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Revisiting Broken Cultural Circuits – Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #32/52a

Laurie Anderson-O Superman

One of the cultural considerations that I have returned to during A Year In The Country is Mark Fisher’s comments about the circuit between the experimental/avant garde and the mainstream being broken:

But I think what’s also missing is this circuit between the experimental, the avant-garde and the popular. It’s that circuit that’s disappeared. Instead what we have is Experimental(TM), which is actually well established genres with their own niche markets which have no relation to a mainstream. And despite the network propaganda, the mainstream still exists, but in a more unchallenged way than previously. Why? Well, because people like me have our own niches now. In order to get some sort of audience I don’t have to be on the BBC. You know, there’s lots of space on the internet for me. And that just means that it allows the Simon Cowell’s of the world to dominate the mainstream.

One song I often think of in relation to such things and a time when that circuit was not so faulty, is Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman, which was released as a single in 1981 and reached No.2 in the UK charts (which was at a time when to do so probably meant selling hundreds of thousands of copies and being part of mainstream national attention and discussion.)

Laurie Anderson-O Superman-2

Listening to it and watching the accompanying video with its minimal, repetitive, art house/performance art nature and the songs references to industrial/political/military themes, conflicts and force, it’s somewhat hard to imagine it as part the mainstream charts or culture today.

In that sense it seems to belong not just to an earlier period in culture and history but quite possibly to another plane of existence quite separate to our own.

Audio Visual Transmission Guide: Laurie Anderson’s O’Superman

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…


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Summerisle In (Sort Of) Pop #1 – Pulp’s Wickerman: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #31/52a

Forge Dam-Sheffield-Pulp-The Wicker Man-1

A while ago I read Freak Out The Squares, which is former Pulp member Russel Senior’s autobiography of his time with the band.

In it there is a section where he talks about a time where pre their fame he and former members of Pulp went on an expedition through underground tunnels beneath Sheffield that were used for sluicing industrial run off, how that journey became increasingly dangerous feeling and that it inspired the Pulp song Wickerman (which was recorded after he left).

I most probably listened to the song when We Love Life, the album it was on, came out but hadn’t remembered it until then.

Listening to it now it struck me as a curious piece of culture, one that interweaves samples from the original The Wicker Man film soundtrack recording and hence otherly folkloric concerns, alongside a sense of urban exploration, the true history of the band, spoken word, a certain grandiosity in its production (courtesy of producer Scott Walker?), the social history of Sheffield and surrounding areas and a yearning, wistful love story.

Here are a selection of the lyrics:

Just behind the station, before you reach the traffic island, a river runs through a concrete channel. 
I took you there once; I think it was after the Leadmill. 
The water was dirty & smelt of industrialisation
Little mesters coughing their lungs up & globules the colour of tomato ketchup. 
But it flows…
Underneath the city through dirty brickwork conduits
Connecting white witches on the Moor with pre-Raphaelites down in Broomhall. 
Beneath the old Trebor factory that burnt down in the early seventies…
And the river flows on…
And it finally comes above ground again at Forge Dam: the place where we first met.


Jarvis Cocker, who I assume wrote the lyrics, said that he used to live on The Wicker which is a street in Sheffield and so I guess that’s where the title in part comes from.

In a further connection with otherly folklore, what the real life story of the band wandering through these tunnels also put me in mind of was the underground tunnel sequence in Ben Wheatley’s The Kill List.

But I won’t talk too much of that as I want to sleep tonight.

Pulp-The Trees-Sunrise-CD singleThe album We Love Life seems to have been a mixture of classic Pulp-like kitchen sink-esque observation and an interest/attempt to connect with the basics of a more natural life, particularly so in related artwork and on songs such as Trees and Sunrise, alongside which the band played a series of concerts in forests to support its release.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide: Pulp’s Wickerman


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The Last Train And Fractured Timelines: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #30/52a

The Last Train-1999 tv series-Matthew Graham-1

The Last Train is a 1999 television series written by Matthew Graham, who was co-creator and one of the writers for the series Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, an executive producer on The Living And The Dead and the writer of the Radio 4 adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape, all of which deal with forms of time travel and/or dislocation.

The Last Train also deals with similar themes in a way but rather here it is through the passengers of a train carriage who are accidentally placed in suspended animation and awake a number of years after a world wide cataclysm to what seems to be a deserted and derelict world.

The Last Train-1999 tv series-Matthew Graham-2

As far as I know it is not available commercially but can be viewed online in a degraded quality version.

The muted grey-green colours of the version you can watch, along with the often murky, subterranean settings makes it seem almost as though you could be watching a semi-lost 1970s British television series rather than one from the turn of the millennium and it seems to be a broadcast from some curiously multi-layered, fractured point in time.

The Last Train-1999 tv series-Matthew Graham-4

One of the most intriguing aspects of the series is that it is something of an urban explorer’s delight as it features quite a number of abandoned spaces; derelict and disused offices, railway stations, factories, cooling towers, refineries and a Pontin’s hi-de-hi-esque holiday camp.

The Last Train-1999 tv series-Matthew Graham-3

Those aspects, combined with the quality of the video put me in mind of both the societal collapse of the final series of Quatermass and the “bad wires” destruction of technology in The Changes and compounded the sense of it being a semi-lost 1970s series…

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide: The Last Train


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Front & Follow, Lutine Variations, Fellow Travellers & Offering A Firm Handshake To Sonic Reverie: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #29/52a

Front And Follow-record label-website logo

I have something of a softspot for the record label Front & Follow.

I probably first came across their releases via Lutine’s White Flowers album in 2014, which they released.


Lutine were an early(ish) discovery in the first year of A Year In The Country and their’s is beautiful, transportative work.

I was wandering how to describe their music and I thought what I wrote back when might well still be appropriate:

“If 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… 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.”

I may well add a sort of reimagined medievalism to the above…

I have just rediscovered their 8-track collection of reinterpretations of tracks from White Flowers by the likes of Laura Cannell, Sarah Angliss & Stephen Hiscock, Michael Tanner, Kemper Norton and Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs amongst others.

Listening to that collection is like being allowed a brief portal back to that peak point of 4AD records. Lovely stuff.

The Outer Church compilation-Front & Follow

If you should like to take a wander through the further reaches and experimental areas of music then a visit to The Outer Church compilation released by Front & Follow may well also be an hour or two well spent.

The Outer Church was established by Joseph Stannard (now of Wire magazine) and the compilation features a selection of those who performed at The Outer Church, including Grumbling Fur, Pye Corner Audio, Black Mountain, Ekoplekz, Hong Kong In The 60s, Paper Dollhouse etc.

The Blow cassettes-Front & Follow-IX Tab-Hoofus-Time Attendant-Howlround-Sophie Cooper-Julian Bradley

Front & Follow’s The Blow series of cassettes, where two musicians are each given a side of the tape have also caught my eye/ear and seem to be a good space and impetus for musical explorations.

They include work by sometimes fellow AYITC travellers Time Attendant, Howlround and Sophie Cooper, alongside Julian Bradley, IX Tab and Hoofus:

“‘The Blow’ project brings two artists together to formulate a collaborative release of their own making. Each artist has a side of audio (30-45 mins in length) to do whatever they want with. The two artists are encouraged to work together on the release, but the length and depth of this collaboration is completely up to them and agreed on a release-by-release basis – there are no set parameters, no fancy rules, no memorandum of understanding, no initiation ceremonies.”

Beneath Swooping Talons-Laura Cannell-Front & Follow

Musically and/or visually Front & Follow’s releases seem to at times explore a parallel take on pastoral concerns, whether via the reimagined folk of Lutine, the evocative minimal chamber music and wild animal calls of Laura Cannel’s Beneath Swooping Talons or Kemper Norton’s ecologically concerned tales meets lost Cornish kingdom album Toll.

Pye Corner Audio-The Black Mist EP-Front And Follow-2

While a release such as Pye Corner Audio’s Black Mist EP may exist musically in another universe’s electronic dance club and wander amongst related fractured equipment but the cover evokes a darkly minimal mixture of natural beauty and possibly previous era’s places of worship.


Along with record label The Geography Trip, Front & Follow also broadcast the Gated Canal Community Radio show, where such otherly pastoral interests interweave with the spectral interests of what has come to be known as hauntology.

Alongside the actual shows, listening to “Welcome to the Gated Canal Community Radio Show” is a playful sixty seconds well spent.

And talking of playful aspects…

Despite the serious and/or experimental nature of some of the Front & Follow’s releases, there is an underlying humour to the label which is nice to see: the introductory banner to their website has the byline “offering a firm handshake to sonic reverie since 2007”, while they describe themselves as “a record label based in Manchester, UK.  We do what we can.” and that “no initiation ceremonies” from the description of the Blow releases makes me chuckle.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Front & Follow at Bandcamp
Welcome to the Gated Canal Community Radio Show
Gated Canal Community Radio
See & Hear at Front & Follow’s main site


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Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders – Unreleased Variations Away From Bricks And Mortar: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #28/52a

Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders seven inch-Finders Keepers Records-Record Store Day 2017-2Well, for folk who don’t happen to live near a bricks and mortar record shop, it was good to see Finders Keepers Records 2017 Record Store Day release Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders 7″ release available to buy/stream at Bandcamp and their website.

The EP is released ten years since they originally released the soundtrack and is said to contain:

“…further unreleased variations, vocal tracks and newly resurrected themes from the original master tapes of composer Luboš Fišer.”

Here at A Year In The Country we have something of a softspot for the fantasias of Czech New Wave films such as Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders, Daisies and Malá Morská Víla (which influenced Jane Weaver’s The Fallen By Watch Bird album, that was an early point of reference and inspiration for AYITC).

The soundtrack to Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders is a particular favourite and each time I hear the Main Theme I seem to transported to some other place, it conjures a sense of its own world, of belonging to some parallel place and time.

Along which lines…

Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders seven inch-Finders Keepers Records-Record Store Day 2017The soundtrack has been mentioned as an influence on both Broadcast and Espers and it could almost be a tumbling backwards and forwards through time to their work, both of which could be said to create and weave their own worlds.

Listening to these new tracks, I also thought of Cat’s Eyes’ soundtrack to The Duke Of Burgundy and its soundtracking of its own particular imagined European pastoral hinterland…

So, without further ado…

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders 7″

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


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The Layered Seams And Explorations Of Buried Treasure: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #27/52a

Buried Treaure-The Delaware Road-CDs and albums-1

Buried Treasure is described as a “UK label specialising in archived electronic, tape, radiophonic, jazz, psych, folk & library sounds”.

They have released library music reissues such as Rare Psych, Moogs & Brass – Music From The Sonoton Library 1969-1981, archival Radiophonic Workshop recordings on the Vendetta Tapes – John Baker & The BBC Radiophonic Workshop album and musical experimentalism from behind the Iron Curtain on the Yuri Morozov Strange Angels album:

1970’s experimental & electronic music recorded in soviet Russia by Yuri Morozov. Banned by the KGB for its esoteric content and references to forbidden spiritual texts, Yuri recorded over 46 albums between the 1970s until his death in 2006. Only available on cassettes passed around in secret within the Russian music underground until now.

Alongside such archival releases, they have also sent out into the world a number of often conceptual records that at times explore spectral/hauntological concerns, while also at points interweaving such things with the undercurrents and flipside of folk, pastoralism and bucolia.

Buried Treaure-The Delaware Road-CDs and albums-3

Revbjelde’s The Weeping Tree EP (some of which also appears on their eponymous album) takes as its starting point folkloric concerns but also seems to contain echoes from many different seams of the layers of musical history and experimenting, accompanied by the fluttering vocals of Emma Churchley of Silversmoths that at times put me in mind of the folk reinterpretations of Lutine…

While their For Albion EP is music from the furthest reaches, where hazy shades of Dead Can Dance, folk, electronica and the avant garde meet amongst the landscape of Penda’s Fen, as Martin Denny dances with a distant cousin of Astrud Gilberto over the far off brow of a hill.

Buried Treaure-The Delaware Road-CDs and albums-4

The Delaware Road album is a themed concept album which features the likes of Howlround, Dolly Dolly, Revbjelde and The Rowan Amber Mill:

London. 1968. Two pioneering electronic musicians discover a set of unusual recordings which leads to a revelation about their employer. Fascinated by the seemingly occult nature of the tapes they conduct a ritual that will alter their lives forever… an occult conspiracy thriller & an audio-visual treat for fans of archived electronica, far out jazz & haunted folk grooves chronicling the musician’s obsession with sound, sex & magic.

At points when listening to the album, it made me think variously of the soundtrack to a curiously very British Radiophonic giallo film, the glam stomp revisitings of Earl Brutus, never before heard archival library music that is caught in a portal just to the side of reality, folkloric chamber music and late night jazz filled rooms back when.

The Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch-Map and Guid Booklet-Buried Treasure

(In an additional layering of The Delaware Road album and project, it is being brought to life and further explored in the real world, via a subterranean event at decommissioned Cold War installation Kelvedon Hatch, which I have mentioned around these parts before. Visit details of the event here.)

Seams could well be an appropriate word to use in terms of Buried Treasure; their releases are an exploration of the hidden layers of culture and the tales that lie beneath the land, mingling and interweaving a vast array of musical styles and reference points into one constantly surprising and intriguing whole.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Buried Treasure

Local Broadcasts:
Ether Signposts #15/52a: The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch


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Dana Gillespie – Foolish Seasons: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #26/52a

Dana Gillespie-Foolish Seasons

Dana Gillespie’s Foolish Seasons is a curious song and album.

The aesthetics of the cover, which has more than a hint of Vashti Bunyan-esque style to it, made me think that the 1968 album was likely to be quite overtly folkish…

…rather, overall it is nearer to a kind of later 1960s mod-psyche-pop, although the title track does have a gentle lilt to it which leans towards folk rock of the time.

Listening to it now it seems like a link or transitional point between swinging London and the coming tastes for and exploring of folk from the late 1960s to early 1970s…

…or possibly folk by way of Nancy Sinatra singing Some Velvet Morning in 1967.

The style of the cover may possibly have been part of a later 1960s high-fashion take on folk that I have mentioned around these parts before (see the website Psychedelic Folkloristic, the 1970 film Queens Of Evil and Ossie Clarke/Celia Birtwell’s later 1960s fashion designs for more on such things).

What the cover also put me in mind of was the style of what came to be known as freak folk, artists from the US such as Devendra Banhart and Devendra Banhart.

Curiously, although showing clothes of a particular period style, the cover now seems quite contemporary. I don’t know if timeless is the right word but if it had been the cover to an album released in recent times by somebody who wished to reflect and evoke a particular time and culture then I would not have been surprised…

…which I suppose is possibly one of the effects of the borrowing, layering, revisiting, reinterpreting and atemporal nature of some of culture today…

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Dana Gillespie’s Foolish Seasons


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Virginia Astley’s It’s Too Hot To Sleep: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #25/52a

Virgina Astley-From Gardens Where We Feel Secure-vinyl-Rough Trade-A Year In The Country

Well considering the recent British weather (34 degrees temperatures recorded, the hottest June day since 1976, barristers and judges allowed to remove their traditional gowns and wigs etc), I thought about now might well be a good time to revisit Virginia Astley’s 1983 album From Gardens Where We Feel Secure and in particular the track It’s Too Hot To Sleep.

This album has been something of an ongoing touchstone for A Year In The Country and back in the first year of wanderings I wrote this:

Virginia Astley photograph-A Year In The CountryI’ve just put the album on and it’s like saying hello once more to a very welcome old friend. It’s the very definition of bucolic and is an album which summates England’s pastoral, edenic dreams…

“I first listened to music from this album late one hot, hazy, balmy summer night and I was just transfixed and transported. Appropriately I think one of the first songs I listened to was It’s Too Hot To Sleep, which is a gentle lullaby of a song, all lilting and the soft hoots of owls; which in a way could describe much of the album.

As I said in that first year post, the album’s sense of otherlyness is not overt, it’s more just a quiet sense of something else, of other patterns and undercurrents on the edge of consciousness and sight and that is present in it creating a sense of almost dreamlike reverie or possibly a nostalgia for some lost imagined rural idyll.

Anyways, it’s lovely stuff and rather fine to revisit.

Virgina-Astley-From-Gardens-Where-We-Feel-Secure-vinyl-Rough-Trade-A-Year-In-The-Country-2b-CD front and back

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Virginia Astley’s Too Hot To Sleep

Local Broadcasts:
Day #4/365: Electric Eden; a researching, unearthing and drawing of lines between the stories of Britain’s visionary music
Day #118/365: Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure


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Agincourt’s Fly Away: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #24/52a

Fly Away-Agincourt-1970-acid folk

I recently came across Agincourt’s Fly Away album from 1970, which was listed as being privately pressed acid folk and for a brief moment I thought I had stumbled upon on a semi-lost musical artifact that existed all on it’s own…

…but quite quickly I realised that I had come across two of it’s creators’ John Ferdinando and Peter Howell’s work before, as they had recorded a 1969 album called Alice Through The Looking Glass that I had previously read about/listened to.

Both Alice Through The Looking Glass and Fly Away are sweetly naive, gentle, whimsical, homespun albums. Some might consider them twee at points but I think that aspect is part of their charm.

Fly Away-Agincourt-1970-acid folk-3

On Agincourt’s Fly Away it is the tracks that feature Lee Menelaus’ vocals which more catch my eye/ear, in particular the songs When I Awoke, Though I May Be Dreaming, Take Me There, Dawn and Kind Sir.

Although recorded in that actual period, they put me in mind of the recreation and reimagining of past eras that you might find in say Death And Vanilla’s work; a sort of gently leftfield late 1960s pop perfection that in Agincourt’s case conjures a pastoral atmosphere or an accompanying video of walking through sun-dappled wheat fields at the side of a forest (an exclamation mark may be appropriate about now – !).

They lyrics of Though I May Be Dreaming seem to reflect on the end of 1960s hippie utopian thoughts and ways but without a sense of bitterness and looking back they could also be seen as a harbinger of a related retreat and escape into more rural, pastoral concerns that happened around then:

“Everything changes when winter comes
Gone are the promises made in the summer of love…
Though I may be dreaming
I know that I will always find
Plenty to ease my mind drinking country wine”

Listening to the song again, it would not have surprised me to find out that actually this had been a release on that most whimsical, imaginary realm of English pop record label él, back in the 1980s.

Fly Away-Agincourt-1970-acid folk-4 Fly Away-Agincourt-1970-acid folk-2

Although Agincourt has a more recorded at home and possibly less polished atmosphere, the pastoral pop-(prog?)-folk of Caedmon’s Sea Song from their also privately pressed eponymous 1978 album may also be a reference point.

And talking of homespun etc, Fly Away’s album cover is wonderfully lo-fi: it makes me think of the sort of album that musical delver and reissuer Jonny Trunk would post about in a “I’ve finally found it, been looking for it for years” way.

Interestingly and in a way that connects with A Year In The Country’s sometimes wandering amongst work where the flipside of bucolia meets more hauntological concerns, Peter Howell of Agincourt would go on to work as a sound engineer at the BBC. He worked on the soundtrack for Doctor Who, creating an arrangement of the classic Ron Grainer/Delia Derbyshire theme that was used in the show around 1980-1985.

Fly Away was only pressed in very small quantities of vinyl back at the time of its original release. It has had a CD reissue but that is also long since sold out. It can be listened to online still (although I’m not sure the music’s creators’ are likely to receive any financial recompense from such things).

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Fly Away continuous recording including notes
Fly Away playlist at The Psychedelic Garden
Alice Through The Looking Glass playlist
Peter Howell’s arrangement of the Doctor Who theme

Background notes on Peter Howell and John Ferdinando


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The Viewing Portals of Children Of Alice: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #23/52a

Children Of Alice website-1

I’m rather taken by the Children Of Alice website: it seems to harken back to a time before the busy hustle and bustle of today’s ever-updating and information full social media and online world.

It consists of just a set of nine animated GIF slideshows on a black background, which flicker, rotate and seem to almost slide away from view when you try to watch and focus them on the page as they create a set of screens for or portals to a very particular world.

And in contrast to much of todays online world, the only nod to functionality or user interaction on the site is that when moused over one of the GIFs/slideshow images changes from the album cover image to simply read “Children Of Alice Out Now” with three links to where the album can be bought.

Children Of Alice website-3

Rather than the more uncanny pastoral collage and themes of the first Children Of Alice album, the imagery in these GIFs seems nearer to the haunted dancehall, parallel worlds of Ghost Box Records and Julian House’s related work.

And while it contains some similar arcane imagery as may be found amongst the Ghost Box releases, it also seems to conjure a sense of belonging in part to some earlier era than Ghost Box, mixed here and there with flashes of some kind of almost Kenneth Anger-esque hipster-ness.

The soundtrack to the website mixes and filters a sense of being the theme tune to a lost children’s television series, possibly a distant animated kin to the Moomins or Clangers, along with a woozy hauntological take on the gentle escape of say Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure.

Children Of Alice website-2

While still musically experimental and layered, it is more overtly accessible and melodic than much of the work on the first Children Of Alice full release and it puts me in mind of the Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witchcults Of The Radio Age album in its more conventional moments.

Musically and visually I think the site is an interesting pointer or harbinger for future Children Of Alice work, if its creators choose to move away from the more pastoral, folkloric concepts and themes of Folklore Tapes where their work first appeared.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide: Children Of Alice’s website


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Edgelands – Psychogeographical Folk Tales In An Unexpected Realm: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #22/52a

Edgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-3b

“Magic and folklore… entangle the modern world… in an uncanny rustic adventure…”

No, it’s not the taglines from the poster to a folk horror film that you’ve not heard of.

They are from one of the trailer’s for a computer game called Edgelands created by Marshlight software.

Now, it’s a fair old while since I’ve been especially intrigued by a computer game.


…well, this looks lovely.

To a startling synth soundtrack by Hoofus (who shared a cassette with IX Tab in record label Front & Follow’s Blow series of releases) that quite frankly made my hair stand on end, the trailer evokes an enchanting flipside of the folkloric atmosphere that I expect I’ve been looking for in films, television etc all throughout A Year In The Country.

Edgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-2b

I didn’t expect to accidentally find it via a computer game.

And more than that, although I’m not any kind of up-to-date expert on such things, this is one of the first times that I’ve seen a computer game that feels genuinely personal, to be telling a personal emotional tale in the way that films or television can do.

And without the flash-bang-whallop factor of much of modern gaming.

The mechanics of the game seem in part like an evolution of the old text based adventure games from a fair few decades ago, which also adds to the appeal for me.

On that Blow cassette, one of the Hoofus tracks was called Edgeland Industries.

Edgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-1

And when I delved a bit further I discovered that Edgelands was created by Andre Bosman, who is also responsible for Hoofus.

In an interview he says of the game:

The inspirations and ideas behind my music are very similar to the sorts of themes I’m exploring in The Edgelands (such as uncanny beauty, rural hinterlands). In many ways it feels like Hoofus – The Game… As well as being a musician I also have a background in graphic design, and it feels like all this different creative strands I’ve been following now have a place where they can all work together to make something interesting.”

That intertwining of different layers and mediums is one of the aspects of Edgelands that makes it so intriguing…

Edgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-5b

And to the question “You also talked about ‘psychogeographical folk tales’ – what are they then?” he says:

Tapping into the sense of overwhelming feelings that being in a particular landscape can give you, and exploring the idea that these feelings are related to some intangible forces that are deeply rooted in that landscape. And then taking that further by imagining the sorts of folk stories that might have arisen because of how it feels to walk in a particular wood at night. And then taking it a bit further still by imagining that somebody builds a fancy restaurant or a hat factory in that wood, and what sort of atmosphere that would have, and how the intangible forces would integrate with the modern occupants, and what sort of modern occupants would feel comfortable in that situation… and then turning that into yet more folk tales. Ambiguous magical stories based on ambiguous magical feelings in the landscape caused by ambiguous magical forces.

Edgelands-Marshlight software-Hoofus-4

On the Marshlight website the game is described as:

The Edgelands is an atmospheric adventure set in the present day, based on real and imagined folklore.

Beginning in a house in the forgotten rural backwoods beyond the City, you soon find yourself exploring an uncanny rustic twilight landscape in which familiar rural landmarks overlap with otherworldly occurrences, creating a dream-like blurring of the ordinary and the supernatural.

The Edgelands is focused on exploration and atmosphere, not brain-taxing puzzles and inventory juggling. It is a sedate and eerie experience, with an ambiguous narrative designed to enhance the mood of dusky ramblings in mysterious places where urban and rural environments overlap.

Interest piqued, as they say. Definitely something for further investigation.

(File Post Under: Cathode Ray & Cinematic Explorations, Radiowave Resonations & Audiological Investigations. Sub-section: Psychogeographic Folkloric Gaming)

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
The Edgelands Trailer
The Edgelands Teaser Trailer
An Interview with Andre Rosman on Edgelands
Edgelands at Marshlight Software
The Hoofus Edgelands soundtrack at Bandcamp
Loomings from the trailer’s soundtrack
Blow Volume 1 at Front & Follow

A Year In The Country Broadcasts & Wanderings:
Day #115/365: Edward Chell’s Soft Estates – documents of autobahn edgelands
Day #160/365: Edgelands Report Documents; Cases #1a (return), #2a-5a.


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Spaceship – Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #21/52a

Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-a prospect of loughton brook-4

Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1 is the first track from Mark Williamson’s Spaceship album A Prospect Of Loughton Brook, which has been released by Forged River Recordings.

The music on this album was composed using extensive field recordings from Loughton Brook, a small stream in Epping Forest. Following the stream’s course from its source near Wake Valley Ponds to its confluence with the River Roding.

The link below is for the short film that accompanies the track.

Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-a prospect of loughton brook-3

Together they create a space to drift off into, five or so minutes when the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life go away for just a moment or two.

The music is formed from a lilting collage of field recordings, accompanied by a simple, minimal piano refrain. The atmosphere it creates put me in mind of Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, the looping calm, uplift and yet quiet plaintiveness of 1/1 from Brian Eno’s Ambient 1 – Music For Airports album and possibly a hint of Harold Budd.

Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-a prospect of loughton brook-2

The film contains a gently changing and fading into one another set of photographs which are largely of forests, trees and landscapes, which I assume follows one of the paths the field recordings were made.

Spaceship-Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1-Forged River Recordings-1There is a relatively brief appearance of more urban and man-made areas, which in the overall context of the beauty and escape of the more nature based images feels almost violently jarring, which I suppose may well reflect the reality of such things and related contrasts in environment.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide: Great Monk Wood to Baldwins Pond Pt1


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Microscopic, Archival & Exploratory Nature Films: Minute Bodies, Secrets Of Nature & The Creeping Garden: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #20/52a

Minute Bodies-The intimate world of F Percy Smith-Stuart Staples BFI-1

As seems to often be the way with culture, things appear and arrive in waves and gatherings and/or groups of things increasingly catch your eye and interest.

Along which lines, for a while now a series of DVD releases which take an often microscopic look at nature have been catching my eye.

These include:

Minute Bodies: The intimate world of F. Percy Smith:

This meditative, immersive film from Stuart A. Staples and David Reeve is a tribute to the astonishing work and achievements of naturalist, inventor and pioneering filmmaker F. Percy Smith.

Smith worked in the early years of the 20th century, developing various cinematographic and micro-photographic techniques to capture nature’s secrets in action.

Minute Bodies is an interpretative edit that combines Smith’s original footage with a new contemporary score to create a hypnotic, alien yet familiar dreamscape that connects us to the sense of wonder Smith must have felt as he peered through his own lenses and seen these micro-worlds for the first time.

Minute Bodies-The intimate world of F Percy Smith-Stuart Staples BFI-2

This is to be released around mid 2017 on DVD by the BFI, features a sort of late night free form jazz soundtrack by Tindersticks (of which Stuart Staples is a founding member) with Thomas Belhom and Christine Ott which seems to make more sense the more I watch and listen to the film.

Secrets Of Nature-BFI DVD-1

And then there is the more straightforward gathering of earlier twentieth century archival time-lapse, microscopic and underwater cinematography that can be found on the Secrets Of Nature, also released on DVD by the BFI but back in 2010, which when it wanders into stop-motion animation with an accompanying clipped, precise explanatory voiceover seems to have tumbled from an alternative history timeline where Jonny Trunk was in charge of the production of such films:

Secrets Of Nature-BFI DVD-2 Secrets Of Nature-BFI DVD-3

Secrets of Nature, a pioneering series exploring animal, plant and insect life, made wondrous worlds and natural processes visible for the first time: sweet peas unfurl in the sunlight, white owls swoop in on their prey, sea life lurks on the ocean floor and moths patiently spin their cocoons.

These films, made by enterprising men and women at the forefront of science and nature filmmaking, developed groundbreaking techniques of time-lapse, microscopic and underwater cinematography.

Despite their initial innovative aspects, such films as those on Secrets Of Nature are still at heart nature documentaries (which is not written in a dismissive sense, more just as an observation) but over time, as seems to often be the way with archival material, some kind of other layers of interest can creep into such recordings.

Viewed now they seem to step beyond their initial more scientific documentary nature and to evoke an intriguing atmosphere of previous eras.

The Creeping Garden-2014-1

Of these various nature and often microscopic orientated films/collections, The Creeping Garden is particularly intriguing:

…feature length creative documentary exploring the work of fringe scientists, mycologists and artists and their relationship with the extraordinary plasmodial slime mould… The slime mould is being used to explore biological-inspired design, emergence theory, unconventional computing and robot controllers, much of which borders on the world of science fiction.

There is something genuinely unsettling about this film, its premise and footage.

It brings to mind the underground preternatural intelligence that is shown in the science fiction film Phase IV or possibly the indefinably alive organism of The Andromeda Strain.

I expect I shall be exploring further…

The Creeping Garden-2014-2Originally released in 2014, The Creeping Garden DVD/Bluray was released in 2017 by Arrow, with the accompanying book being published by Alchima, a new imprint from FAB Press – whose website seems to focus a fair bit on fringe, giallo and the more transgressive, Midnight-At-The-Scala sides of cinema.

Despite the provisionally documentary nature of the film, this publishing home seemed somewhat appropriate in terms of The Creeping Garden wandering off down not-quite-so-mainstream exploration and research pathways.

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

Audio Visual Transmission Guide:
Minute Bodies: The intimate world of F. Percy Smith trailer
The Secrets Of Nature – various films
The Creeping Garden trailer


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

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-4

I fairly recently accidentally came across the first official trailer for Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s documentary film Ballad Of Shirley Collins…

…they’ve called it a “Teaser” and it is that indeed, it makes me most curious about the finished film.

One of the things I thought after watching it was how much the trailer reflects the way that Shirley Collins and her work now seem to be intertwined and connect with the modern day tropes, themes and interests in what could variously be called underground, neo or wyrd folk, folk horror and a sort of Arcanic Britannia.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-5

In particular this is the case with what I assume are images, sequences and characters within the trailer created by Nick Abrahams (who created similar work for her contemporary Death And The Lady video) which are of a folk horror-esque or otherly folkloric nature.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-1

This positioning amongst such strands of folk is also made quite implicit by naming Shirley Collins as “The High Queene Of English Folk” in the trailer, with its connotations of an almost occult, arcane take on such things.

The definitions, phrases and cultural strands wyrd folk, folk horror and the like which I just mentioned did not overtly exist or at least had not been specifically named as such when Shirley Collins was performing and recording in earlier decades.

However, looking back at her recording of say the traditional folk song Poor Murdered Woman (as featured on her 1971 album No Roses and the Bob Stanley curated compilation Early Morning Hush – Notes From The UK Folk Underground 1969-1976), although it was inspired by true events, listening to it today with its dark unsettling tone it could well be seen as a pointer or harbinger for the darker elements of folk and folk horror.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-2

Moving towards such strands and areas within and around Shirley Collins’ work may also be connected back to David Tibet of Current 93’s championing of it for a number of years and his releasing a compilation of her 1960s and 1970s recordings called Fountain Of Snow back in 1992.

Current 93’s “idiosyncratic meeting of old English folk, apocalyptic Christianity, and haunted horror” (to quote Louis Pattison) has been called neo-folk, a form of often dark, experimental folk music which emerged from post-industrial circles.

Such neo folk could also be seen as a further forebear for contemporary interest in wyrd folk and related folk horror-esque music.

Those post-industrial strands of experimental music also include Nurse With Wound and Coil, which while musically different and not necessarily folk orientated, has been described and connected as being “England’s Hidden Reverse” by David Keenan, in the title of his book of the same name in which he writes about their work.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-7

That title creates and captures a sense of the hidden, flipside, underlying strands and patterns of culture which their work often seems to reflect and explore – which connects back to the likes of wyrd folk and its exploration of similar areas and undercurrents within a more pastoral, landscape and rural based context.

Alongside the connection to David Tibet, such strands are further connected with Shirley Collins’ recent work due to Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown performing on her new album, both of whom have worked with Coil.

They currently work together as Cyclobe and their releases mix and combine aspects of folk or traditional music and instruments amongst other elements including drone, audio collage, soundscaping and electronic instrumentation within an experimental or exploratory context.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-6

In a further intertwining of the underground, darker, flipside and undercurrents of folk related culture, Ossian Brown compiled a book released in 2010 called Haunted Air which collects found photographs of Halloween from previous eras.

The images in Haunted Air, despite them having originally been family snapshots etc, over time have often gained a genuinely unsettling, otherly air.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins-3

Such a gathering and layering of the uncanny over time is also present within The Ballad Of Shirley Collins trailer; at one point a framed photograph is shown of Shirley Collins and her sister Dolly stood either side of what I think is somebody in a traditional folkloric ram’s head costume…

Once upon a time, although possessing a certain inherently odd or eery aspect due to its intrinsic nature, this may well have been a more standard, typical example of folklore costume.

However, in the overall context of the trailer and the above cultural points of connection it now seems to belong to considerably more shadowed, unsettled furrows.

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

ATV Guide:
The Ballad Of Shirley Collins trailer and accompanying words at Fire Records.
At the film’s website.
At Youtube.


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RTÉ Archives – Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #18/52a

Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-2 copy

I recently wrote about Homer Sykes’ Biddy Boys book, which collected his photographs of folkloric customs and costumes in Ireland in 1972.

When I was looking up what the Biddy Boys and their traditions were, I came across this footage of the Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions from 1965 in the RTÉ Archives.

(If you should not know, RTÉ is a semi-state company  and the national public service broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland – not all that dissimilar, from the relatively small amount I know about it, to the BBC in the UK.)

Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-3 copy

The footage of the Biddy Boys shown here presents a much more organised, regulated and respectable public face  of such customs than the behind the scenes, at home and in the public house view that can be found in many of Homer Sykes’ photographs, which seem to often reflect a more untamed, celebratory, carnivalesque atmosphere.

The description of the customs that accompanies the footage say:

“The Biddy Boys are grown men dressed in costumes, who carry Saint Brigid Dolls called ‘Brideogs’, traditionally made from their grandmother’s hair.”

Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-1 copy

In this footage the imagery does not seem to as overtly contain unsettling undercurrents as in Homer Sykes’ photographs, possibly due to it being a more formal “official” public service broadcaster viewpoint but it does contain a sense of these traditions having deep roots within the community and family life as one Biddy is said to have been made using hair cut from a participant’s great grandmother more than a century and a half ago.

Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965-RTE Archives-4 copy

Heres To The Health Of The Barley Mow-BFI-folk customs DVDAnyways, fascinating to watch as a snapshot of a particular time and place, that can be taken as a companion piece from just over the water to the BFI’s Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow DVD set, which gathered documentaries, unseen television reports and silent film footage of British folk customs and ancient rural games.

ATV Guide: RTÉ Archives – Saint Brigid Day Customs and Traditions 1965


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

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Keith Seatman – all hold hands and off we go / boxes with rhythms in: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #17/52a

Keith Seatman- all hold hands and off we goSometimes A Year In The Country fellow traveller Keith Seatman’s new album appeared recently.

Its title is all hold hands and off we go.

(Which yes, should be in lower case and it being so I think suits the album in some way that I can’t quite fully define but which is possibly connected to a sense of childlike play or innocence that the title and some of the music implies.)

How to describe the album?

Well, it is a curious and intriguing dreamscape of a record. It makes me think of floating off into odd and surreal landscapes.

Carl Griffin in Electronic Sound magazine used the phrase/word “haunted fever dreams” and “woozy” when describing the album, which capture and reflect a sense of it conjuring a world and atmosphere not quite awake, of travelling in a reality that is half-dream, half-awake, elsewhere…

Keith Seatman-all hold hands and off we go-2

In say older science fiction book covers, comics and films and sometimes in previous decades science related factual television programmes there would from time to time be blank virtual landscapes demarcated by a grid of lines that stretched off into the horizon.

Well, if you imagine something like that but which somehow or other was actually also a representation of a quietly parallel British landscape…  somewhere an organ that was used on a lost library music album appears… fragmented wisps of memory keep appearing here and there… and you put such things through a filter of odd synthesisers that nobody thought still existed anymore and the exploring spirit of the Radiophonic workshop…

Well, that’s what this album sounds and looks like in my mind.

A particular standout on the album for myself is boxes with rhythms in, with vocals and lyrics by Douglas E. Powell.

When I first listened to the track and heard the lyrics, I initially laughed out loud as they seemed to sum up something about humans, our drives, natures and relationship with culture:

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

Keith Seatman-all hold hands and off we goThis is a Space Oddity for contemporary times. In a very few words set to a buzzing, whooshing, flittering in and out synth background it conjures up a whole world and scenario of its own particular Major Tom.

However, whereas Space Oddity seemed quite grounded in a recognisable reality, here, as with the album as a whole, the atmosphere it creates is something more otherly, one that while connected to our own reality also runs along its own separate path.

And although this is quite experimental, far from mainstream music, boxes with rhythms in has an underlying pop sensibility, accessibility and an ear for a catchy refrain/chorus.

(In fact, returning to earlier mentioned quietly parallel British worlds and landscapes, in some other parallel existence, of a Thursday night it would not be all that much of a surprise to hear on BBC1: “And tonight on Top Of The Pops with their new single, which has gone straight into the Top 20, we have Keith Seatman with Douglas E. Powell playing boxes with rhythms in.” Cue slightly awkward dancing and possibly a balloon drop. In the history of pop in that parallel world it could well be filed alongside Laurie Anderson’s O Superman in terms of experimental work with an intriguing pop edge.)

The mixture of experiment and accessibility is something that runs throughout the album – it’s quite “out there” at points but also very listenable to.

Carl Griffin also wrote in Electronic Sound Magazine about the album being “uniquely psychedelic”, which is quite apt.

Keith Seatman-all hold hands and off we go-4However, as with me mentioning the Radiophonic Workshop, the sense of psychedelic is more an expression of its spirit and intentions, rather than being a replication of a previous era’s sound or ways of going about things. It is psychedelic in the sense of being a portal for exploration, one accompanied by entering into a dreamlike state via the transportive aspects of music rather than lysergic acid.

That dreamlike state is given quite overt expression on with salt and candy, where a sample of a child’s rhyme loops repeatedly, disappearing and reappearing in amongst a synthesised soundscape that manages to be unsettling and playful, distant and familiar, warm and comforting and seemingly reflecting and creating somewhere far removed from normality.

The mixing and seamlessly combining and bringing together of atmospheres that you would not normally connect with one another is probably one of the defining aspects of the album; this is an unsettling, playful, warm, comforting, distant, familiar, experimental, accessible record.

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

ATV Guide: all hold hands and off we go/ boxes with rhythms in


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The Living And The Dead: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #16/52a

The Living And The Dead-BBC series

The BBC’s series The Living And The Dead seemed to be one of the more overt explorations of some of the themes of folk horror and the spectres and patterns beneath the land that I have seen in mainstream broadcast drama in recent times.

It also had an underlying sense of the schisming, fracturing, crossing over and fragmenting of time, in a manner that brought to mind both Sapphire & Steel and some more hauntological concerns.

This was not all that unsurprising when I read that The Living And The Dead was co-created by Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes writers/co-creator Ashley Pharaoh, both of which series were almost like a mainstream take on hauntology and which dealt with travelling and possible portals through the fabric of time.

In a further interconnected Mathew Graham also wrote the script for the Radio 4 adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape, which as part of its subject matter deals with the layering, resonance and travelling through time of past events.

The plot/premise of the series? Below is some of the accompanying text from the DVD release:

“…set in rural England in the 1890s… Nathan Appleby, a pioneering psychologist, inherits Shepzoy House in a beautiful but isolated Somerset valley… he decides to make a new life for himself and his… wife, Charlotte… soon the idyll is compromised by strange and disturbing occurrences that all seem to inexplicably swirl around the increasingly troubled Nathan. Is he being haunted? Why? And by whom?”

Although a treat for the eyes in many ways, at times I found The Living And The Dead difficult in that it lacked a certain lived in texture which seems prevalent in British science fiction, fantasy and period drama television.

This coupled with the self-contained mystery-to-be-solved nature of each episode (after about the second or third of which I was thinking “Well, I expect I’d be planning on leaving the village about now”) threw me off course with the series somewhat when I first watched it but I thought it was an interesting and intriguing take on its themes in the way that it explored preternatural events and the clash and interaction between the old ways and the new, folk/supernatural beliefs and modern scientific thought within a rural setting.

John Benjamin Stone-A Record of England-folk customs and traditions-A Year In The Country-5

Some of the imagery used in the series put me in mind of Benjamin Stone’s photographs of British folkloric customs, which I suppose is not that surprising considering it was set around a similar time as when he was travelling the country photographing such things.

Ossian Brown-haunted air-2

While some of the folkloric hooded figures from the series made me think of the found photographs of halloween in previous eras that Ossian Brown collected in his book The Haunted Air, particularly in spirit (pardon my unintended pun) if not precisely in terms of aesthetics.

The Living And The Dead-BBC series-2

One aspect of the show which was of particular interest was the music, which was by The Insects and in the first episode the traditional folk song was sung in a rare modern appearance by former Cocteau Twin member Elizabeth Fraser. Something of an additional treat indeed.

Stan Brakhage-Mothlight-1963

Also, the introductory credits featured excerpts from Stan Brakhage’s experimental film from 1963 Mothlight, which was in a previous AVT Guide and in which layers of natural detritus and insects were filmed without the use of a camera but rather he “…pressed them between two strips of 16mm splicing tape. The resulting assemblage was then contact printed at a lab to allow projection in a cinema. The objects chosen were required to be thin and translucent, to permit the passage of light.”

In a further intertwining and interconnecting with rurally set fantastical worlds, as I have said previously around these parts, Mothlight was a direct influence on a dream sequence in The Duke Of Burgundy…

The Living And The Dead-BBC series-5

Elsewhere Elizabeth Fraser also sings a brief excerpt from the traditional folk song The Lover’s Song, which is a variant of the night-visiting ballad The Grey Cock and which involves a young woman who has passed from the mortal realm visiting her lover.

When she is asked where here sheets and maids are, she replies:

“The clay it is my bed, my dearest dear,” she said,
“The shroud is my white Holland sheet.
And the worms and creeping things are my servants, dear,” she said,
“That wait upon me whilst I am asleep.”

It could be seen as belonging to a strand of folk music that could well be considered folk horror but that was created before that phrase existed

(The filing of this song alongside Forest’s Graveyard, Mr Fox and Comus may well be appropriate, although they belong to 1970s folk explorations rather than traditional folk.)

The soundtrack also features a version of A Lyke Wake Dirge, as once taken into the pop charts by Steeleye Span, which according to Wikipedia is:

“…a traditional English song that tells of the soul’s travel, and the hazards it faces, on its way from earth to purgatory. Though the song is from the Christian era and features references to Christianity much of the symbolism is thought to be of heathen origin.”

The Living And The Dead-BBC series-4

So nothing of folk horror-esque concern there then.

The version in The Living And The Dead is not so much Steeleye Span-esque but rather if you imagine a contemporary take on the fringes of mid-80s goth and a touch of Nick Cave in years gone by you may be heading in the right direction.

And finally on the soundtrack is a version of traditional harvest supper folk song The Brave Ploughboy.

The version sung by The Watersons features these lyrics:

“So early in the morning to harrow, plough, and sow
And with a gentle cast, me boys, we’ll give the corn a throw
Which makes the valleys thick to stand
With corn to fill the reaper’s hand
All this, you well may understand, comes from the ploughing boy.”

The Living And The Dead-BBC series-3

Well, I rest my case in terms of pre folk horror folk horror-esque folk music in terms of the soundtracks themes and intertwinings.

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

ATV Guide:
The Living And The Dead trailer
A Lyke Wake Dirge
The Reaper’s Ghost
(Although it does not seem to be widely available and I don’t think it is available on a physical format, The Insects soundtrack to the series is available to download at their site.)


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The Curious Audio Explorations of Radio 4’s Strange Sounds Collection: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #15/52a

BBC logo-Radio 4 Strange Sounds

There is a strand or collection of radio programs originally broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 and available archived at the iPlayer called Strange Sounds.

I came across it after listening to the Ian McMillan presented The School Is Full Of Noises, which considered “How did tape loops, recycled everyday sounds and countless other weapons of the avant-garde find their way into school music lessons during the 1960s?” and which I have written about previously at A Year In The Country.

The Strange Sounds collection is described as:

“Weird instruments and unearthly rhythms with hang drums, theremins, mellotrons and insect electronica.”

It is a sub-section of the Seriously… collection of documentaries which is listed as being “No subject is too strange, no idea too weird.”

Below is a selection of the programs Strange Sounds features, their subject matter and some of the presenters (or that should probably be explorers/researchers in many cases):

Compression Versus Art:
“Trevor Cox asks whether compression can detract from our enjoyment of recorded music – does it matter that what we hear may not be the same as what the musicians heard in the studio?”

Ken Hollings Cutting Up The Cut Up-Strange Sounds-BBC Radio 4

Cutting Up the Cut-Up:
“The writer Ken Hollings examines how an artistic device called the ‘cut-up’ has been employed by artists and satirists to create new meanings from pre-existing recorded words.”
(Ken Hollings is the author of Welcome to Mars: Fantasies of Science in the American Century, 1947-1959 and also wrote the notes that accompanied The Untold Story Of The British Space Programme, which featured music by Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly/Ghost Box Records and electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram, which I visited once before at A Year In The Country.)

Cricket Cabaret:
“Quirky sound composition inspired by the songs of crickets.”

Good Vibrations-The Story Of The Theremin-Billy Bailey-BBC Radio 4

Good Vibrations: The Story of the Theremin:
“Bill Bailey tells the story of the remarkable ‘hands off’ electronic instrument and its enigmatic inventor and charts its use from horror and sci-fi film soundtracks through to contemporary dance music and of course its use on the Beach Boys’ iconic ‘Good Vibrations’.”

Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents a series of audio postcards.
(You may well know this but Chris Watson was one of the founding members of Cabaret Voltaire and has a reputation of some renown in the area of field recordings.)

How To Make Archive on 4:
“Alan Dein enters the strange world of instructional records where you can teach yourself just about anything – from yodelling to training your budgie to talk.”

Sampledelica! The History of the Mellotron:
“Mark Radcliffe charts the history of the unwieldy Mellotron, a bizarre, tape-driven instrument that dominated the soundscape of the late 60s and 70s and featured on records by The Beatles, The Moody Blues, King Crimson and Tangerine Dream, to name a few.”

Tiny Tinkles-Strange Sounds BBC Radio 4

Tiny Tinkles:
“Comedian and conductor Rainer Hersch investigates how and why ‘tinkly’ musical sounds are so evocative of childhood, but can also have a creepier quality.”

In a way it is an almost mainstream corner of hauntological and related sound and music programmes.

Not a bad way to spend an hour or few if you should have the time…

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

AVT Guide listing: Strange Sounds


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Flypaper – Revolt From the Monolith/Come Back to the Village: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #14/52a

Flypaper - Revolt From the Monolith-Come Back to the Village

Revolt From the Monolith/Come Back to the Village is by Steven Collins, once of the band The Owl Service, released using the name Flypaper…

…and it is a world away in terms of musical style from the revisitings and reinterpretings of folk which The Owl Service undertook, although it does link via the patterns and furrows beneath the land and its cultural tales:

“Flypaper returns to the original inspiration for The Owl Service and takes it forward in an entirely different direction, using samples and sound collage rather than conventional instrumentation to create a sonic recalling of Wyrd Britannia.” (From notes at Flypaper’s Bandcamp page).

Revolt From the Monolith/Come Back to the Village is an instrumental track apart from a looped vocal sample, which I think is from David Rudkin/Alan Clarke’s Penda’s Fen and which announces the title in the curiously unworried, considering what he has to say, voice of a late night Open University lecturer who has tenure in a parallel hauntological Midwich-ian village (strictly speaking in Penda’s Fen the voice belongs to a reverend).

There is a melancholic refrain that continues throughout the track while what sounds like underground industrial equipment goes about about its work slightly off in the distance. It creates a dark, intense atmosphere that you drift off into and with.

Eventually even Revolt From The Monolith disappears, just leaving the vocal to repeat “Come back to the village”.

Graham Fuller in his review of Penda’s Fen for the BFI’s website says about this part of a speech from a father to his son in the film that it “becomes incantatory”, which it seems to here; the looping “Come back to the village” seems to be a summoning but I’m not quite sure that the village it beckons the listener to represents safety and a bucolic refuge in this instance.

The only real links to folk with the track are possibly via some of the more electronic, dark ambient/electronic experiments of what is sometimes called neo-folk…

In an interconnected manner what it puts me in mind of, without being a replication of their work, is Coil and their invocations of the hidden reverse of the land and culture.

Considering the nature of the previous recordings Steven Collins has worked on this is an unexpected exploration down very different pathways, one that shows that sometimes you can gain a particularly bright light from burning bridges.

AVT Guide: Flypaper – Revolt From the Monolith/Come Back to the Village


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Midwinter’s The Skater: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #13/52a

Midwinter-The Waters Of Sweet Sorrow-Erewhon-Kissing Spell-acid psych underground folk-2

This is #2 in a series revisiting of some of the acid/psych, underground and/or privately pressed folk from the late 1960s to around the mid 1970s that I have repeatedly returned to during A Year In The Country and often that were also early touchstones and inspirations.

Midwinter’s Skater is from the album The Waters Of Sweet Sorrow, which as far as I know did not have an official release when it was recorded in 1973 and was not officially released until 1993 by Erewhon/Kissing Spell as part of their “Underground Folk Rock Series 1968-1978).

Midwinter-The Waters Of Sweet Sorrow-Erewhon-Kissing Spell-acid psych underground folk-3 Midwinter-The Waters Of Sweet Sorrow-Erewhon-Kissing Spell-acid psych underground folk-4

The the band later evolved into Stone Angel, who released a privately pressed album in 1975 which became a highly thought of underground folk record).

The Skater is the first track on the compilation album Early Morning Hush, subtitled Notes From The UK UK Folk Underground 1969-1976, which was a collection of such things by Pete Wiggs (and is also a companion to his interconnectedly themed Gather In The Mushrooms).

When I start the song playing, the first few notes seem to announce the start of A Year In The Country and the song conjures some other parallel indefinable time and its folk music explorations.

Quite frankly it’s lovely stuff.

Midwinter-The Waters Of Sweet Sorrow-Prog Temple-acid psych folk

It has had various reissues over the years, most recently by Prog Temple in 2016 and unlike some other previously unavailable underground/privately pressed folk along these lines that has been reissued and sold out, you can still buy new copies on CD and vinyl at quite reasonable prices.

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

AVT Guide listing: Midwinter’s The Skater