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

Bagpuss intro-1a

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

Bagpuss intro-2b

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

Bagpuss and in particular the intro sequence:

Bagpuss intro-3b

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

Bagpuss intro-1aa

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

Bagpuss intro-2aa

Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss

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

Be golden and light
Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing

Bagpuss intro-3

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

Bagpuss intro-6

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

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

Bagpuss intro-5

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

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

Bagpuss intro-8b

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

Bagpuss intro-Small Films

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wicker Man BBC Scotland On Screen 2009

The ones in question were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Cats Eyes-sparkle and reflection on the road

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
The Night Has Eyes

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

BFIPlayer image


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

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

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

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


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

Kelli Alli-Rocking Horse-album and EP-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Duke Of Burgundy-Cat's Eyes

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

Jane Weave-Septieme Soeur-Finders Keepers Records-Bird

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

Finders Keepers Records-Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders soundtrack

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

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

The Butterfly-Kelli Ali-2c

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

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

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


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Summerisle In (Sort Of) Pop #2 – The Sneaker Pimps’ How Do / Kelli Ali’s Willow’s Song: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #47/52a

The Sneaker Pimps-How Do-Willows Song-Becoming X-Spin Spin Sugar-Kelli Ali-The Wicker Man

Sneaker Pimps How Do is a version of Willow’s Song from The Wicker Man soundtrack and is on their 1996 album Becoming X, which had the song as its last track and is also a B-side for their single Spin Spin Sugar.

Sneaker Pimps were linked to the trip hop genre at the time and had a fair degree of commercial success with the album selling over a million copies and a number of Top 40 and Top 10 singles were released from it.

(Trip hop was a British and early 1990s originated, generally downbeat, atmospheric loose genre of music that often used hiphop beats, fusing them with electronica and sometimes also mixed elements of dance, soul, dub etc – those who are well known in connection to it would include Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead.)

At the time I more thought of Sneaker Pimps as left-of-centre electronic pop than triphop but there are elements of both in their music and although I probably listened to How Do at the time I may well not have realised its origin.

The Wickerman Willows Songs Gently Johnny 7 vinyl Record Store Day-Silva Screen International-A Year In The Country 2

It was a curious thing for a quite pop orientated band – even if a more left-of-centre one – back then to include a song from The Wicker Man soundtrack.

Although it was a known film, its extended and ever growing cultdom hadn’t really started to gather pace yet and Trunk Records’ release of the never-before-released soundtrack was a couple of years off, so information about it was probably still relatively thin on the ground.

The Wicker Man-Trunk Records release-OST-vinyl-soundtrack-map

In an interview at the time, when asked what his perfect film to create a soundtrack for, Chris Cornell of the band said this:

The whole band is into a film called The Wicker Man, it’s an sort of obscure 70s English film, and the last track on our album, How Do, is a cover-version of a track from that film, which is originally a traditional folk tune. So, that music and filmwise is everybody’s sort of favorite film, and I think I would have liked to have written for that. In the future – well, I can’t speak for everyone else here, but something along those lines.

(In connection to information about The Wicker Man being thin on the ground at the time of How Do, is the above mention of Willow’s Song being a traditional folk tune; without more information, in the setting of the film and the way in which it and the soundtrack seem to conjure in part a sense of being documents of actual folklore, it would be easy to think of it as being traditional rather than having been written specifically for the film by Paul Giovanni.)

Anyways, How Do is something of a melding of styles and elements; it opens with samples from The Wicker Man and is in part a gentle, lulling atmospheric pop song with a touch of triphop and as it progresses it increasingly incorporates swirling, almost helicopter like electronic sounds.

Kelli Ali-Rocking Horse and Butterfly

In 2008 Kelli Ali, who was the singer with Sneaker Pimps at the time of Becoming X, released a pastoral, folk inflected album called Rocking Horse on One Little Indian, which was produced by Max Richter (the producer of once lost-lady-of-folk Vashti Bunyan’s 2005 Lookaftering album).

Although not expecting performers to purely explore one set genre, when I came across Rocking Horse I remember being quite surprised by this more folk direction, knowing Kelli Ali more for her work with Sneaker Pimps.

However, looking back at the above comments by Chris Cornell and on rediscovering Sneaker Pimps’ cover of Willow’s Song, it is less surprising and you could maybe drawn a line from it to the possible roots of Rocking Horse.

After Rocking Horse Keli Ali self-released called Butterfly in 2009, which is a more intimate, acoustic extension of Rocking Horse and in part features new versions of songs from that album.

On Butterfly there is also another version of Willow’s Song, which takes it back nearer to its purely imagined folkloric roots and although being her own interpretation it is closer to how the song was performed for The Wicker Man’s soundtrack and indeed would not seem all that out of place if heard amongst the other music in the film.

The Wicker Man-soundtrack-OST-vinyl-Kelli Ali-Butterfly-Willows Song-2

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
How Do by The Sneaker Pimps
Willow’s Song by Kelli Ali

Local Broadcasts:
Day #18/365: Willows Songs
Day #101/365: Gently Johnny, Sproatly Smith, The Woodbine & Ivy band and lilting intentions…
Audio Visual Transmission Guide #31/52a: Summer Isle In (Sort Of) Pop #1 – Pulp’s The Wickerman


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Barsham Faire 1974 and a Merry Albion Psychedelia: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #46/52a

Barsham Faire 1974-BFIPlayer-medieval-folk-psych-4

Just recently I was talking about the curious way that “in the early 1970s, some bands/musicians adopted quite medieval styles of dress, persona and even elements of such ways in day-to-day life.

Barsham Faire 1974-BFIPlayer-medieval-folk-psych-5

After writing that I came across some film footage of Barsham Faire in 1974 on the BFIPlayer:

Held on the Rectory Paddock courtesy of a local landowner, the Barsham Faire was a popular event with both local communities of former city dwellers who had moved up to the Waveney valley for a slower pace of life and stall holders who came to sell their handmade goods. The faire became a popular date in the calendar throughout the 70s and a great opportunity for people to let their hair down and sing and dance in the Suffolk sunshine. Dressing up qualified you for half price entry!

Barsham Faire 1974-BFIPlayer-medieval-folk-psych-3 Barsham Faire 1974-BFIPlayer-medieval-folk-psych-1

This is a good snapshot of a point in time and culture when 1960s hippie-ness had melded into and explored medieval styles and related folk/folkloric interests – a sort of Merry England psychedelia.

Well worth a look-see.

Barsham Faire 1974-BFIPlayer-medieval-folk-psych-2

Below are some of the original posters for the Faire’s, dated 1972, 1973 and 1974:

Barsham Faire posters-1972-1973-1974

There’s a fascinating overview of the history of Barsham Faire, how it evolved into the Albion Fairs and related archival work by The Fairs Archive at the “folk arts and esoterica for the discerning” Hare and Tabor site, who have also created an accompanying t-shirt inspired by those Fairs in collaboration with The Fairs Archive:

Five heady events took place on Rectory Paddock in the summers from 1972 onwards.  What seemed like a temporary autonomous zone overseen by the Spirit of Misrule was established.  Out of the demise of these events emerged the Albion Fairs to take their place, which continued until the early 1980’s.  A precedent had been set that others would follow in other parts of the country. As Jill Bruce, one of the organisers  of the events explained, the experience was life changing for some: “That field, that place, that fair: the experience was colossal – a jolt into another reality, the one I was supposed to be in.””

Also well worth a look-see.

Hare and Tabor-logo

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #46:
Barsham Faire 1974 at the BFIPlayer

Elsewhere in the Ether:
Barsham Faire at Hare and Tabor
The Fairs Archive

Local Broadcasts:
Wanderings #46/52a: Steeleye Span, Imaginative Time Travel, Medievalism


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Z For Zachariah: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #45/52a

Play For Today title-BBC

Z For Zachariah-Robert O'Brien-bookZ For Zachariah is a novel by Robert C. O’Brien that was published in 1974 and has been made as a Play For Today drama for television by the BBC in 1984 and as an American film in 2015.

Its plot involves a young woman who believes she is the last survivor of a worldwide nuclear conflict which has left the world uninhabitable apart from the small valley in which she lives.

Into this valley one day comes a stranger in a protective suit and the story revolves around his almost passing away after being contaminated, their attempts at survival and farming and the conflict between them in their isolate enclave.

Z For Zachariah-1984 BBC Play For Today-3

The 1984 Play For Today adaptation is a particularly dour and unsettling piece of drama.

This is partly because of the inherent nature of its themes, background and plot but it is quite possibly heightened by it only being available as an umpteenth generation version, with the resulting washed out grey-green colour palette.

Also, I was quite aware when watching it that the background of its making and broadcast was the real life threat of a peak in tension during the Cold War, which possibly made it less entertainment than a form of almost speculative documentary.

Z For Zachariah-2015-1

When I watched the 2015 film version I was actually quite surprised by it; the film stars three well known actors – Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine – but it is a fairly downbeat, understated feature.

(Curiously, in a revolving mirror manner of what often happens with film and television adaptations when they cross the Atlantic, the book was originally set in the United States, the story was relocated to Wales for the Play For Today version and then returned to the US for the 2015 film version.)

Z For Zachariah-2015-2

The film version adds a third survivor – Chris Pine – and it becomes in part a tale of a love triangle set against the background of survival and the conflict between faith and scientific practicality (this aspect is particularly shown when one of the characters wishes for the wooden church in the valley to be taken down in order to build a power creating watermill and does not or cannot take on board the spiritual effect this may have on another of the trio).

In this version the apocalypse that has faced the wider world is not overtly defined as being conflict related and is more hinted at as being some vague nuclear related cataclysm, which accompanied by it being made after the Cold War era means that the underlying real life threat of the film is at least lessened.

However, I have to admit that by the end of the film I’m not sure that I was so much entertained as unsettled and disturbed, finding myself with a strong sense of nolonger wanting to be in this world and its realities.

This natural rural enclave may in some ways look like a singular paradisiacal new beginning but it is one that seems to have an overhanging sense of a clock ticking towards when it will no longer be sustainable.


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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
(Fragments of) Z For Zachariah 1984
Z For Zachariah 2015

Local Broadcasts:
Day #46/365: Threads, The Changes, the bad wires and the ghosts of transmissions
Audio Visual Transmission Guide #30/52a: The Last Train And Fractured Timelines


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Meg Baird’s Don’t Weigh Down The Light: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #44/52a

Meg Baird-Dont Weigh Down The Light-A Year In The Country
Well, Meg Baird’s Don’t Weigh Down The Light…

A fair while ago I wrote about the Espers II album and how I seemed to rarely get beyond the first track Dead Queen…

Not because of any failing in the rest of the album but, well because:

“…it’s a song that swoops, sparkles, gently tilts you back into somewhere else. It’s epic and grand in scale but never verbose; a song full of glistening beauty, gentle and lilting but also one which subtly loops and returns throughout to something that touches on night dreams.

And I seem to find it hard to travel beyond it on the album; where do you go after something like this? It’s such a complete, swirling world of a song.

Espers II-Greg Weeks-Drag City-A Year In The Country 5 Espers II-Greg Weeks-Drag City-A Year In The Country

When I hear it I think of semi-lost privately pressed psychedelic/acid folk records from somewhere in the 1970s… but this is no straight replucking or homage; in many ways it shines a beacon as how to look to and draw from earlier source material but to bring it into today and your own vision.”

And now, here I find myself with a similar, not unpleasant conundrum regarding an album by sometime Esper-er Meg Baird.

I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the first track, Counterfeiters, on Don’t Weigh Down The Light, fully with the intention of listening to the whole album but it just stops me dead in my tracks…

…for many of the same reasons as above, the same thing occurs here. Although I wouldn’t necessarily use the phrase epic, Counterfeiters is a very intimate song that draws you in and creates its own world.

This is a rather classy take on the source material of folk that carefully draws a line back to such things but which also wanders quite somewhere else. Entrancing indeed. Gentle, bucolic and also containing a subtle edge of melancholia, a glimpse of a world far removed…


Which is something I could well also say about the Until You Find Your Green album by The Baird Sisters, particularly its first track On And On.

As I have a tendency to say around here, lovely stuff.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
Meg Baird’s Counterfeiters

Local Broadcasts:
Day #93/365: Seasons They Change and the sweetly strange concoctions of private pressings…
Day #132/365: Espers, coruscation and the demise of monarchs…


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Images and the Uneasy Landscape: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #43/52a

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-quarterly-winter-1972-1973

Images is a Robert Altman film from 1974…

…and it is a strange, unsettling viewing experience.

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-1

The plot involves a children’s author Cathryn, played by Susannah York, who receives a series of disturbing phone calls at her home in London, which leave her in a state of confused disarray. When her husband comes home they decide to take a vacation at their isolated country cottage in Ireland, hoping that it will ease and calm her.

Once there Cathryn’s mental state deteriorates, she begins to witness hallucinations or apparitions of people who aren’t there – past lovers, dopplegangers of herself and reality seems to crumble.

As a viewer it becomes difficult to decide and decipher what is real and what is not, with all such things seamlessly linking into one another and being presented in a largely realist manner rather than possible hallucinations being signposted by overt visual effects.

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-3

It put me in mind of José Ramón Larraz’s long lost and relatively recently restored 1974 film Symptoms in that it is a study of the fracturing of a mind in an isolated rural setting, amongst a landscape that should contain bucolic ease, escape and rest but that subtly seems to represent and capture a 1970s psychic malaise.

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-4

In part that may be because despite the the rural setting, both films have an understated murky, subdued colour palette that seems to have been prevalent around the time of their making.

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-7

Within both films the interior scenes of the country houses are claustrophobic, confined, dark spaces, seemingly worlds unto themselves, decorated in what seems to be a kind of gothic, bohemian, Hammer Horror mansion bric-a-brac style.

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-3 copy Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-5

Symptoms is possibly more overtly claustrophobic, with its exterior scenes seeming to consist largely of overhung, sunblocking trees and vegetation, whereas in Images there are views of rolling moors and open hillsides but still within such shots there is little sense of ease and these landscapes and skies seem to contain a foreboding, brooding sense of menace.

Both films also seem to straddle some kind of line between arthouse, enquiring cinema and exploitational shock and violence; unsettling, possibly a little distasteful in parts but intriguing nonetheless.

Neither are films for a quiet, relaxing Sunday afternoon. Nor are they films that send you off to a calm nights sleep…

Images-1972-Robert Altman-Sussanah York-film-6

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
Images at Filmbar70

Local Broadcasts:
Week #28/52: Symptoms and gothic bucolia


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Somewhat Out Of Kilter Harvest Songs: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #42/52a

Farm image-1

Now, I was watching the television one night when an advert came on for bagged salad and the accompanying music made me smile and shake my head just a touch.

The premise of the advert is that the company responsible for the lettuce always seeks out the “very best sunlight” to grow their lettuce.

In the advert we are shown a subtly cartoon-like picture perfect, I assume continental farm and a CGI anthropomorphic tractor sets off to cross the fields of lettuce (not quite sure what it’s doing as the fields don’t need ploughing as the crops are already growing) and is admonished by the farmer to not block the sunlight with its shadow.

The soundtrack to the advert is Nik Kershaw’s single “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, reached number 2 in the UK singles chart in 1984 and the tractor happily sings the song as it goes about its undefined work.

Farm image-3

The word denuded comes to mind about now, as in a song being denuded of its meaning.

Only the chorus of the song (“I won’t let the sun go down on me, I won’t let the sun go down”) is heard in the advert but in actuality the song is a satirical take and reflection on Cold War conflict, dread and potential annihilation.

Always something to choose when you want to imply that you grow happy and healthy lettuces I find.

Farm image-2

Below are some of the other lyrics to the song:

Forty winks in the lobby, make mine a G&T
Then to our favorite hobby, searching for an enemy
Here in our paper houses
Stretching for miles and miles
Old men in stripy trousers rule the world with plastic smiles

Mother nature isn’t in it
Three hundred million years
Goodbye in just a minute,
Gone forever, no more tears
Pinball man, power glutton, vacuum inside his head
Forefinger on the button, is he blue or is he red

I know that it’s quite likely that at the time people didn’t always necessarily realise what the song was about, it was just another catchy pop song that filled the airwaves, the Thursday night Top Of The Pops slot and the pages of the likes of Smash Hits magazine but hearing it used in this context still made me quietly shake my head in a “The modern world hey?” manner.

Farm image-4

The song was part of a loose gathering of successful UK chart singles around the mid-1980s that I wrote about in the second year of A Year In The Country, under the tag of “apocalyptic pop” – the link for which you can find below.


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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
Out Of Kilter Harvest Songs

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


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(Revisiting) Travelling For A Living: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #41/52a

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-1

Back in the first year of A Year In The Country I wrote about Travelling For A Living, Derrick Knight’s 1966 documentary about folk singers The Watersons.

At the time it was quite a hard film to track down – it had been available on video tape once upon a time, it could be found in an out of print boxset and I think it was available at the BFI’s Mediatheques (there were a handful of these around the UK in cinemas, libraries etc, which had a number of screens and headphones where you could watch archived films, television etc).

Anyways, with the advent of the online BFIPlayer in more recent times, you can now watch Travelling For A Living relatively easily online, so I thought I would revisit it.

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-7

The film follows The Watersons throughout their life on the road, playing at folk clubs, recording in studios, at home in Hull as friends and other performers visit (including a fleeting rare glance of folk singer Anne Briggs).

Although it was released in 1966, it seems to belong to an earlier much more kitchen sink, almost post-war period.

Often representations of British life and social history from that time focus on a swirling, colourful, pop-mod-about-to-be-psych Swinging London metropolitan view of things.

Travelling For A Living presents a more gritty Northern contrast to that (although no less vital), an almost alternative history view of culture at that time which seems to have been semi-written out of popular cultural history.

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-3

However, quite possibly, the locations and music shown in Travelling For A Living was nearer to the day-to-day life of more of the nation than that of Swinging London; more backroom of a local pub than Kings Road high life, club and boutique orientated.

Travelling-For-A-Living-Derek-Knight-The-Watersons-A-Year-In-The-Country-8b-in a row

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

This is a much more grassroots, kitchen sink, gritty culture/counter-culture and to my eye makes me think more of the 1950s than the 1960s; all monochrome steaming breath and black wearing beat style.

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

(From the first year post on Travelling For A Living.)

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-2

Folk music is often associated with rural areas and tradition but in Travelling For A Living it is generally shown in amongst a much more Northern town setting – the film featuring extensive evocative terraced house street views and is connected to the harsh realities of the local fishing industry from which some of the traditional songs The Watersons sing originated.

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-6

At one point their musical producer talks about how all the other music that they’ve heard – Ella Fitzgerald, more contemporary work by the likes of The Rolling Stones, music hall, jazz etc – edges into their music.

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-5

(I could add pub singing to that as their take on folk singing seems in part to have developed from and could be connected to the oral, communal tradition of pub singing, which developed in the local area after the war and the demolishing of the music hall, with the associated music moving into pubs: at one point Norma Waterson say of pub singing “This is our tradition, it’s what we were brought up on.“)

Him saying that got me wandering as to how much The Watersons were replicating the past and how much they were creating their own take on traditional music.

This music doesn’t exist today as a living form but only in odd corners of memory; selected, hidden in the early recordings, notes and jottings treasured in the collections of Cecil Sharpe House. From these still warm ashes The Waterstones created music which is then seen to be very much alive.” (From the narration to the film.)

There were relatively few recordings of traditional folk available at the time, it being more an oral tradition and often existing outside or before the widespread recording of music or only have been recorded in written form by the likes of folk music researchers and revivers such as Cecil Sharpe in the early 20th century.

(As a connected aside, in the film The Watersons are shown visiting and listening to the archives of Cecil Sharpe House.)

Therefore reference points and memories of this earlier music may well have been fragmentary in nature and not have leant themselves to exact replication; possibly meaning that music created by The Watersons back then was in part an almost hauntological, hazy remembering of folk music – one that is both a homage to earlier traditional folk and which has also to a degree over the years come to represent what traditional folk music sounds like.

Derrick Knight-Travelling For A Living-The Watersons-1966-BFIPlayer-3b

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
Travelling For A Living

Local Broadcasts:
Day #11/365: Lal Waterson – Teach Me To Be A Summers Morning
Day #242/365: The return of old souls; fleeting glances of Anne Briggs
Day #243/365: Travelling For A Living; tea served in the interval at nine o’clock and a return to populous stories and wald tales


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The Unsleeping Eye: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #40/52a

The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-2

For a while now I’ve been exploring the BFIPlayer’s collection of films, a collection which includes local amateur recordings of British life, left-of-centre independent film, shorts, experimental work etc…

The Unsleeping Eye made in 1985 is a fascinating time capsule and snapshot of part of Cold War infrastructure.

It is a documentary about the Flyingdales ballistic missile early warning station on the Yorkshire Moors which featured the iconic golfball-esque radar system (styled after Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome designs).

Now, in modern day terms this installation cost over twelve billion pounds to build, which would imply that the powers that be took the threat of attack seriously…

…but then that is contrasted in the documentary with a dramatised scene where a local real life volunteer, one of a network of over 10,000, hears of an impending attack via a warning system transmitted to a small speaker device.

The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-4

The gent in question is a pub landlord and the speaker device is shown as being sat on the corner of a shelf in a pub, just below the spirits optics; he rushes outside with a hand cranked air raid siren to alert the local population.

I kind of shake my head. It’s sort of comic but more tragic I guess:

“What was that John, two pints and… oh, sorry, I’ve just had a message that the end of civilisation is about to happen. You wanted peanuts as well? I’ll get them in a mo’, just got to take the siren outside. Last orders please.”

The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-6

I think this sense of tragedy (absurdity?) is heightened as the program opens with a view of a mechanical siren overlooking what looks like a rural town and the pub that the hand cranked siren is set up outside is a classic British country pub called Hare & Hounds – all whitewashed walls and hanging flower baskets, while the base itself is shown set amongst the rural beauty of the rolling Yorkshire moors.

The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer

Although largely focusing on those involved directly in working for Flyingdales, the peace camp outside the base is shown and some of its members are briefly interviewed, as is a local farmer who is patriotically proud of the base and its purpose, saying in a somewhat flowery/poetic manner:

“They are our eyes – the eyes that Bruce Kent and his delilahs would like to put out.”

(Bruce Kent is an activist who was well known for his work in the 1980s for CND and during some of that period was its general secretary and chair.)

At various points the equipment inside the multi-billion pound complex is shown, which is all computers the size of a room that could now probably fit inside the average smart phone, Quatermass-esque dials and equipment, curiously 1960s Batman television series Batcave-like signs on top of equipment and an aquarium (a curious addition which I assume was added to the base to help induce sense of calm in amongst all this quite heavy/serious scanning and surveying).

And although this is 1985, when a warning simulation is shown inside the complex it seems to recall the 1950s as it is all clanging bells and ticker tape like noises, while towards the end the program there is a montage of missile launches and the tones becomes more than a touch sensationalist in a way, as they shown in all their imposing presence to a pounding Hollywood-esque soundtrack.

Strange times.

The Unseeing Eye-1985-BFIplayer-9

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide #1:
The Unsleeping Eye

Local Broadcasts:
Day #114/365: Waiting For The End Of The World and havens beneath our feet
Week #30/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #1; A Lovely Day Out / Not Your Average Des Res
Week #31/52: The Quietened Bunker Archives #2; Songs For The Bunker – The Once Was Ascendance Of Apocalyptic Pop
Week #32/52: Bunker Archives #3: Wargames, Hollywood phantoms and phantasms and the only winning move is not to play

Other contemporaneous tales of the flipside of the Yorkshire moors:
Week #37/52: Edge Of Darkness, stepping into the vortex, reshuffling and sweeping the board…


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Hoofus and Moss Covered Machines: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #39/52a

Hoofus-Moss Covered Machines

A while ago I wrote about the “psychogeographic folk” computer game Edgelands by Marshlight Software aka Andre Bosman aka musician Hoofus.

On further exploration I found this description of Hoofus’ work on their website:

Hoofus uses drifting oscillators, overlapping frequency modulation, ragged percussion and a sense of tactile interaction between performer and machines to create music of wayward eerie wonder.

Drawing on ideas of edgelands and peripheries and the intersecting of wilderness with urban / industrial spaces, Hoofus explores the uncanny beauty of the intangible, the occult and the arcane seeping through into the post-industrial 21st century world of reason and corporate compliance.

Interest piqued, as they say.

Modern Ritual-Cafe OTO-Laura Cannell-Hoofus
(Artwork from Modern Ritual event at Cafe OTO.)

Now, if you should appreciate your electronica experimental but accessible and tinged with spectral/hauntological concerns alongside the flipside of pastoralism… well, Hoofus’ work could well be worth exploring.

The Hoofus Moss Covered Machines EP is described by Travins Systems Records who released it as follows:

Having had a CD hung under the Exotic Pylon to be read by the sunshine and broadcast by Jackdaws and a slot on the Laura Cannell remix EP along side Anglia’s own Luke Abbott, Hoofus takes a chariot over to Travin, hurling rural synth shards at passers by and fraying the seems of town and country with analogue experimentation… Foraging in bleak fields and hedgerows for caches of early Icini insular psychedelia, Hoofus unearths five tracks of scoured synth routing’s and complex pedal array electronics, channeling old England and rural dance culture to great effect.

Horses Brawl-Ruminata-CD cover

Further wandering amongst Hoofus’ work and I find that Andre Bosman has collaborated with fellow Front & Follow released musician Laura Cannell on Ruminantia by Horses Brawl, which takes fragments of early, lost or forgotten music/folk and reinterprets them in a minimal, improvised style that seems to create contemporary work that is deeply imbued with echoes of the past without being hidebound by tradition.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Ruminantia by Horses Brawl
Moss Covered Machines by Hoofus

Local Broadcasts:
Audio Visual Transmission Guide #22/52a: Edgelands – Psychogeographical Folk Tales In An Unexpected Realm
Audio Visual Transmission Guide #29/52a: Front & Follow, Lutine Variations, Fellow Travellers & Offering A Firm Handshake To Sonic Reverie


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Bye Bye Dandelion: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #38/52a

Bye Bye Dandelion-Isabel Garrett-short film-1

Well, this is a lovely thing… Bye Bye Dandelion, which is a short animated film by Isabell Garrett.

It is a gentle, surprising film which tells the tale of attachment and loss between the central character and a dandelion they find.

Bye Bye Dandelion-Isabel Garrett-short film-2

The film has an ending that the first time I saw it I found genuinely quite shocking and after the lull of the film I was not prepared for… although then after this one brief, sharp moment of ending there seems to be a rebirth and expression of the cycle of life.

Bye Bye Dandelion-Isabel Garrett-short film-4

There is a quality to the film that is both timeless and contemporary and it put me in mind somehow of classic British television animation that I grew up with (Camberwick Green, Smallfilms etc) and yet also seems to connect with the spirit of European landscape and animation that I can’t quite put my finger on… Possibly a hint of the spirit of Czech New Wave films such as Daisies and Malá Morská Víla/The Little Mermaid.


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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Bye Bye Dandelion

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


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Here We’m Be Together: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #37/52a

Here We'm Be Together-Rob copy

Here We’m Be Together is a short film by Tim Plester and Rob Curry, the makers of Way Of The Morris and The Ballad Of Shirley Collins, which is described as:

A field-recorded encounter with some of the more eccentric folk rituals of the Norfolk Broads – as seen through the eyes of one indigenous storyteller.

Here We'm Be Together-Rob Curry and Tim Plester-4

It is an affectionate snapshot of a life of “good old times”, that is mixed with views of the landscape, travelling along and through the rivers, old abandoned or being rennovated rural buildings and brief or off in the distance views and snapshots of folk customs and the like.

Here We'm Be Together-Rob Curry and Tim Plester-3

The film is a heartwarming and uplifting but also seems to have a quiet, subtle sense of loss, a certain wistful yearning for lost ways and times and in an understated manner it explores a sense of the layered undercurrents of the tales of the land.

Here We'm Be Together-Rob Curry and Tim Plester-4b

Connected to that sense of loss and the way that it is a view of very particular rural way of life that draws from/is connected to the past, it put me in mind in a way of Philip Trevelayn’s 1971 film The Moon And The Sledgehammer.

Here We'm Be Together-Rob Curry and Tim Plester-2

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Here We’m Be Together

Local Broadcasts:
Audio Visual Transmission Guide #19/52a: The Ballad Of Shirley Collins Trailer and Wandering Amongst Shadowed Furrows/The Hidden Reverse

Day #204/365: The Moon And The Sledgehammer in amongst the fields of the ether for less than a bakers dozen of teacakes…


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The Girl With All The Gifts: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #36/52a

The Girl With All The Gifts-film still-2

So, there was me thinking “I’ll watch The Girl With All The Gifts, it’s only a 15 certificate, how worrying/scary can it be?”

Ah, the answer to that would be absolutely terrifying.

A 15? Really?

I thought it was an interesting film, a layered intelligent take on the science fiction end of days genre that put me in mind of John Wyndham’s Day Of The Triffids, though I shan’t say too much more along those lines as to do do would give away the plot quite easily.

Although, as is often the case with British genre cinema and television, it has that slightly clunky, less polished, almost Children’s Film Foundation air to it in comparison to the ultra-gloss production that Hollywood/US films and television have made me quite used to… here that works to good effect as the almost innocent/naive child acting style that is present in the film sort of disarmed me and made the actuality of the reality of the world it showed and the characters’ actions and drives within it all the more unsettling, jarring and unexpected.

The Girl With All The Gifts-film still-1

One of the images that particularly struck and stayed with me from the film was a shot of an overgrown flyover with an electricity pylon in the distance. That kind of crumbling civilisation giving way to nature has been done a fair few times in cinema and television but here, as is true to the film to a degree, there was a quiet grace and subtlety to it.

Despite the more visceral, unsettling aspects of the film, there is a kind of gentleness and sadness to the film rather than it being played for shock and sensationalistic horror.

Although, it is one of those films that can haunt you for a fair while afterwards…

The Girl With All The Gifts-film still-3

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
The Girl With All The Gifts trailer

Local Broadcasts:
Day #176/365: The changing shadows of the fictions of John Wyndham…


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Quatermass II Pre-show Warning: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #35/52a

Quatermass 2-1957-preshow warning-episode 4 the coming-2Between the diction, the vintage BBC logo and the language in which the warning is couched, the pre-show warning for 1957’s Quatermass II television broadcast seems like it is from a very distant time and place:

“Before we begin the fourth episode of Quatermass II, we’d like to say that in our opinion it is not suitable for children or for those of you who may have a nervous disposition.”

Quatermass 2-1957-preshow warning-episode 4 the coming

I’m quite surprised it has survived in a way, what with television back then not being so pre-recorded and not archived in the way it is today.

Quatermass 2-1957-preshow warning-BBC logo

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Quatermass II – Episode IV Pre-show Warning


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Kathe Green – Run The Length Of Your Wildness: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #34/52a

Kathe Green-Run The Length Of Your Wildness-album

Well, in a mini-theme or genre of later 1960s albums that have covers that may well make you think that they will have quite a folk-ish leaning to them but that are in fact nearer to Swinging London (see also Dana Gillespie’s Foolish Seasons)…

…Kathe Green’s 1969 album Run The Length Of Your Wildness.

Strictly speaking this more puts me in mind of well done, classy, smooth, soundtrack-esque, orchestral radiogram pop.

The cooler sibling of Sandy Shaw maybe (although I’m rather fond of Sandy Shaw and I’m not saying she didn’t have a certain dash to her)…

Kathe Green-Run The Length Of Your Wildness-album coverWhat on earth is going on in this cover? Mexican bandito folk art meets the forebear of folk horror maybe?

I’m not sure but it’s genuinely unsettling.

I can’t even begin to imagine the thought processes in the art direction meetings that arrived at these ideas, particularly considering the nature of the music on the album.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Kathe Green’s Only A Fool (from Run The Length Of Your Wildness)


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Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman As Performed In A Real World Fever Dream: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #33/52a

Laurie Anderson-O Superman-TOTP-1981-Zoo dance troupe-3

I recently wrote about Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman in terms of an example when the circuit between the mainstream and the experimental/avant grade in culture was not quite so broken…

But what happens when that circuit does to a degree function but then the resulting work is filtered within and reinterpreted by the mainstream. Well…

Sometimes you see a piece of culture and it sort of blows your mind, leaves you gobsmacked and thinking “What? What was that? Where did that come from?”.

Laurie Anderson-O Superman-TOTP-1981-Zoo dance troupe-2

The 1981 Zoo dance troupe interpretation of Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman on British primetime music chart show Top Of The Pops is just one of those moments.

Now, O’Superman is something of an odd, minimal, performance art related song in itself to have almost reached the top of the charts…

…but then when you add the layer of oddness of the Zoo performance. Well…

In terms of aesthetics it made me think of the Titupy Bumpity television show in the final series of Quatermass, although without the more overtly titillating elements.

If you filtered that by way of a fever dream, out of focus mainstream take on an early 1980s Kate Bush video (Breathing in particular), an off kilter take on modern dance and added to the mix science fiction-esque and judicial costumes and shall we say priapic (?) alien plants or creatures… well, you’re heading in the right direction.

It has a Michael Moorcock-ian feel to it and alongside the Titupy Bumpity show it also put me in mind of maybe the 1973 film adaptation of The Final Program – it seems as though it should belong to some futuristic satire rather than having been made in the real world for mainstream television.

Laurie Anderson-O Superman-TOTP-1981-Zoo dance troupe

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Laurie Anderson – O Superman (Top Of The Pops 1981, Zoo dance routine)

Local Broadcasts:
Day #307/365: 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…
Audio Visual Transmission Guide #32/52a: Revisting Broken Cultural Circuits – Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman