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Grey Frequency – Immersion: Audio Visual Archive 21/52

Print artwork from Grey Frequency’s Immersion album.

“Ethereal ambient transmissions… Through the manipulation of found sounds and field recordings Grey Frequency explores themes of memory, folklore, and the world of audio disintegration. Soundscapes are crafted using audio cassettes, tape players and effects pedals, creating an atmospheric blend of lo-fi ambient textures, dense drones and abstract musical passages.” (Text written by Grey Frequency.)

Links:

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

 

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Grey Frequency – Immersion: Audio Visual Archive 1/52

Artwork from Grey Frequency’s Immersion album.

“The phrase that comes to mind when I think of Grey Frequency’s work is broken signals; a scanning or overview of the ghosts in the airwaves, transmissions discovered via edgeland explorations and forays…

…when I listen to Immersion it feels like a capturing of activity hidden deep below the surface of things, the inexorable power of nature and it’s movement/force against it’s own edifices and those of civilisation over many years; a capturing of the sound of those self-same rending and collapsing into the below. Lovely stuff.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country).

More details on the album here and at Bandcamp.

Visit Grey Frequency’s site here.

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

  1. Day #192/365: When Do We Dream? Cold Geometries and Grey Frequencies
  2. Grey Frequency’s Agrarian Lament Video: Artifact Report #23/52a
  3. Audiological Transmission #50​/​52: The Quietened Bunker – Comms: Seen Through The Grey / Revisitation #4a
  4. Week #49/52: The Wanderings Of Veloelectroindustrial
  5. Audiological Transmission #30​/​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Drakelow Tunnels
  6. Audiological Transmission #25/​​52​​: Immersion – Coastline, Black Sky
  7. Day #346/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #1; a library of loss
  8. Day #362/365: Signals sent, signals received…

 

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Grey Frequency’s Agrarian Lament Video: Artifact Report #23/52a

Grey Frequency-Agrarian Lament video still-From The Furthest Fields

The Restless Field-Dawn Edition-front-A Year In The CountryThe video to accompany Grey Frequency’s Agrarian Lament from The Restless Field album can be viewed amongst their other hypnotic audio visual work at their Youtube channel.

Grey Frequency’s online home for their “ethereal ambient transmissions” can be visited here.

Further details on The Restless Field album can be viewed here.

 

(File Under: Encasments / Artifacts – Artifact #2a)

 

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Day #325/365: Artifact #46/52; Grey Frequency Immersion CD album released – Dusk / Dawn Editions

Grey Frequency Immersion CD album. Dusk Edition £10.00.  Dawn Edition £12.00Grey Frequency-Dusk and Dawn Editions-front covers-A Year In The CountryAudiological Research and Pathways; Case #1
Audiological contents: 01 Hemlock Stone (19:01). 02 Coastline, Black Sky (16:41).

Available at our Artifacts Shop, our Discogs Audiological Archive and our  Bandcamp page.
Prices include free UK shipping. Normally ships within 7-14 days.

Both editions custom printed and hand-finished by A Year In The Country.

Grey Frequency-Dusk and Dawn Editions-opened-A Year In The Country copy
Immersion was the first Audiological Research and Pathways case study that was sent forth at
A Year In The Country and I am pleased and indeed proud to be able to return to it.

Not least because it gives me the chance to return to the recordings contained myself. This is transportative music, something that sends and allows my mind to travel elsewhere; it is meditative and quietly unsettling.

The phrase that comes to mind when I think of Grey Frequency’s work is broken signals; a scanning or overview of the ghosts in the airwaves, transmissions discovered via edgeland explorations and forays…

…when I listen to Immersion it feels like a capturing of activity hidden deep below the surface of things, the inexorable power of nature and it’s movement/force against it’s own edifices and those of civilisation over many years; a capturing of the sound of those self same rending and collapsing into the below.

Lovely stuff.” (AYITC)

 

Dusk Edition: Limited to 52 copies. £10.00.
Hand-finished packaging; all black CDr in matt recycled sleeve with insert.
Grey Frequency-Dusk Edition-front-A Year In The CountryGrey Frequency-Dusk Edition-all elements-A Year In The CountryGrey Frequency-Dusk Edition-opened-A Year In The CountryGrey Frequency-Immersion-top and bottom of all black CD-A-Year-In-The-Country
Top of CD.                                                             Bottom of CD.

Artwork custom printed by A Year In The Country using archival Giclée pigment ink.
Hand numbered on the back of the insert.

 

Dawn Edition. Limited to 52 copies. £12.00.
Hand-finished white/black CDr album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with insert and badge.
Grey Frequency-Dawn Edition-front cover-A Year In The Country
Grey Frequency-Dawn Edition-opened 1-A Year In The Country Grey Frequency-Dawn Edition-opened 2-A Year In The Country copyGrey Frequency Immersion-A-Year-In-The-Country-white-black-CDr
Top of CD.                                                          Bottom of CD.
Grey Frequency-Dawn Edition-rear cover-A Year In The Country Grey Frequency-Dawn Edition-badge-A Year In The Country

Artwork custom printed by A Year In The Country using archival Giclée pigment ink.
Includes 25mm/1″ badge, secured with removable glue on a tag which is string bound to the sleeve.
Back of the insert is hand numbered.

 

Artwork/packaging design by AYITC Ocular Signals Department (utilising visual work/source material by Gavin Morrow).

 

Available at our Artifacts Shop, our Discogs Audiological Archive and our  Bandcamp page.
Prices include free UK shipping. Normally ships within 7-14 days.

 

Box-set Night Editions and string bound booklet Day Editions also available.
See Day #224/365.
Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-2 Grey Frequency-Immersion album-A Year In The Country

 

Below is the video which accompanies the Hemlock Stone track:

Visit Grey Frequency in the ether here.

Peruse Grey Frequency at A Year In The Country: Day #192/365.

 

The library of A Year In The Country Audiological Research and Pathways series includes:
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 #5: She Rocola: Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town
Case Study #6: Howlround: Torridon Gate
Case Study #7: Racker & Orphan; Twalif X

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 #224/365: Artifact #32/52; Grey Frequency Immersion album – Night/Day editions

Grey Frequency Immersion album. Night Edition £25.00.  Day edition £18.00.

Audiological Research and Pathways; Case #1
Audiological contents: 01 Hemlock Stone (19:01). 02 Coastline, Black Sky (16:41).

Available at our Artifacts Shop, our Discogs Audiological Archive and our Other Artifacts Etsy shop.
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 CD-R, string bound booklet, 4x25mm badge set, unique one off art print.

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-2

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-1

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-3

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-9

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-10

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-5

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-6 twin

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-7-print front and back

Grey Frequency-Immersion-one off prints-A Year In The Country
(Above: a selection of the 52 one-off prints.)

Grey Frequency-Immersion-Night Edition-A Year In The Country-8 badge pack

Night Edition Details:

1) All artwork 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 CD-R (black on top, black on playable side).

5) Black string bound 12.8cm x 12.8cm booklet:
a) Hand signed by Gavin Morrow of Grey Frequency, hand numbered.
b) Hand bone creased cover.
c) 12 pages (6 sides printed);
d) Contains 5 images, one credits page.
e) Front and rear covers are printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
f) Three inner pages are printed on 245gsm paper.
g) One inner page is printed on semi-transparent 110gsm vellum paper.

6) 4x25mm/1″ badge set contained in a see-through polythene bag with a folded card header.

7) One-off art print:
12.8cm x 12.8 cm, printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
Hand signed and numbered by the AYITC Ocular Signals Department.

Each set contains a different art print, 52 designs throughout the edition.

 

Day Edition: Limited to 52 copies. £18.00.

White/black CD-R album in string bound book packaging.

Grey Frequency-Immersion album-A Year In The Country

Grey Frequency-Immersion album-A Year In The Country 2b twin

Grey Frequency-Immersion album-A Year In The Country-5

Grey Frequency-Immersion album-A Year In The Country-4b twin

Grey Frequency-Immersion album-A Year In The Country-7b twin

Day Edition Details:

1) All artwork printed using archival Giclée pigment ink.

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

3) White/black CD-R (white on top, black on playable side).

4) Jute string bound 14.4cm x 13.2cm booklet:
a) Hand signed by Gavin Morrow of Grey Frequency, hand numbered.
b) Hand bone creased cover.
c) 12 pages (6 sides printed);
d) Contains 5 images, one credits page.
e) Front and rear covers are printed on 310gsm textured fine art cotton rag paper.
f) Three inner pages are printed on 245gsm paper.
g) One inner page is printed on semi-transparent 110gsm vellum paper.

5) CD-R held in protective fleece-lined sleeve.

 

Artwork/packaging design by AYITC Ocular Signals Department (utilising visual work/source material by Gavin Morrow).

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

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.

 

Below is the video which accompanies the Hemlock Stone track:

Visit Grey Frequency in the ether here.

Peruse Grey Frequency at A Year In The Country: Day #192/365.

 

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 #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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Audiological Transmission #50​/​52: The Quietened Bunker – Comms: Seen Through The Grey / Revisitation #4a

the-quietened-bunker-revisiting-a-year-in-the-country-stroke

Audiological exploration by Listening Center.

bunker-revisiting-2-for-bandcamp-strokeFrom the album The Quietened Bunker, which also includes work by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan.

Available at Bandcamp and our Artifacts Shop.

 

Revisitation #4a.

The Quietened Bunker-Night Editions-landscape sticker artwork-A Year In The Country

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

They could be seen as once modern fortresses – reinforced concrete and blast doors replacing moats and stone battlements.

However, these subterranean fortresses would likely also have been places of entombment – somewhere that those who once ran the infrastructure and defence of the nation would watch the days pass as supplies dwindled and the inevitable time came when the air filters would give out, all long before the world would become habitable again.

The Quietened Bunker-landscape artwork 3-A Year In The Country

Accompanying the main bunkers in the UK were a network of hundreds of small underground monitoring posts which would report on the size of an attack and the resulting fallout. Manned by volunteers, they were to be operational for just three weeks.

The intention was that these would form part of a network of civil defence and management, accompanied by government issued Protect and Survive leaflets/broadcasts that would have offered advice on how to protect home and hearth via little more than whitewashing windows as blast protection and forming a shelter by leaning mattresses against an inner wall of your house.

Looking back, such preparations can seem a reflection of some kind of madness or delusion in the collective consciousness and the halls of power – a tilting at windmills that was necessary to protect national psyches from the reality and aftermath of the sudden use and descending of mechanisms with almost indescribable destructive power.

The Quietened Bunker-29 of 52-Keith Seatman-A Year In The Country-stroke

Now it can all seem like a dream from another world, one where for a number of decades populations lived under the day-to-day threat of total annihilation and where millions was spent on this network of shelters and defences; preparations to allow fiddling once all had burned, such bunkers possibly being nearer to utilitarian national follies than fortresses.

Indeed, today they are as likely to be signposted tourist attractions as operative defences.

The Quietened Bunker reflects on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

 

transmissions-sent-the-quietened-bunker-a-year-in-the-country-9b-with-stroke

Transmissions sent, received, transmitted:

“The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations (i.e. my favourite places). And (spoiler) it’s brilliant – an absolute contender for my album of the year. Every single track is expressive of the theme, though they all take a different approach to presenting it.” Pete Collins at Both Bars On

“Grey Frequency’s Drakelow Tunnels is comprised of desolate drones like wind whipping through a crumbling building, menacing hums and echoes, and a repeated three-note melody loaded with foreboding… Listening Center combines music reminiscent of 1970s synth pioneers with a darkly experimental edge… David Colohan of United Bible Studies contributes a soundtrack-esque piece that is stark yet beautiful, a sense of hope shining through the abandonment like flowers arising triumphantly through crumbling concrete.” Kim Harten at Bliss Aquamarine

rue-morgue-popshifter-the-quietened-bunker-review-a-year-in-the-countryshindig-magazine-issue-59-quietened-bunker-review-page-91-strokethe-quietened-bunker-was-ist-das-review-a-year-in-the-country
From Rue Morgue, Shindig issue 59 and handwritten scribing by Was Ist Das?

“Over the course of the album, the sounds blend beautifully together,  each seemingly tied to the next by a sense of loneliness and abandonment, creating a very melancholic collection that is very engaging with every artist playing their part in the mystery. To end it all, David Colohan takes the listener on a magical ride as “Waiting for the Blazing Sky” unfolds around you, a soft melodic slice of electronics that seems to float without form or purpose, summing up the cold war relics that inspired this excellent compilation.” Simon Lewis at Terrascope

Other considerations and zeros and ones/frequency modulation broadcasts of the album can also be found at:

The Quietened Bunker-Night Edition-all items-A Year In The CountrySeance Radio Show / Include Me Out / A Closer Listen #1 / A Closer Listen #2 / You, The Night & The Music #1  / You The Night & The Music # 2Evening Of Light / Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone / Nick Luscombe at Late Junction / Music Won’t Save You / The Crooked Button Radio Show / John Coulthart’s Feuilleton / Syndae #1 / Syndae #2 / The Sunday Experience / Gated Canal Community RadioSimon Reynold’s Retromania.

A tip of the hat to all concerned.

 

The Quietened Bunker-secret bunker tourist road signs-A Year In The Country-3 copyFrankie Goes To Hollywood-Two Tribes-OMD-Two Tribes-Jona Lewie-Stop The Cavalry-Trailblazers-Sky Arts-A Year In The Country
A set of intermingled The Quietened Bunker wanderings can be perused via:

Week #30/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #1; A Lovely Day Out / Not Your Average Des Res

Week #31/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #2; Songs For The Bunker – The Once Was Ascendance Of Apocalyptic Pop

Week #32/52: Bunker Archives #3: Wargames, Hollywood phantoms and phantasms and the only winning move is not to play

Week #33/52: Bunker Archives #4; Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology and accidental utilitarian art

 

The Quietened Bunker-Dawn and Night editions-opened-release date-A Year In The Country

Further details of The Quietened Bunker can be found around these parts here.

 

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Day #192/365: When Do We Dream? Cold Geometries and Grey Frequencies

Grey Frequency-dark ambient-A Year In The Country 5File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations.
Case #24/52.

For a while now I’ve been finding myself drawn to certain areas of what could be called ambient music and/or tonal drone instrumental music.

I didn’t expect it, nor has it been a conscious decision but sometimes you look up and something has crept up on you.

This isn’t necessarily ambient music in the more new age sense of relaxing background music… in the racks of (hardly now existing) record shops, this is more likely to be filed under dark ambient.

In common with its lighter, brighter namesake, it is still music that you can let wash over you but at the same time it is often a much more experimental, subterranean form of this music than it’s sometimes blissful genre companions.

Grey Frequency-Cold Geometry-tape-A Year In The Country

I’ve wandered why I’ve been drawn to such things, often in the past having been quite an appreciator of the traditional song structure, melody and lyrics… possibly in these days of cultural informational input, overload and the cutting up of culture and attention into tiny, tiny bits and pieces, the less invasive, longer in time duration, contemplative pieces that can be found in such music have become a refuge, a place where I can appreciate music but also let my mind wander and dream.

And in the sense of being able to let your mind travel or absorbing music for an extended period of time, I’m reminded of what one of the originators of such things, Brian Eno, said when discussing ambient music; that he wanted to create music that you could use in the same way as you did light – it was just there and that you don’t necessarily want light to always be erratic, pulsing or strobing.

I used the word subterranean earlier for a particular reason… often the music I have been listening to conjures in my mind a sense of being literally underground, of journeys through tunnels deep below the ground.

Grey Frequency-dark ambient-A Year In The CountryOne of my favourite of such things is the work of Grey Frequency.

I first came across their work via a visual medium, while tumbl(r)ing down particular hills in the valleys of zeros and ones… I thought, ah, here is somebody that is approaching a sense of unsettled pastoralism, childhood wastelands, post-post war architectural concrete brutalism and associated patterns/textures in a manner not too dissimilar to myself.

And then I listened to the music and I was travelling and tunnelling through those aforementioned subterranean passageways, accompanied by a sense of bliss become dread, of creaking, lurking monoliths…

And what are those monoliths? What is that sense of dread? Well, this is inherently hauntological music, in that it captures a sense of the lost futures and utopias which were once promised; those creaking monoliths are the sounds of the fading half-life of the utilitarian reinforced concrete structures which were once signposts and symbols of those futures and better days. This is music as collapsed edgeland industrial estates and wastelands, where the buzz of the pylons carry electricity to elsewhere, nolonger here and transmission centres have fallen silent.

Grey Frequency-dark ambient-derelict building-A Year In The Country 3

This is music and a project which, for me (and of course I can only talk for myself, I don’t know the intentions of its creator) is imbued with a sense of the cold war dread that accompanied much of my childhood, of a country and its infrastructure in a state of crumbling and decay. And this might sound odd but for some reason when I hear Grey Frequency, it reminds me of soundtracks to big budget science fiction films… but the foreign, outer places its stories traverse aren’t those of far future worlds, those otherly lands are now our own futures past and landscapes.

Grey Frequency-dark ambient-A Year In The Country 6Grey Frequency is a multi-faceted project; music is at its core but it also takes in photography, lithographic print and video work. Its various manifestations can be found here (audio signals and physical artifacts), here (audio signals), here (static visual transmissions), here (cathode ray flickerings), here (ether connections) and here (compact communications).

If you’re of a certain age and cultural inclination, you may also enjoy Retro Reverbs, which is built by Grey Frequency personnel; a scrapbook or source library of imagery all held in a well-worn, long-lost mass publication paperback cover (adults only, as such things may well say on the cover).

You can take in the audio experience of Mr Brian Eno being interviewed by a picture book story telling, bearded, self-declared thaumaturge here, which is part of a chain reaction that was previously fed by Jon Brooks supporter and occasional appearer in these pages Stewart Lee.

 

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The Watchers – Released

Released today 7th June 2019.

Available in two CD editions: Dawn Light edition £11.95. Nightfall edition £21.95. Also available as a download.
Order via our Artifacts Shop and at Bandcamp.

Both CD editions are hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by A Year In The Country.

Features music and accompanying text on the tracks by Grey Frequency, Field Lines Cartographer, Widow’s Weeds ft Kitchen Cynics, Depatterning, A Year In The Country, Phonofiction, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Vic Mars, The Heartwood Institute and Howlround.

 

Amongst Britain’s trees there are thought to be over 3,000 ancient oaks – those which date back 400 years or more – and of those trees more than 115 are 800 to 1,000 years old or more. They are part of a tree population that also includes ash trees that have lived for hundreds of years and a yew that is estimated to be between 2000-3000 years old or possibly many thousands of years older and that some consider to be the oldest living thing in Europe.

These are living organisms which could be seen to be undertaking a very stately, still form of time travel, to be watchers and observers over the passing of the years, centuries and even millennia.

Some of them have lived through invasions of their island home undertaken by wooden ships, sword and arrow, the final days and passing of the old ways and the times of magic and witchcraft, the coming of the industrial revolution and the dawning of the digital era.

Throughout it all they have stood by and watched the endeavours of humans and the encroaching of their lands as the tales passed through traditional folklore evolved into the sometimes dizzying swathes of today’s cultural landscape, with these “mighty oaks” and their companions now coming to be living amongst the invisible hubbub of modern day wirelessly transmitted communications.

The numbers of these longstanding inhabitants of this once largely green and unpaved land have dwindled due to the march of progress but a few stalwartly continue their journeys through time. The Watchers reflects on those journeys and these ancient trees’ residing over growing layers of history.

 

Dawn Light Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £11.95.
Hand-finished white/black CD album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with fold-out insert and badge.


Top of CD and underneath of CD.

Further packaging details:
1) Custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
2) Includes 2.5 cm badge, secured with removable glue on string bound tag.
3) 1 x folded sheet of accompanying notes, hand numbered on back.

 

Nightfall Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £21.95
Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CD, 2 x sheets of accompanying notes, 2 x prints, 3 x stickers and 3 x badges.


Top of CD and underneath of CD.

Further packaging details:
1) Cover, notes and prints custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
2) Contained in a matchbox style sliding two-part rigid matt card box with cover print.
3) Fully black CD (black on top, black on playable side).
4) 2 x folded sheets of accompanying notes, printed on textured laid paper – one sheet hand numbered on back.
5) 2 x prints on textured fine art cotton rag paper.
6) 2 x 2.5 cm badge, 1 x 4.5 cm badge.
7) 1 x 5.6 cm sticker, 1 x 3.5 cm sticker, 1 x 12cm sticker.

 

Tracklisting:
1) Grey Frequency – In A Clearing
2) Field Lines Cartographer – A Thousand Autumns
3) Widow’s Weeds ft Kitchen Cynics – The Brave Old Oak
4) Depatterning – Ook/Dair
5) A Year In The Country – Radicle Ether
6) Phonofiction – Xylem Flow
7) Pulselovers – Circles Within Circles
8) Sproatly Smith – Watching You
9) Vic Mars – The Test Of Time
10) The Heartwood Institute – The Trees That Watch The Stones
11) Howlround – The Winter Dream Of Novel’s Oak

“A Year In The Country continue to release their sumptuous CDs… ‘A Thousand Autumns’ by Field Lines Cartographer celebrates an ancient oak, its cyclical shedding of thousands of leaves providing nutrients for next year’s leaves. The twinkling synth sounds like the falling leaves in the shafts of Autumnal sunlight… Sproatly Smith arrive with ‘Watching You’ another song from the point of view of these ancient trees, bird song, female voice, synth and acoustic guitar. Tracing the journey from acorn to mighty hollowed oak, a bucolic folk tune… Vic Mars is next with ‘The Test Of Time’ this song takes its inspiration from the great Eardisley oak tree, one of the oldest in Britain. A purely electronic piece of music which is both cathartic and gentle in nature, it’s stately and develops into a bucolic pastoral piece… This could be the label’s finest release yet.” Andrew Young, Terrascope

“The music portrays a gentle patience, from the field recordings sprinkled throughout the album to delicate chimes and folksong.” Richard Allen, A Closer Listen

“A Year in the Country’s latest uncanny release is The Watchers, a celebration of Britain’s trees that mixes electronica with eerie folk…” Jude Rogers, The Guardian

 

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Broken Folk, Is it Clearer? and Akiha Den Den – Audio Undercurrents Part 2: Wanderings 21/52

Part 2 of a round-up of some of the flipside and undercurrents of music released in the last year or so that has caught my ear and eye (visit Part 1 here).

First up is Seatman and Powell’s (featuring Belbury Poly) Broken Folk EP, which contains tracks from Keith Seatman’s last two albums and vocals by Douglas E. Powell, alongside a Belbury Poly remix of the title track.

It includes Boxes with Rhythms In, which features the following lyrics:

I’ve been messaging to send more oxygen… And all your sending is… Boxes with rhythms in.

The track is something of a favourite around these parts and previously at A Year In The Country I wrote the following about it:

This is a Space Oddity for contemporary times. In a very few words set to a buzzing, whooshing, flittering in and out synth background it conjures up a whole world and scenario of its own particular Major Tom… However, whereas Space Oddity seemed quite grounded in a recognisable reality, here, as with the album as a whole, the atmosphere it creates is something more otherly, one that while connected to our own reality also runs along its own separate path… And although this is quite experimental, far from mainstream music, boxes with rhythms in has an underlying pop sensibility, accessibility and an ear for a catchy refrain/chorus.

And is it just me or is there something about the inflection on the vocals on the EP, alongside the gently woozy synthesized instrumentation and a sense that the songs also hint at some other hidden cultural meaning that bring to mind here and there the later recordings of Coil such as The Ape of Naples album?

Vocalist Douglas E. Powell normally works in the folk music genre but the Broken Folk EP, although not overly retro, is reminiscent in part of futurist pop:

This five song 10 inch EP combines the plaintive English voice of Powell placed amongst Germanic analogue organ, synths and sequencers creating the type of dark Cold War soundscapes favoured by the Radiophonic Workshop to the Human League. Floydian incidental music for a late 70s post nuclear meltdown drama.” (Quoted from a review of the EP in Shindig! magazine.)

And there is also something of a melancholic air to the music on the EP, a sense of loss or yearning, which is referred to in accompanying text, alongside the low-key spectral undercurrents of the music:

“Melancholic and subtly psychedelic, these songs are redolent of supernatural short stories and winter afternoons out on English landscapes. They are dark rustic reveries, occupying the overlapping territory between haunted electronica and wyrd folk.

The EP was released by Keith Seatman’s KS Audio label in conjunction with Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly’s Belbury Music label – which he launched in 2018 and that he runs alongside Ghost Box Records. It is rather beautifully packaged, with cover art also by Jim Jupp that recalls the hardback cover of a pastorally inflected novel from maybe the 1940s or 1950s that you might discover quietly nestled away in a second-hand bookshop.

In terms of format it could be considered a 12″ single (or maybe somewhere between that, an EP and a mini-album). Out of the various formats I have bought music on over the years I think 12″ singles have been one of my favourites; more substantial seeming than a 7″, space for a few tracks, remixes and experimentation while avoiding that dreaded 8 or so track album spread over two vinyl discs syndrome that made some vinyl albums back when seem like, well, rather a faff to play and not really like an album.

12″ singles seem to have become fairly infrequently released nowadays, I suppose in part because they don’t actually cost anything less to manufacture than a full length album and so can’t be sold for as temptingly cheap prices as they once were (although I expect a fair few of the £2.99 or so 12″s I bought back in the day were in part released as loss-leader promotional items for forthcoming albums etc).

Visit the Broken Folk EP at Belbury Music here and the digital version at Keith Seatman’s Bandcamp page here.

Next up is Reet Maff’l’s Is it Clearer? on the album That’ll Be.

This is an at times rather unnerving piece of music which consists of ambient electronica accompanied by surreal spoken word vocals and brings to mind satirist Chris Morris’ Blue Jam album released in 2000.

The vocals initially and for quite an extended period appear to be a fairly straightforward recording of an optician carrying out an eye test.

However, after a while the standard “Is it clearer in one or two? How about now?” etc becomes “Are you happier in one or two? Are you happier now? Happier? Does the sadness seem sharper in one or two? One or two? Do you feel any sadder now? Okay, how about now? Any sadder? How about now?” and eventually just becomes a looping and quietly threatening “Now, now, now, now and now, okay and now, now, now and now”.

In the final few seconds the optician returns to a quite normal and perky “And now read the top line”, which breaks the spell somewhat in a way that I’m never sure if I should feel relieved about or not.

That’ll Be is released by Bloxham Tapes, a cassette and digital label which has a rather nice and eye-catching cohesive visual aesthetic:

Visit Is it Clearer? at Bloxham Tapes here.

And then we come to Akiha Den Den which:

“…collects electronic music created for an abandoned space: Akiha Den Den, the crumbling amusement park at the centre of a surreal radio drama.”

This is part of a multilayered, interwoven project that includes darkly ambient, Radiophonic and at times John Carpenter-esque ominous haunted electronica, dilapidated ghost train rides, the musings of a talking thought-mining cockroach and a radio ham picking up the transmissions from Akiha Den Den and has been described as:

“...a fever dream of radio waves and half heard transmissions…” (Quoted from text which accompanies the album.)

Akiha Den Den is what could be described an enigma wrapped in a riddle, one that you can only try and solve as you tumble down the darkening rabbit hole of the world it creates…

The project’s vinyl album, CD, booklet and 7″ have been released by Castles in Space, with artwork by Nick Taylor. I would say it’s a lovely package and set of artifacts, which it is, but lovely does not seem quite appropriate for the unsettled dreamscape of Akiha Den Den.

The music for the project was created by Simon James, who has previously worked as The Simonsound (with Matt Ford) and released the dark-pop and sometimes explorations-of-the-preternatural-in-suburbia Black Channels (with Becky Randall).

Visit Akiha Den Den at Castles in Space’s website here, at Simon James’ Bandcamp page here, more details on the project and the radio drama written and directed by Neil Cargill at the Akiha Den Den site here and the Akiha Den Den theme here.

 

Part 1 of this post focused on releases by Howlround, Woodford Halse, Rowan : Morrison and Grey Frequency. It can be visited here.

 

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The Watchers – Preorder

Preorder today 14th May 2019. Released 7th June 2019.

Available in two CD editions: Dawn Light edition £11.95. Nightfall edition £21.95. Also available as a download.
Preorder via our Artifacts Shop and at Bandcamp.

Both CD editions are hand-finished and custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink by A Year In The Country.

Amongst Britain’s trees there are thought to be over 3,000 ancient oaks – those which date back 400 years or more – and of those trees more than 115 are 800 to 1,000 years old or more. They are part of a tree population that also includes ash trees that have lived for hundreds of years and a yew that is estimated to be between 2000-3000 years old or possibly many thousands of years older and that some consider to be the oldest living thing in Europe.

These are living organisms which could be seen to be undertaking a very stately, still form of time travel, to be watchers and observers over the passing of the years, centuries and even millennia.

Some of them have lived through invasions of their island home undertaken by wooden ships, sword and arrow, the final days and passing of the old ways and the times of magic and witchcraft, the coming of the industrial revolution and the dawning of the digital era.

Throughout it all they have stood by and watched the endeavours of humans and the encroaching of their lands as the tales passed through traditional folklore evolved into the sometimes dizzying swathes of today’s cultural landscape, with these “mighty oaks” and their companions now coming to be living amongst the invisible hubbub of modern day wirelessly transmitted communications.

The numbers of these longstanding inhabitants of this once largely green and unpaved land have dwindled due to the march of progress but a few stalwartly continue their journeys through time. The Watchers reflects on those journeys and these ancient trees’ residing over growing layers of history.

Features music and accompanying text on the tracks by Grey Frequency, Field Lines Cartographer, Widow’s Weeds ft Kitchen Cynics, Depatterning, A Year In The Country, Phonofiction, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Vic Mars, The Heartwood Institute and Howlround.

 

Dawn Light Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £11.95.
Hand-finished white/black CD album in textured recycled fold out sleeve with fold-out insert and badge.



Top of CD and underneath of CD.

Further packaging details:
1) Custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
2) Includes 2.5 cm badge, secured with removable glue on string bound tag.
3) 1 x folded sheet of accompanying notes, hand numbered on back.

 

Nightfall Edition. Limited to 104 copies. £21.95
Hand-finished box-set contains: album on all black CD, 2 x sheets of accompanying notes, 2 x prints, 3 x stickers and 3 x badges.



Top of CD and underneath of CD.

Further packaging details:
1) Cover, notes and prints custom printed using archival giclée pigment ink.
2) Contained in a matchbox style sliding two-part rigid matt card box with cover print.
3) Fully black CD (black on top, black on playable side).
4) 2 x folded sheets of accompanying notes, printed on textured laid paper – one sheet hand numbered on back.
5) 2 x prints on textured fine art cotton rag paper.
6) 2 x 2.5 cm badge, 1 x 4.5 cm badge.
7) 1 x 5.6 cm sticker, 1 x 3.5 cm sticker, 1 x 12cm sticker.

 

Tracklisting:

1) Grey Frequency – In A Clearing
2) Field Lines Cartographer – A Thousand Autumns
3) Widow’s Weeds ft Kitchen Cynics – The Brave Old Oak
4) Depatterning – Ook/Dair
5) A Year In The Country – Radicle Ether
6) Phonofiction – Xylem Flow
7) Pulselovers – Circles Within Circles
8) Sproatly Smith – Watching You
9) Vic Mars – The Test Of Time
10) The Heartwood Institute – The Trees That Watch The Stones
11) Howlround – The Winter Dream Of Novel’s Oak

 

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The Quietened Mechanisms – Audio Visual Archive 19/52

Print artwork from The Quietened Mechanisms album.

The album is an exploration of abandoned and derelict industry, infrastructure, technology and equipment that once upon a time helped to create, connect and sustain society.

It wanders amongst deserted factories, discarded machinery, closed mines, mills and kilns and their echoes and remains; taking a moment or two to reflect on these once busy, functioning centres of activity and the sometimes sheer scale or amount of effort and human endeavour that was required to create and operate such structures and machines, many of which are now just left to fade away.

 

Features music and accompanying text on the tracks by Howlround, Grey Frequency, Listening Center, Sproatly Smith, Embertides, Keith Seatman, Time Attendant, A Year In The Country, Dom Cooper, Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Depatterning, Pulselovers, Quaker’s Stang, The Heartwood Institute and Spaceship.

 

“A Year In The Country and a selection of their regular musical contributors here turn their attention to abandoned factories and technology, spending an enraptured hour or so wandering among their ghosts… each track reflects a specific location, combining field recordings, musique concrete and spooked electronica into a strangely transporting whole.” Ben Graham, Shindig! magazine, issue 84

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

 

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The Quietened Village – Writing, Broadcasts and Traces of Ghosts

A selection of broadcasts, reviews etc of The Quietened Village reissue…

Pulselovers “The Coast In Flux” and Polypores “Playground Ritual” were included in the “You Will Improve Or Disappear” and “Anything, Anyone” episodes of Sunrise Ocean Bender, alongside their other eclectic and intriguing wanderings.

(As an aside the first of those episodes takes its title from Grey Frequency’s Ufology album, which I have written about previously. If “lo-fi drones, dark ambient textures, and cassette-looped field recordings” and an album themed around 20th century UFO folklore pique your interest then the album can be found here.)

The Heartwood Institute’s “Armboth & Wythburn” was on the playlist for episode 400 of Pull The Plug where it can be found in amongst the likes of tracks by Art Of The Memory Palace and sometimes fellow A Year In The Country travellers Listening Centre.

You, the Night & the Music played The Soulless Party’s “Damnatorum”, Cosmic Neighbourhood’s “Bunk Beds”, A Year In The Country’s “47 Days And Fathoms Deep” and The Rowan Amber Mill’s “Separations” on two separate shows originally broadcast on Sine FM, which can be visited here and here.

(As a further aside the gent who hosts that show also works as Pulselovers and has created the Woodford Halse released Undululating Waters compilations which I have also mentioned at A Year In The Country before and which are well worth a visit.)

Cosmic Neighbourhood’s “Bunk Beds” and Sproatly Smith’s “Lost Villages Of Holderness” were included in two episodes of the flipside of folk and spectral hauntological selections of The Unquiet Meadow. Visit the playlists for those here and here and the show’s page at Asheville FM here.

Verity Sharp played A Year In The Country’s “47 Days And Fathoms Deep” on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction – a show which is rather aptly described as involving “Journeys in music, ancient to future. The home for adventurous listeners.”

Visit the episode of the show here.

Cosmic Neighbourhood’s “Bunk Beds” and Sproatly Smith’s “The Lost Villages Of Holderness” were also played on episode 84 of Mind De-Coder:

“Sproatly Smith’s contribution addresses the strange lands lying east of Hull to the North Sea known as Holderness. This area has the fastest eroding coastline in Europe, losing 2 metres every year. The soft cliffs had supported villages and communities that have been swallowed by the tides. Elegiac, but never less than lovely, the track inhabits the slightly mournful quality of the shipping forecast alongside the wyrdfolk otherlysness of all their music.”

Visit the episode’s blog page here and its Mixcloud here, where you are likely to find “the sort of music that has slipped away into the cracks between reality”. Sounds good to me.

Dave Thompson reviewed the album at his Spincycle column, which can be found at Goldmine magazine’s site:

“The collection conjures its own memories – a landlocked version of Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic, perhaps.  Each track unfolds like a snatch of soundtrack to a documentary that ought to be made; each one conveys a sense of the desolation it honors, whether at the moment of its destruction, or at some point on either side.  Even those tracks that reach more for the feel of the theme, as opposed to the mood of a specific place, cannot help but touch the walls, or trace the ghosts, of these forgotten places.  And remind us that maybe they’re not as quiet as people think.”

The Quietened Village is a study of and reflection on lost, disappeared and once were villages and hamlets that have wandered off the maps or that have become shells of their former lives and times.

The album features music and accompanying text on the tracks by The Straw Bear Band, Field Lines Cartographer, The Heartwood Institute, Howlround, The Rowan Amber Mill, Polypores, Pulselovers, The Soulless Party, Time Attendant, A Year In The Country, Sproatly Smith and Cosmic Neighbourhood.

More details on it can be found here.

 

As always a tip of the hat and thanks to all concerned.

 

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Audio Albion – Audio Visual Archive 17/52

Features work by Bare Bones, David Colohan, Grey Frequency, Field Lines Cartographer, Howlround, A Year In The Country, Keith Seatman, Magpahi, Sproatly Smith, Widow’s Weeds, Time Attendant, Spaceship, Pulselovers, The Heartwood Institute and Vic Mars.

Audio Albion is a music and field recording map of Britain, which focuses on rural and edgeland areas.

Each track contains field recordings from locations throughout the land and is accompanied by notes on the recordings by the contributors.

The tracks record the sounds found and heard when wandering down pathways, over fields, through marshes, alongside rivers, down into caves and caverns, climbing hills, along coastlands, through remote mountain forestland, amongst the faded signs of industry and infrastructure and its discarded debris.

Intertwined with the literal recording of locations, the album explores the history, myths and beliefs of the places, their atmospheres and undercurrents, personal and cultural connections – the layered stories that lie amongst, alongside and beneath the earth, plants and wildlife.

(Quoted from text which accompanies the album.)

“…’music and field recording map of Britain’ featuring 15 tracks that incorporate found sounds from rural walks, semi-industrial ‘edgeland’ and liminal spaces between this world and the next… The compositions often suggest unseen images and unrevealed narrative…” Ben Graham in Shindig! magazine, issue 79

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

 

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The Watchers – Album Preorder and Release Dates

Preorder 14th May 2019. Released 7th June 2019.

Amongst Britain’s trees there are thought to be over 3,000 ancient oaks – those which date back 400 years or more – and of those trees more than 115 are 800 to 1,000 years old or more. They are part of a tree population that also includes ash trees that have lived for hundreds of years and a yew that is estimated to be between 2000-3000 years old or possibly many thousands of years older and that some consider to be the oldest living thing in Europe.

These are living organisms which could be seen to be undertaking a very stately, still form of time travel, to be watchers and observers over the passing of the years, centuries and even millennia.

Some of them have lived through invasions of their island home undertaken by wooden ships, sword and arrow, the final days and passing of the old ways and the times of magic and witchcraft, the coming of the industrial revolution and the dawning of the digital era.

Throughout it all they have stood by and watched the endeavours of humans and the encroaching of their lands as the tales passed through traditional folklore evolved into the sometimes dizzying swathes of today’s cultural landscape, with these “mighty oaks” and their companions now coming to be living amongst the invisible hubbub of modern day wirelessly transmitted communications.

The numbers of these longstanding inhabitants of this once largely green and unpaved land have dwindled due to the march of progress but a few stalwartly continue their journeys through time. The Watchers reflects on those journeys and these ancient trees’ residing over growing layers of history.

 

Features music and accompanying text on the tracks by:
Grey Frequency
Field Lines Cartographer
Widow’s Weeds ft Kitchen Cynics (The Hare And The Moon)
Depatterning
A Year In The Country
Phonofiction (Dom Cooper / The Straw Bear Band / David Hood)
Pulselovers
Sproatly Smith
Vic Mars
The Heartwood Institute
Howlround

 

Will be available at our Artifacts Shop and Bandcamp page.

 

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The Quietened Cosmologists – Audio Visual Archive 15/52

The Quietened Cosmologists is a reflection on space exploration projects that have been abandoned and/or that were never realised, of connected lost or imagined futures and dreams, the intrigue and sometimes melancholia of related derelict sites and technological remnants that lie scattered and forgotten.

It takes as its initial starting points the shape of the future’s past via the discarded British space program of the 1950s to 1970s; the sometimes statuesque and startling derelict artifacts and infrastructure from the Soviet Union’s once far reaching space projects; the way in which manned spaceflight beyond Earth’s orbit/to the moon and the associated sense of a coming space age came to be largely put to one side after the 1969 to 1972 US Apollo flights.

(Quoted from text which accompanies the album.)

Includes work by Field Lines Cartographer, Pulselovers, Magpahi, Howlround, Vic Mars, Unit One, A Year In The Country, Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, Time Attendant, Listening Center, Polypores and David Colohan.

“The ruins of Britain’s own contribution to the Space Race—especially those like the abandoned launch-pad at High Down on the Isle of Wight—are all the more poignant for the gulf between their past ambition and present state of decay.” John Coulthart writing about the album and related themes at his feuilletion site.

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

 

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From The Furthest Signals: Audio Visual Archive 13/52

From The Furthest Signals takes as its initial reference points films, television and radio programs that have been in part or completely lost or wiped during a period in history before archiving and replication of such work had gained today’s technological and practical ease.

Curiously, such television and radio broadcasts may not be fully lost to the wider universe as they can travel or leak out into space and so may actually still exist far from their original points of transmission and places of creation, possibly in degraded, fractured form and/or mixed amongst other stellar noises and signals.

The explorations of From The Furthest Signals are soundtracks imagined and filtered through the white noise of space and time; reflections on those lost tales and the way they can become reimagined via hazy memories and history, of the myths that begin to surround such discarded, lost to view or vanished cultural artefacts.

(Quoted from the text which accompanies the album.)

Includes work by Circle/Temple, David Colohan, Sharron Kraus, A Year In The Country, Time Attendant, Depatterning, Field Lines Cartographer, Grey Frequency, Keith Seatman, Polypores, The Hare And The Moon, Pulselovers and Listening Center.

Above is the review of the album in Electronic Sound magazine.

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

 

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The Restless Field: Audio Visual Archive 12/52

The Restless Field is a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with sometimes more often referred to urban events.

It takes inspiration from flashpoints in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land.

References and starting points include: The British Miners Strike of 1984 and the Battle Of Orgreave. Gerrard Winstanley & the Diggers/True Levellers in the 17th century. The first battle of the English Civil War in 1642. The burying of The Rotherwas Ribbon. The Mass Tresspass of Kinder Scout in 1932. Graveney Marsh/the last battle fought on English soil. The Congested Districts Board/the 19th century land war in Ireland. The Battle Of The Beanfield in 1985.

Includes work by Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Assembled Minds, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Listening Center, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Polypores, Depatterning, Time Attendant, A Year In The Country and David Colohan.

 

“… another exquisitely packaged affair… murky and ominous as befits the guiding thematic: places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles.” (Simon Reynolds writing at blissblog)

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

  1. Artifact Report #18/52a: The Restless Field
  2. Artifact Report #14/52a: The Restless Field at Simon Reynold’s blissblog and the sunday experience
  3. Artifact Report #16/52a: The Restless Field at Flatland Frequencies, Syndae and whisperandhollerin
  4. Artifact Report #17/52a: The Restless Field at Sunrise Ocean Bender and John Coulthart’s Feuilleton
  5. Artifact Report #19/52a: The Restless Field Transmissions and Reviews
  6. Artifact Reports #36/52a: The Restless Field: A Return Visit – Further Reviews and Transmissions

 

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The Quietened Bunker: Audio Visual Archive 9/52

“The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.” (Quoted from text which accompanied the album.)

It includes work by Keith Seatman, Grey Frequency, A Year In The Country, Panabrite, Polypores, Listening Center, Time Attendant, Unknown Heretic and David Colohan

“…the drifting drones of ‘Drakelow Tunnels’ is music for ghosts. Created by Grey Frequency the track is stark and beautiful, you can almost see the figures that endlessly walk the abandoned corridors, lost souls frozen in time.” (Quoted from a review at Terrascope.)

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

  1. The Quietened Bunker – Night and Dawn editions released
  2. Week #30/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #1; A Lovely Day Out / Not Your Average Des Res
  3. Week #31/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #2; Songs For The Bunker – The Once Was Ascendance Of Apocalyptic Pop
  4. Week #32/52: Bunker Archives #3: Wargames, Hollywood phantoms and phantasms and the only winning move is not to play
  5. Week #33/52: Bunker Archives #4; Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology and accidental utilitarian art
  6. Audiological Transmission #29/​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Lower Level Clock Room
  7. Audiological Transmission #30​/​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Drakelow Tunnels
  8. Audiological Transmission #31/​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Aggregates II
  9. Audiological Transmission #32/​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Crafty Mechanics
  10. Audiological Transmission #33​/​​​​​​52​​: The Quietened Bunker – Waiting For The Blazing Skies
  11. Audiological Transmission #50​/​52: The Quietened Bunker – Comms: Seen Through The Grey / Revisitation #4a
  12. The Quietened Bunker – A Gathering Of Transmissions
  13. The Quietened Bunker – A Timely Gathering Of Transmissions
  14. The Quietened Bunker, Waiting for the End of the World, Subterranea Britannica, Bunker Archaeology and The Delaware Road – Ghosts, Havens and Curious Repurposings Beneath our Feet: Chapter 17 Book Images

 

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The Debatable Lands, Undulating Waters, In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses and Ufology – Audio Undercurrents Part 1: Wanderings 8/52

Something of a round-up of some of the flipside and undercurrents of music released in the last year or so that has caught my ear and eye…

First up is The Debatable Lands, the sixth studio album from tape-wranglers Howlround… well, strictly speaking I suppose it was recorded in a form of improvised home studio:

“In December 2017, Howlround (Robin the Fog) was invited to perform at “The Winter Solstice Soundscapes” event for the recently opened record store “Vinyl Café” in his home town of Carlisle, Cumbria. Inspired by the reception to his first ever performance in the great border city, he covered his parent’s dining room table with the same equipment, stretched loops of tape around his mum’s seasonal candlesticks when she wasn’t looking… and this LP is the result. The only equipment used on the album is two 1/4” reel-to-reel tape machines and one microphone. The sounds created are entirely at the discretion of the machines (much of them derived from ‘closed-input’ recordings) and all tracks were produced in a single take. There are no edits, no overdubs and no additional effects.”

The method of recording brings to mind tales of Delia Derbyshire running tape loops round the corridors of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop after most people had gone home, which seems a rather appropriate line of connection considering that Howlround’s first album The Ghosts of Bush was in part a tribute to Bush House, the now closed previous home for the BBC’s World Service and also the way in which Howlround’s recording techniques could be considered part of a lineage that connects back to the experiments of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

In comparison with some earlier work The Debatable Lands features quite a heavy take on the Howlround sound, which at times brings to mind a form of accidental hazy pulsating and almost gabba-like techno (or “tapeloop techno” to use a phrase from the Howlround site). That sense of gabba-like tapeloop techno is particularly present on the track Black Path which with its crunching distorted industrial-esque beats could well have been found on an unmarked white label 12″ bought from the “Fringe & Experimental” section of an independent dance music record shop in London’s Soho a decade or two ago and which has mysteriously resurfaced via Howlround’s tape wrangling and channeling of recordings’ lost and hidden echoes on this album.

Details on the album can be found at Howlround’s site and at the Touch Shop.

Next up are the compilations Undulating Waters 1 and 2, released by Woodford Halse, which is a project created by Mat Handley who broadcasts the radio show You, the Night & the Music and releases music as Pulselovers.

The two cassette and digital album releases could be considered a physical embodiment of the eclectic selections in the radio show and includes the flipside, undercurrents and sometimes hauntologically spectral sides of electronic, psychedelic, experimental and folk music.

The albums are beautifully packaged and there is a sense of them being a particular labour of love; the slip cases are individually screen printed, die cut and indented, while the inner j-card is also indented and has a die cut “window” through which you can see the included collector’s card.

Pulselovers have had a number of tracks on the A Year In The Country music releases and there is a further crossover with the Undulating Waters albums as they also feature various other contributors to the AYITC albums, including the likes of Spaceship, The Heartwood Institute, Polypores, Grey Frequency, Time Attendant and Field Lines Cartographer. These are joined by amongst others Revbjelde, Pictogram, House of Daggers, Floodlights, 62 Miles From Space, Boll Foreman, Panamint Manse and Midwich Youth Club, with design by Nick Taylor of Spectral Studio.

The collector’s cards also feature text by Paul Bareham, which are short pieces of intriguing and enigmatic fiction that bring to mind the imaginary landscapes of Hookland and Rob Young’s swirling dreamscape fictional writing which was included in Belbury Poly’s album The Belbury Tales.

Trading under the name Woodford Halse, this new adventure into sound perfectly compliments the shows musical ethic / remit in so much as casting a deserving searchlight upon the secretive crooks and crannies of the expansive labyrinth of so sounds stationed on the outer edges of the various electronic / kosmische / psychedelic spectrums. As to the sounds, well pretty much keeping in with the retro / futuro vibe so in common with the likes of ghost box, café kaput, a year in the country, castles in space and of course, polytechnic youth, to name but a few. One for late night attention methinks, ‘Undulating Waters I’ features twelve tracks gathered here for your discerning listening ear, a few names familiar a few not so, guaranteed a little something for all…” (Quoted from a review by Mark Barton, writing at The Sunday Experience).

If you should appreciate the releases by the likes of Ghost Box Records, Castles In Space, Polytechnic Youth etc which are mentioned in the above text by Mark Barton then I expect you will find much to enjoy in these Woodford Halse releases. Or just if you enjoy wandering through the undercurrents and “crooks and crannies” of contemporary music while also appreciating creative album packaging and design as you explore.

Visit Undulating Waters 1 and 2 at the Woodford Halse Bandcamp page here. Visit the You, the Night & the Music radio show’s archive here, Pulselovers Bandcamp page here and The Sunday Experience reviews of the albums here and here.

Then we have Rowan : Morrison’s album In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses.

This is an album of rather lovely what could loosely be called acid or psych folk. It is not purely a retro retreading but brings to mind in part a sense of being a recently unearthed privately pressed folk album from some undefined point possibly in the very late 1960s or during the 1970s, tracks from which might be featured on the compilation album Early Morning Hush: Notes From the Folk Underground 1969-76, which collected such things or filed alongside the likes of the privately pressed 1970s folk albums Shide & Acorn’s Under The Tree and Oberon’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

…this is a beautifully packaged yet somehow understated album destined, it seems, for ‘lost classic’ status, to be rediscovered and cherished by generations of pilgrims on the old straight track. Somehow we think they would approve.” (Quoted from a review of In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses at Terrascope).

Released by Miller Sounds the album is a themed concept album, the narrative of which:

“…takes a snapshot of an imagined history of the land. It explores the conflict taking place at the same area (The Ridgeway) through time periods between the land and man with their developing technologies. These events take place throughout time, from pre-history through to the near-future. In a very 1970s ‘Play for Today’ sort of way, they start to bleed into each other as over time, the earth begins to enter a period of hibernation to heal itself from the destruction wrought upon it.” (Quoted from the album’s accompanying notes.)

The mention of A Play For Today in the album’s notes provides a line of connection with The Book of the Lost that was co-created by Rowan, working as Rowan Amber Mill with Emily Jones, which is also a themed concept album, taking as its inspiration an imagined set of lost folk horror movies and which was an early reference point for A Year In The Country’s own wanderings.

Visit Rowan : Morrison hereThe Rowan Amber Mill hereThe Book of the Lost hereMiller Sounds here and the Terrascope review here.

And finally there is Grey Frequency’s fourth full length album release Ufology.

It is described as “an audio exploration of British UFO sightings from the second half of the twentieth century” and each piece “focuses on a specific encounter from UFO folklore and reinterprets it as an excursion in unsettling sound and atmosphere”.

The album’s focusing on UFO encounters from previous decades, the use of the phrase “UFO folklore” and the images of period suburbia and UFO sightings on vintage film stock/slide mounts that accompany Ufology seem to connect it with a hazy hauntological long-ago and now semi-forgotten sense of previous decade’s interest in such phenomena.

In part the album could be seen to connect with a heightened interest in unexplained, super and preternatural phenomena during the 1970s in sections of society and accompanying coverage in the mainstream media, press, book publishing etc. This is a period Ufology at times draws from as one track mentions 1977 in its title, while The Dechmont Woods Encounter appears to refer to a UFO incident in 1979, although the album also takes its inspiration from events ranging from the 1950s until at least the 1980s.

The album can serve as something of an intriguing semi-obscured signposting to events which have become part of British UFO folklore, as searching for events that inspired it such as the track “You Will Improve Or Disappear” leads to the likes of a “British Roswell” where a small metal disc was discovered on Silpho Moor in 1957 and which some thought was of extra-terrestrial origin. It was alleged to have contained copper sheets with hieroglyphic markings, part of which was translated as meaning “You Will Improve Or Disappear” – hence  I assume the track title on the Ufology album.

Those who believed in its extra-terrestrial origins included Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, who apparently had an on ongoing belief that the object was extra-terrestrial and said he had personally examined it in 1959 and found it to be a “miniature flying saucer”.

Thought by the UFO community to have been lost or deliberately scrapped, in 2018 sections of the disc were found to have been stored at the British Museum.

The tracks on Ufology are built from “lo-fi drones, dark ambient textures, and cassette-looped field recordings” and as with much of Grey Frequency’s work they have both an experimental and accessible quality.

I was particularly taken by The Dechmont Woods Encounter, in which undefined mechanical creakings and vaguely Forbidden Planet-esque noises link into subtly ominous pulsing sounds which seem to imply the approach of extra-terrestrial abductors, which are said by the man who reported it to have been part of the UFO event that inspired the track, before it segues into an “after the event” almost restful or drifting end section.

Available on cassette and digitally, Grey Frequency’s Ufology can be found at their Bandcamp page here.

 

As something of a postscript, the above gathering of albums reminds me of something Kim Harten wrote at Bliss Aquamarine when reviewing the A Year In The Country released album The Corn Mother, of which she said:

“(On the album) the apparently disparate genres of folk music and experimental electronica sit perfectly well together as different expressions of the same basic idea.”

 

Further “Audio Undercurrents” will be explored in in Part 2 of this post…

 

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

  1. Day #142/365: Fog Signals/Ghost signals from lost transmission centres
  2. The Seasons, Jonny Trunk, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Howlround – A Yearning for Library Music, Experiments in Educational Music and Tape Loop Tributes: Chapter 38 Book Images
  3. Day #167/365: Wandering back through the darkening fields and flickerings to imaginary soundtracks…
  4. Tales from the Black Meadow, The Book of the Lost and The Equestrian Vortex – The Imagined Spaces of Imaginary Soundtracks: Chapter 9 Book Images
  5. Day #192/365: When Do We Dream? Cold Geometries and Grey Frequencies
  6. Cuckoos in the Same Nest – Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings: Chapter 4 Book Images

 

Index: Year 5

Click the links below to peruse wanderings from the different years of A Year In The Country:

Index: Year 1      –      Index: Year 2      –      Index: Year 3      –      Index: Year 4      –      Index: Year 5

 

Index: Year 5:
The Changes / The Disruption – Notes on a Flipside of the Pastoral Conversation – Part 1: Wanderings 1/52 (And the Start of a New Yearly Cycle)
Grey Frequency’s Immersion: Audio Visual Archive 1/52
The Changes / The Disruption – Notes on a Flipside of the Pastoral Conversation – Part 2: Wanderings 2/52
Hand of Stabs – Black-Veined White: Audio Visual Archive 2/52
Robert Macfarlane, Benjamin Myers, The Eeriness of the English Countryside and Unravelling of Dizzying Mazes: Wanderings 3/52
Michael Tanner’s Nine of Swords: Audio Visual Archive 3/52
When Haro Met Sally, John Hughes, Stranger Things, Twins of Evil, Hauntology and Dark Seed – Parallel World Reimaginings and Phantasms: Wanderings 4/52
The Quietened Village – Preorder and Release Dates
She Rocola’s Burn The Witch / Molly Leigh Of The Mother Town: Audio Visual Archive 4/52
Night of the Comet Part 1 – Shopping and Respect in “Empty Cities” at the End of the World: Wanderings 5/52
Howlround – Torridon Gate: Audio Visual Archive 5/52
Luciana Haill’s Apparitions – A Modern-Day Conjuring of Phantasms and Peering Down the Corridors of Time: Wanderings 6/52
Twalif X – Racker&Orphan: Audio Visual Archive 6/52
Night of the Comet Part 2 – Post-Apocalyptic Positivity in “Empty Cities” at the End of the World: Wanderings 7/52
The Quietened Village – Preorder
A Year In The Country – Airwaves: Songs From The Sentinels: Audio Visual Archive 7/52
The Debatable Lands, Undulating Waters, In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses and Ufology – Audio Undercurrents Part 1: Wanderings 8/52
Fractures: Audio Visual Archive 8/52
The Delaware Road, Mo’Wax, UNKLE, DJ Shadow, Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack, Boards of Canada, Moon Wiring Club, DJ Food, Belbury Poly, The Memory Band, Grantby, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Andrea Parker – Universe Creation and Spectral Lines in the Cultural Landscape: Wanderings 9/52
The Quietened Bunker: Audio Visual Archive 9/52
John Carpenter’s Christine Part 1 – Anthropomorphisation, Magical Realism and Rock’n’Roll Dream Lovers: Wanderings 10/52
A Year In The Country – Spectral Fields – Wyrd Kalendar Mix 3 and the “What is hauntology? And why is it all around us?” BBC Archive Film
No More Unto the Dance: Audio Visual Archive 10/52
The Quietened Village – Released
John Carpenter’s Christine Part 2 – Autonomous Zones, Night Time Edgelands and the Restoration of the Natural Order: Wanderings 11/52
The Forest / The Wald: Audio Visual Archive 11/52
Hot Fuzz aka Rural Weapon Part 1 – Flash and Spectacle Amongst the Bucolia: Wanderings 12/52
The Restless Field: Audio Visual Archive 12/52
Hot Fuzz aka Rural Weapon Part 2 – The Village Gone Rogue: Wanderings 13/52
From The Furthest Signals: Audio Visual Archive 13/52
Reflections on Brutalism Part 1 – This Brutal World and a Study of The Shape of the Futures Past: Wanderings 14/52
Undercurrents – Audio Visual Archive 14/52
Reflections on Brutalism Part 2 – This Brutal World, Industrial Inspirations for Blade Runner, Memories of the Space Age and the Future Takes a Tumble: Wanderings 15/52
The Quietened Cosmologists – Audio Visual Archive 15/52
Reflections on Brutalism Part 3 – J. G. Ballard and Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise and All Mod Con Dystopias: Wanderings 16/52
All The Merry Year Round – Audio Visual Archive 16/52
Reflections on Brutalism Part 4 – A Return to the Experimentations and Aesthetics of This Brutal World and Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology: Wanderings 17/52
The Watchers – Album Preorder and Release Dates
Audio Albion – Audio Visual Archive 17/52
Reflections on Brutalism Part 5 – A Curious Collector’s Piece and a Return to Acts of Enclosure: Wanderings 18/52
The Shildam Hall Tapes – Audio Visual Archive 18/52
Michael Radford’s 1984 Part 1 – The Privations of an Alternative Past, Present and Future, V for Vendetta and the Last Inch: Wanderings 19/52
The Quietened Village – Writing, Broadcasts and Traces of Ghosts
The Quietened Mechanisms – Audio Visual Archive 19/52
Michael Radford’s 1984 Part 2 – Pop Music Controversies and Pastoral Escape/Non-Escape: Wanderings 20/52
The Watchers – Preorder
The Corn Mother – Audio Visual Archive 20/52
Broken Folk, Is it Clearer? and Akiha Den Den – Audio Undercurrents Part 2: Wanderings 21/52
Grey Frequency – Immersion: Audio Visual Archive 21/52
A Midsummer Night’s Happening, Weirdshire and The Delaware Road: Ritual & Resistance – A Spectral Summer is a-Coming in: Wanderings 22/52
Hand of Stabs – Black-Veined White: Audio Visual Archive 22/52
The Fountain in the Forest – Further Explorations of Hidden History, Timeslip, the Ending of Arcadian Idylls and Pulp Fiction Subversion: Wanderings 23/52
No More Unto The Dance: Audio Visual Archive 23/52
The Watchers – Released
Stand By Me – The Undercurrents of an Unsupervised Journey Away from the White Picket Fences: Wanderings 24/52

To be continued throughout 2019…

 

Click the links below to peruse wanderings from the different years of A Year In The Country:

Index: Year 1      –      Index: Year 2      –      Index: Year 3      –      Index: Year 4      –      Index: Year 5