The A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields Book
Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology
“An essential field guide to a distinct aesthetic that remains loosely defined, like a fluttering night moth that would die if pinned down.” Ben Graham, Shindig!
“A new book caught my eye recently – the title A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields, that goes in search of the darker, eerier side of the bucolic countryside dream by looking at films of a certain genre, books, TV series, music; it is great to have this fascinating subject explored so thoroughly and brought together under one title.” Verity Sharp, Late Junction, BBC Radio 3
A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields is an exploration of the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams and where they meet and intertwine with the parallel worlds of hauntology; it connects layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, journeying from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions.
In keeping with the number of weeks in a year, the book is split into 52 chapters and includes considerations of the work of writers including Rob Young, John Wyndham, Richard Mabey and Mark Fisher, musicians and groups The Owl Service, Jane Weaver, Shirley Collins, Broadcast, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Virginia Astley and Kate Bush, the artists Edward Chell, Jeremy Deller and Barbara Jones and the record labels Trunk, Folk Police, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.
Also explored are television and film including Quatermass, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, Phase IV, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, Bagpuss, Travelling for a Living, The Duke of Burgundy, Sapphire & Steel, General Orders No. 9, Gone to Earth, The Changes, Children of the Stones, Sleep Furiously and The Wicker Man.
The book draws together revised writings alongside new journeyings from the A Year In The Country project, which has undertaken a set of year-long journeys through spectral fields; cyclical explorations of an otherly pastoralism, the outer reaches of folk culture and the spectres of hauntology. It is a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land.
As a project, it has included a website featuring writing, artwork and music which stems from that otherly pastoral/spectral hauntological intertwining, alongside a growing catalogue of album releases.
Download two sample chapters at this web page: Contents list and sample chapters
“Author Prince has pulled together a mass of material culled not only from the website and its associated albums, but also a great deal more that was written specifically for the book. And the result is spellbinding.” Dave Thompson, Goldmine
“This incredibly well-researched book, which is obviously written by a man with an enormous passion for this subject, is probably as comprehensive as it is possible to be.
“Stephen Prince’s densely packed tome covers everything from folkloric film and literature to electronic music to acid folk to folk horror to the dystopian fiction of John Wyndham and the classic unearthings of Nigel Kneale to the formation of under-the-furrows record labels like Trunk, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.
“If you’re already interested in folk culture and want to be astonished by how deeply its roots run, you’ll treasure A Year in the Country enormously.
“Almost every one of the 52 chapters sideswiped me with a revelation that is already making me look at a genre I love with new, more appreciative eyes.
“Books this culturally valuable don’t grow on hedgerows, so make sure you harvest it immediately.” Ian White, Starburst
The book has been designed/typeset by Ian Lowey of Bopcap Book Services and edited by Suzy Prince, who are the co-authors of The Graphic Art of the Underground: A Counter-Cultural History.
“An excellent compendium of Prince’s musings and meditations on all things wyrdly bucolic, uncanny, and elegiac, spanning a spectral spectrum from Richard Mabey to Zardoz, Virginia Astley to Sapphire & Steel.” Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash
Text extracts from the book can be visited here, which will build throughout 2018 to include all 52 chapters.
Book Chapter List:
1. Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music: Folk Vs Pop, Less Harvested Cultural Landscapes and Acts of Enclosure, Old and New
2. Gather in the Mushrooms: Early Signposts and Underground Acid Folk Explorations
3. Hauntology: Places Where Society Goes to Dream, the Defining and Deletion of Spectres and the Making of an Ungenre
4. Cuckoos in the Same Nest: Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings
5. Ghost Box Records: Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the Panda Pops Disco
6. Folk Horror Roots: From But a Few Seedlings Did a Great Forest Grow
7. 1973: A Time of Schism and a Dybbuk’s Dozen of Fractures
8. Broadcast: Recalibration, Constellation and Exploratory Pop
9. Tales From The Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex: The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks
10. The Wicker Man: Notes on a Cultural Behemoth
11. Robin Redbreast, The Ash Tree, Sky, The Changes, Penda’s Fen Red Shift and The Owl Service: Wanderings Through Spectral Television Landscapes
12. A Bear’s Ghosts: Soviet Dreams and Lost Futures
13. From “Two Tribes” to WarGames: The Ascendancy of Apocalyptic Popular Culture
14. Christopher Priest’s A Dream of Wessex: Twentieth Century Slipstream Echoes
15. Sapphire & Steel and Ghosts in the Machine: Nowhere, Forever and Lost Spaces within Cultural Circuitry
16. Kill List, Puffball, In the Dark Half and Butter on the Latch: Folk Horror Descendants by Way of the Kitchen Sink
17. The Quietened Bunker, Waiting For The End of the World, Subterranea Britannica, Bunker Archaeology and The Delaware Road: Ghosts, Havens and Curious Repurposings Beneath Our Feet
18. From The Unofficial Countryside to Soft Estate: Edgeland Documents, Memories and Explorations
19. The Ballad of Shirley Collins and Pastoral Noir: Tales and Intertwinings from Hidden Furrows
20. “Savage Party” and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): Glimpses of Albion in the Overgrowth
21. Uncommonly British Days Out and the Following of Ghosts: File under Psychogeographic/Hauntological Stocking Fillers
22. Gone to Earth: Earlier Traces of an Otherly Albion
23. Queens of Evil, Tam Lin and The Touchables: High Fashion Transitional Psych Folk Horror, Pastoral Fantasy and Dreamlike Isolation
24. Luke Haines: Our Most Non-Hauntological Hauntologist
25. Tim Hart, Maddy Prior and “The Dalesman’s Litany”: A Yearning for Imaginative Idylls and a Counterpart to Tales of Hellish Mills
26. Katalin Varga, Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy : Arthouse Evolution and Crossing the Thresholds of the Hinterland Worlds of Peter Strickland
27. General Orders No. 9 and By Our Selves: Cinematic Pastoral Experimentalism
28. No Blade of Grass and Z.P.G.: A Curious Dystopian Mini-Genre
29. The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids: John Wyndham, Dystopian Tales, Celluloid Cuckoos and the Village as Anything But Idyll
30. Folk Archive and Unsophisticated Arts: Documenting the Overlooked and Unregulated
31. Folkloric Photography: A Lineage of Wanderings, Documentings and Imaginings
32. Poles and Pylons and The Telegraph Appreciation Society: A Continuum of Accidental Art
33. Symptoms and Images: Hauntological Begetters, the Uneasy Landscape and Gothic Bucolia
34. The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water: Public Information Films and Lost Municipal Paternalisms
35. Magpahi, Paper Dollhouse and The Eccentronic Research Council: Finders Keepers/Bird Records Nestings and Considerations of Modern Day Magic
36. Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before: Whispering Fairy Stories until They are Real
37. The Owl Service, Anne Briggs, The Watersons, Lutine and Audrey Copard: Folk Revisiters, Revivalists and Reinterpreters
38. The Seasons, Jonny Trunk, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Howlround: A Yearning for Library Music, Experiments in Educational Music and Tape Loop Tributes
39. An Old Soul Returns: The Worlds and Interweavings of Kate Bush
40. The Stone Tape, Quatermass, The Road and The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale: Unearthing Tales from Buried Ancient Pasts
41 Folklore Tapes and the Wyrd Britannia Festival: Journeying to Hidden Corners of the Land/the Ferrous Reels and Explorations of an Arcane Research Project
42. Skeletons: Pastoral Preternatural Fiction and a World, Time and Place of its Own Imagining
43. Field Trip-England: Jean Ritchie, George Pickow and Recordings from the End of an Era
44. Noah’s Castle: A Slightly Overlooked Artifact and Teatime Dystopias
45. Jane Weaver Septième Soeur and The Fallen by Watch Bird: Non-Populist Pop and Cosmic Aquatic Folklore
46. Detectorists, Bagpuss, The Wombles and The Good Life: Views from a Gentler Landscape
47. Weirdlore, Folk Police Recordings, Sproatly Smith and Seasons They Change: Notes From the Folk Underground, Legendary Lost Focal Points and Privately Pressed Folk
48. The Moon and The Sledgehammer and Sleep Furiously: Visions of Parallel and Fading Lives
49. From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, Wintersongs, Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails: Lullabies for the Land and Gently Darkened Undercurrents
50. Strawberry Fields and Wreckers: The Countryside and Coastal Hinterland as Emotional Edgeland
51. Zardoz, Phase IV and Beyond the Black Rainbow: Seeking the Future in Secret Rooms from the Past and Psychedelic Cinematic Corners
52. Winstanley, A Field in England and The English Civil War Part II: Reflections on Turning Points and Moments When Anything Could Happen
An Online Visual Accompaniment
Below is an online “cut out and keep” set of visual accompaniments to the chapters of the book, which will build to include all the chapters throughout 2018.
Chapter 1: Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music: Folk Vs Pop, Less Harvested Cultural Landscapes and Acts of Enclosure, Old and New
Left to right: the first and second British editions and the American edition of Rob Young’s Electric Eden book (2010-2011).
The gatefold cover and vinyl of Forest’s album Full Circle (1970).
The cover and vinyl of Kate Bush’s second album Lionheart (1978).
Construction scaffolding for statue in The Wicker Man film (1973).
Ghost Box Records logo/artwork.
The cover of one of the editions of Steeleye Span’s All Around My Hat single (1975) and characters from The Womble’s television series (1973-1975).
A period map showing enclosure/inclosure of the land.
Text extracts from Chapter 1 can be viewed here.
Chapter 2: Gather in the Mushrooms – Early Signposts and Underground Acid Folk Explorations
Artwork from the Gather in the Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974 compilation album. Released in 2004 and curated by Bob Stanley.
Once upon a time lost-lady-of-folk Vashti Bunyan as featured in the sleeve notes to Gather in the Mushrooms.
CD insert cover for Trader Horne’s Morning Way album from 1970, featuring former Fairport Convention member Judy Dyble and Jackie McAuley.
Left to right: Cover art for The Pentangle’s Basket of Light album, featuring their version of Lyke Wake Dirge and The Sallyangie’s Children of the the Sun, featuring a young Mike Oldfield and his sister.
Gatefold photograph from Forest’s 1969 self-titled debut album.
Artwork from the Early Morning Hush: Notes from the UK Folk Underground 1969-1976 compilation album from 2006, also curated by Bob Stanley.
Text extracts from Chapter 2 can be viewed here.
Chapter 3: Hauntology – Places Where Society Goes to Dream, the Defining and Deletion of Spectres and the Making of an Ungenre
Text from the debate around whether or not to delete hauntology as a music genre on Wikipedia. Bottom left – artwork by Demdike Stare, bottom right Ghost Box Records artwork.
Left-right: stills from the intro sequence for The Owl Service, Children of the Stones and The Changes television series.
Left-right: Daphne Oram and others working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, flexidisc of an advert for Bruton Music library music company, the cover art for The Season album by David Cain and Ronald Duncan.
Left-right: cover art for the Ghost Box Records released Sleep Games and Stasis, both by Pye Corner Audio.
A still from Panos Cosmatos’ film Beyond The Black Rainbow.
Text extracts from Chapter 3 can be viewed here.
Chapter 4: Cuckoos in the Same Nest – Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings
Left-right first row: The TV tie-in publication of Alan Garner’s The Owl Service novel, islanders in masks from The Wicker Man film and Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Left-right second row: cover art for the Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Withcults of the Radio Age album, cover art for The Owl Service’s The View From a Hill album, a still from the intro sequence for the Children of the Stones series and a Ghost Box Records logo.
Left-right: cover art for The Owl Service’s The View From a Hill album – designed by Dom Cooper of The Owl Service/The Straw Bear Band/Bare Bones, cover art for the Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Withcults of the Radio Age album – designed by Julian House of The Focus Group/Ghost Box Records and released by Warp Records and cover artwork from the Gather in the Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974 compilation album – released in 2004 and curated by Bob Stanley.
Left-right first row: DVD cover art: the BFI’s release of The Changes television series, Network’s releases of Alan Garner’s The Owl Service and the Children of the Stones television series.
Left-right second row: DVD cover art: the BFI’s release of Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape, the Director’s cut release of The Wicker Man, Doctor Who stories The Stones of Blood featuring Tom Baker and The Daemons featuring Jon Pertwee.
Members of the BBC Radiphonic Workshop.
Text extracts from Chapter 4 can be viewed here.
Chapter 5: Ghost Box Records – Parallel Worlds, Conjuring Spectral Memories, Magic Old and New and Slipstream Trips to the Panda Pops Disco
Ghost Box Records logo and artwork.
Left-right: The Radiophonic Workshop album by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and The Seasons album – poems by Ronald Duncan, Radiophonic music by David Cain (the Trunk Records reissue cover art).
Left-right: a poster that accompanied the Ghost Box-released Belbury Poly’s Belbury Tales album and the CD front cover.
The sleeves and artwork for the vinyl version of the The Advisory Circle’s Mind How You Go album (revised edition).
The CD sleeve for The Belbury Poly’s New Ways Out album – design by Julian House, circle illustration by Jim Jupp.
Artwork for The Soundcarriers Entropicalia album and accompanying poster, plus various Ghost Box related artwork.
Left-right: poster artwork by Julian House, the cover to Sketches and Spells by The Focus Group, exhibition poster by Julian House.
Ghost Box related artwork by Julian House.
Left-right: mandala like Ghost Box related artwork by Julian House and the album cover art for The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards.
Video stills from #1: Witch Cults – collaborative work between Broadcast and Julian House to accompany the album Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witchcults of the Radio Age.
Text extracts from Chapter 5 can be viewed here.
Chapter 6 Book Images: Folk Horror Roots – From But a Few Seedlings Did a Great Forest Grow
Left-right: stills from Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Wicker Man.
Still of islanders in folkloric animal masks from The Wicker Man.
The Wicker Man poster.
Curse of the Crimson Altar still: Barbara Steele in as Lavina Morley, Black Witch of Greymarsh, who is dressed in striking, opulent and almost surreal folkloric garb, including a behorned headdress.
A collage of images from Curse of the Crimson Altar.
Stills from The Innocents.
Stills and posters for Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses, aka Et Mourir de Plaisir and Il Sangue e la Rosa.
Left-right: introduction sequence images and text for Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape and Beasts and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service.
Introduction sequence images for Alan Garner’s The Owl Service.
Left-right: introduction sequence images and text from Children of the Stones and M.R. James’ Whistle and I’ll Come To You.
Left-right: image from David Rudkin’s adaptation of M.R. James’ The Ash Tree and Play For Today drama Robin Redbreast.
Image from David Rudkin and Alan Clarke’s Penda’s Fen.
Left-right: soundtrack artwork for Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and Queens of Evil aka Le Regine or Il Delitto del Diavolo.
Masthead for Folk Horror Review site.
Masthead for Folk Horror Revival site.
Left-right: photograph of an The Alchemical Landscape event and poster for A Fiend in the Furrows.
Left-right: cover art for Ghost Box Records’ In a moment… compilation album, Emily Jones’ and The Rowan Amber Mill’s The Book of the Lost and The Soulless Party’s Tales from the Black Meadow.
Artwork and photograph from She Rocola’s Burn The Witch/Molly Leigh of the Mother Town, released by A Year In The Country.
Image from Marshlight Software’s “psychogeographical folk tale” computer game Edgelands.
A collage created from a selection of the above Chapter 6 accompanying images.
Text extracts from Chapter 6 can be viewed here.
Chapter 7 Book Images: 1973 – A Time of Schism and a Dybbuk’s Dozen of Fractures
Packaging for the A Year In The Country released Fractures album.
Artwork from the Fractures album.
Delia Derbyshire / The BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Images from the early 1970 electricity blackouts in the UK.
The cover of the first edition of Richard Mabey’s Unofficial Countryside and connected television footage with Richard Mabey.
Still from the Michael Fassbinder-directed German television series World on a Wire.
Still from Blue Blood.
Still from the title sequence of the final series of Quatermass.
Text extracts from Chapter 7 can be viewed here.
Chapter 8 Book Images: Broadcast – Recalibration, Constellation and Exploratory Pop
Image of Broadcast from an Invisible Jukebox article in Wire magazine.
Left-right: Warp/Tommy Boy promotional photograph and a further promotional photograph.
Left-right: the cover art to the Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witchcults of the Radio Age and Mother is the Milky Way albums.
Left-right: the cover art to the Haha Sound album and the Finders Keepers/B-Music edition of the Valerie and Her Week of Wonders soundtrack album, featuring sleevenotes by Trish Keenan.
Left-right: Introduction sequence stills from The Tomorrow People, The Owl Service and Camberwick Green.
Left-right: photograph from Wire magazine interview with Broadcast, spread from Shindig! magazine and promotional photograph of Trish Keenan.
Left-right: cover art to The United States of America eponymously titled album, promotional photograph of the band, collage made from promotional photograph of the band.
Left-right: the cover of Ghosts of My Life book my Mark Fisher, Broadcast logo by Julian House, Wire magazine cover.
Text extracts from Chapter 8 can be viewed here.
Chapter 9 Book Images: Tales from the Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex – The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks
Left-right: tales from the Black Meadow album cover art and accompanying photograph from the album/project.
Left-right: The Book of the Lost album by Emily Jones and The Rowan Amber Mill cover art, accompanying photographs from the album/project.
Stills from The Equestrian Vortex introduction sequence in Berberian Sound Studio – sequence art directed by Julian House.
Left-right: still from Berberian Sound Studio, poster art for the film by Julian House.
Text extracts from Chapter 9 can be viewed here.
Chapter 10 Book Images: The Wicker Man – Notes on a Cultural Behemoth
The poster for the 40th anniversary restoration and reissue.
Various covers of The Wicker Man DVD and VHS releases, alongside book and record cover.
Artwork for Willow’s Songs album of traditional British folk songs that inspired The Wicker Man’s soundtrack. Released by Finders Keepers Records.
The Wicker Man collector’s cards, folder and print plates.
Left-right: poster artwork to accompany the 40th Anniversary soundtrack reissue and Nuada, a fanzine that focuses on The Wicker Man.
Various covers of books written about The Wicker Man, the book of the music score and David Pinner’s Ritual which was one of the influences on the film.
The first officially licensed soundtrack album, released by Trunk Records. A Record Store Day single of the soundtrack.
The cover to David Pinner’s Ritual, reissued by by Finders Keepers Records.
Left-right: the covers of the two editions of Allan Brown’s Inside The Wicker Man book, the first page of the chapter on The Wicker Man in Simon Wells’ and Ali Catterall’s Your Face Here.
Vic Pratt’s Long Arm of the Lore article on The Wicker Man, published around the time of the film’s 40th anniversary in the BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine. Also the cover of Sight & Sound which featured Rob Young’s Pattern Under the Plough article on the flipside of British folkloric film.
(First row, left-right): stills from Winstanley (1975), Akenfield (1974) and Sleep Furiously (2008).
(Second row, left-right): stills from Derek Jarman’s Journey to Avesbury (1971), Patrick Keiller’s Robinson in Space (1997) and Chris Petit’s London Orbital (2002).
(Third row, left-right): the cover art for a Blu-ray reissue of Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and a still from Penda’s Fen (1974).
(Left-right): cover art variations for Sneaker Pimp’s Becoming X album and Spin Spin Sugar, which featured How Do – a version of Willow’s Song. Cover art for a Record Store Day single issue of Willow’s Song/Gently Johnny.
(Left-right, first row): back cover art for Pulp’s album We Love Life, which featured the song Wickerman, that included a sample from The Wicker Man’s soundtrack. Cover art to the sing Trees/Sunrise from the album.
(Left-right, second row): postcard of location featured in Pulp’s Wickerman song. Artwork from Ben Wheatley’s Kill List film.
Photographs of the construction of one of The Wicker Man structures used in the film.
(Left-right): production details sheet, still from a deleted scene and behind the scenes photograph.
Contermporary photographs of locations used in The Wicker Man.
Stills from the BBC 4 series Cast and Crew (2005), which focused on The Wicker Man.
Title and stills from the BFI documentary Sing Cuckoo: The Story and Influence of The Wicker Man Sound track.
(Middle photograph: Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records. Lower photograph Stephen Cracknell of The Memory Band and Mike Lindsay of Tuung.)
Text extracts from Chapter 10 can be viewed here.
Chapter 11 Book Images: Robin Redbreast, The Ash Tree, Sky, The Changes, Penda’s Fen, Red Shift and The Owl Service – Wanderings Through Spectral Television Landscapes
DVD covers for the BFI releases of Reshift, Robin Redbresat and The Changes.
Still from Robin Redbreast and late 19th/early 20th century photograph of folkloric costume by Benjamin Stone.
Title sequence stills from The Omega Factor, Noah’s Castle and Quatermass (all released in 1979).
Stills from The Tomorrow People television series.
Cover art for The Modern Poets books from the 1960s and 1970s and artwork by Julian House of Ghost Box Records.
Stills from The Changes (1975) television series.
Still from The Ash Tree television drama from 1975: M.R. James’ story adapted by David Rudkin.
Stills from Penda’s Fen (1974).
Stills from Red Shift (1978).
Pages from the Filming the Owl Service book published in 1970.
Text extracts from Chapter 11 can be viewed here.
Chapter 12 Book Images: A Bear’s Ghosts – Soviet Dreams and Lost Futures
Images from Christopher Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops book, published by Fuel.
Images and the book cover for Danila Tkachenko’s Restricted Areas book from 2016, published by Dewi Lewis Publishing – the photographs focus on abandoned hardware, secret cities and installations from the Soviet Union during the Cold War period.
Ralph Mireb’s images of abandoned and incomplete Soviet era space shuttles (which are a curious simulacra of the American space shuttle in terms of design and can be found at the website Bored Panda).
One of Alexander Marksin’s photographs of discarded Soviet space shuttle wooden wind-tunnel models.