• Ether Signposts #52/52a: Kate Bush’s The Ninth Wave

    Kate Bush-The Ninth Wave-posterWell, the year is nearing to its close and so in a rounding the circle manner I thought I would return to The Ninth Wave, the themed collection of tracks on the B-side or second half of Kate Bush’s 1985 album The Hounds of Love album.

    I was thinking, for myself what would I consider to be some of the earliest roots of the flipside of bucolia or otherly pastoralism that A Year In The Country has explored?

    Well, I expect it would be something of a multiple-sided coin that took in possibly Bagpuss, other Smallfilm work and interconnected television from my younger years…

    …but probably more likely the work of Kate Bush and in particular The Hounds of Love.

    And even more in particular The Ninth Wave.

    I’m listening to it as I type and I still find it a captivating, transportative listen… and it makes me wander what it is about some cultural work that can cause it to still resonate so thoroughly all these years and listenings later.

    Kate Bush seems to have tapped into something very deeply rooted within the nation or land’s consciousness or soul with this collection of songs.

    Or to quote myself quoting Mike Scott:

    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”.

    Kate-Bush-Hounds-of-Love-Cover-Back-LP-A Year In The Country Experiment IV Kate Bush-A Year In The Country Kate Bush-Under The Ivy Running Up That Hill vinyl-A Year In The Country Kate Bush-Lionheart-vinyl-A Year In The Country

    The Ninth Wave contains dreamlike beauty, a sense of bucolic bliss, unsettling folk-horror like passages, references to traditional folk music, cosmic sunrise optimism, nature, story telling, experimental elements, very accessible song structures and an underlying narrative all interwoven into one coherent whole.

    I shall leave this post on this note:

    “Let me sleep and dream of sheep…”

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions And Destinations:
    The Ninth Wave


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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #52/52a: Rounding the Circle with a Magical Saggy Old Cloth Cat

    Bagpuss intro-1a

    Well, the end of the year is almost here, as is another seasonal cycle of A Year In The Country.

    Bagpuss intro-2b

    And so, in a rounding of the circle manner (I expect there are a few of such roundings going on around these parts of late), I thought I would return to one of the early touchstones and quite possibly inspirations from way, way back of A Year In The Country…

    Bagpuss and in particular the intro sequence:

    Bagpuss intro-3b

    There it is
    It was rather an unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything
    You see, everything in that shop window was a thing that somebody had once lost
    And Emily had found
    And brought home to Bagpuss
    Emily’s cat Bagpuss
    The most Important
    The most Beautiful
    The most Magical
    Saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world

    Bagpuss intro-1aa

    Well now, one day Emily found a thing
    And she brought it back to the shop
    And put it down in front of Bagpuss
    Who was in the shop window fast asleep as usual
    But then Emily said some magic words:

    Bagpuss intro-2aa

    Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss

    Old fat furry cat-puss
    Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
    Wake up, be bright

    Be golden and light
    Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing

    Bagpuss intro-3

    And Bagpuss was wide awake
    And when Bagpuss wakes up all his friends wake up too
    The mice on the mouse-organ woke up and stretched
    Madeleine, the rag doll
    Gabriel, the toad
    And last of all, Professor Yaffle, who was a very distinguished old woodpecker
    He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was that Emily had brought…

    Bagpuss intro-6

    In terms of capturing a sense of a lost almost Edenic way of life, I’m not sure if it has ever been bettered.

    It’s interesting as I don’t find it twee or chocolate box-ish, its more just sweetly evocative and contains a certain yearning and even melancholia.

    Bagpuss intro-5

    Anyways, it wouldn’t feel right without letting the old chap go to sleep:

    Bagpuss gave a big yawn, and settled down to sleep
    And of course when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too
    The mice were ornaments on the mouse-organ
    Gabriel and Madeleine were just dolls
    And Professor Yaffle was a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker
    Even Bagpuss himself once he was asleep was just an old, saggy cloth cat
    Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams
    But Emily loved him

    Bagpuss intro-8b

    Misters Oliver Postage, Peter Firmin, John Faulkner and Ms Sandra Kerr (and Emily of course), a tip of the hat to you all.

    Bagpuss intro-Small Films

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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    Bagpuss wakes up…
    …Bagpuss goes to sleep…

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #164/365: A saggy old cloth cat and curious cultural connections…


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  • Wanderings #51/52a: The Studies, Explorations and Conjurings of a Quietly Parallel Library

    Prefab Homes-Elisabeth Blanchet-Shire books-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    I’m quite taken by the books published under the Shires imprint.

    They are generally slim, almost pocket money priced reference books that focus on one particular subject and which apply the same level of importance to all their subjects, whether that be allotments, amusement park rides, beach huts and bathing machines, biscuit tins, British film studios, British tea and coffee cups, bungalows, buttonhooks and shoehorns, haunted houses, thatch and thatching, straw and straw craftsmen…

    From the concerns, equipment and activities, of kings and queens to coalminers, these books are a great leveller…

    …and also, whatever their subject, as a series they seem to quietly conjure up or hark back to some almost imagined, parallel, simpler, less troubled time; there’s a sort of cosy chocolate box-ness to the series of books, without them becoming twee.

    Two of my favourites are Pillboxes and Tank Traps by Bernard Lowry and Prefabs by Elisabeth Blanchett.

    Prefab Homes-Elisabeth Blanchet-Shire books-A Year In The Country-2

    Pillboxes And Tank Traps-Bernard Lowry-A Year In The CountryIn a way, prefabs could be seen as a form of brutalist, utilitarian architecture/building but there’s something very welcoming about them… when I was a younger chap and visited folk in them, they always felt quite magical, to have a certain character all of their own that I was drawn to and fascinated by.

    And although pillboxes were built at a time of great national worry, conflict and alarm, there is something about how they are presented in the Shires book which seems to respect that but also to regard them with a certain fondness or affection, to acknowledge their history but also to incorporate them amongst the more bucolic aspects of the land.

    Bernard Lowry-Pillboxes And Tank Traps-A Year In The Country-2

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #228/365: Studys and documentation of the fading shadows from defences of the realm…

    Wanderings #7/365a: Brutalist Breakfasts

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Elisabeth Blanchett along with Jane Hearn is the co-founder of The Prefab Museum. Well worth a visit here. Shire books can be visited here, their history here.


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  • Ocular Signals #51/52a: Image Y/2a

    Image-Y2a-3rd-year-A-Year In The Country
    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Wicker Man BBC Scotland On Screen 2009

    The ones in question were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  • Artifact Report #51/52a: A Year In The Country at Electronic Sound… Wanderings Amongst Escapee Phantoms and the Layers Under the Land…

    Electronic Sound magazine-2016-2017-A Year In The Country album reviews-1c

    Over this year and last, the A Year In The Country album releases have received a fair old bit of support from Electronic Sound magazine.

    So, with the year coming to an end and this year’s final A Year In The Country release – All The Merry Year Round –  having recently been written about in issue 36, the last of the year, I thought that about now would be a good time to gather together the reviews in the magazine…

    Electronic Sound Magazine-issue 21-Fractures album review-A Year In The Country

    On Fractures: “A skillfully weighted blend of dark folklore and synthesised experimentation…”

    The Restless Field review-Electronic Sound magazine-issue 30-photograph

    On The Restless Field: “…a wonderfully curated concept album that rips up the green grass of the idyllic countryside and forces you to consider the darker undergrowth. Beautifully unnerving stuff.”

    Electronic Sound magazine-issue 31-Fracture album CD review-A Year In The Country-2

    On From The Furthest Signals: “The ghosts are out of the machines.”

    Undercurrents-A Year In The Country album review-Electronic Sound magazine-issue 32

    On Undercurrents: “The countryside is often over romanticised, usually by those who don’t live there. A Year In The Country has dug a little deeper and hit on something much more profound to end up, if you’lll excuse the pun, in a field of his own.”

    Electronic Sound magazine-issue 35-The Quietened Cosmologists review-A Year In The Country

    On The Quietened Cosmologists: “Another issue, another release from the ever excellent A Year In The Country…”

    (Why thankyou, good sirs !)

    Electronic Sound magazine-issue 36-All The Merry Year Round album review-CD-A Year In The Country-2

    On All The Merry Year Round: “And my, what a way to end 2017… Albion’s hauntology has never sounded so bewitching.”

    Which seems like something of a good note to end this post on.

    Thanks and a tip of the hat to all at and who have written the pieces for Electronic Sound, in particular Push, Neil Mason, Finlay Milligan and Ben Willmott.

    Also to everybody who created the music: Circle/Temple, Sproatly Smith, Keith Seatman, Listening Center, The British Space Group, The Hare And The Moon, Alaska, Michael Begg, Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, Polypores, David Colohan, Howlround, Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Assembled Minds, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Pulselovers, Depatterning, Sharron Kraus, Magpahi, Unit One, Cosmic Neighbourhood, Jo Lepine and United Bible Studies and The Séance.

    Visit Electronic Sound here.

    The albums can be perused at our Artifacts Shop, Bandcamp and Norman Records.


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  • Ether Signposts #51/52a: Mary Webb’s Gone to Earth and Forebears of the Layers Beneath the Land

    Gone To Earth-Mary Webb-Four Square Books film cover-2

    I’ve been reading Mary Webb’s Gone to Earth novel, which Powel and Pressburger’s 1950 film was based on.

    The book was originally published in 1917 and is described on its back cover as being:

    A fine story of the Welsh Borderland, of a beautiful girl, a veritable child of Nature, who is loved by one man but seduced by another.

    It seems to be a forebear of more contemporary explorations of the land as being a place which is layered with stories, history, echoes and undercurrents, of a spectral or hauntological landscape – the patterns beneath the plough, the pylons and amongst the edgelands.

    Or to quote Simon Reynolds when discussing the A Year In The Country released album The Restless Field:

    “…places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles.”

    Although it is possibly more a consideration in part of religious concerns, for myself the section below in particular seemed to highlight a sense of the undercurrents of the land and quite frankly stopped me in my tracks:

    Gone To Earth-Mary Webb

    Jennifer Jones-Gone to Earth-1950-Powell and Pressburger-A Year In The Country-2

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions And Destinations:
    Mary Webb
    Gone To Earth

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Day #326/365: Harp In Heaven, curious exoticisms, pathways and flickerings back through the days and years…
    Week #36/52: Gone To Earth – “What A Queen Of Fools You Be”, Something Of A Return Wandering And A Landscape Set Free

    Previous considerations of the patterns beneath the plough, forebears and echoes amongst the land:
    Day #26/365. Christopher Priest – A Dream of Wessex and dreams of the twentieth century
    Day #316/365: The Detectorists; a gentle roaming in search of the troves left by men who can never sing again
    Wanderings #19/52a: The Folk Roots Of Peak Time Comedians From Back When / Wandering The Layers


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  • Artifact Report #50/52a: All The Merry Year Round – Further Broadcasts and Reviews (Wanderings Amongst the Moss, Golden Apples and Elsewhere)

    All The Merry Year Round-landscape artwork 1-A Year In The Country

    Further reviews, transmissions etc of the All The Merry Year Round album…

    dr-who-image-of-the-fendahl-Golden Apples of the Sun-radio show

    First up is something of a gathering from the album by Golden Apples of the Sun radio show, including Circle/Temple, Field Lines Cartographer, United Bible Studies and The Séance:

    “Claude Mono presents Golden Apples Mix Number 46 where the Doctor’s assistant from 1973 to 1976 Sarah Jane Smith enjoys listening to music from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pram, United Bible Studies and others…”

    Originally broadcast on RTR FM, the show’s archive can be visited here.

    Was Ist Das?-radio show-CAMP

    Was Ist Das? included Magpahi’s track on their radio show… from out in Arizona by way of the Pyrenees…

    Originally broadcast at CAMP, the show is archived here.

    Sunrise Ocean Bender-radio show-Bedsheet, Moss-Altered Circuitry episode

    Sunrise Ocean Bender included Pulselovers track on the Bedsheet, Moss / Altered Circuitry episode of their radio show (which is something of a fine episode title)…

    Originally broadcast on WRIR, the show is archived here.

    Mind Decoder radio show-episode 73

    Mind De-Coder included The Séance’s Chetwynd Haze in amongst the lysergic (of the rock and folk variety), Radiophonic and hauntological wanderings of their show.

    Originally broadcast on Waiheke Radio, the full length post on the show can be viewed here and the audio is archived here.

    John-Coulthart-Feuilleton-five in a row

    John Coulthart writes about the album at his feuilleton site:

    “…extended drones and atmospherics by regular contributors Polypores and Time Attendant alternate with contemporary takes on the folk idiom by Magpahi, Sproatly Smith, and The Hare And The Moon… this is another potent collection which doesn’t ignore the sinister potential of winter time…”

    Visit that here.

    Music-Wont-Save-You-raffaello russo-5 in a row

    Raffaello Russo has written about the album from over the seas at his Music Won’t Save You site:

    ““All The Merry Year Round” appare senz’altro la raccolta più varia e, in fondo, leggera nel catalogo recente dell’etichetta inglese, che sotto le insegne del mistero e della magia unisce declinazioni antiche e moderne della cultura popolare del periodo più buio dell’anno.”

    Visit that here (and via robotic translation here.)


    Previous All The Merry Year Round reviews and broadcast:
    Artifact Report #47/52a: All The Merry Year Round Reviews and Broadcasts

    All The Merry Year Round-CD album-Night and Dawn Editions-opened-A Year In The Country copy

    All The Merry Year Round is a wandering through an otherly calendar, which travels alongside straw bear and cathode ray summonings alike…

    The album features United Bible Studies, Circle/Temple, Magpahi, Cosmic Neighbourhood, Field Lines Cartographer, Polypores, A Year In The Country, Sproatly Smith, Pulselovers, The Hare And The Moon & Jo Lepine, Time Attendant and The Séance.

    More details can be found here.

    As always, a tip of the hat to all involved.


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  • Ocular Signals #50/52a: Image X/2a

    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations


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  • Wanderings #50/52a: The Good Life, Underground, Overground and Prime Time Gentle Bucolia in Suburbia and Elsewhere

    The Good Life-1975-BBC
    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    So, I was watching The Good Life, the 1975-1978 BBC sitcom where a chap who lives in suburbia decides he’s had enough of the rat race, quits his job and along with his wife decides to try and live self-sufficiently…

    But not self-sufficiency on a small holding out in the countryside. No, rather, this is self-sufficency attempted in a normal house in suburbia, next to their more conventional, affluent neighbours.

    As a programme it is enjoyable, lightweight comedy that has aged reasonably well; not quite a Fawlty Towers or Rising Damp but more than reasonably watchable.

    What is curious about it is the theme, of self-sufficiency, of a sort of middle-class back-to-the-land utopianism that at the time probably seemed pretty out there.

    (In the 1970s, as has been mentioned around these parts before, there was a movement or urge within society to look towards the land, folk culture/music and an attempt to find a more authentic meaning to life  and The Good Life could be seen as part of this.)

    With the passing of the years, many of the ways that the main characters, Tom and Barbara, get by and adopt have become quite mainstream; recycling, eating what are essentially organic foods that they grow and harvest themselves and so on.

    Although generally the taking up of such things have more been incorporated into modern life through being often organised or offered by councils, supermarkets and the like rather than the wholesale dropping out of the Good Life.

    Another thing that strikes me is that although some of the ideas presented within the series are quite radical and although much of the comedy is derived from the conflict between the self-sufficient lifestyles of Tom & Barbara and their more normal neighbours/setting, this is gentle, uncynical comedy – a form of bucolia in suburbia.

    The Detectorists-BBC-Mackenzie Crook-Toby Jones-A Year In The Country The Detectorists-BBC-Mackenzie Crook-Toby Jones-Johnny Flynn-A Year In The Country

    I think you could draw a line from it to Detectorists, the more recent television comedy series based around metal detecting, which also has a gentle, uncynical air to it.

    Another point on that line would probably be the 1973-1975 animated television series The Wombles, which again was ahead of its time in the way that it dealt with themes of recycling and waste.

    The-Wombles-Annual-1974-A Year In The Country

    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #316/365: The Detectorists; a gentle roaming in search of the troves left by men who can never sing again

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Encyclopedic views; The Good Life. DetectoristsThe Wombles.
    Flickerings; The Good Life. DetectoristsThe Wombles.


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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #50/52a: Plough Monday in Cambridgeshire 1978 and Tipping Point Recordings


    Plough Monday In Cambridgeshire 1978 is a short film of folkloric traditions in Cambridgeshire which can be watched at the BFI Player:

    For Fenland land workers, Plough Monday marks the beginning of the agricultural year and the resuming of work following the Christmas period. Locals in Cambridgeshire honour the traditions and execute a traditional Plough dance with great vigour. Anglia TV news reporter Alison Leigh interrupts the ‘Molly dancers’ to interview a participant. ‘Why have they revised this jolly old custom?”

    It is an interesting snapshot of local traditions and celebrations which despite being recorded a number of decades before its publication, would not necessarily seem out of place in Sarah Hannant’s Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year book from 2011, where she photographically documents contemporary folkloric rituals.


    Along which lines, one of the things that struck me when I watched Plough Monday was that although a period piece, it did not seem so far removed and almost from a parallel world as such films from just a few years before can do.

    It seemed to have more than just hints of what I think of as modernity or modern times – something in the atmosphere and spirit of the time and place, alongside certain aesthetic details such as the style of some of the cars and the branches of national shop chains that are pictured.


    It made me think of comments I wrote back in the first year of A Year In The Country about such things, that this film feels like it on the edge of now, today, while earlier films seems to be from an elsewhere-like before:

    …in a more abstract sense, possibly it’s because that point in time was a tipping point in society, it’s direction, aims, wants and needs; a move towards more individualistic concerns, accompanied by a move economically, politically and socially towards the right… Programmes made up until that point somehow are imbued with an antideluvian quality, they are now broadcasts or remnants from an “other” time…

    Watched now Plough Monday seems to be a document not so much of folkloric rituals but rather a recording of the new sitting alongside the old but with the new having the dominant hand and the old appearing already somewhat out of place, almost as though it is ready to shuffle off like creatures from an evolutionary strand that has almost come to its end.


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

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    Plough Monday In Cambridgeshire 1978 at the BFIPlayer

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #66/365: Sarah Hannants wander through the English ritual year
    Day #183/365: Steam engine time and remnants of transmissions before the flood
    Ether Signposts #5/52a: Homer Sykes Once A Year And A Lineage Of Folk Custom Wanderings
    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #46/52a: Barsham Faire 1974 And A Merry Albion Psychedelia


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  • Ether Signposts #50/52a: Klaus Leidorf’s Aerial Archaeology

    Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-7

    Over the year I’ve explored aerial views of the land and related aerial archaeology a number of times and mentioned how it can represent an “abstract art-like, natural calligraphy of the coasts, trees, natural features etc”.

    Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-6

    Along which lines, a while ago I came across Klaus Leidorf’s work, which in particular seems to represent or capture what look like almost staged artistic patterns and installations.

    Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-5

    Often his work focuses on man made structures and collections of items – stores of discarded tires become a circular semi-random repeat pattern, a coach park forms an arrow head like image – but its his images that are either purely of the natural world and/or the natural world temporarily tamed and given a degree of geometric structure or marking  by man that particularly catch my eye.

    Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-4 Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-3

    He has been photographing aerial archaeology since the late 1980s and a large archive of his work can be seen at his Flickr site.

    Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-1 Klaus Leidorf-Aerial Archaeology-2

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions And Destinations:
    Klaus Leidorf at Flickr
    A Selection Of His Work At Colossal

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Wanderings #15/52a: Other Views / The Patterns Beneath The Plough, The Pylons And Amongst The Edgelands #1
    Wanderings #31/52a: The Shadow Of Heaven Above
    Wanderings #40/52a: Further Natural Calligraphy / Carving The Land
    Wanderings #45/52a: Recording The Layers Upon And Under The Land


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  • Audio Visual Transmission Guide #49/52a: The Night Has Eyes

    The-Night-Has-Eyes-1955-BFIPlayer-Cats-Eyes-lighter 2

    When I was young the reflective glass cat’s eyes that were used to mark the dividing line between road lanes in the UK seemed like quite magical things.

    Cats Eyes-sparkle and reflection on the road

    That sense of magicalness was probably in part because of their name, the way lines of them spread out into the night as they reflected car headlights, the seeming improbability of their indestructibility when cars passed over them and that I was told they cleaned/washed themselves when cars passed over them – which always seemed like an impressive, practical and mildly astounding example of design and functionality.


    (Once in those younger years I owned some of my very own: near to somewhere that I lived their was a subsided road which had crumbled and fallen down the side of a hill – I think it had been repaired before but kept just collapsing again so it had been left alone. Along that stretch of disused road were some cat’s eyes and somebody plucked up the courage to go and fetch some of them when we visited it one time.)

    Although I know that they are still used on the roads, they don’t seem to be as commonplace as they once were and to a certain degree I think of them as belonging to a previous era.

    Anyways, at the BFI Player there is a short 1955 documentary film about them called The Night Has Eyes and well, I just had to watch it.


    It starts and ends like a scene from a rural noir, with period cars travelling down dark country roads at night and goes on to show the factory where the cat’s eyes were made and how they were fitted into the road.


    There seems to have been an awful lot of quite intensive labour, checking, construction and installation that went into the cat’s eyes and it seems to odd to watch this really quite heavy manual labour being done in suit jackets and trousers, in the days before modern workwear.

    (Oh and the documentary demonstrates how the cat’s eyes did indeed clean themselves when a car passed over them.)

    Investigating cat’s eyes further I found that they were invented in the 1930s by Yorkshireman Percy Shaw, after he was inspired when he saw the headlamps of his car reflected in the eyes of a cat…

    …which adds a certain pleasant winsomeness to them I find.

    However, I also discovered that there is the possibility that they are coming to the end of their days as they may be replaced by LED lights which apparently provide “extended visibility” over longer distances and in adverse weather conditions.

    So, on hearing that, Mr Shaw here is a tip of the hat to you and cat’s eyes.

    The Night Has Eyes-1955-BFIPlayer-Cats Eyes-3

    Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
    The Night Has Eyes

    Local Broadcasts:
    Day #115/365: Edward Chell’s Soft Estates – documents of autobahn edgelands

    BFIPlayer image


    I’ve been visiting the BFI Player a few times at A Year In The Country of late, so I thought I would mention what it is:

    The BFI Player is an online site, run by the publicly funded British Film Institute, where you can watch a selection of amongst other things independent, left-of-centre, experimental/arthouse, social history and documentary films and television programmes.

    Some aren’t easily available elsewhere, some of them are free to watch, some you need to pay a monthly fee/take part in a free trial and some are pay-per-view.

    Essentially it’s an online version of the BFI Mediatheques that are in some cinemas and libraries across the UK, which have screens/booths for you to watch a library of films etc.


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  • Ocular Signals #49/52a: Image W/2a

    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations


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  • Wanderings #49/52a: Further Bear’s Ghosts and Lost Dreams – from Soviet Era Space Shuttles to Hover Train Prototypes via Space 1999-esque River Transports..

    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    A while ago I came across Ralph Mireb’s photographs of an abandoned Soviet era space shuttles and related infrastructure.


    Even in amongst the many thousands or more photographs of abandoned and derelict projects, buildings, industry etc that can be found online, these still stand out.


    They bring to mind a very modern take or attempt at space travel, to seem to belong nearer to a modern day convenience or consumer take on space exploration than the more imperialistic seeming golden age of space travel traditional rocket designs.

    abandoned-buran-wooden-wind-tunnel-model abandoned-buran-wooden-wind-tunnel-model-5

    The wooden wind tunnel model is particularly eye and mind catching – putting me in mind of something nearer to a folk art project than an institutionally/nationally funded attempt at space exploration.

    One of the things that strikes me when looking at such projects is the scale of the infrastructure and buildings that surround them – it beggars belief almost, even more so when you think that they have been abandoned after such a huge amount of work and effort went into creating them.

    When I was wandering amongst those photographs, as is often the way, I found myself taking a few other routes and diversions and soon came out in another cul-de-sac that could well be called “The Shape of the Future’s Past”…


    In particular the Aérotrain prototypes such as the one above, which were a form of hover/maglev transport that at one point was being developed in France.

    These are from 1977 but seem to belong more to some midcentury modern, atomic age take on how the future was to be.


    And then there are the abandoned Soviet era hydrofoils, made from the mid-1950s to mid-1970s; there’s a bravery, an optimism, a genuine progressive modernism, a venturing and adventuring 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.

    They seem nearer to something that you would see in say a science fiction series such as Space 1999, to belong to the realms of imagination rather than actual working transportation vehicles.


    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #229/365: A Bear’s Ghosts…

    Week #34/52: Restricted Areas – Further Wanderings Amongst A Bear’s Ghosts

    Day #346/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #1; a library of loss

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Space shuttles (photography by Ralph Mirebs).
    Wooden space shuttle (photography by Alexander Marksin).
    Other forgotten vehicles (photography by baseguru (?)).


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  • Artifact Report #49/52a: A Year In The Country at The Sunday Experience

    Mark Losing Today-The Sunday Experience-The Restless Field-A Year In The Country

    Over the weeks, months and years Mark Barton has written a fair few times about the various A Year In The Country releases at his The Sunday Experience site and I thought it would be good to gather together links to a selection of his related writing…

    All The Merry Year Round-landscape artwork 6c-A Year In The Country

    On All The Merry Year Round:

    “Cosmic Neighbourhood whose sleepy headed ‘Winter Light’ we must admit, has had us creeping near the sound system somewhat fixated by its, as were, delightfully dinked dance of yawning diodes, binary alarm clocks calls and wheezing electrical nick nacs… (The Séance) usher these A Year in the Country reports to a year ending hibernation with the arrival of ‘Chetwynd Haze’ and in so doing, summoning forth secret portals into the kind of alternative parallel worlds more accustomed in the company of Melmoth the Wanderer. 

    Visit the three related posts herehere and here.

    The Quietened Cosmologists-landscape artwork-4

    On The Quietened Cosmologists:

    “…features a dozen spectral suites, each exploring the various aspects, forgotten histories and what ifs of these golden age adventures… Pulselovers serve up ‘Lonely Puck’ – a wonderfully serene and affectionate love note mailed out from across the outer edges of the cosmos, a transmission from a long lost and forgotten outpost if you like, twinkle toned and radiantly awash in what sounds like shimmering cosmic church bell celebrations… While last one for this brief ride, Field Lines Cartographer’s ‘OPS-4’ with its binary shimmer tones and vapour rubbed ethereal detailing, cuts a finite line between the enchanting and the eerie, a ghost flotilla perhaps a sonic spectre of sorts or rather more, an orbital occurrence with past visions looped on endless replay.”

    Visit that post here.

    Undercurrents-A Year In The Country-album-landscape artwork

    On Undercurrents:

    “…here these monolithic drone recitals act as something akin to aural cartography capturing eloquently the very pulse, the bleak beauty and the secret majesty of these wide open spaces all the time bowing forth to their legacy.”

    Visit that post here.

    From The Furthest Signals-clips landscape image-2

    On From The Furthest Signals:

    “Pulselovers whose ‘Endless repeats/Eternal Return’ is adored in a twinkle toned orbital phrasing all shepherded and harvested upon a delicately whirling crystal cut sepia fantasia. Listening Center draws this latest report to a close with the aptly titled ‘only the credits remain’, a beautifully serene and widescreen cosmic sea spray dimpled in sleepy headed dream drifts, utterly touching and tender, need I say more.”

    Visit that post here.

    The Restless Field-Night Edition-landscape sticker artwork 2-A Year In The Country

    On The Restless Field:

    “…is your bountiful feast of spring dew harvesting, an as ever exquisitely hand crafted package of dawn and night variations that features a fourteen strong gathering of familiar friends around the mystical and magical ley lines that crisscross these fair green lands each blooded and ghosted in historical flashpoints and historical turning points.”

    Visit that post here.


    On The Forest / The Wald:

    “The Hare And The Moon offering… a ghostly love note murmured in spectral tidings upon which droning mists descend which once cleared and lifted reveal siren-esque apparitions softly wooing with their beckoning bewitchment…”

    Visit that post here and here.


    On No More Unto The Dance:

    “A taking by the hand journey down dimly lit back alleys into signless word of mouth back rooms and basements where inside sounds come wired to the hive mind pulse of the underground, a place where Add N to X ghost lights prickle with ominous intent amid a palette populated by LFO trancetones, motoric murmurs, psychotronic disturbias, radiophonic echoes, kosmick pulsars, serene ambient flurries and soundscapes siren calling futureworld dystopias.”

    Visit that post here.

    Time Attendant-Crafty Mechanics-The Quietened Bunker-A Year In The Country-with stroke

    On The Quietened Bunker:

    “…a most alluring waltzing orbital sorrowfully sighing in the starry outlands mournfully transmitting crystalline cosmic distress calls from forgotten far off outposts to its long since fallen creator as it observes the heavenly nightlights in states of gracefall dulling, diminishing and disappearing…”

    Visit that post here.


    On Fractures:

    (Listening Centre’s) ‘Triangular Shift’… ought to find keen interested ears among those who tune into the occasional transmissions of the Ghost Box endorced ‘Belbury Parish’ podcasts… a futuristic orbital that takes its core reference point, or so it would seem, from the paranormal time travelling sleuths ‘Sapphire & Steel’…”

    Visit that post here.


    A tip of the hat to Mark and all concerned.


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  • Ether Signposts #49/52a: The Haunted Generation – A Spectral Primer/Revisiting and Hookland Re-Enchantments

    Fortean Times June 2017-Bob Fischer-hauntology-2b

    The June 2017 issue of Fortean times is well worth a visit.

    It contains an 8-page cover article called The Haunted Generation by Bob Fischer that essentially acts as a primer for all things hauntological and to a degree where such things meet and intertwine with the flipside and sometimes unsettled aspects of bucolia:

    From children’s TV to public information films, the 1970s were suffused with melancholy and disquiet. Bob Fischer discovers how Penda’s Fen and the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water inspired a generation to creativity, and ponders the future of popular hauntology.

    The article takes as its initial and core theme haunted/spectral television largely from the 1970s (rather than say overtly concentrating on the more lost progressive futures aspects of hauntology) and wanders elsewhere from its starting point as Bob Fischer talks to Jim Jupp of Ghost Box Records, Frances Castle of Clay Pipe Records, Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records and Richard Littler the creator of Scarfolk about their influences, inspirations and where they see such work travelling to next.

    Fortean Times-June 2017-Fiona Maher-Hookland-2

    Also in the issue and just following The Haunted Generation article is a feature on the imaginary forgotten English village Hookland, where Fiona Maher talks to its imaginer (summoner?) David Southwell, who says this on some of his reasons for Hookland coming to be:

    I wanted to do something that dealt with the ghost soil of Britain – all the folklore, all the high strangeness that grew and bloomed in the gloriously strange TV, film and books I grew up with as a child in the 1970s. I wanted to put the weirdness back. I strongly believe that re-enchantment is resistance and even back in 2012 you could see how the fight for the national narrative was going and how the ghost soil voice needed to be heard more strongly within it.

    Fortean Times June 2017-Bob Fischer-hauntology-Hookland-Fiona Maher-2b

    (File post under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

    Directions and Destinations:
    The Fortean Times
    The digital version of the June 2017 issue (which I assume is legitimate as the same website is advertised in the magazine).
    The lost county of Hookland

    Local Places Of Interest:
    Day #65/365: Mr Jim Jupp’s parish circular
    Day #162/365: Hauntology, places where society goes to dream, the deletion of spectres and the making of an ungenre
    Day #169/365: On your marks… the return and reprise of the corporeality of vibrations in the air… and a bakers dozen of Clay Pipe Music
    Week #20/52: Pastoral Noir, if onlys, a seeking of names / the ether giveth and the ether taketh away


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  • Ocular Signals #48/52a: Image V/2a

    File under: A Year In The Country Ocular Explorations


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

    Kelli Alli-Rocking Horse-album and EP-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Duke Of Burgundy-Cat's Eyes

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

    Jane Weave-Septieme Soeur-Finders Keepers Records-Bird

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

    Finders Keepers Records-Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders soundtrack

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

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

    The Butterfly-Kelli Ali-2c

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

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

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


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  • Wanderings #48/52a: A Few Ether Gatherings… Ghost Signs, The Vault of the Atomic Space Age and Avantgardens

    File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

    So, I was wandering around the ether a while ago and I came across a few places that variously caught my eye, intrigued me and/or made me think “I’m glad somebody’s gathered those together”…

    Ghost Signs UK-A Year In The Country-stroke

    Ghost Signs UK: for a while I used to collect images of these myself, I lived in an area where there seemed to be a fair few such things.

    I particularly like/was drawn to the ones that are barely still there, that are literally ghosts of their former selves.

    These painted, faded signs seem to form part of a semi-forgotten history of places, layers of how we once lived, worked and traded.

    …and then there’s The Vault Of The Atomic Space Age…

    Midcentury Modern-The Vault Of The Atomic Space Age-stroke

    There’s nothing quite like a good old bit of mid-century modern take on how the future once was…

    Avantgardens-Shepherd Huts In Slovena-A Year In The Country-stroke

    And finally Avantgardens… a gathering of experimentation and exploration in, well, gardens (amongst other places).

    The shepherd cottages from Slovenia are a thing to behold. They put me in mind of former Soviet Union folk art such as you might find in the Home-Made; Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts book or the design of Soviet bus stops in Christopher Herwig’s book of the same name.


    Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
    Day #335/365: Folk art – a wandering from these shores to other shores and back again…

    Week #9/52: Christopher Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops, echoes of reaching for the cosmos, folkloric breakfast adornment and other artfully pragmatic curio collectings, encasings and bindings…

    Elsewhere in the ether:
    Ghost Signs UK. The Vault of the Atomic Space Age. Avant Gardens.


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