I do tend to find the Tommy Boy logo a little perturbing).

     

    Mark Fisher in Ghost Of My Life (see Day #163/365) 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.

    I suppose that is much of the semi-conscious impetus for this page; Broadcast were/are a fine, brightly shining example of such constellations and constellators.

     

    And so, with that, I shall leave such patterns and twinkling points of light (though I expect I shall turn my gaze towards and upwards in their direction again at some point).

    So, a tip of the hat to Broadcast and all who have travelled with/alongside them.

     

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  • Day #250/365: Image T/3

    Image T3-A Year In The Country
    File under:
    A Year In The Country: Work

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  • Day #249/365: Image S/3; The Eagles Are Flying

    Image S3-A Year In The Country
    File under:
    A Year In The Country: Work

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  • Day #248/365: John Barleycorn Reborn: definitions/explorations of a particular otherlyness and wandering off elsewhere via the old stories of source material…

    John Barleycorn Reborn-Dark Britannica-Cold Spring-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences. Recent Explorations. Case #31/52.

    This is a series of albums which has grown into, indeed started as, a somewhat massive collecting/collating project which considers music that has sprung forth from (but is not hidebound by) old stories/traditions; something of a gathering of the patterns under the plough.

    Thus far it takes in four volumes: beginning with John Barleycorn Reborn and growing to include John Barleycorn Reborn: Rebirth, We Bring You A King With A Head Of Gold and Hail Be You Sovereigns, Lief and Dear.

    Mark Coyle, who collated the volumes and who has something of a history of such work, says that his intention was to include music by those “working in the broad area of folk music and folklore who were doing something unconventional with the form” and that “there’s a wealth of musicians who fuse experimentation with the inherently conservative musical form; that’s a tension which produces interesting results.

    John Barleycorn Reborn Rebirth-Dark Britannica-Cold Spring-A Year In The CountryThe music herein is a result of those tensions. As what has become known as traditional folk may well once have changed, grown and adapted over the years as it was passed down via oral transmission, so the spirit of these compilations is to find and send out into the world work which doesn’t treat its source material as impermeable handed down relics and styles but rather a starting point and inspiration.

    The collections subtitle is Dark Britannica but it’s not all doom and gloom in this particular cultural corner. The series collator Mark Coyle says that the use of the phrase dark folk was more a useful initial tag:

    ‘Dark folk’ doesn’t particularly mean anything to me, certainly not anything religious or political.  I chose to use the term like the ‘dark ages’: a time of cultural development that was assumed not to have happened because nobody wrote about it. It’s exactly what has happened with this music. The media assumes because they aren’t covering the music, it doesn’t exist or grow.  There are those who fuse psychedelic music, paganism, folklore, rock and other aspects with folk that makes it sound unconventional, strange or experimental. This may be seen as curious in comparison with traditional folk performed using the authentic instruments. I think folk music can possibly be traced back in some way to our lives on these Islands tens of thousands of years ago through the song motifs, symbology, simplicity and communal basis. The past is dark, unknown and strange to us so ‘dark folk’ is I suppose on this release, me trying to trace these threads back to our past via the songs.

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

    We Bring You A King With A Head Of Gold-Dark Britannica-Cold Spring-A Year In The Country(As an aside I also recently noticed – renoticed? –  that the first album is included in the Musical/Discographic Timeline in Rob Young’s Electric Eden, alongside a fair few fine companions. Those companions include some of those who were just aforementioned alongside other travellers towards “the unknown region” (such as Ghost Box village parishioners Belbury Poly and The Focus Group) and other investigators and renewers of old stories such as Alisdair Roberts and Vashti Bunyan.)

    Hail Be You Soverigns, Lief and Dear-Dark Britannica-Cold Spring-A Year In The CountryA few other pathways:

    If you should wish to explore further, there is an extensive interview with Mark Coyle (from which the quotes on this page were taken) and a somewhat indepth overview on the first volume from over the seas at Terrascope here.

    Weirdlore: A fellow collating traveller.

    Visit the albums at Coldspring here, here, here, and here.

    More from Mark Coyle on definitions/intentions and explorations here.

    Sharron Kraus-Plinth-Novemthree-Sproatly Smith-Ruby Throat-John Barleycorn Reborn-Cold Spring-A Year In The Country
    The albums feature a fair scattering of work by those I have visited around these parts, including The Owl ServiceSharron KrausEnglish HereticThe Straw Bear BandMichael TannerNovemthreeSproatly Smith and Ruby Throat… but that is just a brief scattering of the many hours of recordings and explorations that the series now contains…

     

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  • Day #247/365: Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word and voyages through other playful fancies from behind the once ferrous drapes…

    folk_is_not_a_four_letter_word-Andy Votel-Cherry Red-Delay 68-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #42/52.

    I can’t remember the order I came to this in. Did I find this album in advance of the audiological unearthings of Finders Keepers Records and Jane Weaver’s Fallen By Watchbird or was it after those explorations? I’m not sure but I think I found it in my then local library.

    Ah, the good old library system. There’s nothing quite like a publicly available and owned cultural hub, one which is in part curated by people with an eye, ear and mind for the edges of culture.

    What I do know is that the cover art of both of the Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word releases is some of my favourite from before and during this year in the country. Put together, if I’m not mistaken, by Mr Andy Votel, who also compiled these albums.

    folk_is_not_a_four_letter_word 2-Andy Votel-Cherry Red-Delay 68-A Year In The Country(As a first aside, the albums are a good old delve and forage through the world’s sometimes dusty, forgotten and overlooked record crates; a condensation of that feeling when you stumble upon some rare and precious long-lost album/s in the corner  of a carboot or hidden under the clothes racks in a charity shop… not dissimilar in a way to Gather In The Mushrooms – see Day #3/365 – but in this case the enclosed folk gems have been scattered and discovered from across the globe rather than the shores, meadows and nooks of albion.)

    The artwork is playful and curiously stylish, harks back to yesteryears but is thoroughly modern. It also seems like a harbinger of future Finders Keepers and related releases, cultural strands and influences, in particular the somewhat magical fairy tale visions of Czech new wave films such as Saxana – Girl On A Broomstick (Dívka Na Koštěti) and The Little Mermaid (Malá Mořská Víla) and Jane Weaver’s Fallen By Watchbird project/album which was apparently sparked in part by coming across that particular shimmering sea fable.

    THE LITTLE MERMAID (MALÁ MORSKÁ VÍLA)-A Year In The Country-collage 2

    (And as a secondary aside, when I’ve recently revisited such films, I was struck by how much in a way they remind me of such 1960/1970s British television that I have visited around these parts – The Owl Service, Children Of The Stones and the like. Why? Well, maybe it’s because these are stories which have/have gained a sense of otherlyness, which take variously childhood/childish themes/production circumstances and intentions but have come to signify and represent fantastic otherly worlds, tales and interests, often well beyond their original intended audiences and intentions.)

    SAXANA – GIRL ON A BROOMSTICK (DÍVKA NA KOŠTĚTI)-A Year In The CountrySAXANA–GIRL ON A BROOMSTICK (DÍVKA NA KOŠTĚTI)-A Year In The Country
    (Ah, the beauty and intrigues of former Eastern Bloc celluloid illustrations…)

    Well, all I can say is that whatever order I stumbled upon such things (Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word-Fallen By Watchbird-Finders Keepers Records), they have helped send me on a fair few rather intriguing pathways.

    Along which lines, a few pathways…

    One. Two.

    THE LITTLE MERMAID (MALÁ MORSKÁ VÍLA)-A Year In The Country-collage 3Step under the oceans.

    It’s winged brethren (and another nesting here).

    Those winged brethren around these parts

    A duo of related audiological unearthings from around these parts: 1. 2.

    Other fables from behind the once ferrous walls and curtains: Blossoming escapades courtesy of a playful avant gardism. Seven days of wonders. A re-Broadcast-ing of those wonders.

    The fringes of stories courtesy of English libraries: 1. 2.

     

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  • Day #246/365: The Singing Loins – The cuckoos in the nest and thee English “kitchen sink” folk music…

    The Singing Loins-Steak and Gravy-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #41/52.

    And while I’m talking of music from the Medway Delta  and a certain under-the-radar, away from the cultural rhythms / expectations / fashions of the time, kitchen sinkness (see Day #243/365)…

    I suppose one of the first times I properly sat down and lost myself to what could (loosely) be called a folk record (or two) were the early recordings by The Singing Loins, a fair few years ago now. I don’t think I thought of it as folk music at the time, it was just music to me. It still is.

    And fine music at that.

    Back then I only saw them perform live once, in amongst a largely otherwise garage punk bill and they described themselves as “the cuckoos in the nest”.

    The cuckoos in the nest? Well that would probably refer to their sharing an evening and stage with more rawk’n’roll raucousness. And what were they doing on a largely garage punk bill? Well, I expect it was because they’re from the Medway part of the world and had worked with/had records put out by Hangman Records, Billy Childish’s record label.

    (For anybody who shouldn’t know, Billy Childish is from that part of the world and is variously a musician, poet, author, painter who has put out over a 100 albums, thousands of paintings, a fair few dozen books of poetry and prose etc. A good starting point could well be the Billy Childish Is Dead documentary.)

    Billy Childish With The Singing Loins-At The Bridge-folk variations and new songs-A Year In The Country

    Steak and Gravy and At The Bridge were the two records that I really lost myself to. Steak and Gravy is full of songs that are heartbreaking, moving snapshots of life and loves, while at times it is also stacked to the brim with ire and anger at the prejudices of smaller town overlooking of murderous crimes.

    The Singing Loins-Songs For The Organ-A Year In The Country(Though a special mention should probably be almost made for Songs For The Organ and Songs To Hear…)

    Kitchen sink in more ways than one: this is music that reflects the lives of its makers in an artful but away from artifice manner and was also sometimes recorded (on half-track, whatever such a thing might be) literally in Mr Billy Childish’s kitchen (or thereabouts).

    To be honest, as I type and look away for a second at the titles of its songs, I want to just step away for a moment and here these songs once more…

    The Singing Loins-Steak and Gravy-A Year In The Country-2On spinning vinyl mind, rather than digitally.

    Not in a holding back the transmission mediums of time way…

    Just that it’s never felt quite right to listen to these particular records via shiny or magnetic discs full of zero and ones. Their sound and stories for me seem to belong in amongst those shellac grooves and cliff edges.

    Time to step away and think and dream of years gone by, those particular spinning discs and the stories they told.

    The aforementioned spinning discs here and here.

    A little history here and a touch of associated damaged goods here.

    (Ah, so half-track is this…

    Billy recorded us on a circa l960 Revox half-track – Half track means you record live into two mics which mix straight down to one mono track. Billy would set the levels as loud and trebly as they would go, turn the clunking great knob to start the tape, and dash into the bog to join in with the general stamping, bashing and singing.

    “Songs for the Organ” and “Steak & Gravy” were recorded like this, live in Billy’s toilet (for the acoustics), with whatever guests were available, standing in the bath, kneeling on the toilet seat, the taps dripping, the phone going off in the kitchen next door…“)

     

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  • Day #245/365: Artifact #35/52; Michael Tanner – Nine of Swords CD album – Night/Day editions

    Michael Tanner – Nine of Swords CD album. Night Edition £25.00.  Day edition £18.00.

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-Night and Day editions-A Year In The Country

    Audiological Research and Pathways; Case #3
    Audiological contents: Nine of Swords (54.20 minutes).

    Nine tarot cards allocated to nine sonorous, percussive instruments, played in the order of their drawing from the deck.

    Available via our: Artifacts ShopDiscogs Audiological Archive and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola.
    Prices include free UK shipping. Normally ships within 7-14 days.

     

    Night Edition: Limited to 52 copies. £25.00.

    Box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 12 page string bound booklet hand signed by Michael Tanner, 4x25mm badge set & 8 x sticker set.

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-box set-A Year In The Country-lighter

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-box set closed-A Year In The CountryMichael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-booklet-A Year In The CountryMichael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-top and bottom of CDrs-A Year In The Country
    Top of CDr.                                                                       Bottom of CDr.

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-inside booklet 3-A Year In The Country Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-inside booklet 2-A Year In The Country.JPG Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-inside booklet-A Year In The Country

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-badge set-A Year In The Country Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-sticker set-A Year In The CountryMichael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-stickers-A Year In The Country
    Night edition details:

    1) Booklet/cover art printed using archival Giclée pigment ink.

    2) Contained in a matchbox style sliding two-part rigid matt card box.

    3) Printed box cover print.

    4) Fully black CDr (black on top, black on playable side).

    5) Black string bound 12.8cm x 12.8cm booklet:
    a) Hand signed by Michael Tanner.
    b) Hand numbered.
    c) Hand bone creased cover.
    d) 12 pages (6 sides printed).
    e) Contains 4 image, 1 image/credits and 1 credits page.
    f) Front and rear covers are printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
    g) Two inner sheets are printed on 245gsm paper.
    h) Two inner sheets are printed on semi-transparent 110gsm vellum paper.

    6) 4 x 25mm/1″ badge set contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.

    7) 8 x 35mm/1.4″ waterproof sticker set contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.

     

    Day Edition: Limited to 52 copies. £18.00.

    White/black CDr album in 10 page string bound booklet packaging hand signed by Michael Tanner.

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-booklet-A Year In The Country
    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-cd and credits page-A Year In The CountryMichael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-top and bottom of CDrs-A Year In The Country
    Top of CDr.                                                                     Bottom of CDr.

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-booklet 1-A Year In The Country

    Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-booklet 3-A Year In The Country Michael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Day Edition-booklet 2-A Year In The Country

    Michael Tanner-Nine of Swords-album-A Year In The Country-7 Michael Tanner-Nine of Swords-album-A Year In The Country-7


    Day Edition Details:

    1) Booklet artwork printed using archival Giclée pigment ink.

    2) Wrapped in wax sealed, hand stamped black tissue paper.

    3) White/black CDr (white on top, black on playable side).

    4) Jute string bound 14.4cm x 13.2cm booklet:
    a) Hand signed by Michael Tanner
    b) Hand bone creased cover.
    c) 10 pages (5 sides printed);
    d) Contains 3 images, one credits/image page, one credits page.
    e) Front and rear covers are printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
    f) Two inner sheets are printed on 245gsm paper.
    g) One inner sheet is printed on semi-transparent 110gsm vellum paper.
    h) Hand numbered.

    5) CDr held in protective fleece-lined sleeve.

     

    Album credits:

    All music written & played by Michael Tanner.

    Recorded at Greenwitch 04/06/2014 using an X-Y positioned Beyer M101 and Shure SM57.

    4 x Water Bowls.  2 x Singing Bowls.  2 x Temple Bells.  1 x Cymbals.

    No plug-ins or FX were used in the making of this piece.

     

    Artwork and packaging design by AYITC Ocular Signals Department.

     

    Available via our: Artifacts ShopDiscogs Audiological Archive and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola.
    Prices include free UK shipping. Normally ships within 7-14 days.

     

    An excerpt from this Audiological Case Study can be listened to via our Mark II Ether Victrola below:

     

    Visit Michael’s work at Day #120/365 of A Year In The Country.

    Visit Michael Tanner in the ether here: www.iamplinth.bandcamp.com
    (where you may also find him working under the names Plinth, The Cloisters, Taskerlands and The A. Lords).

     

    The full current library of the A Year In The Country Audiological Research and Pathways series:

    Case Study #1: Grey Frequency: Immersion
    Case Study #2: Hand of Stabs: Black-Veined White
    Case Study #3: Michael Tanner: Nine of Swords
    Case Study #4: United Bible Studies: Doineann
    Case Study #5: She Rocola: Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town

    Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-2Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-boxset-A Year In The CountryMichael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-box set-A Year In The Country

     

     

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  • Day #244/365: Rosy Parlane, Willow

    Rosy Parlane-Iris-Willow-Touch-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #40/52

    I know little or nothing about Rosy Parlane or their Willow release. It came out in around 2008 and was released on 7″ vinyl by Touch and I seem to be trying to mildly avoid knowing much more.

    Rosy Parlane-Willow back of seven inch-Touch-A Year In The CountryI don’t know how I came across it but it’s quietly hung around my consciousness

    There is something about the music and the back of the vinyl packaging that puts me in mind of documents of edgelands

    Willow is a gently, slightly unsettling track, ambient but to the side of soothing, a touch glitchy, full of initially smoothened crackles (static? rain?). It begins with what sounds like the hope of a new day and then slowly builds into a disintegrating full stop.

    Visit it tangibly here and intangibly here.

    If you should like such things, then a perusal of Ghosts of Bush and Grey Frequency may also take your fancy. Visit them at Day #142/365 and Day #192/365.

    Rosy Parlane-Jessamine-Touch-A Year In The Country Rosy Parlane-Iris-Touch-A Year In The Country copy

    Something a little more long form.

     

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  • Day #243/365: Travelling For A Living; tea served in the interval at nine o’clock and a return to populous stories and wald tales

    Travelling For A Living-Derek Knight-The Watersons-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences. Recent Explorations. Case #30/52.

    And while I’m thinking of fleeting glances and Anne Briggs (see Day #242/365)…

    Travelling For A Living.

    This is a mid 1960s documentary by Derrick Knight on The Watersons. It was originally sent out into the nations living rooms via a venerable public broadcasting body but now it rarely seems to have an outing or outlet; it was available on the pre-digital ferrous reels of video cassettes and quietly nestles away in an out of print boxset. Not an all that easy cultural artefact to track down and peruse.

    I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to the film is that it provides a glimpse or two of a culture which, though it existed in what is now looked back upon as a time of swinging Britannia and heading towards the psychedelia of the late 1960s summer of love, appears to be very separate from the more often considered views and aesthetics of the time.

    Travelling For A Living-Derek Knight-The Watersons-A Year In The Country-2This is a much more grassroots, kitchen sink, gritty culture/counter-culture and to my eye makes me think more of the 1950s than the 1960s; all monochrome steaming breath and black wearing beat style.

    In a way it reminds me of images of the 1980s Medway garage punk scene, such as those taken by Eugene Doyen; it shares that sense of a culture that is occurring separate to the mainstream stories and histories of the time and shares a similar kitchen sink, no frills and fripperies aesthetic.

    Or possibly even a touch of minimal beat-ness of The Velvet Underground, though without the more arch self-consciousness. The two groups were separated by a somewhat large body of water and different musical aesthetics but they could be considered counter-cultural historical contemporaries, although one has come to exemplify a particular kind of “cool” or “hipness” somewhat more than the other. Along which lines…

    Travelling For A Living-Derek Knight-The Watersons-A Year In The Country-8I find the film curious in part because I find it hard to connect the images on the screen with the music that comes from the speakers; on the screen are young, proto/post-beat hipsters in black turtle necks and with swishingly angular bobs – cool if you like.

    The music is a particular strand of traditional folk that now seems at odds with the sometimes hip images and styles it accompanies in the film.

    Over the years the music of this once underground/counter-culture has become tarred with the “uncool” brush. This documentary serves as an interesting insight into a time when that wasn’t the case.

    Possibly this sense of hip-ness is in part a side effect of just being young and cutting a dash at a particular age.

    Travelling For A Living-Derek Knight-The Watersons-A Year In The Country-4Alongside which, as part mentioned but a moment ago, the accepted stories/history of coolness of the time tends to be predicated towards pop culture rather than folk culture or populous stories vs wald tales. So the once counter-cultural stories of say The Velvet Underground have been allowed and even welcomed into the tomes of canonised cool. Their then folk singing contemporaries have been anything but.

    Which I suppose in part highlights one of the pathways of this particular A Year In The Country; exploring and discovering such sometimes more widely overlooked tales from/via the fields and pastures and taking a sometimes step aside from more well paved cultural municipalities.

    Not necessarily in an either/or, good/bad, zero/one manner. More just casting a gaze and curiousity elsewhere.

    As an (almost) final aside: the tale in the film of setting up a club without ever having been to one and serving a cup of cha at the nine o’clock interval. Fine stuff.

     

    Day 11-Teach Me To Be A Summer Morning b-Lal Waterson-A Year In The CountryA few pathways:

    Day #11/365: a previous document of indie-mod-folk-beatnik stylings.

    A few fleeting glances and edits from the back of the van, an appreciation of a good cup o’cha and down in the basements.

    Cold war dread (and hope) somewhat before hauntology.

    Flat Pack Cinema’s 7 inches.

    Days #40/365 and #190/365: From the wild woods to broadcasts from the pylons; previous considerations of pop(ulous) and wald/volk/folk culture.

     

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  • Day #242/365: The return of old souls; fleeting glances of Anne Briggs

    Anne Briggs-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #30/52.

    Well, it seems like a while since I visited folk music itself around these parts…

    Mike Scott of The Waterboys recently said that when Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights went straight to number one in the charts that it “was like an old British soul got returned to us”.

    Which puts me somewhat in mind of Anne Briggs and her music.

    Looking back, her music was some of the earliest I listened to when the more recent roots and seedlings of A Year In The Country began to grow. Although connected with the folk revival of the 1960s, I’ve tended to think of her as separate to it, somebody who’s work and music trod its own path, the roots of which stretched backwards and forwards to old stories, now and its own particular place under the sky.

    Or indeed, listening to her work is like hearing the return of an old soul/s.

    Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-8

    There’s a beauty, purity and transcendence to her music. I’ve just started to play the A Collection album, where I first discovered it and I’m finding it physically hard to type. Lowlands… her voice quite simply stops me in my tracks and transports me somewhere else.

    And like that other earlier mentioned lost British soul, Kate Bush, her work is characterised in part by a stepping back and away from the bright lights and hurly burly of public life; aside from a handful of collaborative/compilation appearances there are but three recorded albums and an EP to document her music, one of which didn’t venture out into the world for a long time after it was recorded, after a certain point her performances and taking to the stage became rare things indeed.

    And in terms of photographic documentation, there is very little of her. On this page are a few of those fleeting, tumbling glances and their repetitions; a baker’s dozen or brace of Ms Briggs.

    Ms (Mrs?) Anne Briggs, a tip of the hat to you.

    Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-9 Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-7 Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-5Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-6  Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-10 Anne Briggs-Bert Jansch-A Year In The Country Classic Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country Anne Briggs-Topic Records-A Year In The Country Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-2 Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country

    Anne Briggs-A Year In The Country-4

    Other (flickering) glances:

    I was recently watching Acoustic Routes, the documentary on/around Bert Jansch and suddenly there was Ms Briggs singing, accompanied just by guitar. It felt like a rare and precious treat.

    Travelling for a living.

     

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  • Day #241/365: Image R/3; Nature’s Calligraphy

    Image R3-A Year In The Country
    File under:
    A Year In The Country: Work

     

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  • Day #240/365: Image Q/3; Over The Fields

    Image Q3-Over The Fields-A Year In The Country
    File under:
    A Year In The Country: Work

     

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  • Day #239/365: The jump cuts of hauntological antecedents…

    File under: Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #30/52.

    For a fair old while a selection of images/collages from an old educational magazine that I came across have intrigued and hung around my mind. Particularly the image below…

    1973 magazine-Hauntology-Chemistry Set-A Year In The CountryI wasn’t quite sure why but I think in large part it’s because they seemed to be defined/capture some kind of essence of what could be called hauntological design, although they were created a good while before such things came to have a (non-genre?) label applied to them. There is something about the unpolished collaging that draws me in…

    What do I mean by hauntological design? Well, that would be difficult to precisely sum up what that means (although if you head towards a particular deletion of spectres you may well find a few signifiers of such things) but a good starting point would be the work of Julian House, particularly around his Ghost Box Record label/Focus Group recordings. Which leads me to…

    In Jospeph Stannard’s fine & full of pathways to wander down and explore, interview with/article on Broadcast (perusable via the ether or printed and bound sheet archives of a certain Wire Magazine here) he talks of how the Broadcast and The Focus Group’s Investigate Witchcults Of The Radio Age album was:

    …assembled using a sampling method which makes a virtue of its imperfection. House (Julian of Ghostbox Records/The Focus Group) evidently delights in the inexact fit, the abrupt cut, and for the most part, the rhythms on Witch Cults are irregular, giddily tripping over themselves and each other. In drawing attention to the awkwardness of each edit, House does not demystify the art of sampling so much as emphasise its position at the intersection of magic and science…”

    Hmmm. Abrupt cuts, inexact fits and showing the seams of art and technique? The scalpel/ferrous tapes or the zeros and ones audio/visual editing device? Intentions and the unintended…

    1973 magazine-Hauntology-Chemistry Set-A Year In The CountryIf you take magic in the sense of one its adjective uses, ie being particularly effective in producing desired results, in much of hauntological related work one of the intentions could be seen to be a fracturing of time, a recalling of the past in the present and looking ahead to futures that never were, a blurring, indistincting and reimagining of now, then, reality, memory…

    And so work which shows its seams, inadvertently or otherwise, could be seen to have the intention/results of working towards such fracturing and related effects. Along which lines…

    House is a fan of the inadvertent avant-gardness of ‘bad’ or ‘clunky’ design, as seen in Polish movie posters of library music sleeves. He intentionally achieves similar effects through “bad looping, looped samples that change their start and end points. With visual collage there’s a way in which images that are cut out ‘badly’, maybe with bits of their background or surrounding image, make it difficult to discern where on part of the collage begins and another ends. This trompe l’oeil effect (a visual illusion) brings you deeper into the collage, confuses your ability to discern images as surface”…

    (From Simon Reynolds article Haunted Audio, also viewable via the aforementioned archive but slightly to one side here.)

    1973 magazine-Hauntology-Chemistry Set-A Year In The Country(Moment of Truth!)

    That inexactly cut-out, lack of technical perfection is very present in these images from the school magazine, whether deliberately or through lack of expertise/technology/time etc and as I mentioned earlier is part of what draws me to them; in the space allowed by a potentially utilitarian cultural artifact, something else has happened…

    Along which lines (see also here)…

    They also reminded me of images which accompany the David Cain/Ronald Duncan album Seasons (educationally intended but playfully/unsettlingly avant-garde in arrival – see Day #125/365), which apparently has been something of an influence on the world and work of Ghost Box Records and some of its fellow travellers/instigators:

    1973 magazine-Hauntology-Chemistry Set-A Year In The CountrySeasons-David Cain-Jonny Trunk-BBC-A Year In The Country 2

    (Left: the educational magazine, right: imagery from Seasons.)

    …which leads me to a returning theme of culture sometimes influencing future work (see Days #235/365 and #149/365) in a way that can’t necessarily be explained by people having definitely seen the earlier pieces. Along which lines I shall (almost) leave this page with the two images below, separated by decades/intentions(?) but sharing something of a similar spirit.

    Broadcast-and-The-Focus-Group-Investigate-Witch-Cults-of-the-Radio-Age-Warp Records-Ghost Box Records-A Year In The Country.jpg1973 magazine-Hauntology-Chemistry Set-A Year In The Country

    (Left: recently contemporary spectral investigations, right: antecedent educational illustrations right.)

     

    The images from the magazine were discovered via Starry Stillness and the somewhat appropriately named The Chemistry Set, which in turn were discovered via that rare thing in todays days, a bricks and mortar haven for music of an explorative nature, independent publications and acres of other reading matter, Rare and Racy. Well worth a visit if you should be around the once city of steel.

    Earlier investigations of investigations here and another well-worth-a-visit related bound sheets here.

    Otherly geometries and spectral notes: signals and signposts from Mr Julian House #1 and #2. A song and a parish circular from a nearby village.

    1973 magazine-1200-Hauntology-Chemistry Set-A Year In The Country-2

    Interfaces between the old ways/cathode rays.

    The writers of the aforementioned archival material: A not too-distant church and sometimes visitor of cultural incorporealities.

    In the spaces allowed by potentially utilitarian cultural artifacts, something else has happened.

     

    PS The magazine is from 1972-73, curiously and appropriately enough, a time that I seem to be repeatedly drawn to and visit/revisit the cultural artifacts from: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 etc.

     

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  • Day #238/365: Artifact #34/52; Hand of Stabs Black-Veined White album – Night/Day editions

    Hand of Stabs Black-Veined White album. Night Edition £25.00.  Day edition £18.00.

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-both editions-A Year In The Country

    Audiological Research and Pathways; Case #2
    Audiological contents: Black-Veined White (68:33 minutes).

    Available via our: Artifacts Shop, Discogs Audiological Archive and our Bandcamp Ether Victrola.
    Prices include free UK shipping. Normally ships within 7-14 days.

     

    Night Edition: Limited to 52 copies. £25.00.

    Box-set contains: album on all black CDr, 18 page string bound booklet, 4x25mm badge set & waterproof sticker.

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-boxset-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-open box-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-open box angled view-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-cdr-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-box-A Year In The CountryHand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-booklet-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-inner page 4-A Year In The CountryHand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-inner page 1-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-inner page 3-A Year In The CountryHand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-inner page 2-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-back of Night Edition booklet-A Year In The Country Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-sticker-A Year In The CountryHand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-badge set-A Year In The Country
    Night edition details:

    1)Booklet/cover art printed using archival Giclée pigment ink.

    2) Contained in a matchbox style sliding two-part rigid matt card box.

    3) Printed box cover print.

    4) Fully black CDr (black on top, black on playable side).

    5) Black string bound 12.8cm x 12.8cm booklet:
    a) Hand signed by Hand of Stabs, hand numbered.
    b) Hand bone creased cover.
    c) 18 pages (9 sides printed).
    d) Contains 8 images, one credits page.
    e) Front and rear covers are printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
    f) Three inner sheets are printed on 245gsm paper.
    g) Three inner sheets are printed on semi-transparent 110gsm vellum paper.

    6) 4 x 25mm/1″ badge set contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.

    7) Waterproof vinyl style 9.5 x 6.6cm sticker.

     

    Day Edition: Limited to 52 copies. £18.00.

    White/black CDr album in 10 page string bound booklet packaging.

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-cover-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-cdr-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-CD-A Year In The Country Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-inner front page-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-back of Day Edition booklet-A Year In The CountryHand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-credits page-A Year In The Country

    Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-tissue wrapping front-A Year In The Country Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Day Edition-tissue wrapping-back-A Year In The Country

    Day Edition Details:

    1) Booklet artwork printed using archival Giclée pigment ink.

    2) Wrapped in wax sealed, hand stamped black tissue paper.

    3) White/black CDr (white on top, black on playable side).

    4) Jute string bound 14.4cm x 13.2cm booklet:
    a) Hand signed by Hand of Stabs, hand numbered.
    b) Hand bone creased cover.
    c) 10 pages (5 sides printed);
    d) Contains 4 images, one credits/image page.
    e) Front and rear covers are printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
    f) Two inner sheets are printed on 245gsm paper.
    g) One inner sheet is printed on semi-transparent 110gsm vellum paper.

    5) CDr held in protective fleece-lined sleeve.

     

    Album credits:

    Hand of Stabs-A Year In The Country 4HoS personnel:
    electric guitar, cello: captain rex standish. percussion, tenor recorder, mandocaster: james worse.
    velophone, electronics, bugle: jocelyn von bergdorff.
    voice: Kyra La Rubia (De Coninck).

    text used with kind permission: Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards.
    British insects: butterflies. Version: 29th December 2011.
    www.delta-intkey.com/britin/pap/www/aporia.htm

    &:
    Black-Veined White (Aporia cratœgi). (Poem by Giles Watson, 2014.)

     

    Artwork/packaging design by the AYITC Ocular Signals Department.

    Additional photography by Stuart Ody of the New Brompton Postcard Co., James Worse and Sara Norling.

     

    Available at our Artifacts Shop, our Discogs Audiological Archive and our Other Artifacts Etsy shop.

    This Audiological Case Study can also be listened to via our Ether Victrola below and is available for futher perusing/purchase at our Bandcamp page.

    Prices include free UK shipping. Normally ships within 7-14 days.

     

    Visit Hand of Stabs in the ether here, here and here.

    Peruse Hand of Stabs at A Year In The Country: Day #155/365.

     

    The full current library of the A Year In The Country Audiological Research and Pathways series:

    Case Study #1: Grey Frequency: Immersion
    Case Study #2: Hand of Stabs: Black-Veined White
    Case Study #3: Michael Tanner: Nine of Swords
    Case Study #4: United Bible Studies: Doineann
    Case Study #5: She Rocola: Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town

    Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-2Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-Night Edition-boxset-A Year In The CountryMichael Tanner-Nine Of Swords-Night Edition-box set-A Year In The Country

     

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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  • Day #236/365: The Owl Service: fashion plates and (another) peek behind the curtain

    File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #38/52.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I have something of a soft spot for press release for cultural releases from previous years. I’m not completely sure why but I think it’s in part the sense of seeing/discovering something which was once only seen by/intended for a very limited, behind the scenes audience; coming across them feels like quietly discovering a touch of cultural buried treasure or maybe pulling aside the curtain to reveal Oz working the levers and machinery that power his phantasmic stories/apparitions.

    Along such lines, below are the Granada Television press sheets for the colour transmission of The Owl Service:

    The Owl Service - Granada Press Release (1978) 1-Alan Garner-A Year In The CountryThe Owl Service - Granada Press Release (1978) 2-Alan Garner-A Year In The CountryThe Owl Service - 3-Alan Garner-A Year In The CountryThe Owl Service - Press Release 4-Alan Garner-A Year In The Country

    Although black and white television sets could still be found around and about for a decade or two or more after the aforementioned colour transmission, it still feels like a curiously distant and far away time when such things were a consideration…

    Two of my favourite lines for the press releases are these:

    “One essential point in its favour is that it will hold adults as firmly in its Welsh hobgoblin grip as the children.”

    “The world of the book is wholly adult. Only the language, the angle of vision, belong to childhood.”

    …which rather nicely sum up the curiously adult/cross-generational aspects and themes of the series or to quote Mr Ben Wheatley at Day #136/365 around these parts:

    “The Owl Service… it’s like David Lynch… I watched it about five or six years ago, and I was just stunned by it. You wouldn’t even fathom showing that to children now. That’s what would pass as adult drama now, even quite difficult adult drama…”

    And while I’m on the topic of such semi-lost cultural documentation, although probably quite normal promotional activity at the time, the article below is slightly head-shakingly curious considering the otherly significance/signifying that the series has/has gained over the years.

    The Owl Service-Alan Garner-television series-A Year In The CountryThe Owl Service-Alan Garner-television series-A Year In The Country-2

    There’s nothing like some “cosy country-wise winter fashion” to accompany mythological tales of tackling the wolf in every mind (!); “Outdoor life is great when you’re dressed for the job in hand”.

    Other related artifacts around these parts here and here. Remnants of transmissions before the flood here.

    Previous glimpse-behind-the-curtain documentation: a selection of artifacts from a boy who fell to earth.

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  • Day #235/365: Omega; a prescient semi-lost celluloid pathway…

    Donald Fox-Omega-From Above-Death and Vanilla-The Great Pop Supplement-A Year In The Country-collage-higher contrast-screen size
    Trails and Influences: Electronic Ether. Case #32/52.

    Some things in culture seem to presage future works and to be connected with previous ones, even if there are little or no obvious connections between their possible brethren, antecedents and descendants (see Day #149/365).

    Donald Fox’s Omega is one of such cultural items.

    It is a short, experimental film from 1970. I know little about it, I’m not sure I want to, I preferred it when I knew almost nothing and I could just soak in the film and consider/reflect on it without outside input.

    So with that and before you should read any further, if you should wish to step aside from here and view the film, do so here.

    Cultural connections? Well, it reminds me of Kenneth Anger’s pre-pop video pop videos, the final Quatermass series, the artistic eyes of Phase IV and Beyond The Black Rainbow, Chris Markers fellow experimental but accessible science fiction orientated La Jetée, a whole slew of hauntological minded artwork/otherly geometries, in particular Julian House’s videos for the Broadcast and The Focus Group Witchcults album…

    The little I know: nothing about Donald Fox beyond apparently his whereabouts is not widely known. The film is available in a very limited manner in a commercial/educational release and also has been frozen in a low fidelity quality via modern recording amber.

    When I first watched Omega I thought it was about the end of the earth, albeit in a rather pleasingly curiously modern seeming colourful and sort of psychedelic manner. A brief peruse tells me that it is actually about firing an energy beam at the sun which then enables mankind to  escape their earthly bodies and roam the universe.

    Death and Vanilla-From Above-A Year In The CountryI first came across the film via Death and Vanilla, whose work I have been exploring; they had used an edited version of it to accompany their From Above song. The film looks custom-made for the song, matching it’s aesthetics seamlessly.

    (I was thinking how to describe Death and Vanilla’s work; I came across it via Broadcast and it seems to share some similar starting points, intentions and aesthetics. Which would be? Well, if pushed to describe such things I would possibly arrive at a genre description a touch too long to easily fit on the descriptive separators in bricks and mortar record shops… something along the lines of retro modernist psychedelic exploratory futurist electronic pop).

    View Omega here. View From Above / Omega here. View Death and Vanilla here and the still corporeal but nolonger so accessible version of From Above here.

     

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  • Day #234/365: Scherenschnitte: nocturnal strigiformes, fields in England & otherly folkloric tales and signifiers via patience and a neatness of hand…

    Amy Flurry-Nikki Salk-Paper-Cut-Project-A Year In The Country-2File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #29/52.

    I tend to find myself somewhat drawn to paper cut work/artwork/scherenschnitte. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s the level of dedication, patience and well, neatness that it seems to require.

    It can be very pretty in a decorative, craft orientated manner, which is all good and fine but occasionally I’ll come across work that seems to step over and towards somewhere else, nearer to art I suppose and somewhere a little more otherly if you like.

    Recently I was a-browsing in one of the few remaining bookshops that exist in bricks and mortar form (one with a doorway that you can step over the threshold of in a corporeal rather than a stream of zeros and ones manner, something of a rarity today) and I came across the book Paper Cutting…

    …which lead me to the work below…

    Talking of corporeality, below is the work of Elsa Mora… there is a visceral, unsettling quality to her work that brings to mind Frida Kahlo or the harsher origin tellings of fairy tales and took me to thoughts of what became known as lowbrow art via the pages of Juxtapoz magazine and the like…

    Elsa Mora-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country 2 Elsa Mora-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country 4
    Elsa Mora-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country-7
    Elsa Mora-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country-6Elsa Mora-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country 3
    Elsa Mora-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country

    …and then onto the work of Emma Van Leest, who has a nice take on project titles (which put me in mind of Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure and it’s quietly unsettling take on corners of the land which will forever be England – A barn for a goddess and other talesVillage MurmursA homage to a private placeWayfaringThe dowsed heartTo dream in waking lifeBefore the first rainAs to a nestBucolica)…

    …or indeed a touch of a certain field in England to the first piece of work below…

    Emma Van Leest-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country-Come-by-chance

     

    Emma Van Leest-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country-dowsed heartEmma Van Leest-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country

    …with the amount of work that needs to be invested in paper cut work and it’s often irreproducibility, it’s not a huge surprise to see such things in the fine art corner of the cultural world… and so when I went a-wandering, I came across Emma Flurry and Nikki Salk’s Paper-Cut-Project in such places and positionings…

    Amy Flurry-Nikki Salk-Paper-Cut-Project-A Year In The Country-1 Amy Flurry-Nikki Salk-Paper-Cut-Project-A Year In The Country-2
    …and I was also drawn to the above two items through a longstanding interest and attraction in otherly pastoralism/folklore to the myths, tales and signifiers of nocturnal strigiformes and the like…

    …and also quite possibly the parades and maskery of a certain flickering, semi-demi-lost piece of celluloid

    Cindy Ferguson-Paper Cutting-A Year In The Country.jpg
    …and I think it would be rude to leave such things without wandering by and under the exotic pylons and (sometimes) bad wires of an electric eden courtesy of Cindy Ferguson.

    A recent starting point:
    Papercutting book-Laura Heyengs-Rob Ryan-Natalie Avelia-A Year In The Country

    Somewhere else to wander.

    …and here and here.

     

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