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Day #357/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #7; recording explorations through the land/s…

Twalif X-David Orphan-David Chatton-Barker-Folklore Tapes-samandtheplants-Sam McLoughlin-racker&orphan-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #52/52.

(Retransmission:) If you should look closely amongst this particular year in the country you may well see that around these parts there has been activity which has involved the encasing of disturbances in the airwaves.

Audiological Reflections and Pathways is inspired by those particular encasings and the related work/creators of said work…

Along which lines, Racker&Orphan’s Twalif X.

When I think of the creation of Twalif X – essentially a night long field recording of explorations through several forests, my mind tends to turn to other similar/interrelated work and documentation…

In The Field-The Art Of Field Recording-Cathy Lane & Angus Carlyle-A Year In The CountryCathy Lane and Angus Carlyle’s In The Field: The Art Of Field Recording – discovered by my good self via Caught By The River, wherein I learnt that “The first wildlife recording was made by a German man – Ludwig Koch – in 1889 and captured the call of a bird – the Common Shama, a member of the thrush family – onto early Edison wax cylinders.

Cluster & Eno-A Year In The Country

The album Cluster & Eno – although not so directly created as a field recording, it is here for the cover image of a lone microphone recording the sounds of the landscape and the sky, which has somewhat stayed with me over the months…

Silence-film-2012-Pat Collins-A Year In The Country

..and quite possibly the wanderings and gatherings of the film Silence:

Eoghan is a sound recordist who is returning to Ireland for the first time in 15 years, for a job capturing noises in areas free from man-made sound. His quest takes him to remote terrain, away from towns and villages. Throughout his journey, he is drawn into a series of encounters and conversations which gradually divert his attention towards a more intangible silence, bound up with the sounds of the life he had left behind. Influenced by elements of folklore and archive, Silence unfolds with a quiet intensity, where poetic images reveal an absorbing meditation on themes relating to sound and silence, history, memory and exile.

Two Years At Sea-sleep furiously-The Moon & The Sledgehammer-Akenfield-A Year In The CountryI think I could quite possibly include Silence in a kind of pastoral documentary-but-also-something else film mini-genre of recent years that could well also include Two Years At Sea and sleep furiously… and which stretching backwards could quite possibly include The Moon & The Sledgehammer and Akenfield

…which could in a way be considered to be visual field trip recordings and imaginings…

…and wandering away from field recordings amongst the land, I may well wander towards Howlround’s Ghosts of Bush; in many ways this was a psychogeographic/hauntological field trip that focused on one particular building, almost a Stone Tape-esque recording of the residues of spirit and history that remain (and quietly escape) from the walls of a once transmission centre…

Robin The Fog-Howlround-Ghosts of Bush House-A Year In The Country

…and a return to Jean Richie and George Pickow’s Field Trip England – a quite lovely collection of recordings of the folk and sounds of the land, gathered on a journey around this particular corner of the world (see Day #111/365).

A Field Trip England-Folkways Records-Jean Ritchie and Georg Pickow-A Year In The Country 4

…or indeed a return to the explorative pathways of Wayside and Woodland’s Haunted Woodland series of releases/work:

Haunted Woodland-Wayside and Woodland-A Year In The Country

Encasing and envoying.


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Day #349/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #2; the semi-random placing of England’s hidden reverse…

Hand of Stabs-Black-Veined White-inner pageFile under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #51/52.

(Retransmission:) If you should look closely amongst this particular year in the country you may well see that around these parts there has been activity which has involved the encasing of disturbances in the airwaves.

Audiological Reflections and Pathways is inspired by those particular encasings and the related work/creators of said work…

Along which lines, Hand of Stabs.

When I think of the work of Hand of Stabs, my mind tends to wander towards a particular area of transgressive culture – in particular the likes of Throbbing Gristle…

…to quote myself:

“…the work of Hand of Stabs is a very particular, otherly form of cultural exploration and inquiry whereby the aggressive transgression of the likes of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and early Einstürzende Neubauten has evolved and spread deeply foraging roots to create work that is more pastoral in its themes but still very far from the centre of things.

Horse Rotorvator-Coil…and if I should think of such things then it is probably not all that long before my mind begins to think of Coil’s Horse Rotorvator.

When I was somewhat younger than I am today I used to frequent a particular side of a particular bricks and mortar record store.

Why a particular side? Well on one side were the full price records (vinyl mostly/exclusively, if memory serves correctly) and on the other was I guess the opposite – and hence the reason I frequented it;  a whole side/wall full of reduced/bargain basement priced records.

Although interestingly, though somewhat accessibly priced (25 good pence upwards for a twelve-inch – if memory is still serving correctly) these were not the records you would normally associate with such “pocket-money” prices.

One of such records on that particular side of that particular bricks and mortar record shop was Coil’s Horse Rotorvator. I’m not sure of my reasoning for buying it but I think it is interesting how fairly random actions can come to resonate over the years – if this album had been full priced I might never have bought it and the above consideration/comparative connection of Hand of Stabs may well not have been written.

Indeed, I suspect that the shape, interests and concerns of this particular year in the country might be quite different.


Hand Of Stabs-Stuart Ody of the New Brompton Postcard Co-A Year In The Country.

..and then when I was a-wandering and reflecting about HoS work I started to think of their work/recording techniques and the way it makes me “think of electronica played on and summoned from the land and soil” and the interrelated use of non zeros and ones equipment…

…there’s a certain romance/mythos attached to pre-zero and one recording machinery – although I’m not strictly retrogressive about such things (as an aside, David Cronenberg, when asked about all the fuss about new digital filming techniques said something along the lines of “I’m making a film – sometimes I arrive on set and the techniques have changed a lot, sometimes they haven’t but I’m still just making a film”), I can appreciate that sense of romance and the appeal of more tactile, physical mediums/equipment and the way they can lend different textures etc to work…

Along which lines and leading back to those earlier transgressors… Einstürzende Neubauten have been releasing some of their early tape recordings:

musterhaus_05-Einstürzende Neubauten-Blixa Bargeld-A Year In The CountryThe battery operated tape recorder was an indispensable gadget to the early EN. Everybody had one, most of us had one with all the time and everywhere. We recorded: discussions, music improvisations and TV, day-to-day noises. We yelled and looped, we kissed its microphone and threw it on long suspenders across the wall. On this disc we have compiled some of these recordings, some in their original form: “Décomposition d’un Placard” is the memorable event of N.U. taking a wardrobe apart in his Paris hotel room in order to support his mattress; the “Eisengrau All-Stars” was recorded in one day in my shop in Berlin, with whoever came and went… Around 1984, cassette based answering machines became available in Germany and were greeted happily by some of us, the detritus of those cassettes can be heard here as well. The recording walkman disappeared, or has been replaced by newer technologies. The guestlist is full.” (Blixa Bargeld)

Coil-master tapes-A Year In The Country…which then lead me back to the physical source of Horse Rotorvator – the tapes themselves which recently appeared in amongst the zeros and ones in a somewhat pecuniary manner; which seems to have been one of the side occurrences with/around such work – a high material value placed on (certain) related material artifacts…

Hmmm. Curiouser and curiouser…

…there’s an element of the sacrament to such things; possibly as a result of a more (overtly) secular society but one whose inhabitants still often look for a further/higher meaning.

Curse of The Crimson Altar-for one night only

If you should go a-wandering through and about pathways from/resulting from England’s Hidden Reverse then it may well be advisable to pack with you this sentence from James Cargill:
“We were keen to conjure up the psychedelic witch party at the mansion scenario too, also to keep the idea ‘pop’ and tongue in cheek, very conscious of not becoming too dry.”

If memory serves correctly, Coil themselves were quite often fond of – sometimes somewhat dark – jokes/humour and a bursting of their own myth… going up

Ground floor: Perfumery, stationary, and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery, kitchenware and food. Going up…

First floor: Telephones, gents ready made suits, shirts, suits, ties, hats, underwear, and shoes. Going up

Second floor:  Carpets, travel goods, and bedding, materials, soft furnishings, restaurants, and ties. Going down…

First floor: Telephones, gents ready made suits, shirts, suits, ties, hats. Going down

Which I suppose brings things back round in some kind of (part)circle – those lyrics could well be a tracklisting for Peter Christopherson’s advertising soundtrack work, as featured on Coil’s The Unreleased Themes 10″ (see Day #328/365)…

Airline, Liquer, Perfume, Video Recorder, Airline 2, Natural Gas, Cosmetic 1, Cosmetic 2, Analgesis, Road Surface, Accident Insurance…

Coil-master tapes 2-A Year In The Country

Light capturing.

The (arriving?) of England’s Hidden Reverse. Further pecuniary result of such esotericisms.

Hand of Stabs elsewhere in the ether.

Related artifacts.


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Day #345/365: Photo romans and a lightness of touch

Curse Of The Crimson Altar-photonovel-A Year In The Country-4File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #50/52.

I’ve mentioned around these parts before that I have something of a soft spot for photo novels (see Day #247/365) – also known as photo romans or fumées.

The ones I have seen that are connected with the stories of film/television often seem to spring from a time when there wasn’t quite so much wall-to-wall, toe-to-top merchandise for such things… there’s a slight innocence to them as a form… but…

There is something slightly odd about them when they are applied to more to the more “mature” celluloid stories…

…one such time would be the photo novel adaptation of Curse Of The Crimson Altar (somewhat renamed in this instance and given a possibly more salacious title). Prurient is a phrase that comes to mind.

Still, it is quite an intriguing item, possibly in part due to its rarity in an ether that is full of artifacts and encasings… this is not such an easy rummage to find…

Curse Of The Crimson Altar-photonovel-A Year In The Country-3

I may have mentioned this around these parts before but I’m drawn to elements of what has come to be known as folk-horror but I think it is more in a sense of the aesthetics and the cultural interlinkings/backstory of them – essentially (hopefully) not being too, well, po-faced about such things…

Curse Of The Crimson Altar-photonovel-A Year In The Country

Along which lines and connected to Curse Of The Crimson Altar, I think it could well be time to return to this:

Trish Keenan: “I’d like people to enjoy the album as a Hammer horror dream collage where Broadcast play the role of the guest band at the mansion drug party by night, and a science worshipping Eloi possessed by 3/4 rhythms by day, all headed by the Focus Group leader who lays down sonic laws that break through the corrective systems of timing and keys…”

But with the addition of this:

Curse Of The Crimson Altar-photonovel-A Year In The Country-2Trish Keenan: “We were keen to conjure up the psychedelic witch party at the mansion scenario too, also to keep the idea ‘pop’ and tongue in cheek, very conscious of not becoming too dry.”

(From Joseph Stannard’s unedited transcript of an interview with Broadcast in Wire Magazine, circa Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age – a particular piece of writing, considering and exploring that I seem to return to around these parts – in both its bound and etherised form/s.)

The majesty of Ms Steel and films within films.


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Day #341/365: All Clear and the (non)cry of forgotten banshees; totems of memory and future lost focal points…

Forgotten banshees-6-A Year In The Country
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #49/52.

Recently I was a-wandering around light capturings of the forgotten banshees of air raid sirens (see Day #331/365)…

…and via that I came across/was tumbled towards the All Clear project.

This was a proposed nationwide project that intended to use “the remaining historic World War II air-raid sirens as site-specific instruments, the work is created from live fragments of music that span the country to make a whole live work.

It did not find the necessary institutional pecuniary approval to make it a reality but when I first read the All Clear document, it seemed as though it was describing a now historic event, something that had already taken place.

All Clear’s primary remaining trace in the ether is a particularly evocative read; I suppose in particular if you’re of a certain age/experience (also see Day #331/365) these particular mechanised voices, in both their corporeal forms and potential cries through the air are emblematic of conflicts – real or imagined, hot or cold, that have gone by:

Forgotten heroes. Totems of memory.

Forgotten banshees-4-A Year In The Country.jpg

Below is the full remaining trace text for All Clear. Visit its will o’the wisp in the ether here.

“ALL CLEAR is the first piece of sound art to fully encompass the whole of the UK. Using the remaining historic World War II air-raid sirens as site-specific instruments, the work is created from live fragments of music that span the country to make a whole live work.

ALL CLEAR is a piece of work where no one can witness all of it live in person, yet it will touch all of the country, especially those in locales where the instruments are based. There is a hint of the question ‘if a tree falls in the forest…’ about the work for this reason. The work will be performed live just once and will be able to be heard in recorded form or live as a broadcast/online broadcast, with webcam/audio equipment at each location to record the ‘instruments’ as they are cued in.

Forgotten banshees-2-A Year In The Country

Air-raid sirens have two notes available, and these are B-flat and D-flat. This makes composition a challenge. ‘Playing’ the instruments is also a great challenge. They are wound or cranked electrically, which gives them their distinctive build-up whine. They are also scary, broken down or abandoned. Forgotten heroes. Totems of memory. Museum pieces. Many were taken down at the end of the Cold War, but some remain, invisible to all but those who know or who care to look up. Hidden in plain sight, sirens are situated in busy areas such as Hyde Park and Waterloo in central London, yet they are largely unseen.

Air-raid sirens are hugely symbolic in British culture and the sound that they make has been heard in hundreds of films and sampled for dozens of music tracks. The sound is a shorthand for danger, attack and war, yet the sirens and their operators were also responsible for saving lives. The all clear signal was an invitation to take stock, be thankful you had survived and to inspect the damage. The noise of the sirens acts is as sharp an aid to memory as any smell or visual reminder. The final all clear signified a time to rebuild and the start of modern Britain.

Forgotten banshees-3-A Year In The Country

ALL CLEAR will bring together communities of locals, cold war history enthusiasts, World War II veterans, retired ARP wardens, experimental music fans, British culture buffs, schoolchildren, teachers and musicians to explore the history, significance and use of air-raid sirens. Each location will be documented and stories recorded from those in the area. The performance could be made in 2014 or 2015 to coincide with significant dates 70 years back in World War II.

ALL CLEAR is as big an administrative task as it is an artistic one. Sirens will have to be located, tested and permissions for use gained. But this will all be very much a part of the work: with sites crowd-sourced, maintenance recorded and local enthusiasm sparked by every visit. Sirens will be photographed and catalogued, stories collected and media interest planted.

Forgotten banshees-5-A Year In The Country

ALL CLEAR serves as a reminder of and a memorial to the ARP Wardens and civilians who lost their life in World War II. It also digs up forgotten and untold histories from the period, speaking with those who were there and re-examining literature, such as the ARP Warden magazines (which were produced locally) and leaflets from the Government and even the Communist Party about sirens and their use.

Forgotten banshees-8-A Year In The Country

ALL CLEAR will be made in collaboration with local communities as well as with selected musicians and technicians. The work creates site specific interest and location yet is global in its delivery. It will be extensively documented in words, video, photographs and archive material.

Forgotten banshees-1-A Year In The Country

All Clear was put into (non)practise by Iain Aitch. Visit his previous work/scribing here.

Intertwining pathways: see stories of two brown bakelite boxes here.


Re-signposted pathways:

Day #46/365: Threads, The Changes, the bad wires and ghosts of transmissions.

Day #114/365: Waiting For The End Of The World and havens beneath our feet.

Day #302/365: Ms Delia Derbyshire on such banshee wails as electronic music.

Day #306/365: Documentation of earlier preparations; a journey from a precipice to a cliff edge, via documents of preparing for the end of the world, a curious commercialism, the tonic/lampoonery of laughter, broken cultural circuits and quiet/quietening niches…

Day #331/365: A dybukk’s dozen of forgotten banshees…


A midnight dawn.


A previous lost focal point.


Flickerings to view with a certain detachment if possible.


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

Folk Art-A Year In The Country-6File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #48/52.

What has come to be labelled as folk art is a curious thing; it could also be described as creative work that was created for utilitarian purposes but which contains an almost accidental craft like art, art that hasn’t tumbled forth from creative institutional (or initial financial) acceptance one way or another or just art.

I seem to be engaged in something of an on-off quest to find the very essence of what I look for in folk art encapsulated in a particular piece of work, exhibition or book; but I never quite find it, perhaps because what I’m looking for is contradictorily an accidental but deliberate otherlyness, a sneaking in past potential tweeness of shadows and well, something else.

Possibly also, by the time I come across work in an institutional placing/binding, something has been rationalised and maybe neutered in the work – that’s accompanied by the hope for that very particular charity shop find…

I recently had a rummage (and re-rummage) looking for such things… below are a few of the associated rummagelings, tumblings, unearthings and turn-ups…

Folk Art-A Year In The Country-2A certain chap featured somewhat prominently in the British Folk Art exhibition… its interesting how folk art as a phrase has also come to often represent a particular quite well-defined, often rural/cottage industry style aesthetic, particularly up to/from a certain point in history…
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-4Stepping away from these shores for a moment… it is interesting how folk art has passed from overlooked (sometimes derided?) work into cultural acceptance and institutional display/collection and capitalisation; along which lines, Junebug – a work of flickering fiction which explores that capitalisation – though focusing on work away from these shores and more specifically on what has come to be called outsider art or art brut (phrases that are often applied to work that has a natural transgressive nature, sometimes coupled with an almost childlike simplicity of form and preoccupation). See also the gallery that a character in William Gibson’s Virtual Light doesn’t get a job at – and in a more deliberate/intentional form, some of what has come to be called lowbrow art/the work sometimes featured in the likes of Juxtapoz.
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-7…and while I’m hopping over away from these shores: utilitarian adaptations that have come to gain a certain sense of artistic creativity: Home-Made; Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts is an intriguing selection/collection of items that have come into being often through necessity and lack of Western access to material abundance…
Toothpaste tube squeezer, Home-Made Europe: Contemporary Folk Artifacts…along which lines, there’s a certain beauty, brutality and effectiveness to this…
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-10…and then back to these shores… there’s something almost accidentally hauntological to Barbara Jones Black Eyes & Lemonade exhibition poster; an early, mid-ish twentieth century collecting of such work…
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-3…and talking of tweeness: some folk-art work straddles a particularly fine line, where I can’t quite decide if I think it’s quite nice but essentially a touch twee or if something else has wandered into the work – this is one such piece/set – but quite lovely to see nonetheless.
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-11…and along such lines… well, I just find this somewhat magnificent; a labour of love indulgence?
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-8…while this, though I know/suppose that the creatures in the illustration are meant to represent animals not in repose… well, there’s something more than a touch unsettling about them…
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-9…while this particular book puts me in mind of the secret gardens and hidden attic hideaways of a certain English Lionheart(ess)… a meeting under the ivy?
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-12I have to say, this is venturing fairly close to a very particular territory/spirit earlier mentioned…
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-5…and stepping away from these shores once more…  this brings to mind one of the earlier mentioned (hopeful) charity (thrift?) shop finds…
Folk Art-A Year In The Country-13And so back to these shores…A recent find and a possible venturing and exploring…

As a final note, the image below takes me back towards Axel Hoedt’s folkloric club kids and a fever dream of haunted air

Folk Art-A Year In The Country-6

Pathways: Under The Ivy. The Unsophisticated Arts and Misters Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s collecting/collections/gatherings. Rocket Cottage-isms. Silent weavings.

The instituting of folk-art. The Museum of British folklore and non-instutional instituting. Black Eyes and LemonadeHome-Made Europe: Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts. British Folk Art (binding).

Enid Marx / Margaret Lambert via Toys and Techniques and (sometimes) accidental folk art-isms.

Lowbrow-isms. Gallery (non)jobs. Flickering.


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Day #329/365: A dybukk’s dozen of forgotten banshees…

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-3bFile under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #47/52.

When I was younger air raid sirens seemed to be quite commonplace in one form or another… whether wailing from cathode ray flickers via documentaries on government civil defense / Protect and Survive plans, in black and white fictional stories broadcast via the same boxes in the corner of the room or literally on the shelves/worktops of where I lived (see Two Brown Bakelite Boxes and The End Of The World on the About page).

Now, they don’t seem to be a part of everyday life, the worry and concern about Cold War conflict and attacks has subsided… these portentous mechanised banshees have quietly wandered away from day-to-day life.

I went on a bit of a forage recently to see if I could find any imagery pertaining to the just mentioned Brown Bakelite Boxes but what I stumbled upon was actually details of the forgetting of these banshees, particularly this story here.

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-7
I think essentially they are no longer considered economically viable, modern-day glazing on houses means that they can’t be heard all that well and people aren’t sure what they indicate.

Which is curious, as if you’re of a certain age/experience, it’s quite deeply ingrained what the banshee wail of a public siren means; something quite serious – quite possibly the impending end of things.

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-14Occasionally the wind will carry the sound of sirens to me – I think they are ones to imply a controlled explosion at quarries – but they are but wraiths in the air, almost dream like, floating in and out the edges of consciousness; one that was trained to think that the ultimate conflict was about to commence (and end almost as quickly due to its ferocity).

(As an aside, in amongst documentation relating to a subcultural/briefly overground creative practitioner – of whose work almost no source material still exists – the idea has been mooted that it was actually quite a lot for populations to take in that their countries foreign policy planning was based on various forms/threats to themselves and their enemies of quite possible and sudden complete destruction.

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-4Which I suppose it is – it is an almost overwhelming thing to live amongst and under if overly focused upon personally and/or by society at large; and so the hardwiring of responses to it amongst those who lived through such times is not all that surprising, nor the cultural/creative expression/outlet and indeed balm of such hardwiring/portents via elements of what has come to be called hauntological culture.

Although I don’t tend to refer to it all that directly, such Cold War dread is one of the things that underlies/underpins much of this particular year in the country and its “searching for an expression of an underlying unsettledness to the English bucolic countryside dream” – again see Two Brown Bakelite Boxes and The End Of The World.)

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-11And so, back to the fading of banshees: apparently the more contemporary communication plan is to inform people of such things is to use radio stations and somewhat bizarrely send text-based messages to the mini pocket/hand-held computers that are somewhat ubiquitous to the modern age (boxes that contain “modern-day magic on a monthly tariff” to quote The Eccentronic Research Council).

The second of which plans is just bizarre, as it assumes a constant modern-day surveilling of the devices to receive those brief sets of characters and puts one in mind of almost farce like/funny-if-it-wasn’t-so-serious scenarios where people are catching up on the twitterings and natterings of much of modern-day life and inbetween “I fancy some soup for dinner” and “Bought these nice new shoes” etc will come “3 minute warning: end of civilisation as we know it quite soon.”

Anyway, before I assume full bah, humbug, curmudgeon mode, I feel I should step away from such things (although while still shaking my head at “modern” ways).

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-6 copy

Earlier pathways to such portents (tread gently)

Day #114/365: Waiting For The End Of The World and havens beneath our feet.

Day #302/365: Ms Delia Derbyshire on such banshee wails as electronic music.

Day #306/365: Documentation of earlier preparations; a journey from a precipice to a cliff edge, via documents of preparing for the end of the world, a curious commercialism, the tonic/lampoonery of laughter, broken cultural circuits and quiet/quietening niches…


Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-15Reflections on reflections contained within this dybukk’s dozen re Cold War dread/hardwiring; it’s the juxtaposition/contrast/setting of these particular portenders and what they portend that often intrigues me – they might well be expected to be found amongst the edgelands (or even the brethren of a time traveller’s transmogrifying transport) but its their dwelling next to the country pub, the pleasant sunset and nature’s aviaristic creatures that seems out of kilter. And so back to that particular hardwiring:

Another major contributor to such things was a science fiction short story I read sometime around the early to mid-eighties, wherein there is a lead up to a devastating attack/war, during which birds are noted as sitting on the telephone wires around and about… when the attack arrives, the central (human) character rushes to his fallout shelter, only to find it crammed full of birds and animals, with no space for him: the birds had actually been listening to mankind’s communications via the telephone lines and knew that the attack was coming and where to hide.

(See Day #46/365: Threads, The Changes, the bad wires and ghosts of transmissions; English horror indeed.)


As has been mentioned before, the ether is a place which allows for all kinds of niches and expressions of interest in what could be considered to be accidental art via utilitarian objects. This day/page could well be considered to be one of such places.

Here are a few others…

Day #278/365: The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society

Day #281/365: Further appreciations of accidental art; Poles and Pylons

Day #318/365: Watching The Watchers

A gathering amongst the ether of these fading banshees.

A gathering and binding of an appreciation of the encasements of audiological utilitarianisms.

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-12

An air raid siren situated by a police public call box.Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-16Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-14

Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-8Air raid sirens-A Year In The Country-9

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Day #327/365: A fever dream of Haunted Air…

Ossian Brown-Haunted Air-A Year In The Country-2File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations.
Case #46/52.

I’d come across Ossian Brown’s Haunted Air book a while ago, I suspect while wandering through the aisles of an ether shopping warehouse/conglomerate (it’s easy to get lost and to have lost many hours in amongst those aisles, staggering from one corner to another with baskets bulging)…

Anyway, my mind had noted them, noted a certain almost deliberately staged jokiness – as though they belonged to a contemporary art project/fim rather than being found objects that had fallen through the years via boxes of well-thumbed fellow travellers – but I hadn’t explored further…

Torn from album pages, sold piecemeal for pennies and scattered, abandoned to melancholy chance and the hands of strangers.” Geoff Cox

Ossian Brown-Haunted Air-A Year In The Country-3…and then when I did forage and peruse for but a moment I came across Mr Brown’s other/former work – that as a toiler/creater amongst England’s hidden reverse with Messrs Balance and Christopherson in latter-day Coil and also in his own popular music combo Cyclobe.

Hmmm, not a surprise really, although it is somewhat interesting that work with those roots has been sent forth into the world bound and cared for by a more overground concern (one Jonathan Cape)…

…although I suppose in a way it’s not as Mr Christopherson and cohorts were often active above ground via the illustrative work of Hipgnosis and indeed an early (for myself) Coil discovery – the flipside/semi-hidden reverse to The Unreleased Themes 10″ which featured various advert soundtracks that they created, titled simply Airline, Liquer, Perfume, Video Recorder, Airline 2, Natural Gas, Cosmetic 1, Cosmetic 2, Analgesis, Road Surface, Accident Insurance…

Anyway, back to Haunted Air. There’s something genuinely unsettling about these photographs, a kind of arthouse knowingness to them but as they are but found images, it is something that has somehow crept in after the fact…

“”I was somewhere else. I thought I was someplace but now I didn’t know what place. I seemed to be inside foreign worlds where there was some kind of troubling camaraderie — as if a haunting joke was known to everyone but me and yet faintly I knew it too.” (David Lynch)

Ossian Brown-Haunted Air-A Year In The Country

Ossian Brown-Haunted Air-A Year In The Country-5

Ossian Brown-Haunted Air-A Year In The Country-6

Ossian Brown-Haunted Air-A Year In The Country-4

…it’s something that can seem to happen to light catchery over the years, some other layers of meaning wander upon them…

…they seemed to have a glee for somehow stitching a laugh to darkness.” David Lynch

Axel Hoedt-Fasnacht-Once A Year-Der Steidl-German folklore-A Year In The Country-2…or maybe its that just occasionally the norm is not so norm (and in that way they put me in mind of Charles Frégers Wilder Mann – see Day #69/365 and Axel Hoedt’s folkloric club kid rogues – see Day #271/365. See also non-hauntological hauntology: The Auteurs – The Rubettes.)

Charles Freger-Wilder Mann 056-A Year In The CountryDay 10-The Auteurs-The Rubettes-A Year In The Country

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Day #320/365: Watching the watchers…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-1-A Year In The Country

File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #45/52.

Well, while I’m talking about The Devil’s Eyeball (see Day #311/365) and continuing on in the vein of accidental art (see Days #278/365 and #281/365)…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-collage 1-A Year In The Country

I was wandering through a country town the other day, using one of these modern-day cash procuring machines and I got to thinking about billboards and the lack of them in the countryside… and well, advertising in general.

CCTV-surveillance cameras-2-A Year In The Country

Apart from a handful of samizdat A4 posters for local events and lost pets, possibly a local noticeboard or two, there tends not to be a whole lot of such things in amongst the country shires. Not enough of a concentrated marketable to demographic perhaps but definitely something of a noticeable difference/divide between populous and wald areas of habitation…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-collage 2-A Year In The Country

..and then while I was waiting for this non-appendaged robot to issue forth my days currency, I looked up and thought “there aren’t any/very few CCTV/surveillance cameras around these parts, not even one watching me interact with the aforementioned pecuniary droid”…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-3-A Year In The Country

And it struck me by just how ubiquitous/normal the presence of such things has become and that often you don’t even tend to notice their presence/absence…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-4-A Year In The Country

(I’m not really planning on having a rant about such things here but did I miss the election/s where part of the proposed manifestos was “We will quietly introduce robotic watchers across much of the land? That okay with you?”).

CCTV-surveillance cameras-5-A Year In The Country

Anyway, so then I went away and took it upon myself to carry out something of a study of these watchful electronic creatures…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-7-A Year In The Country

…and when I did have a closer gander, I was surprised by just how anthropomorphic they seem to be, in particular that they seemed to have tumbled from the dreams and fantasies of science fiction, sometimes recalling portrayals of John Wyndham’s triffids in particular… and they do seem to genuinely be watching and maybe waiting…

CCTV-surveillance cameras-9-A Year In The Country…there are niches in the web for perusing and collecting other often monoped street inhabitants, such as telegraph poles and pylons (again see Days #278/365 and #281/365) but not so many gathering places for images of these particular cyclopean creatures…

And so on this page I thought I’d take a moment to create a corner where one could study these particular eyes below the sky…


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Day #314/365: A further slightly overlooked artifact; Tam Lin, a goddess abroad in the land and the end of utopian dreams?

Tam Lin-1970-opening sequence 2-A Year In The Country.jpg
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #44/52.

…talking of rural places/buildings where activities/rituals can develop or take place without easy escape to or influence from the outside/normality (see Day #312/365)…

Tam Lin (aka The Devil’s Widow).

Now this is a curious thing. It is a celluloid story sent forth into the world at the end turn of the 1960s, stars a Hollywood legend, was directed by a sometime advanced simian and is a loose modern adaptation of the folkloric tale The Ballad Of Tam Lin, relocated to the country home of an almost mythologically wealthy woman, peopled by various late 60s hipsters, hunks and prepossessing gals of the time (Madeline Smith, Joanna Lumley, Jenny Hanley) and soundtracked by Pentangle.

Tam Lin-1970-screenshot 2-Joanna Lumley-Madeline Smith-A Year In The Country.jpgTam Lin-Madeline Smith interview-24th September 1969-A Year In The Country

(The advanced simian? That would be sometime Planet Of The Apes Caesar Roddy McDowell, apparently the only time he directed – which is something of a shame as upon watching this his work in such areas holds promise.)

What very forgettable ruins this town will make” (Ava Gardner’s character as they drive through the office blocks of a yellow tinted London).

This is one of the cultural artifacts that is set at the very tipping point of a transitional/liminal period – one where the psychedelic/hippy utopianism/free-living of the 1960s is about to turn inwards and curdle.

In that sense (and others, that I will come to in a moment), it reminds me of Queens Of Evil/Le Regine/Il Delitto del Diavolo (see Day #181/365), which it shares a birth year with – all high baroque dandyism and decadence turning towards something somewhat darker. There is a sense of playful opulence and a mod/post-mod sharpness to the style – compare and contrast that with say the murk, grime and tattyness of Psychomania (see Day #289/365) from just a few years later –  but a few years but worlds apart.

(In some ways, films like Tam Lin and Queens of Evil feel not dissimilar to Psychedelic Folkloristic -see Day #36/365 – come to life; that brief point when fashionability turned towards folk/folklore.)

Tam Lin-1970-screenshot-A Year In The Country.jpg

So to the plot; immensely rich older lady – Ava Gardner gathers up hip young things to come and live/play with/amuse her in her country mansion (it seems like a scooping up or pied piper-esque following as she leads a convoy of cars through roads walled by pylons into her country lair); cue child like games (how can a game of frisbee seem so… hmmm… odd), partying, pleasing of the senses, imbibing and living. She has a particular soft spot for one young gent named Tom Lyn – played by a then somewhat winning and dapper Ian McShane – taking him into her bed (and possibly) cold heart. However he falls for an innocent from outside their bubble world – the vicar’s daughter – and tries to escape from the clutches of Ms Gardner, which displeases her somewhat and his life and freedom become somewhat fraught…

Tam Lin-1970-screenshot 2-A Year In The Country.jpg

Tam Lin-1970-screenshot 3-Jenny Hanley-A Year In The Country.jpg

And this is a bubble world…

She is immensely rich. She can afford to live in her dreams and she takes us into them for company.

…which brings me to other ways in which it reminds me of Queens Of Evil: both have an almost adult fairy tale in the woods quality and both have at their centre point a young attractive male taken in, held in that world and pampered like a well-kept pet.

In both films there is more than a touch of Hansel and Gretelism’s about the way their victims (?) are treated and kept in these remote country/woodland settings… pampered yes but also possibly fattened for the pot…

I shall waste you and waste you and waste you…

Tam Lin-1970-screenshot 2-Ava Gardner-lighter-A Year In The Country.jpg

…and both have a sense of “Do they or they don’t they?” about the female protagonists possession or not of powers beyond the norm. Manipulative or something more (the young hipsters are referred to as “covens” in the credits)? It seems almost that she weaves a spell of possession around her playthings…

Tam Lin-1970-screenshot 4-Ava Gardner-A Year In The Country.jpg

Queens Of Evil probably feels more overtly ethereal and unreal in that sense – Tam Lin seems quite rooted in the real world and is in some ways quite a “normal” film but it is a world and celluloid story that is just askew in ways that are hard to quite put your finger on – magical realism is a phrase that wouldn’t be out-of-place.

Tam Lin-1970-film poster-A Year In The CountryI think this normality askew is one of the things that makes this a curious tale: it is a heady mix of mainstream talent and decidedly mainstream/non-mainstream film making… and no, the film bears little relation to the tone of its various posters.

In Tam Lin that is heightened by the presence of a Hollywood goddess/legend in the main female role; Ava Gardner here has some kind of innate star/other quality that makes her seem separate, above and from beyond the mere humans that she surrounds herself with.

And they are terribly disposable, these young pretty things, they are their but at her bidding and can be sent away just as easily…

I want a party for all your special friends. I want a whole new world.

(As an aside, Stephanie Beecham, who plays the innocent – the vicar’s daughter – seems to be almost the same person as she will be in that other tale of beyond natural and swingers, Dracula AD 1972 but a few years after Tam Lin went forth.)

Returning to the end of an era, Tam Lin seems like a documentation of the end of its point in history’s utopian dream – this is made more implicit when the sacraments of that era, psychedelic substances, are used as a form of weapon, hounding and destruction and also when the freedom loving hipsters become a hunting mass-mind pack.

(I would suggest skipping the next paragraph or two if you should not wish to know more details of the plot.)

Tam Lin-1970-opening sequence-A Year In The Country.jpg

Oh and then there’s the high water mark of folk rock connection: the returning music refrain throughout the film is The Ballad Of Tam Lin performed by The Pentangle – which also infuses and intermingles with the more traditional music score… and if you step back and revisit the film you can see just how much the story follows that of its traditional folk song forebear; in both the film and the song a young maiden is drawn to a rake-ish rogue, nature takes its course and the ridding of the child is narrowly averted… the young man has been encaptured by a sort of queen (of wealth in one, of the fairies in the other) and he may well become a tithe to differing hells (capricious whims in one, literal in the other)… upon his escape and his lovers attempted rescue of him he will be turned into various beasts and even burning matter by his captors in order to make her leave him (via psychedelic ingestion in one, I assume magical powers in the other)… his form of transport for his escape bears the same colour – white – in both, though one is powered by a combustion engine, the other by more natural means…

And in the end in both the Queen of Fairies and of wealth are angered by but acknowledge their defeat/his escape – though to be honest in Tam Lin (the film), I wasn’t left with a sense that this particular queen had permanently stepped away from the fray and the young lover’s lives; there is something genuinely unsettling and even subtly psychopathic/unhinged in the goddess/star’s portrayal of the need for control.

And one again returning to the sense of an ending of an era/a dream, In some ways Stephanie Beacham’s innocent is a representative of the normal, decent world outside this coven-ish pack; a dissolute, amoral gathering that must be escaped from.

“Scum! You must treat them as scum!

I’m surprised in a way that this isn’t a better known film that it is – it seems like a slightly overlooked piece of (sort of) folk-horror from the late 1960s/early 1970s. It’s not an easily classifiable film and has not been made available in a legitimate easily viewable form for home viewing on these shores, which may in part explain that…

Further tales from The Ballad Of Tam Lin here.

A trailer via Filmbar 70 here.

The Pentangle’s accompaniment here.

An official (although overseas) sending forth here.

BFI Sight & Sound-The Films Of Old Weird England-Rob Young William Fowler-A Year In The Country 3Day #80/365: Stepping back to The Films Of Old Weird Britain… this particular issue has an article by Sam Dunn reflecting back on the experience of first coming across Tam Lin… view the related article more directly here.

A previous slightly overlooked artifact here and here.



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Day #312/365: The closing of corner shop portals, island nocturnes and a revisiting of transmissions from after the flood

The Nightmare Man-BBC 1981 TV series-David Wiltshire-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences:
Recent Explorations. Case #43/52.

When I was a much, much younger personage than I am now, I had a round of/haunted a series of local shops, attempting to imbibe culture and step through the (generally) paged, occasionally recorded, portals that they contained.

This was in the setting of a small(ish), almost country town. At that time this small(ish) place was enough to support two and a bit record/video shops, a public library, an independent bookshop and I suppose for a long time the most important to me, various newsagents.

These newsagents were hubs to other cultural worlds; one in particular that seemed underlit, just a touch infused with subterfuge and in amongst more mainstream Marvel fare would nestle the likes of V for Vendetta and Quatermass comic book adaptations via the pages of Warrior/Quality comics… and in particular a rack of bargain books that I was constantly drawn to (I’ve touched on this before around these parts… see Day #15/365)…

Alongside further adaptations of Mr Kneale’s work, this time in paperback form, I came across The Nightmare Man.

This was a 1981 BBC television series, where an island landscape is turned into a fog enshrouded/divided from the outside place of death and mayhem from an unknown source.

For a long time I had the paperback of this series (maybe I still do somewhere), purchased from the aforementioned bargain book portal… I only ever saw brief glimpses of the series but its images from the blood-red viewpoint of death that stalked the island has stayed with me…

Not all that long ago, I visited the small(ish) town where this newsagent was. I wasn’t sure if I should as in my mind it had stayed a magical place but I did… and it was just a newsagents. Brightly lit and scrubbed, racks of cards and the usual newsagent fare… I suppose the portals had moved elsewhere, quite possibly into a more ubiquitous but possibly less accidentally populist ether (see Day #304/365 re a niche for everything, everything in a niche and broken pop/avant garde cultural circuits).

(Island pathways in amongst and outside this isle in the ether: as an aside, it’s interesting how often the island appears as a place of folkloric/otherly/landscape based nightmare – in part it is I suppose an easy plot device; a world where activities/rituals can develop or take place without easy escape to or influence from the outside/normality.

The village or isolated building also seems to often serve a not dissimilar purpose in such tales.

So, along those lines if I was to go otherly-island-a-hopping then I would quite possibly start with the cannonical icon of such things The Wickerman – or maybe the control and restrictions of the otherworldly cuckoos of Village Of The Damned – and I would also possibly wander along to the local rituals of Robin Redbreast, the textures, night dreams and miasmas of The Awakening, the scribbled fever dreams of Paper Dollhouse, the intriguing pastoralisms and alternate history of Resistance, mildly comedic borrowings from Albion in the overgrowth and quite possibly the more scientifically orientated entrapments of The Retreat

The Nightmare Man-BBC 1981 TV series-A Year In The Country


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Day #311/365: Precious Artifacts (Other); Fluid Audio and further corporeal encasements of vibrations in the air…

Fluid Audio-A Year In The Country
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #42/52.

Well, in these days of the zeros and ones ether replication/transmission of audio work, there are corners that you come across that make you glad that such things can still find a corporeal home.

Fluid Audio is one such place that gladdens the heart. Quite simply beautiful artifacts/encasements.

The music they send out into the world is often gently experimental – ambient melodic washes to drift into and away with, music that is both balm and refuge for a hastened world.

Fluid Audio-A Year In The Country-3

The overall effect and aesthetic of Fluid Audio puts me in mind of 4AD and Vaughan Oliver’s v23 design work a number of decades ago (see Day #256/365)… but if such things had wandered off down further flung paths after listening to distantly played Harold Budd and Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure drifting over fields covered in the light of an approaching dusk…

Fluid Audio-A Year In The Country-2

With that, I shall say no more but wander off to explore futher…

Fluid Audio-A Year In The Country-4

Fluid Audio’s fellow travellers (from whose releases some of the above encapturings of encasements tumble) include: Squanto, Daniel W. J. Mackenzie, Margins, Orla Wren, Aaron Martin, Isnaj Dui, Talvihorros, The Seaman & The Tattered Sail, Matteo Uggeri, Bluhm, Mathew Shaw, Christoph Berg, United Bible Studies, Mathew Collings, Tape Loop Orchestra…

Visit Fluid Audio in the ether here.

Previous corporeal encasements at Day #169/365.

Other precious/delicate artifacts at Day #44/365 and Day #261/365.


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Day #305/365: Spectral footnotes from Mr Fisher; critical masses and admixtures

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #41/52.

Earlier on in this year in the country I referred to the band Broadcast as constellators (see Day #250/365)… that was in part inspired by/a reference to a quote from Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life book:

Music culture was central to the projection of the futures which have been lost. The term music culture is crucial here, because it is the culture constellated around music (fashion, discourse, cover art) that has been as important as the music itself in conjuring seductively unfamiliar worlds.” (See Day #163/365.)

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel-11

Also, on that day I talked about how Mark Fisher’s writing helped to defog various ideas I had, to help put the jigsaw pieces of thoughts together into a coherent form… When reading an interview with him here (a piece of writing/discussion which could be considered as an extended footnote/extra chapter to the Ghosts Of My Life book) some more of such coalescing occured…

For a while now I’ve had the thought that rising rents/the cost of living, particularly for inner city areas, means that certain economic/class demographics of society are being excluded from being able to live in/amongst areas where there is a sufficient critical mass of people working within culture that allows for the viable creation of connected infrastructures etc (this is something that I/Mark Fisher touch upon during that just mentioned day).

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel-12

The idea that class/economic/geographic positioning (and the three are often interlinked) might have a say in whether you “make it” in creative work is a not even denied but rather largely invisible concept.

(“Make it” is used here more in the sense of being able to do such work, live and stop the cupboards from being too Mother Hubbarded rather than necessarily in a champagne, high life and retiring to the country sense.)

The proferring of endless options/space for expression and Soviet/Stalinist style restrictions of which viewpoints are allowed genuinely fertile soil/rootholds seem to exist together quite happily in the currently dominant cultural/ideological system of totality that has been described as capitalist realism – a phrase which interestingly is a take on socialist realism, so I suppose the Soviet/Stalinist comparison is somewhat apt.

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel-16

Such geographical/economic demarking is possibly part of the reason why I have found myself delving amongst subcultural work that springs forth from more pastoral geographic areas/inspirations… it is possibly semi-consciously a search for spaces where some effects/aspects of the tendrils of that totality are not quite so thickly enmeshed with day-to-day life.


So, constellations/constellators and the defogging of ideas… well, I recently came across/was pointed in the direction of an interview with Mark Fisher that summed up such thoughts rather eloquently…

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel-14b

Along which lines:

In a roundtable you did with Green Gartside from Scriti Politi, he used a great term: ‘critical admixture’. So, around the music bands made, particularly with punk and post-punk, there was this ‘critical admixture’, which was taking ideas from philosophy, taking ideas from social movements, and using the whole lot to mount a challenge to the mainstream. So actually, is it that ‘critical admixture’ which has been stripped away?

Yes, this is what I’m talking about in this book, and the melancholy is kind of about that. That critical admixture is what formed me. You know, my education didn’t come from school, which I hated, it came from reading NME. Which again, NME is like Channel 4 I think, if you want to look at the decline of British culture over the last 30 years look at what the NME was like then to what it’s like now. But there was that public service broadcasting via Channel 4 and the BBC, and this wider supporting culture. And art colleges were a big part of that, Green went to Leeds, and you know the re-embourgeoisement of art colleges is significant. It’s what happens with apparently banal changes in funding structures. If you make people pay for their own education, then we will see the consequences of that. One of the things we haven’t talked about is the class domination of things like popular culture and popular music. The absurd number of ex-private school kids who are now dominating the indie scene or whatever. Because only they can afford it; only they can afford to get into the networks where culture happens. The absurd myth of neoliberalism is that creativity is this infinite well-spring which is equally distributed amongst human beings and it’s only blocked by the State or socialists. But of course, it’s the exact opposite. The creativity only happens when there are the conditions for it and collective conditions of one kind or another, and it’s those collective conditions and that critical admixture which has been systematically dismantled.

Visit the full interview in the ether here.

Visit the bound thoughts of Mr Fisher here and his ether transmitted/stored writing here.

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel-12bb

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Sapphire and Steel-26

Thanks to The Quietus for elemental cathode ray interference patterns.


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Day #296/365: Howlround’s ether handbill… and a hop, skip and jump to curious links between mirror world reflections of our times, the work of previous audiological explorers, certain English gents and printed/bound spectral considerations…

Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-tape cutting loop spool
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #40/52.

Recently I was reading a zeros and ones handbill sent by Howlround/Robin The Fog that related to some work I was involved with sending forth into the world.

It was curious to read as although that was the case (ie my connection with it), it made me want to wander off and find out about the work. Piqued the old curiousity as it were.

So, with that in mind, I thought this particular handbill deserved another audience (slightly abridged/edited for this particular place in the ether):

Hello you. Welcome to the very fourth in a highly irregular series of updates from the life and times of Robin The Fog and the radiophonic tape-loop wranglers Howlround…

We shall start with this sighting above Hither Green:Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-6

Following The Ghosts Of Bush and Secret Songs Of Savamala, both composed entirely from acoustic recordings taken from historically-and-sonically-interesting buildings; many people have been asking us what Howlround’s next ‘sound portrait’ might be. Now, after months of working away in secret, we can finally reveal the rather surprising answer: Torridon Gate. All of the music on this new album was created from a single recording of a suburban garden gate on Torridon Road, Hither Green, London. Just that.

Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-multiple copies

We attached a contact microphone to the metalwork of the gate and recorded as it opened and shut and moved in the wind. These sounds were then processed, looped and edited on three reel-to-reel tape machines with all electronic effects or artificial reverb strictly forbidden. Despite these restrictions, we like to think the results are as haunting and beguiling as anything from our previous albums, shifting from ethereal tone-patterns to demonic scrunches and back again – a long journey from the pleasant suburban street where it all began. Who would have thought a single ‘common or garden’ gate (pun intended) could offer such hidden wealth? Well, perhaps the two good folks below had an inkling…

Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-3The project started life as a prize on this years Resonance FM fundraising auction, but quickly spiralled out of control, and we’re very grateful to gate-owners Tony and Kath, not only for their generous winning bid; but also for allowing us to share the results. ‘The gate was one of the things that attracted us to the house in the first place’ says Tony.

I suppose one of the reasons I wanted to replicate the above handbill (or have strands of electrons do that for me – see Day #294/365) is because it made me think and ponder upon the way that Howlround are often mentioned in the sense of belonging to a lineage that stretches back to The Radiophonic Workshop…

…to me they share a similar sense of audiological technology related exploring but in a way that interestingly is also a mirror of our times and a mirror world reflection of the work of The Radiophonic Workshop.

BBC Records and Tapes-The Radiophonic Workshop-A Year In The CountryThe Radiophonic Workshop existed at a time when the tools for the electronic creation and manipulation of music/sounds were quite limited and so they used what was to hand, repurposed it and literally built things from the ground up. This seemed to involve a fair old bit of the physical manipulation of recording medium and the instruments that they had imagined into the world

Howlround carry on in that tradition of the physical manipulation of recording mediums but this is carried out in a time of technological plenty… and so hence my thinking of how their work and the techniques used to create it are a mirror of our times.

In times of plenty, sometimes the difficult thing to do can be filtering out all the endless possibilities, narrowing down your palette.

Which got me to thinking of Mr Billy Childish.

Billy Childish-Wolf Howard-A Year In The Country

Now, it’s not necessarily an obvious or easy hop, skip and jump from the tape-wrangled soundcapes of Howlround to thee kitchen sink punk of Billy Childish but in a way it is:

…in the fifties and sixties… discipline was given to you by the limitatations of the material or the technology. But what happened next is that people decided those limitations were a problem rather than the life. Nowadays, to have any sensible life, you have to artificially impose limitations. Otherwise you have limitlessness, and limitlessness is the opposite of freedom.” Billy Childish, quoted in Simon Reynolds Retromania book.

(Along which lines, the chap in the foreground of the above photograph is sometimes Stuckist, sometimes  beatsman and sometimes worker in pre zero and ones lightcatchingMr Wolf Howard.)

Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-A Year In The Country-badge packs

Anyway, as I type, my thoughts wander to some of Mark Fisher’s writing in Ghosts Of My Life that I’ve visited around these parts before, where he talks about how creating new work can:

“…depend upon certain kinds of withdrawal from, for instance, sociality as much as from pre-existing cultural forms but the currently dominant form of socially networked cyberspace, with its endless opportunities for micro-contact… has made withdrawal more difficult than ever before… in recent years, everyday life has sped up but culture has slowed down…”

Mark-Fisher-Ghosts-of-My-Life-zeros-and-ones-tape loop-tape reel to reel-Howlround-A-Year-In-The-Country

Hmmm. Sustenance for thought as it were.

Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?” seems kind of appropriate here (and yes, the irony/contradiction of that being the full title of a television program and replicated on, well, a modern-day television screen by my good self/strands of electrons is not in the lost part of the lost-and-found section around these parts).

Howlround-Torridon Gate-Robin The Fog-Chris Weaver-Resonance FM-tape cutting packs-A Year In The Country-lighter 1200

Visit Howlround in the ether here. Visit Torridon Gate in this particular ether here.

Visit Mr Billy Childish (a little curiously I tend to think) in the ether here. Visit Mr Billy Childish and companions in this particular ether here.

Visit Mark Fisher in the ether here. Visit Mark Fisher in this particular ether here.

Visit Simon Reynolds in the ether here. Visit Simon Reynolds in this particular ether here.

Visit the original handbill pasted to the telegraph poles of the ether here.


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Day #284/365: Sapphire and Steel; a haunting by the haunting and a denial of tales of stopping the waves of history…

Sapphire-and-Steel-1200 collage 2-final-scene-ending-A-Year-in-The-Country
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #39/52.

Slowly, slowly I’m making my way through Sapphire and Steel.

Sapphire and Steel-A Year In The Country-4-higher contrastI think I watched some of it back when it was originally broadcast but I can’t be sure. In my mind it is associated with being only able to watch every other week as in the days prior to the widespread availability of home video recorders there was an “imposed from the top” attempt at democratically alternating week by week which clashing television programs were watched… a solution which I expect left neither part particularly satisfied.

It may not have been that series, that may have been the stories of a band of Federation fighters from a similar time…

(Please skip the section below if you have not yet seen the series but intend to at some point… or in more brief language, below lurks spoilers)…

Mark Fisher-Ghosts Of My Life-Zero Books-hauntology-A Year In The CountryI already know how Sapphire and Steel’s story ends because Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life book opens with it; the couple are left stranded in a roadside cafe that is suspended in space. Mark Fisher says in his Ghosts Of My Life book that it seems like a sequence that is designed to haunt the adolescent mind (see Day #163/365)… and now the putting down on paper of that haunting has haunted my (not so) adolescent mind.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that ending but my mind thinks I have. I can visualise it even; the two main characters staring out of curtained window set in a building in the void… ah, looking back over A Year In The Country I’ve wandered across it before…

That sounds too precise to not be the actual thing but I’m not sure when/how I would’ve seen it.

Sapphire and Steel-A Year In The Country-3China Miéville talks about Sapphire and Steel in The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale (a fine book, well worth seeking out, visit it at Day #15/365), in particular the first episode, commenting how “nothing happens”… I don’t think that is the case, a lot happens, there just isn’t excessively kinetic movement from one location and big-bang moment to another… compared to much of modern day transmitted stories it feels curiously almost soothing for not having that constant fast paced action. At the same time it doesn’t feel like you need to recalibrate yourself to appreciate it (once again, see Day #33/365), in contrast to say some of 1970s television, you can just sit back and let it wash over you.

Slowly, slowly making my way through its stories seems appropriate in a way.

Possibly I’ve finally wandered more directly to Sapphire and Steel because I’m currently reading John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I maybe came to because the next chapter but two in Ghosts Of My Life concerns itself with and which is also referenced in the section on Sapphire and Steel…

…although my mind had forgotten that (and curiously the book is thus far much less 1970s grit than I thought, more almost effete Oxbridge parlour games… although ones which can result in a shot in the back as much as a snubbing by your fellow educationallife-long priveligists… perhaps that grit and anomie is reserved for the 1970s television adaptation).

Sapphire and Steel-A Year In The Country-2

Talking of 1970s grit… there’s something about the colours and special effects of Sapphire and Steel that seems like the apothesis of such things. Even with the glamour of Ms Lumley and the (slight) dash of David McCallum…

Sapphire and Steel-A Year In The Country-6-smallerSapphire and Steel was such a curious choice for prime time broadcasting; science fiction as seen through a pop-cultural avant garde lens. At the time that was the case but held up against much of today’s often fan pleasing rollercoaster ride of non-stop action it seems even more so… if you should watch it then I suspect you will wander and marvel over quite how it ended up on the front of the TV Times (massively mainstream in nature and circulation; one of only two television listings magazines in the UK back in the 1970s).

In the chapter “The Slow Cancellation Of The Future”, Sapphire and Steel’s casting out and possible betrayal “by their own side” is a kind of analogy or introduction to some of the themes of hauntology; its sense of futures lost and of time/cultural time leeching forwards and backwards.

Sapphire and Steel-A Year In The Country-5

In this final episode which I have possibly never seen but which I think I have, fellow cafe inhabitants tell Sapphire and Steel:

“This is the trap. This is nowhere, and it’s forever.”

Hauntology and late-stage capitalism’s myth of its own endless omnipotence? A curious denial of history and non-learning from the thoughts of King Canute.

“This is the trap. This is nowhere, and it’s forever.”

I think on that note I shall leave this page.


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Day #272/365: Axel Hoedt’s folkloric club kid rogues gallery and symbolic expulsions…

Axel Hoedt-Fasnacht-Once A Year-Der Steidl-German folklore-A Year In The Country-rogues gallery collage 1
File under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #38/52.

I find Axel Hoedt’s images of German folkloric costume, from his Once A Year book, somewhat intriguing and also somewhat unsettling.

…they put me in mind of folklore as rethought by club kids (think Party Monster), with a certain percentage of 1970s Doctor “how do we scare the heck out of people for relatively tuppence ha’penny” Who added for good measure.

There’s a sense of being in amongst the denizens of a land far from the twee fields of folklore with this particular slice of karnivalesque dressing up…

This is from information about the book:

The Swabian-Alemannic carnival, known as Fasnacht, Fastnacht or Fasnet, is a custom in southwest Germany when the cold and grim spirits of winter are symbolically hunted down and expelled. Every year around January and February processions of people make their way through the streets of Endingen, Sachsenheim, Kissleg, Singen, Wilfingen and Triberg dressed up lavishly as demons, witches, earthly spirits and fearful animals to enact this scene of symbolic expulsion.

The language used seems brutal and harsh; hunted down, expelled, expulsion, fearful…

Axel Hoedt-Fasnacht-Once A Year-Der Steidl-German folklore-A Year In The Country-7-collage 2

The creatures his photographs capture (and I use that word somewhat appropriately and possibly hopefully) seem like the darker urban cousins of Charles Frégers Wilder Mann (see Day #65/365), which in themselves are not all cuddly and light… but Axel Hoedt’s once a year capturees are voyagers from further flung outlands and less well-lit crevices of imagination.

Hmmm. Not sure I want to spend all that much time amongst these particular revelers…

Axel Hoedt-Fasnacht-Once A Year-Der Steidl-German folklore-A Year In The Country-2

Visit Axel Hoedt in the ether here. Visit his bibliographers Steidl Verlag here.


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Day #271/365: The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water and a hop and skip to lost municipal paternalisms…

Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country-Public Information Films-1973-Central Office Of Information-Charley Says-Network DVD
File under: Trails and Influences. Recent Explorations. Case #37/52.

The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water is a “classic” Public Information Film from 1973, renowned for having scared the heck out of a generation of youngster…

Public Information Films were a curiously blunt tool used to educate the population, often on matters of health and safety, issued by the government-run/funded Central Office Of Information in the UK. The whole structure, naming and concept puts me in mind of a previous eras underfunded, unsophisticated take on a kind of benign paternal, “we know best” tea and limp sandwiches committee in charge of a sub-sub-sub-Orwellianism… but which actually may well have sprung forth in part from that previous eras social consensus orientated wish to help, nurture and protect its citizens.

Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country-Public Information Films-1973-Central Office Of Information-Charley Says-Network DVD-2

The first thing that struck me when I went back to revisit this particular Public Information Film was some kind of similarity with that other cultural artefact of 1973, The Wickerman, at the point when Lord Summerisle tells Sergeant Howie of the characteristics he had that made him ideal as their sacrifice/source of plant renewal…

I am the spirit of dark and lonely water, ready to trap the unwary, the show-off, the fool…

A man who would come here of his own free will. A man who has come here with the power of a king by representing the law… A man who has come here as a fool…

(Of course, adding some extra phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium to the plants nourishment via a good fertiliser may well have had a better chance of increasing apple growth but probably wouldn’t have made for as good a story. Such are human foibles…)

Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country-Public Information Films-1973-Central Office Of Information-Charley Says-Network DVD-3

I suppose in part, both films have come to signify/been repurposed to become part of a form of modern-day folklore… The Wickerman more directly in a folkloric sense, Dark And Lonely Water more in a hauntological manner.

Also, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it might have been. On a first re-viewing I found it oddly almost comic in a way, although that may just be my mind connecting particular clothing aesthetics with knockabout 1970s childrens shows.

But then what struck me was the scene that pans across rusted debris on a river bank…
Under the water there are traps: old cars, bedsteads, weeds, hidden depths…

There was something about this, mixed with the styles of clothing in the film and the sense of, well essentially playing on wastelands, that reminded me of just how foreign and far away place the early 1970s are from today; the journey that a society has gone on from youngsters playing amongst a cultures debris, in the muddy puddles and potential deathtraps of its then edgelands (although that world did not yet exist at the time) and discarded places to a time of much more intensified commodification and birthday trips to softplay centres and the like that cost hundreds of pounds.


In that sense, the film seems like an antideluvian recording of a pre-Thatcher, (not actually) end of history, the market is all time and with but a hop and a skip or two could be seen as a document produced during one of the times when UK society was battling over its future shape, order and social consensus. A transmission from a time when the future was being fought over and lost; hence the link to the themes/interests of hauntological study and its yearnings for forgotten futures and municipally organised utopias.

Such themes/work appear to consider in part that maybe such paternalistic tendencies within politics/society weren’t such a bad thing, particularly in contrast with the harsher market lead times in which we live; a sense that what was once considered Big Brother was also possibly a more nuanced “big brother”.

Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country-Public Information Films-1973-Central Office Of Information-Charley Says-Network DVD-4

So yes, it’s that year, 1973.

Hmmm again…

Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country-Public Information Films-1973-Central Office Of Information-Charley Says-Network DVD-5

A few earlier and outside pathways;

Playing amongst the discards and the work of Jon Brooks: Mind How You Go; Day #81/365.

Edgeland Report Documents: Day #115/365; Edward Chell’s Soft Estates. Day #160/365 (Cases #1a (return), #2a-5a.).

Day #183/365: Steam engine time and remnants of transmissions before the flood.

Dark and Lonely Water-2-A Year In The Country-Public Information Films-1973-Central Office Of Information-Charley Says-Network DVD-6

View Dark And Lonely Water: via the official apparatus, via a samizdat video platform which groweth rich on the fruits of largely unpaid labour and enthusiasm for dissemination.

…peruse the script here. Charley Says: an extensive silver disc archiving here and here.


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Day #264/365: Weird Britain In Exile: A Bakers Dozen of Cuttings and Clippings Concerning Psychic Heterotopias, Collections Writ Large and Imagined Arcane Mirrorings

Weird Britain in Exile: Ghost Box, Hauntology, and Alternative Heritage-Jamie Sexton-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #36/52.

And while I’m thinking about the sense of good vs bad retro in relation to hauntology (see Day #262/365)…

The quotes from this page are from an academic article by Jamie Sexton called Weird Britain in Exile: Ghost Box, Hauntology, and Alternative Heritage.

Although academically formal in nature, it doesn’t tend to stray too far into the drier fields of such things and serves as an interesting overview and debate of a number of themes surrounding such things, taking in along the way the aforementioned Ghost Box Records, English Heretic, Mark Fisher (see Day #163/365), the writing of Simon Reynolds and the wanderings of Iain Sinclair and Shena Mackay (see Day #225/365 and Day #222/365).

It’s a curious world where it has become acceptable for their to be serious academic study of areas of culture which would have previously been considered throwaway, too much a part of low/pop culture etc.

That’s not said in a judgemental on either side manner, more just its intriguing when you can wander through the isles of the library deposits of such places and go “Oh, there’s the section on mondo British trash cinema” and the like…

If you take one of the aspects of hauntological culture to be a kind of mourning for lost futures and the nurturing/space provided by publicly funded creative and municipal projects, then academia could well be seen to be one of the last outposts of such freer spaces; a place where society goes to think and dream, to semi-quote William Gibson.

Although now those particular spaces are more likely to be at least partly funded via the future earnings and debts of its temporary participants than via the public purse.

Weird Britain in Exile Ghost Box Hauntology and Alternative Heritage-Jamie Sexton-Collage-discography-1

An interesting mirroring occurs between the article and its subject of hauntology/Ghost Box Records…

In Simon Reynolds article on such things, Haunted Audio (again see Day #262/365), he says about some of the cultural creators who have been labelled hauntological: “Like Stereolab or the England’s Hidden Reverse groups (Current 93, Coil, etc) they enjoy the game of mystique cultivation but feel an equally strong impulse to edify, a pedagogic compulsion to share their knowledge treasure.”

If you should replace the names/groupings of musicians with that of academia/academics, particularly in the realms of media studies, then more or less the same could apply.

Ghost Box and cohorts appear to often take the ordinary and reimagine/reinterpret it so that it is presented in a more arcane manner. So, once mainstream television transmissions and films become otherly reflections and reinterpretations of themselves.

Academia carries out a not dissimilar activity in the realms of popular media investigations by applying its own esoteric language, rituals, naming structures, cataloguing and so forth.

Upon finishing reading this article, wherein one arcane cultural investigator considers the work of other but separate arcane investigators, I came away with the sense that somewhere, in an imaginary parallel existence, Ghost Box Records and interconnected compatriots had carried out a study on the intriguing semi-hidden world of academics.

The article discusses legitimate vs non-legitimate cultural curators/collectors/collections (ie museums vs bedroom record etc archivists) and retro/pastiche orientated work when it is self-aware/declaring as opposed to strictly revivalist… but accompanying that is an unacknowledged and quite intriguing subtext of its own cultural position and milieu mirroring of such things.

Below is a selection of cuttings and clippings from this particular investigation:

1) “…critics have tended to steer away from exploring issues such as nostalgia and pastiche within the work of such artists due to their rather negative connotations; yet these concepts are crucial to the strategies of many hauntological artists.

Weird Britain in Exile Ghost Box Hauntology and Alternative Heritage-Jamie Sexton-Collage-discography-1

2) “Psychic Heterotopias… refer to places that exist within society (unlike utopias) but which are in some senses separate from, and other to, the broader social space within which they exist.

3) “One of the key themes feeding into this strain of hauntology is the role of the collector. Ghost Box, for example, is a label that emerged with a very particular aesthetic identity forged from a mixture of specific references. It was, in a sense, a particular aspect of its owners’ collections writ large, a projection of their tastes.”

4) “…socially less respectable collector-organizations emerging around the nineteenth century, such as wax museums… It is this “underside” of collecting which informs the Ghost Box aesthetic, though its collecting is largely based on recordable media—record collectinginparticular,butalsothecollectionofbooks,films,andtelevision programs.”

5) “Rare records, in their very sacredness, have recovered some of the specialness lost to mass-produced, commodified artworks.

6) “The regularity of particular types of material—horror and other forms of fantastic media, outdated forms of media hardware, state-assisted education initiatives,antiquated visions of the future—forming this aesthetic is so insistent that it must also be considered a form of curating, of highlighting particular cultural artifacts as worthy of preservation, a process of “containing the past to recover and revivify it.

Weird Britain in Exile Ghost Box Hauntology and Alternative Heritage-Jamie Sexton-Collage-discography-2b

7) “…introduces a new model of media access and amateur historiography that, whilst the images are imperfect and the links are impermanent nonetheless realizes much of the… potential to circulate rare, ephemeral, and elusive texts.

8) “…there exist a number of what could be termed marginal movements which place an emphasis on different kinds of heritage from those propounded by organizations such as the National Trust or English Heritage. Ghost Box and its affiliates can be partly related to this surge of interest in marginal national history, in preserving a form of alternative heritage.

9) Via English Heretic:  “…we aim to help people decode and realise the alchemical ciphers and conspiratorial interplay of the buildings and landscapes around them.

10) The “media pilgrimage” has become a common part of modern life, as physical locations become overwritten with meanings and values which emerge from their use within fictional environments.

Weird Britain in Exile Ghost Box Hauntology and Alternative Heritage-Jamie Sexton-Collage-discography-2c

11) “Mount Vernon Arts Lab’s The Seance at Hobs Lane, is also inspired by a fictional location featured within Quatermass and the Pit… and can be considered to be a kind of ritual sound excursion inspired by a fictional space.

12) “This, as noted, is a quite self-conscious defamiliarization of more conservative notions of heritage: whereas that form of heritage generally celebrates the past as a safe haven, Ghost Box emphasizes the more eerie, unsettling vestiges of cultural history; whereas that mode of heritage vilified post-war Brutalist architecture, Ghost Box includes it as another inspirational touchstone… an uncanny experience occurs either when infantile complexes which have been repressed are once more revived by some impression, or when primitive beliefs which have been surmounted seem once more to be confirmed…. By being placed within a unified aesthetic framework, these apparently dissimilar references are uncannily connected, made strange through their interrelationships.

12)b) “Thus, similar to the way in which Ghost Box can be seen as engaging in alternative forms of heritage, it can also be considered to be practicing alternative forms of nostalgia and pastiche… this is a mode of pastiche that can be largely differentiated from other forms through its ransacking of generally obscure sources. It is, therefore, not so much the absence of pastiche and nostalgia that typifies the label and its general critical acclaim, but rather the displacing of these concepts through strategies of selectivity and framing.


The article can be read (after jumping through a few hoops) here.


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Day #263/365: Spectres vs Retro

page_26-halftone-with quote-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations.
Case #35/52.

It was interesting stepping back to a high-water mark of earlier interest in all things spectral and hauntological via Simon Reynolds Haunted Audio article in Wire magazine…

This was a time when the (non)genre (see Day #162/365) of hauntology hadn’t fully settled on a name yet and there were a few such things being bandied around; eldritchonica, sampladelia, memoradelia and the like, something which this article considers.

These other names would come to be but placeholders, in I suppose a not dissimilar way that the gothic subculture and bands were initially tagged with the label positive punk – a phrase which has now been passed largely to the footnote of footnotes of history.

The article is a consideration of some of the history, prime purveyors and interconnected cultural workers who have sent what was then coming to be labelled hauntological out into the world; it takes in Ghost Box Records, the re-archiving tendencies of Jonny Trunk, the magpie-isms of Mordant Music and predecessors such as Position Normal, Boards of Canada and the work of the Radiophonic Workshop alongside philosophical considerations of the unearthing of the past via sampling and the tendency within such work to “look forward to the past”.

page_27-halftone-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountryIn a way it acts as an early primer for all things spectral.

And also it is the seeding for Simon Reynolds chapter on such things, Ghosts Of Futures Past: Sampling, Hauntology and Mashups, in his book Retromania.

One of the things that struck me within the article was that you could see the roots of the frustration with an endless cycle of disinterring pop cultures past and his books confrontation of “a central paradox of our era… we’re empowered by mind-blowing technology, but too often it’s used as a time machine or as a tool to shuffle and rearrange music from yesterday” (from the back cover of the book).

Now, when I listen to “young people’s music” and it’ songs appear to be overly faithful replications of a band from the past that I can’t quite place, all done with a very sharp eye for the details of that reproduction, well I tend to find myself wandering off pretty quickly.

page_28-halftone-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountryBut then such music probably isn’t particularly aimed at or intended for personages of my particular age. Bands from my younger days often sounded not too dissimilar to bands that had come before but I didn’t yet know about the predecessors.

And it didn’t matter. I still found this newly recorded music to be vital, something to share, live and love amongst.

Maybe at the moment pop culture’s forward movement isn’t in the form of distinctive, well-defined new aesthetics, chronologically arranged and advancing. Maybe it is more taking the shape of methods of transmission and transference (ie via the ever multiplying avenues for sending out zeros and one encased audiological work, its corporeal equivalents and the endless nattering, chattering and discussing about such things in amongst the ether).

To semi-quote Billy Childish (who can also be found in Retromania) – novelty is over rated.

page_29-halftone-with quote-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The Country

page_33-halftonepage_32-halftone-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountryIn some ways the hankering after more clearly delineated times gone by when rock’n’roll became mod became psychedelia became glam became punk became new romantic and cultural access and its bandwidth was much more limited can be a variation on “Bah, humbug, what’s all this modern racket, it was all better in my day you know”.

Alongside which in some ways it can also seem like obscure(ish)=good, popular=bad in such debates. Or in a a similar equation obscure(ish) releases=cool/acceptable, more mainstream releases=look away. And so say the eighties looking pop-heard-through-a-bedroom-wall experiments of say Aerial Pink are allowed/appreciated but something which seems in part like an art project reimagining of certain American cultural representations of 1980s high school archetypes (by way of a flipside of the work of John Hughes) such as She Wants Revenge probably wouldn’t be.

It is curious how such things happen. Anyways…

page_30-halftone-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountryThis sense of good/bad retro is something that Simon Reynolds acknowledges/considers within Haunted Audio and Retromania’s discussion of the idea of “good retro” (the more spectral inclinations of Ghost Box Records and the like) vs “bad retro” (more mainstream pilfering of the past, that removes any sense of the uncanny in such burrowing and borrowings).

An interesting point Simon Reynolds made as a guest on an airwaves broadcast hosted by Jarvis Cocker, which was a kind of Retromania special, is that maybe say a particular era’s aesthetic style is the best way of conveying particular things, stories and emotions.

To a certain degree this endless looking to the past and borrowing/recycling what is found there may be just a side effect of technology changes and a time when the resulting access to the recorded artifacts from different eras has meant that culture has become increasingly atemporal.

This just wasn’t the way of the world not all that long ago.

Again, in my younger days it was necessary to endlessly trawl through second-hand shops and what our cousins over the seas call thrift shops to find even a glimpse, a hint of certain previous audio releases.

page_31-halftone-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountrySuch was the scarcity of certain areas of earlier culture that I still think of a particular of such places as quite magical because I once found a 7″ sent forth by él Records in there, despite never finding anything else of interest to my good self.

And looking back, él Records were resolutely retro in their inclinations but they referred back to a time that never quite existed, they created a world which was a time and place of who knows where and when.

Something that as a label they could be said to share with the likes of Ghost Box.

page_32-halftone-Simon Reynolds-Haunted Audio-The Wire Magazine-Retromania-Ghost Box Records- A Year In The CountryAnd maybe that is part of the lesson for such things and the thoughts on this particular page; disinterring is all good and fine but effectively pressing pause to freeze frame and exactly replicate the past is likely to lead to something that lacks a little in life blood as the years go by.


Peruse the article in the ether here. Via archived sheaths here.

Mr Reynolds in the ether here and here. The aforementioned book of bound sheaths here.


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Day #262/365: Katie Jane Garside, Ruby Throat and precious artifacts (a slight return)

File under: Trails and Influences. Recent Explorations. Case #34/52.

I suppose the value of things is in part how much people are prepared to spend on them.

If that’s the case, then a handful of Katie Jane Garside related artifacts are rather precious indeed…

Here are a few tumbling glimpses of but a few of them…

Ruby Throat-Katie Jane Garsdie-A Year In The Country 2 Queen Adreena-Katie Jane Garside-X-Ing The Days Off-A Year In The Country

Lalleshwari-Katie Jane Garsdie-A Year In The Country-4 Lalleshwari-Katie Jane Garsdie-A Year In The Country-3 Lalleshwari-Katie Jane Garsdie-A Year In The Country-2 Lalleshwari-Katie Jane Garsdie-A Year In The Country

Katie Jane Garside’s work can be found in amongst the John Barleycorn Reborn pastures… something of a cuckoo in the nest in many ways.

Previous glimpses: Katie Jane Garside/Ruby Throat via Day #44/365 of A Year In The Country.

…and elsewhere in the ether.


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Day #257/365: Further coruscations; Lutine, White Flowers and textural voyages…

Lutine-Front and Follow-A Year In The CountryFile under: Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #33/52.

Well, I’ve been quietly looking forward to the arrival and completion of this particular project for a fair while now…

…and then one day it fell through my (electronic) letterbox, fully formed and a thing of beauty.

I’m listening to it as I type and this is thoroughly transportative music.

Rooted in folk music but it is work all of its own.

Which is something I must emphasise before I begin the following paragraphs: Lutine don’t sound like anybody but themselves but…

How to describe this music? Well a few pointers may give you an idea…

This Mortal Coil-Vaughan Oliver-4AD-A Year In The CountryIf you should take sprinklings, seedings and pathways to and from the following then you may arrive at some sense of this body of work; the songbird travellers of Finders Keepers, in particular Paper Dollhouse and Magpahi, the coruscating journeys of Espers, possibly the purity of that teller/re-teller of old stories Anne Briggs, voices such as Audrey Copard from past revivals of folkloric music that seem to have stepped aside and into spaces of their own, the swooping ancient tellings of Dead Can Dance and Lisa Gerrard, the encompassing tranquil dramaticisms of the Cocteau Twins, interrelated Songs From The Siren and their journeying alongside swathes of minimalist piano from Mr Harold Budd…

Harold Budd-Cocteau Twins-Moon And The Melody Cocteau Twins-4AD-Victorialand-A Year In The Country

Actually, as I type, it’s curious how White Flowers puts me in mind of a peak point of the label 4AD, when it was a home for fragile, textured beauty and explorations, such journeys being enhanced, accompanied and often encased by the work of Vaughan Oliver/v23.

(Curiously, upon exploring Front and Follow – who will be sending White Tree out into the world – the travelling clothes of fellow releases by the likes of Kemper Norton are not all that many pathways away from such things).

His Name Is Alive-Livonia-Vaughan Oliver-v23-4AD-A Year In The CountryI’ve just gone away and revisited His Name Is Alive’s Livonia and I could draw a line between some of that and Lutine. I feel I must type these words, though they are a quite obvious way to describe their work; ethereal beauty.

If you take ethereal as one of its literal definitions as being “something which is extremely delicate and light, in a way not of this world” then you may be heading towards Lutine… but they do such work without wandering into pastures of tweeness or cloyingness and there is a shimmering seam of something far from such things that underpins their work.

Ethereal-definition-A Year In The Country

And I don’t think that seam could be described as a darkness but there is a subtle sense of stepping away from the light here…

Lutine-Sallow Tree-Front and Follow-2-A Year In The Country
Dream pop is another phrase which comes to mind/has been mentioned in connection with Lutine and one which could also connect back to that Vaughan Oliver cloaked era of music and other fellow wanderers through chimeric soundscapes and melodic will-o’-the wisps such as Virginia Astley.

Lutine-Sallow Tree-Front and Follow-A Year In The CountryThis is chamber music from a time neither then, today or tomorrow. Thoroughly modern and yet steeped in waters from before, gently experimental but particularly accessible (a combination of strands which is somewhat appreciated around these parts).

Visit Lutine here. Visit those who would/shall envelop and envoy them here.


Other aforementioned pathways around these parts:
Paper Dollhouse. Magpahi. Anne Briggs. Audrey Coppard. Espers. Virginia Astley.