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A Small But Dedicated Growing Library Of Albionic Undercurrents & Folk Horror: Ether Signposts #11/52a

Folk and folk horror books-Seasons They Change-Electric Eden-Witches Hats-Field Studies-Adam Scovell-b

When I first started researching what would become A Year In The Country there were only two contemporary books that I knew of which explored the undercurrents and flipside of folk and related/interconnected culture.

They were Rob Young’s Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music and Jeanette Leech’s Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk, published in 2011 and 2010 respectively.

Seasons They Change-acid psych folk-Jeanette Leech-Electric Eden-Rob Young

“…a sweeping panorama of Albion’s soundscape… (Electric Eden) investigates how the idea of folk has been handed down and transformed by successive generations – song collectors, composers, folk-rockers, psychedelic voyagers, free festival-goers, experimental pop stars and electronic innovators.”

“In the late 60s and early 70s the inherent weirdness of folk met switched-on psychedelic rock and gave birth to new, strange forms of acoustic-based avant garde music… Seasons They Change tells the story of the birth, death and resurrection of acid and psych folk. It explores the careers of the original wave of artists and their contemporary equivalents, finding connections between both periods, and uncovering a previously hidden narrative of musical adventure.”

Witches Hats & Painted Chariots bookWhile there still aren’t a huge number of such books, there is a small, growing library of such things and so I thought it would be a good thing to bring together some of them.

So, alongside the two above books I would also probably include as a companion work to Seasons They Change:

Witches Hats & Painted Chariots: The Incredible String Band and the 5,000 Layers of Psychedelic Folk Music by Jon ‘Mojo’ Mills and Andy Morten. This was published in conjunction with Shindig magazine, of which the authors are the editors and it also features the likes of Dr Strangely Strange, Comus, Heron, COB and Forest.

More specifically along the lines of folk horror there have been two books published in the last couple of years:Folk Horror Revival Field Studies-Adam Scovell-b

Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange by Adam Scovell, the descriptive text for which begins with:

“What exactly is Folk Horror? Is it the writing of M.R. James and Alan Garner? Is it the television scripts of Nigel Kneale, John Bowen and David Rudkin, the films of David Gladwell and The Blood On Satan s Claw? Or could it be the paranoid Public Information Films of the 1970s; the Season Of The Witch ; The Advisory Circle reminding us to Mind how you go?”

Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies which is an anthology collection of essays that explores various areas of folk horror related work by a number of different writers including Kim Newman, Robin Hardy, Thomas Ligotti, Philip Pullman, Gary Lachman, John Coulthart, Grey Malkin (The Hare And The Moon), Sharron Kraus, Andy Paciorek and Chris Lambert.

Not yet quite enough to fill out a library shelf but possibly enough to warrant its own section and shelf marker.

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
Electric Eden
Seasons They Change
Witches Hats & Painted Chariots
Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange
Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies

 

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From the Forests, Fields and Furrows: A Folk Horor Introduction by Andy Paciorek / Where To Begin by Adam Scovell: Ether Signposts #10/52a

Folk Horror Revival website logo

I recently wrote about Folk Horror Revival and the growing in interest in folk horror.

If you should be curious for a definition of this loose cultural grouping then I would recommend Andy Paciorek’s article From the Forests, Fields and Furrows: An Introduction, which can be found at the Folk Horror Revival site.

In it he talks about where the phrase is thought to have first been used/popularised and gives a broad overview of folk horror.

However, when I say definition, one overarching exact description is a difficult thing to achieve, as he says in his article:

“…one may as well attempt to build a box the exact shape of mist; for like the mist, Folk Horror is atmospheric and sinuous. It can creep from and into different territories yet leave no universal defining mark of its exact form.”

A Fiend In The Furrows-A Year In The Country

A particular point of interest in the article is when he talks about Folk Horror book author Adam Scovell’s describing a chain of elements that comprise a folk horror film, which he spoke about at a paper written for the Fiend In The Furrorws conference on folk horror which was held at Queen’s University Belfast in September 2014.

This chain of elements includes: Landscape, Isolation, Skewed Moral Beliefs, Happening/Summoning.

Andy Paciorek goes on to put forward his thoughts in relation to these, which I briefly excerpt from below:

“Landscape: Some consider that the setting should be rural for the film to be ‘Folk’, but I think a broader view may be considered. The tradition of the horror may indeed have rustic roots and pastoral locations may provide the setting for many of the stronger examples, but people carry their lore and fears with them on their travels and sometimes into a built-up environment.”

The Wicker Man-Hessian Bag Edition-A Year In The Country 2

“Isolation and Skewed Moral Beliefs: In these instances, ‘Isolation’ does not refer to being entirely alone but may refer to characters such as Sergeant Howie in The Wicker Man finding themselves alone within a group whose moral beliefs and practices are utterly alien to their own.”

“Happening / Summoning: The Happening/Summoning that falls close to the conclusion of such films may involve a supernatural element such as an invocation of a demon, or it may be an entirely earthly (though no less horrific) event such as an act of violence or a ritual sacrifice.”

The article is well worth a read as an overview of folk horror, one that is both wide reaching and inclusive, while also giving its “box the exact shape of mist” an overall shape, form and parameters.

The article includes reference to a considerable number of films and television dramas. However if the considerable number of these induces a sense of “Where do I start?” then accompanying the article with a perusal of Adam Scovell’s “Where to begin with folk horror” that he wrote for the BFI’s website may prove just the ticket as it is a concise collection and consideration of some of the key touchstones in such work.

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
From the Forests, Fields and Furrows: A Folk Horor Introduction by Andy Paciorek
Where to begin with folk horror by Adam Scovell

 

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Folk Horror Revival And A Rising From The Furrows: Ether Signposts #9/52a

Folk Horror Revival logo-2

Back when I first started the research and cultural wanderings that would become A Year In The Country, only a few to five or six years ago, folk horror as a phrase and genre still seemed to be quite a niche and relatively esoteric term and area of culture.

Yes, The Wickerman had grown increasingly renowned but aside from that, it was still an area of culture that you needed to seek out in the nooks, corners and crannies of things. The Folk Horror Review website/blog, now sadly gone, that I used to visit and seek out such culture via and which I have written about at A Year In The Country, felt like a quiet, relatively unknown corner of the internet back when.

Move forward to 2016 and 2017 and while it is not exactly thoroughly mainstream, it has risen out of the furrows somewhat and this once niche woodland is now quite a sizeable forest.

One particular reflection of this is the online growth in popularity of Folk Horror Revival, whose Facebook page and group between them number followers and likes in the multiple and tens of thousands.

A further example of this growth in popularity and stepping overground is the Folk Horror Revival event that was held at the British Museum in October 2016, tickets for which sold out somewhat quickly.

Folk Horror Revival logo-1-stroke

The event featured something of a smorgasbord of talks, lectures, short films, poetry readings, museum tours etc, with organisers and participants including Gary Lachman, Iain Sinclair, Bob Beagrie, Michael Somerset & The Consumptives, Eamon Byers, Adam Scovell, Gary Parsons, Yvonne Salmon, Andy Paciorek, James Riley, Darren Charles, Lee Gerrard-Barlow, with Chris Lambert of the Black Meadows project compering and organised in part by Jim Peters…

If you should not know, the British Museum is the leading visitor/tourist destination in the UK, in terms of number of people who visit it per year, with very nearly 7 million visits in 2015.

So, hardly an overlooked, hidden away, niche cultural institution for such an event to be held.

In other related statistics, when I typed folk horror into a search engine it came back with over 18 million results.

Curious and intriguing times indeed. Most definitely a rising from the furrows.

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
Folk Horror Revival’s Facebook page
Folk Horror Revival’s Facebook group
Folk Horror Revival at the British Museum

 

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Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc: Ether Signposts #8/52a

Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-1Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-2

In something of an ongoing mini-theme around these parts of cut out and build your own models of London brutalist architecture, ready off the shelf Delian Derbyshire dioramas and Midwich bunting…

…Zupagrafika’s Brutal East – Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc book…

Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-3

The accompanying text says:

“Brutal East by Zupagrafika is a kit of illustrated paper cut-out models celebrating post-war architecture of Central and Eastern Europe that allows you to playfully explore and reconstruct some of the most controversial edifices erected behind the Iron Curtain. Contains 7 brutalist buildings to assemble, from omnipresent pre-cast housing estates to mighty post-soviet landmarks awaiting renovation or threatened by demolition.”

Well, that’s my interest piqued and online shopping intentions poised and ready.

Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-5Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-6

At A Year In The Country I have visited Soviet era folk artifacts and discarded or derelict infrastructure a number of time and have commented on how the sense of lost futures that they can contain could be considered a variation on the normally British/European orientated interests of hauntology.

Brutal East may well fit alongside and amongst such things, as well as being a companion piece to Zupagrafika’s Brutal London cut out and build book.

Brutal East-Build Your Own Brutalist Eastern Bloc-Zupagrafika-4

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions: Brutal East

 

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Lionheart-ess Archiving #1: Ether Signposts #7/52a

Kate Bush Clippings website-2b

I came across the website Kate Bush Clippings a while ago and it is a quite frankly astonishing labour of love.

The site is an archiving of Kate Bush related material from all over the world taken from magazines and newspapers from the start of her appearing in the public eye to the present days and it runs to many hundreds, possibly thousands of pages.

As these articles etc I assume that each individual page would have needed scanning, which further adds to the sense of dedication of its creator.

Kate Bush Clippings website-1b

It is one of those “Where do I start?” websites and I expect you could well dedicate months or even years of cultural perusing time to it and not be quite through the whole archive.

There don’t seem to be all that many references and links to the site online, so despite the breadth of its collection it feels like a slightly hidden away corner and treasure trove.

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions: Kate Bush Clippings

 

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Peter Strickland – six films that fed into The Duke of Burgundy: Ether Signposts #6/52a

duke-of-burgundy-the-2014-004-sidse-babett-knudsen-chiara-danna-bicycyle-silhouette

The Duke Of Burgundy is often referred to in terms of homage to previous films, with Sight & Sound magazine saying it is a “phantasmagoric 70s Euro sex-horror pastiche” and the likes of Jess Franco is often mentioned.

morgiana-1972-001-woman-on-rocks-above-sea

However, rather than being a homage I tend to think of his work as more being an evolution of Scala-esque fringe arthouse and exploitation cinema. Such earlier work I often can find culturally interesting but it can be bit harder to sit through in terms of actual entertainment.

mothlight-1963-001-still-brakhage

Peter Strickland’s films take such previous work as some of their initial starting points but then recalibrate their themes, tropes and aesthetics so that they are both culturally interesting and also work as entertainment for a modern audience.

belle-de-jour-1967-004-catherine-deneuve-wallpaper-peephole

Along which lines I have found this article at the BFI’s website endlessly fascinating, in terms of showing some of those starting points and meaning that as a viewer you can explore and see how his work was influenced by them and the ways in which his film reinterprets and wanders off on its own path from and with its source material.

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions: Peter Strickland – six films that fed into The Duke of Burgundy

 

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Homer Sykes Once A Year And A Lineage Of Folk Custom Wanderings: Ether Signposts #5/52a

Layout 1

I have something of a soft spot for Homer Sykes Once A Year photography book.

It was one of the early pieces of culture that I bought which I think may well have fed into what became A Year In The Country.

The book is subtitled Some Traditional British Customs and Homer Sykes spent 7 years travelling the country documenting customs and events, with around 80 different events appearing in the finished book.

ONCE A YEAR, some Traditional British Customs. Isbn 0900406704
(Burry Man by Homer Sykes)

Homer Sykes work is part of a lineage of documenting such things through photography which takes in the work of 19th century photographer Benjamin Stone, travels through this book and then onto Sarah Hannant’s Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year from 2011, most recently Henry Bourne’s Arcadia Britannica: A Modern British Folklore Portrait from 2015 and partly overseas to Charles Frégers Wilder Mann and its documenting of the wearing of transformative animal costumes in folk customs, which was originally published in 2012 and has been on and off in print since then.

©HenryBourne

Once A Year was originally published in 1977 and was out of print for a fair old while but in 2016 it was reissued by Dewi Lewis Publishing (who also published Wilder Mann and a book of Benjamin Stone’s work).

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
Once A Year

Wilder Mann

Benjamin Stone

Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids

Arcadia Britannia

 

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Brutal London – Construct Your Own Concrete Capital: Ether Signposts #4/52a

Brutal London-Construct Your Own Concrete Capital book-PrestelWell, in what seems to have grown into a mini-theme after the recent appearance around these parts of a Delia Derbyshire dioramas and Midwich Cuckoos bunting, alongside a somewhat growing romance for these once (and possibly still) unloved buildings.

From the accompanying text:

“In this fun and intellectually stimulating book, readers can recreate a number of London’s most renowned Brutalist buildings. Opening with an informative history of the origins and philosophy of Brutalist architecture, the book then focuses on 9 buildings, including the Barbican Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, Balfron Tower and the National Theatre. The first part of the book looks at the significance of each of these buildings, with a short chapter on each, complete with texts and images. The second part of the book consists of a series of 9 pre-cut and folded buildings, printed on heavy card stock, that readers can detach and construct with easy-to-follow instructions. At once fun and informative, this unique book offers a challenging and entertaining approach to architecture. With a foreword by Norman Foster.”

Brutal London-Construct Your Own Concrete Capital book-Prestel-2

Not just in terms of the period nature of its subject matter but possibly because of the book’s presentation and the accompanying text, it reminds me of educational literature from a previous era and though not implicitly implied puts me in mind of hauntological work that is inspired by or creates a shadow/simulacra/parallel world view of such things.

Brutal London-Construct Your Own Concrete Capital book-Prestel-3

So, you may not need a set of brutalist buildings all of your own that you can build and keep… but, if you’re anything like me, I expect you may well want some…

Designed and created by Zupagrafika…

Brutal London-Construct Your Own Concrete Capital book-Prestel-4

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
Brutal London – Construct Your Own Concrete Capital

 

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Village of the Damned / Midwich Cuckoos Hand Made Glow in the Dark Bunting: Ether Signposts #3/52a

The Village Of The Damned Midwich Cuckoos bunting-heykidsrocknroll

Feel like scaring yourself half-to-death in the middle of night? Why not try these?

Nothing like decorating your house with something which reminds you that “…in the English village of Midwich, the blonde-haired, glowing-eyed children of uncertain paternity prove to have frightening powers.”

… or having a young Martin “The Witches/The Innocents/Village Of The Damned” Stephens staring down at you…

The Village Of The Damned Midwich Cuckoos bunting-2-heykidsrocknroll copy

Handmade and available from HeyKidsRocknRoll. Delia Derbyshire dioramas also available.

Fine stuff.

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
Village of the Damned / Midwich Cuckoos Hand Made Glow in the Dark Bunting

 

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Delia Derbyshire Handmade Diorama: Ether Signposts #2/52a

Delia Derbyshire Diorama-HeyKidsRocknRoll

Well, who wouldn’t want one of these?

A Delia Derbyshire diorama, subtitled “Radiophonic Workshop Doctor Who theme Electronic Pioneer”, that takes it’s inspiration from one of the classic Delia Derbyshire at work photographs.

Handmade and available from HeyKidsRocknRoll.

Every household in the land should have one.

Maybe there should be a grant you can apply for to make that a reality?

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions: Delia Derbyshire handmade diorama

 

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Peter Mitchell’s Some Thing means Everything to Somebody: Ether Signposts #1/52a

Peter Mitchell-RRB Photo books-postcards 2-scarecrows-Some Thing means Everything to Somebody
The first in something of a recalibration of this particular year of A Year In The Country…

This strand of AYITC posts takes inspiration from the signs and signposts that you might see on country walks along for example what were once railway tracks: signs that may say something along the lines of “This way towards…” and point you in the direction of a particular feature or place of interest.

Or the signs you may find at the places themselves, which are often accompanied by a brief description or history of the destination and sometimes accompanied by a photograph or two.

(Sometimes those signs have quite extensive history and information on them and I expect knowing myself as I do, this stand of posts may sometimes be little or a fair bit more than brief and have a photograph or few…)

Another reference point and inspiration for this strand of posts would be the sometimes whitewashed, naturally shaped or rough hewn stone markers that you still occasionally see at the side of a road or path out in the country, ones that have something along the lines of “London – 145 miles” hand painted and/or carved into them.

Peter Mitchell-RRB Photo books-scarecrows-Some Thing means Everything to Somebody

So, without further do, Peter Mitchell’s Some Thing means Everything to Somebody book, published by RRB Photobooks Publishing.

Peter Mitchell-RRB Photo books-postcards-1-scarecrows-Some Thing means Everything to Somebody

“…an autobiography told through inanimate objects silently observed by scarecrows. Some Thing means Everything to Somebody boldly marks the passing of time by weaving images of these surreal totems in the landscape amongst those of objects with sentimental value.”

If the folkloric costumed creatures in Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann book had fallen through a folk-horror portal or arrived via a lost episode of 1970s Doctor Who to become creatures that were both alive and inanimate in the British countryside, well, they may well look like the scarecrows in Peter Mitchell’s photographs.

A Year In The Country-ether signposts

(File under: Other Pathway Pointers And Markers)

Destinations and directions:
The Some Things means Everything To Somebody book.

The Some Things means Everything To Somebody postcard book.