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The Restless Field at Simon Reynold’s blissblog and the sunday experience: Artifact Report #14/52a

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The forthcoming Restless Field album can be found amongst Retromania/Shock and Awe author Simon Reynold’s Spring 2017 Hauntology Parish Newsletter, amongst some rather fine company including Lo Five/Patterned Air Recordings, Keith Seatman’s new album, Revbjelde and other Buried Treasure related goings on including a somewhat subterranean Delaware Road event that will feature the likes of The Twelve Hour Radio, DJ Food, Dolly Dolly, Concretism, Howlround and Ian Helliwell amongst others:

“The Restless Field… another exquisitely packaged affair with audio contributions from Patterned Air’s Assembled Minds, Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Listening Center, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Polypores, Depatterning, Time Attendant, and David Colohan.

“One of their best efforts so far, I think – murky and ominous as befits the guiding thematic: places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles. Particularly enjoyed the blackly buzzing pulsescape  of “Congested District” by Listening Center.”

Visit the Newletter here.

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The album has also had first consideration by Mark Barton at his the sunday experience site:

“The Restless Field is your bountiful feast of spring dew harvesting, an as ever exquisitely hand crafted package of dawn and night variations that features a fourteen strong gathering of familiar friends around the mystical and magical ley lines that crisscross these fair green lands each blooded and ghosted in historical flashpoints and historical turning points.”

Visit that here.

A tip of the hat to Simon and Mark.

Further details on The Restless Field can be found here. Preview clips from the album here.

 

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

 

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Boards Of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest; Stuck At The Starting Post / Tumbled From A Future Phase IV ? : Wanderings #13/52a

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So, Gemini, the first track on Boards Of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest album from 2013…

It begins with an Advisory Circle / Ghost Box-esque TV ident-like introduction (although I suppose considering who came first, any such things on Advisory Circle / Ghost Box releases are possibly Boards Of Canda-esque) and then…

…well it seems to tumble down a wormhole and create a soundtrack to some imagined future version of the 1974 film Phase IV, a science fiction soundtrack that seems to be both beautiful and terrifying.

The album’s title and the limited artcard edition seem to add to that Phase IV air, of a natural world order gone out of kilter and what seem to be only-just-official scientific investigation attempts.

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It also puts me in mind of the hidden, subterranean investigations and research facility of The Andromeda Strain  although without any of the comfort that the passing of time and the film being aimed towards a mainstream audience has added.

(And talking of hidden, subterranean, are these fully officially sanctioned research facilities?… Beyond The Black Rainbow and its soundtrack may also be an appropriate reference point.)

The cover artwork features a cityscape photographed from the land that surrounds it, caught in a sickly yet beautiful haze, which could be wandering towards shades of the environmental disasters of 1970’s No Blade Of Grass or maybe even the skies from the 1979 Quatermass series once the harvesting has taken place.

Brrr.

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Inside devastated crops, broadcast towers, unidentifiable research-esque buildings/installations, distant hazy figures in desertscapes, barbed wire, forests, marks in the earth, a possibly abandoned car, what could be a reflection in a car light or may be on the glass of the visor of protective suiting and present-day-from-the-future concrete monolithic buildings all jostle for space, captured via the pixels of I assume a traditional cathode ray television screen.

The effect is strangely beautiful, entrancing and unsettling – similar indeed to Gemini.

I tend to find with this album that I rarely make it past this first track. In fact I often don’t even make it through this one track – it throws and distorts my mind, not through being extreme in terms of say dissonant audio but just in the atmosphere it conjures of all the above.

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(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #88/365: No Blade Of Grass and a curious mini-genre…

Day #149/365: Phase IV – lost celluloid flickering (return to), through to Beyond The Black Rainbow and journeys Under The Skin

Day #197/365: Huff-ity puff-ity ringstone round; Quatermass and the finalities of lovely lightning

Day #255/365: Beyond The Black Rainbow; Reagan era fever dreams, award winning gardens and a trio of approaches to soundtrack disseminations… let the new age of enlightenment begin…

Week #15/52: Phase IV / a revisiting / the arrival of artifacts lost and found and curious contrasts

Elsewhere in the ether:
The Andromeda Strain #1The Andromeda Strain #2 (contemporary revisiting). Award Winning Gardens / Mercurio Arboria / Beyond The Black Rainbow. Phase IV. Phase IV lost and found. No Blade Of Grass (and a good sit down with a cup of tea afterwards while the old nerves recover).

GeminiTomorrow’s Harvest: encasement.

 

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Katalina Varga, Conjuring Worlds And Arthouse Evolution: Wanderings #12/52a

katalina-varga-2009-peter-strickland-a-year-in-the-country-2I was quite nervous about watching Peter Strickland’s Katalina Varga film – I’ve been rather impressed by The Duke Of Burgundy and Berberian Sound Studio, the worlds they create and the surrounding culture/music/design that accompanied them.

I was nervous in case I didn’t like it or it was a let down…

So, Katalina Varga…

The film involves a Vashti Bunyan-esque horse and cart journey/mission through the land (although with a rather darker intent than to join a musician lead communal way of life) and could almost be a period film – in part it seems to be set in a generally pastoral world that may not have changed all that much since medieval times.

In fact it is physically jarring when you see a more built up area and modern buildings, when I heard a mobile phone ring tone I would find myself thinking “What’s that doing there?”, while a yellow plastic plate that appears at one point seems almost offensive in this setting.

The modern world often seems to only appear in relatively small details – the contemporary rubber car tyres on the cart, hay making carried out by hand while in the background will be a building with a satellite dish.

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Although it is more stylistically experimental, I think Josephine Decker’s Butter On The Latch might well be an appropriate reference point for Katalina Varga – pastorally set work that wanders off the beaten paths of conventional cinema or indeed a slasher in the woods / the land without the slashing (thankfully).

Thinking back to Katalina Varga, it conjures its own world just as completely as Peter Strickland’s other films, though in a different manner; this is a film that appears to more have been shot in the “real” world rather than the honey toned fantasy land of The Duke Of Burgundy or the cloistered, contained interiors of Berberian Sound Studio and it doesn’t have the more polished sheen that those films and their worlds have.

katalina-varga-2009-peter-strickland-a-year-in-the-country-3It may in part be a side effect of that lack of sheen but it seemed as though it could be some semi-lost European almost accidentally transgressive film from an unspecified point in time, possibly the 1970s; something that would have appeared at London’s Scala cinema around the early 1980s to the early 1990s, which was something of a home for such things.

In fact, when I watch Peter Strickland’s films, they make me think of those kind of arthouse, sometimes transgressive films that have gone on to find a cult following (think much of what would have appeared in the pages of Films And Filming magazine) but which rather than being sometimes culturally interesting / intriguing, possibly with a great poster but not all that easy to sit through, his films are an evolution of that area of cinema but which also work as entrancing entertainment (albeit that can also be more than a little unsettling).

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(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #153/365: Stepping through into… Berberian Sound Studio

Week #1/52: The Duke Of Burgundy and Mesmerisation…

Week #41/52: The Dark Pastoral Of Butter On The Latch

Elsewhere In The The Ether:
An introductory flickering for Katalina Varga. Encasments and envoying.

 

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Ancient Lands And A Very Particular Atmosphere From Back When: Wanderings #11/52a

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I feel that “say no more” might be appropriate at this point…

…but…

For a while now when I find myself in those reasonably-rare-nowadays places, bricks and mortar second hand bookshops, I will take myself off to browse the section/s called something like Topography, Landscape or maybe Nature for largely photography based books that capture a particular kind of mood or atmosphere.

What that atmosphere is I find hard to quite be able to put my finger on but the books often seem to be from the 1970s, to have a quietly haunted atmosphere, a certain kind of dour British representation of the landscape (and I don’t use dour here in a negative sense, it’s more in a, hmmm, expressively subdued manner).

Maybe a certain sense of loss or melancholia but not in a purely hankering after the past and stasis manner.

The Right Side Of The Hedge-Country Life Today-Chris Chapman-Ian Niall-A Year In The CountryI think one of the first of such books I bought along such lines was probably The Right Side Of The Hedge by Chris Chapman or possibly, when I was heading in the general direction of such things, Vanishing Britain by Roy Christian (both of which are from 1977).

Such books and work aren’t deliberately hauntological, the idea and phrase had not yet been created, it’s rather that with the passing of time they seem to contain within them an often quite subtle left-of-centre sense of the land, its layers, marks and spirit.

As I say, it’s hard to quite define but I know it when I see it (and sometimes it can be just in one or two photographs in a book rather than the whole thing).

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One of the books along these lines that I’ve mentioned before is Monumental Follies, which I was pointed towards by Jason Hazeley, author of  B* To Alton Towers and the modern day humorous reinterpretings of Ladybird books that the nation seems to have taken to their hearts and homes in fairly large quantities.

Monumental Follies and other similar books seem to step aside from the more chocolate box, rose tinted view of such things; there is a sense in the photographs they contain that maybe the weather was fairly permanently under an overcast, grey 1970s sky that was forever about to ruin family days out.

(The image that starts this particular wandering is from Anthony Burton and Jorge Lewinski’s Wilderness Britain book. Published in 1985, just to break the mould a little.)

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Week #4/52: The Following Of Ghosts – File Under Psychogeographic / Hauntological Stocking Fillers
(Wherein I consider Mr Hazeley and fellow writers/journeyers B* To Alton Towers… which if I was writing this post in thirty or so years time I expect may well be included in with such books as the above due to an understated melancholy and sense of loss  which can be found amongst its pages.)

Week #5/52: The Right Side Of The Hedge – gardens where (should we?) feel secure and velocipede enhanced long arms…

Week #50/52: Monumental Follies – An Exposition On The Eccentric Edifices Of Britain (to give the book its full title)

 

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A Baker’s Dozen Of Professor Bernard Quatermass: Wanderings #10/52a

Well, after delving amongst various final series of Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion related finds and ephemera, I was signposted towards a rather fine and fully stocked archiving of related imagery, press, promotional items etc at Professor Bernard Quatermass’ home in the social ether.

Upon arrival there, I had something of a wander around and good old perusal.

Below is a baker’s dozen of things around those parts that caught my eye…

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Ah, the classic Conclusion image… “Earth’s dark ancestral forces awaken to a summons from beyond the stars.”

Interest piqued. Count me in…

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The Manxman? Well, that’s an evocative way to start your article… It makes me think of, hmmm, Quatermass as superhero or maybe a creature from the dark side in one of his own tales.

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And although I’m not madly keen on seeing behind the scenes of things and the possible breaking of the spell… well, this particular image, taken by Martin Wilkie, of working on a prop just seems to capture a particular moment in cultural time.

For fans of all things hauntologically Radiophonic maybe?

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And talking of capturing particular things and times… this photograph of Dog Dish and Cat Dish seems to capture a very particular sense of some kind of flipside to the countryside and landscape.

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The helmeted security/police in the background seem to place the series much more with traditional science fiction than it actually is… I quite like them, in a 1970s British television/repurposing of day-to-day objects/Blakes 7-esque kind of a way, while also finding them curiously jarring.

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While this puts me in mind of later scenes in Zardoz, as the citadel has been breached.

Or possibly a gathering from Jeremy Sandford and Ron Reid’s documenting of the 1970s free festival scene in their Tomorrow’s People book?

And then wandering away from the final Quatermass series…

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Well, for the title text and all it implies. Prescient could well be an apt word to use about now.

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“You don’t have to ask ‘What’s doing the business?’… If you haven’t booked it, you don’t like money!”… “Let them know they will be chained to their seats!”

Say no more.

professor-bernard-quatermass-a-bakers-dozen-a-year-in-the-country-11…and just what is happening in this from-over-the-seas video cover?

Ah, there’s nothing like wildly inappropriate cover/poster design.

A literal online translation considers the title to be “The Ship Of Lost Beings” but then quickly recognises it and changes it to Quatermass And The Pit.

Modern day technology hey? Innit marvelous (!)…

 

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…and I shall end with a return back to the Quatermass final series, rounding the circle, as it were (or should that be ringstone round?)…

The poster is again from over the seas, in part because I’m fond of seeing what happens with such things when work travels elsewhere and also because it is a wandering back to one of the classic designs/images from the series…

…and then finally, this portrait of Professor Quatermass, as it seems to capture a certain quiet, weary dignity which is so much part of his character at this point.

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #177/365: Zardoz… in this secret room from the past, I seek the future…

Day #197/365: Huff-ity puff-ity ringstone round; Quatermass and the finalities of lovely lightning

Week #6/52: Tomorrow’s People, further considerations of the past as a foreign country and hauntology away from its more frequent signifiers and imagery…

Week #7/52: Eyes Turned Skywards; once streaks in the sky, almost futures and reverberations in the ether

Week #45/52: Quatermass finds and ephemera from back when

Elswhere in the ether:
Just in case you missed it, these images were gathered from here.

 

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If “Sometimes Slightly Dour 1970s Books On Windmills That Have Subtley Gained A Layer Or Two Of Extra Resonance With The Passing Of Time” Was A Quite Long Book Genre: Wanderings #9/52a

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I recently mentioned about being drawn to certain books, sometimes when wandering the aisles and shelves of second hand bookshops, which “…often seem to be from the 1970s and capture a particular kind of mood, that have a quietly haunted atmosphere, a certain kind of dour British representation of the landscape and which with the passing of time they seem to have come to contain within them an often quite subtle left-of-centre sense of the land, its layers, marks and spirit.

And I suppose the books featured here may well in part belong to such an area.

Or possibly, if “Often Slightly Dour 1970s Books On Windmills That Have Subtley Gained A Layer Or Two Of Extra Resonance With The Passing Of Time” was a quite long book genre, they might belong there.

(Although strictly speaking, they came from a whole shelf of books marked “Watermills and Windmills”).

the-restoration-of-windmills-and-windpumps-in-norfolk-book-a-year-in-the-country-blurI can’t remember the last time I saw a windmill out in the actual, real world. Maybe these books were all published in the 1970s because that was a time before windmills finally gave up the ghost, collapsed or were just cleared away.

So, anyway, if you were to do an image search for something like “people drawn to an imagined past idyll, folk culture, folk rock and repairing windmills in the 1970s”, I expect the cover of The Restoration of Windmills And Windpumps in Norfolk from 1977 may well come up.

It’s a nicely produced, sepia toned, almost pocket book overview of its title subject.

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And then we have Whirling Windmills by Althea from 1972, which is listed as being part of the Colourmaster Junior Series and although it’s a fair few years since I’ve seen one, I imagine that if the I-Spy series of books were given a more hand drawn, bucolic makeover then they might well look like this.

One of my favourite pages is this windmill illustration, which I tend to think of as a prototype for say a Maddy Prior and Tim Hart album cover, around the Folk Songs Of Olde England period and featuring at its heart a yearning for a return to that just mentioned folk-ish imagined idyll.

And the quiz spread, which in particular made me think of something like I-Spy.

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And then we have The Windmill – Yesterday And Today by R.J. De Little, again from 1972.

Of these books, this is the one that most directly connects with that particular left-of-centre, quietly dour atmosphere and it put me in mind of something like Monumental Follies that I have visited a time or two around these parts.

It seems to particularly focus on/capture a sense of windmills and neglected, tumbling relics from another era.

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And finally Windmills and Watermills by John Reynolds, from 1970, which seems to have a slightly more upbeat take on things, a few less crumbling structures in its pages but this photograph I rather liked in a layering of the past and present manner.

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #157/365: The Dalesman’s Litany; a yearning for imaginative idylls and a counterpart to tales of hellish mills

Week #5/52: The Right Side Of The Hedge – gardens where (should we?) feel secure and velocipede enhanced long arms…

Week #50/52: Monumental Follies – An Exposition On The Eccentric Edifices Of Britain (to give the book its full title)

Elsewhere in the ether:
Peruse via: The Restorations of Windmills and Windpumps in Norfolk. Whirling Windmills. The Windmill Yesterday And Today. Windmills & Watermills.

 

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Dropping Science: From Endtroducing to The Electronique Void Via Haunted Tea Rooms And Pans People: Wanderings #8/52a

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Well, it seems only right that as part of this (still relatively) new spin-around-the-sun, that I would pay a visit to the work of Ghost Box Records and fellow travellers…

…although maybe at a slightly oblique angle.

When I have listened to the sampled cut-ups of The Focus Group, it often makes me think of the turntablism montages of say DJ Shadow around the time of Endtroducing or possibly the more overtly dissonant work of Kid Koala…

While say Moon Wiring Club puts me in mind of mid-to-later nineties, hmmm, not necessarily trip hop or the abstract beats of Mo Wax releases but say the blunted, sample laden beats of Depth Charge or something similar that would probably have been in the record shop racks just next to trip hop and maybe Mo’Wax.

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Although in terms of intention and philosophical underpinning Kid Koala/The Focus Group and Moon Wiring Club/Depth Charge may be quite separate or disparate, musically maybe not so much.

I suppose that turntablism and blunted beats took a culture that had many of roots in rap and hip hop and stepped off to the side to form what could be loosely labelled b-boy/breaks and beats culture.

If you took such b-boy things and had them analysed and performed by an Open University professor in a parallel universe or filtered via a woozily hallucinogenic haunted tea room you might well end up with the likes of The Focus Group and Moon Wiring Club.

(And all this stepping from Mo’Wax to Ghost Box Records isn’t really all that much of a step or jump; if you look at The Memory Band vs Ghost Box Navigations release you will find work/remixes by Grantby aka Dan Grigson, who put out releases on Mo’Wax in the mid-90s, while Memory Band chap Stephen Cracknell worked alongside him on releases around that time).

And there is a certain almost scientific, analytical take on music that can be found in both say Mo’Wax releases and Ghost Box Records; with the former I should maybe say “dropping science” and with the latter that should maybe be “study workshopping science”, as it may be in part a reflection of some of related reference points/inspirations – the research like nature of The Radiophonic Workshop and the utilitarian aspects of educational and library music for example.

adrian-younge-the-electronique-void-the-radiophonic-workshop

In an intertwined manner, I’m rather fond of the work of Adrian Younge, who could be seen to be creating a form of hauntology but one that draws from American soul and hip hop music, beats and culture rather than with Ghost Box which in part takes inspiration from the just mentioned largely British education and library music, Public Information films, TV idents etc.

And just as with Ghost Box, he takes original source material/reference points and reimagines them rather than purely retreading previous paths, conjuring up a parallel universe all of his own; although talking of folk orientated culture rather than soul and hip hop I think Rob Young’s phrases imaginative time travel and experiments in consensual hallucation, from his book Electric Eden, might be appropriate here.

And to join these various paths, if The Radiophonic Workshop had happened in 1970s inner city USA rather than over here and if Ghost Box Records had tumbled forth from over there rather than from over here, well the results may well have sounded not a million miles away from his recent(ish) The Electronique Void album.

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(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
In part this has been a revisiting and further exploring of earlier themes around these parts; interlinked considerations can be found via:
Day #199/365: The ether ephemera of Mr Ian Hodgson and wandering from village green preservation to confusing English electronic music…

Almost back to the start wanderings:
Day #4/365: Electric Eden; a researching, unearthing and drawing of lines between the stories of Britain’s visionary music

Elsewhere in the ether:
The conjured worlds of Mr Adrian Younge: Listen to The Electronique Void here. Classy revisitings from an indefinable past via Something About April here (in particular First Step On The Moon and Midnight Blue). Imaginative time travel here.

I expect if you’re reading this you may already know about such things and places in the ether but just in case: The recently(ish) brushed and scrubbed up ether home of Ghost Box Records here. Moon Wiring Club here.

The Memory Band vs Ghost Box / Mo’Wax intertwinings here. Depth Charge encasement archive here. Kid Koala here. Endtroducing facts and figures here.

 

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Brutalist Breakfasts: Wanderings #7/52a

roadside-britain-sam-mellish-cafes-photography-book-a-year-in-the-country-1

I recently(ish) came across Sam Mellish’s Roadside Britain photography book on a visit to a nearby library (gawd bless ’em).

Its subtitle is “Observations of traditional roadside services across Great Britain”.

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The traditional part is the give away there; this isn’t a study of corporate megalith, franchised stop-offs but rather of generally small, independent roadside caffs; sometimes bricks and mortar but also just as likely to be essentially a shack or repurposed coach/shipping container.

Essentially your good old greasy spoon; the book is a documentation of such places, the food they serve, their locations, customers and Sam’s journey itself.

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Within the general realms of hauntology and the related sense of nostalgia or loss of an imagined, progressive, modernist future, there is something of a softspot for the often contentious architecture that has come to be known as brutalist or brutalism.

Looking up definitions for brutalist, one I found was: “(In modern architechture) the aesthetic use of basic building processes with no apparent concern for visual amenity.”

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Which I feel could well be appropriate to describe the photographs in Roadside Britain; essentially brutalist breakfasts.

Which isn’t said in a critical manner, I have a great deal of appreciation for a good, friendly, well run, caff and cooked breakfast and I think they can be good examples of a certain kind of artisan like folk art and craftsmanship.

Rather, I think of a brutalist breakfast more in a sense of referring to the efficient, no messing about, “fill ’em up” ethos of bacon butties and the full English.

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When I was re-looking through the images, what struck me was how much a lot of the places depicted seemed not just belong to transitional edgelands but to have a real frontier-like feel to them; as though they belonged more to some not yet fully developed part of say the outer reaches of the USA, rather than being just up the road or alongside our motorways (Birney Imes’ Juke Joint work and its depiction of outlying, hand hewn drinking establishments in America comes to mind).

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And there’s a romance to some of the images, a sense of the open road and freedom, that again you would possibly more associate with the wide open planes and spaces over the sea than on this relatively small island.

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Elsewhere in the ether:
Visit Roadside Britain’s home in the ether here,  its fellow companions here and peruse it here.

Images from Birney Imes Juke Joint can be found here. The book can be perused here.

 

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Transuranic Encasements / The Non-Capturing Of Elusive Phantasms: Wanderings #6/52a

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Now, I’m rather fond of Sapphire & Steel: I think it stands up well in being both thoroughly entertaining and also having various otherly, spectral, hauntological resonances and points of interest.

Often when I’m quite taken by a film or television I’ll find myself browsing related memorabilia, posters, lobby cards etc…

Which I have done with Sapphire & Steel, although there isn’t all that much available, possibly in part because it was made in a time before the thorough saturation of such things for the likes of cult, science fiction and fantasy television.

I actually think with Sapphire & Steel it exists perfectly well on its own without endless merchandise but longstanding habits can reappear as if by magic and a reasonable number of related things seemed to have “accidentally” arrived through my letterbox…

Here are a few of those and also a few I’ve resisted so far…

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The Sapphire & Steel annual and novel tie-in…

The artwork in the annual is not dissimilar to that in the Look-Ins of the time, which was a television orientated weekly comic/magazine for younger folk which featured stories based on broadcast series and characters (Sapphire & Steel being one of those featured).

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It is quite odd; there’s a sort of deliberate almost brutish / primitive / slightly off-kilter feel to it that puts me in mind of illustrations in the Doctor Who annuals from a similar time.

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…and then on to later cult fan publications from 1989 and 2005…

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I’m rather fond of this publicity still from the final (and very final) episode. It puts me in mind of an earlier era in the way it reflects 1960s kitchen sink post-war austerity and lack of showiness, filtered gently through a later period’s lens.

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There have been a fair few British and elsewhere DVD releases of Sapphire & Steel… and (note to self), no it is not necessary to own them all just to peruse the packaging and the sometimes minute differences in how the episodes are presented.

And now… well, the grail of all things Sapphire & Steel:

sapphire-steel-tv-times-1979-july-7-13-cover-a-year-in-the-countryThe 1979 TV Times magazine which featured our heroes (is that the right word?) on the cover.

This was a weekly television listings magazine and I guess because of it only being needed for one week, very few have survived.

Over time, the very mainstream content of such magazines seems to have gained extra layers of resonance; possibly partly because of their nowadays scarcity and maybe also because they can capture or present a brief window into what seems like a very other time and place.

I have found a copy of the TV Times in question but I’m not quite sure yet if I can bring myself to tip a… well, not king’s ransom but maybe a small local lord’s ransom in its direction so that it can also “accidentally” arrive through my letterbox.

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sapphire-steel-magazine-clipping-page-a-year-in-the-countryThis magazine clipping/spread is heading in that general direction but well, it’s not that actual brief one-week-window-to-elsewhere of the TV Times.

Sapphire & Steel was intended / marketed / broadcast as mainstream entertainment but viewed now it is very much all of its own and maybe  what I’m looking for when I peruse related memorabilia is something which captures and represents the otherlyness of the series away from it’s mainstream presentation…

…but that otherly spirit is an elusive thing and possibly it being so phantasm like in nature, while being mixed in inseparably with that mainstream presentation is part of what makes the series so intriguing.

And so maybe (note so self) even that fairly elusive TV Times issue won’t put any kind of butterfly net around that particular spirit.

Hmmm.

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(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

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

Week #27/52: Sapphire & Steel, various ghosts in the machine and a revisiting of broken circuits…

Week #45/52: Quatermass finds and ephemera from back when

 

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A Return Visit To And From Rif Mountain: Wanderings #5/52a

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I have something of a soft spot for Rif Mountain, which is a label / endeavour that has been a home for the likes of The Owl Service, Jason Steel, Robert Sunday, The A-Lords and sometimes A Year In The Country fellow travellers The Straw Bear Band.

For a while now it had been relatively quiet around those parts but recently there was something of a flurry of activity and these three fine beauties wandered through my letter box.

One of the things I appreciate with Rif Mountain releases is that they seem to contain a mixture of subtley left-of-centre-ness while also being particularly accessible.

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Along which lines, back during the first spin-around-the-sun of A Year In The Country I said of The Owl Service’s Rif Mountain released The View From A Hill:

“The music? Well, I guess it could be categorised as folk but it has it’s own take or edge to it… many of these songs are folk music mainstays and both musically and visually it uses what could be considered standard tropes of folk music, folklore and culture…

…but this is anything but a mainstream folk album. Why? Well, I can’t quite put my finger on it but there are other layers and intelligence to it all, a pattern beneath the plough as it were. As an album it feels subtley experimental but still maintains it’s listenability.”

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(In the case of these more recent releases, alongside the more overtly folk work of The Straw Bear Band, can be found the intimate, lone singers and tellers of tales Jason Steel and Robert Sunday.)

Part of what draws me to Rif Mountain is the packaging and design, which is often (generally?) done by Straw Bear Band-er and sometimes Owl Service-r Dom Cooper.

His work blends traditional folk tropes with a particularly classy and nicely done modern take on such things or to again quote myself, he may well use…

the-owl-service-logos-dom-cooper-a-year-in-the-country-stroke“…quite simple, modern and minimal design work in conjunction with matt card/printing to conjure up and reinterpret the imagery and spirit of folklore’s past.”

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With his work the imagery is complimented by the physicality of the releases themselves, which combine to give them a very precious, tactile feeling that always makes me want to handle them carefully and gently.

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #30/365: The Owl Service – A View From A Hill

Day #170/365: Who’s afear’d: Dom Cooper & reinterpreting signs, signals and traditions…

Elswhere in the ether:
On this brace of releases you will find the earlier mentioned Jason Steel, The Straw Bear Band and Robert Sunday. They can be perused and purchased at Rif Mountain’s main home in the ether

…and as is the modern way, they have a number of “outhouses” and the like: modern-day social gathering placetheir visual librarygramophone roomother gramophone room, music filing / archivingrecordings from spinning the zeros and ones wheels of steel and picture box.

And something of a personal favourite at one of those gramophone rooms: the Vexed Soul EP, wherein traditional folk songs are revisited and reinterpreted, alongside more, shall we say “factory folk” music.

(If you should appreciate such revisitings and reinterpretings, I would also recommend a visit to 16 Horsepower’s channelling of related work here.)

Dom Cooper’s home in the ether can be found here.

 

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An Antidote To Indifference – Field Recording Special #2, Otherly Geometries and Layered Resonances: Wanderings #4/52a

an-antidote-to-indifference-caught-by-the-river-field-recording-special-2-cheryll-tipp-a-year-in-the-country-1It’s a curious thing with field recording and the way in which what could well have its roots in utilitarian, scientific recording of sound has gained in parts a sort of extra layer of creative resonance and wandered somewhere else.

Along which lines, the An Antidote To Indifference – Field Recording Special #2 publication.

This was released by Caught By The River and edited by Cheryl Tipp, who works in the Wildlife And Environmental Sounds archive of the British Library.

It is a beautifully put together… hmmm, I wouldn’t call it a magazine or fanzine, though it has elements of both – maybe I should just stick with publication as that seems suitable.

The design in part uses elements of what previously I have called “otherly geometry”, in a manner similar to say Folklore Tapes David Chatton-Barker or Ghost Box Records Julian House (in fact I was surprised to see that neither of them had worked on at least the cover) and the whole thing is clearly a labour of love.

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I have described such work as often seeming “…to make use of geometric shapes and patterns to invoke a particular kind of otherlyness, to allow a momentary stepping elsewhere…”; in this particular instance that somewhere else may well be a sense of the spirit of that earlier mentioned extra layer resonance within some field recording work.

The contents take in literal out-in-the-fields field recording, the points at which field recordings meet imagined parallel versions of themselves, Howlround gent Robin The Fog rhapsodising about particular “sound arranged delightfully” creative techniques, Cheryl Tipp’s own Sound and Song in the Natural World piece, Recording the Sounds of the World’s First Computers…

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I suppose a prime expample of the way in which field recording has moved from its more scientific routes to being nearer to a form of artistic expression could be found in the almost… no, actually singularly, fetishistic quality of the very precise listing of the details and recording equipment used for the moth sounds in the credits of Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy film.

(And I suppose looking at the roots of the word fetish as charm, sorcery and made by art may be apt in this context).

an-antidote-to-indifference-caught-by-the-river-field-recording-special-2-cheryll-tipp-a-year-in-the-country-2In an interlinked manner, reading those credits, Cheryl Tipp may well have helped gather those sounds and details together as she is listed as having helped on that aspect of the film.

If you should be interested in wandering further than some possible pathways may well be the film Silence, which has been described as navigating the path between fiction and documentary, the field recording maestro work of former Cabaret Voltaire gent Chris Watson, who is also featured in the Field Recording publication (does he never get tired or stop and rest I often wander when I hear his work) and Cathy Lane & Angus Argyle’s In The Field: The Art Of Field Recording book.

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #142/365: Fog Signals/Ghost signals from lost transmission centres

Day #209/365: Signal and signposts from and via Mr Julian House (#2); the worlds created by an otherly geometry

Elswhere in the ether:
Peruse the Field Recording Special #2 at Caught By The River. Cheryl Tipps’s curating at the British Library here and a smattering of I think her own recordings here.

 

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Luke Haines “our most non-hauntological hauntologist” – irrefutable proof / intertwining: Wanderings #3/52a

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Although his work seems to exist in a genre all of its own*, Luke Haines has been described as “our most non-hauntological hauntologist” (strictly speaking he has been commented as being such by our good selves).

The evidence? Well, his album British Nuclear Bunkers seemed to involve hidden patterns in TV idents and related ephemera and a surreal/parallel history version of Cold War dread.

Nothing hauntological-esque to see there then.

While previous albums took in a general hauntological sense of “the present being haunted by spectres of the past” (to semi-quote ourselves) and intermingled 1970s pop, marauding skinheads, Asti Spumante, teddy boy discos, the three day week, 1970s and 1980s wrestlers and so forth.

But I think new(ish) album Smash The System both takes the proverbial biscuit and also seems to travel, in his own particular way, to the point at which hauntological concerns meet otherly folklore.

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So, for example, while there are all kinds of pop culture titles/references to the album (Marc Bolan, Bruce Lee, Vince Taylor etc) there are also tracks called Ritual Magick, Power of the Witch and The Incredible String Band…

Meanwhile, the album has an archival morris dancers photograph as its cover and the accompanying video shows their contemporary equivalent on a slightly worrying and unsettling bender/borderline riotous fracas in an urban, capital city setting (while also name checking his love of The Monkees and The Velvet Underground).

Oh and also features gas masks and a tray full of shots, which for some reason the latter of which I find the most unruly, unsettling and just a bit wrong.

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You know those television programs that show people not being able to handle their drinking/binge drinking in inner city areas as such places are turned into near no-go areas of a Saturday night?

Well, in some alternate universe the traditional folkloric characters in this video are what you would see if you tuned in.

(The arty-laryness of Earl Brutus and possibly even the imagined troublesome youth cult of A Clockwork Orange may also be appropriate reference points.)

I’ve just watched it again and brrr, I’m both entranced and really don’t want to step into the world it shows/creates (and its fiction is only just burst at the end by the more normal smiles of a participant or two).

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(Move along, move along. There’s nothing hauntological nor intertwinings between spectres of the past and otherly folk to see here.)

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Previous evidence around these parts:
Day #10/365: The Auteurs – How I Learned To Love The Boot Boys; our most non-hauntological hauntologist…

Week #38/52: Mr Haines – “our most non-hauntological hauntologist” – the evidence mounts

Elsewhere in the ether:
Step through to that other world here. Mr Haines’ home in the ether is here. Often quite witty mucking abouts by him here.

And in a “do yourself a cultural favour” manner, one of his books here (no, not the edition with the cabbage on the front, thank you very much) and the rather classy, unparalleled, seething, now that the Empire has faded, I know what you’re doing in the afternoons, Albionic pop-noir of Black Box Recorder here.

 

*Would One Time Indie Popstar,  Brief Top Twenty-er, Pantomine Villain(?), Pop Culture’s Reverse Explorer be too long a genre title for the racks of the record stores?

 

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Merry Brownfield’s Merry England / The Eccentricity Of English Attire: Wanderings #2/52a

day-3a-merry-england-merry-brownfield-folk-costume-a-year-in-the-country-1There have been a couple of photography books in recent years that have focused on the folkloric side of British/English costume, rituals and celebrations and I think I expected Merry Brownfield’s Merry England to be along similar lines by the title and cover…

However, although photographs of people in traditional folk costume seems to form the heart of the book with sections titled Straw Bear, The Castleton Garland Day, Holly Man, Mummer’s Plays and Morris Dancers, it actually wanders considerably further afield to encompass pop culture tribes/styles such as mod, people who appear to have tumbled from the page of The Chap magazine in The Tweed Run and Vintage Style section…

day-3a-merry-england-merry-brownfield-folk-costume-straw-bear-a-year-in-the-country-2

day-3a-merry-england-merry-brownfield-folk-costume-billinsgate-porter-a-year-in-the-country-1…and then it wanders off to include Pearly Kings And Queens, the comic convention-esque costumes of attendees to the World Darts Championship, traditional Billingsgate fish market bobbin hats and a number of possibly more contentious hunting/aristocratic areas.

In some ways it reminds me in both style and breadth of Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s Folk Archive Book/Exhibition – more a sort of “from the people” view of things than specifically what could be considered folk aesthetics.

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The book was self-published by Merry Brownfield, who’s home in the ether can be found here. It seems to be out of print but can be found for but a few pence and pound here.

 

(File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings)

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #19/365: Once a Year – Homer Sykes
Day #66/365: Sarah Hannants wander through the English ritual year
Day #148/365: Folk Archive

Around these parts and over the seas:
Day #69/365: Charles Frégers Wilder Mann and rituals away from the shores of albion

Elsewhere in the ether:
Henry Bourne’s Arcadia Britannica: A Modern British Folklore Portrait
Sarah Hannant’s Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through The English Ritual Year

 

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Something Of A Rare By Our Selves Wandering And Encasing: Wanderings #1/52a

day-2-365b-by-our-selves-andrew-kotting-swedenborg-society-book-4Well, we thought we would start this years set of breadcrumb trails and wanderings with something of a treat.

By Our Selves.

No, not the film by Andrew Kötting but rather the book that accompanies the film.

(If you should not know, to quote somebody else, the film involves “‘Toby Jones, Andrew Kötting (as a straw bear) and their merry men revive the wanderings and wonderings of Northamptonshire peasant poet John Clare, on a quest “for scenes where man hath never trod’.” Oh and add Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore and others to those wanderings and wonderings.)

At the last point of looking, this seemed to be one of those rare items that doesn’t seem to be reviewed, written about, pondered and considered all over the ether.

It only seems to be available via an organisation called The Swedenborg Society (and sold by them at a well known ether commerce site but not actually sold by that well known site itself).

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It doesn’t even seem to get a mention on Andrew Kötting’s own site. The film does but not the book.

Hmmm. Slightly curious.

Anyways, it arrived through the letter box a while ago and it’s a fine publication. A lovely, solid, almost slab-in-miniature collection of images, thoughts and notes that sit alongside and intertwine with the film. A “posh” scrapbook in a way.

I think what I am drawn to more than the book and film’s specific dealings with John Clare’s story is the imagery and a more abstract sense of a connection to or exploration of layers and roots of the land’s tales and history…

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Oh and the sheer cheek and chutzpah of the whole project, which seems to involve getting together some kind of more than reasonable pile of money through the modern day version of “now, if everybody chips in a bit we can get this done” and more traditional funding organisations, roping in and/or bringing together a reasonably well known, respected, often mainstream actor, a rather well known writer of comic books, a rather well known writer of wandering books and so forth…

…and then putting together something which is sort of fine/experimental art but also that seems just as much to be about a bunch of mates mucking about and having a laugh while managing to delve through those just mentioned layers and tales of the land…

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…and coming out the other side full of (I hope) smiles with something that… I can’t quite put my finger on it but as a piece of work it seems to have a certain arty accessibility, to have had a reach out into the world that seems to step beyond the expected well defined routes of such experimental work and in some way to link back (without being retro in nature) to a time/the spirit of a time when independent but relatively mainstream film/television production, broadcast and distribution could include the experimentation of say Derek Jarman and Ghosts In The Machine.

 

File under: Trails and Influences / Year 3 Wanderings

Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Day #221/365: A Straw Bear went a-wandering; a once Berberian sound engineer follows past footsteps, other boot filling and less than but two penn’orth worth on a roll of music

Day #225/365: A return to the returning footsteps of a Berberian Straw Bear and companions

Week #27/52: Sapphire & Steel, various ghosts in the machine and a revisiting of broken circuits…

Elsewhere in the ether:
Peruse the book in the ether here and here. Andrew Kötting’s home for By Our Selves here. The flickering’s of the trailer here. The encasers and envoyers of the film here.