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Rounding the Circle – Phase IV’s Lost Psychedelic Ending Returns, Fenella’s Fehérlófia Rescoring of Ancient Folklore, The Midwich Cuckoos via a 1970s Filter, Wandering Through a Real World Dreamscape with On the Trail of The Prisoner and Other Findings: Wanderings 26/26

As seems to be becoming something of an (occasional) A Year In The Country tradition, I shall end the year on a round up of some “findings” that have worked their way onto the shelves around these parts…

Saul Bass’ 1974 film Phase IV had been released on Blu-ray before but only in a Region A version released by Olive films in the US, which didn’t have the original “out there” psychedelic ending. In 2020 it had limited and non-limited UK Blu-ray releases by 101 films and in 2019 a 45th anniversary digital release, both of which included the lost ending as an extra, which was good to see. Next up, hopefully, a version of the film as originally intended. We can but hope.

Phase IV is an intriguing and odd film which has been something of a recurring reference point for A Year In The Country, and of which I have previously written:

“[It] is a beautiful and beautifully shot film. A strange beauty but beauty nonetheless. It is not all 1970s grit and grime as was sometimes the case with cinema from this period, and there is some kind of utopian undercurrent to what occurs and how it is portrayed… This is enhanced by the insect sequences shot by wildlife photographer Ken Middleham and their vivid, rich colours… These sequences, although they record the actions of real ants, create a fantastical sense of them evolving into another, higher state beyond that of humans. It is also a film that though not all that well known… seems to have somehow or other reverberated through and influenced culture since its inception.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields, 2018.)

Those “reverberations” include Panos Cosmatos saying that it was a major influence on his 2010 film Beyond the Black Rainbow that he said could be placed in a particular sub-genre of film that he called “trance film”, of which he has said the following, that could equally apply to Phase IV:

“There is a sub-genre of what I call ‘trance film’ and I really wanted [Beyond the Black Rainbow] to fall into the trance or dream genre without it being specifically a dream. I wanted it to feel like a lucid dream state. The whole time you are probing forward, deeper and deeper into an unknown world.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country…, as above.)

Above is the CD promo of Jane Weaver’s ensemble Fenella’s 2019 album Fehérlófia, which was inspired by Marcell Jankovics’ 1981 animated fantasy epic of the same name, aka Son of the White Mare:

“Released in 1981, Fehérlófia is a remarkable animation based in ancient folklore with a narrative culled from mythical tales of the Scythans, Huns and Avars… ” (Quoted from the Fehérlófia album press release and Bandcamp page.)

A 4K restoration of the film was released by Aberlos on Blu-ray in 2021:

“Fehérlófia is one of the great psychedelic masterpieces of world animation. Son of the White Mare is a swirling, color-mad maelstrom of mythic monsters and Scythian heroes, [part epic Middle Ages poem] Nibelungenlied, part-Yellow Submarine, lit by jagged bolts of lightning and drenched in rivers of blue, red, gold and green. A massive cosmic oak stands at the gates of the Underworld, holding seventy-seven dragons in its roots; to combat these monsters, a dazzling white mare goddess gives birth to three heroes – Treeshaker and his brothers – who embark on an epic journey to save the universe.” (Quoted from text which accompanied the digital release of Aberlos’ 4K restoration of Fehérlófia.)

Conceptually Fenella’s Fehérlófia album could be considered to be linked to Jane Weaver Septième Soeur’s The Fallen by Watch Bird “cosmic aquatic folklore” concept album that was in part inspired by another example of visually distinctive Eastern European cinema, the 1976 Czech New Wave film Malá Morská Víla, which is an adaptation of the Little Mermaid.

The Fehérlófia album was only commercially released on vinyl but the promotional copies were issued as CDs in simple card wallets, which made me think of the early 2000s when second hand record shops often had boxes of such promos for sale, often for quite cheap prices, and they could be an interesting “lucky dip” way of discovering music that you didn’t previously know.

And then a charity shop find… a 1976 “Knockouts” edition of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, which has been another ongoing reference point for A Year In The Country, in part due to its story’s setting of a bucolic village that becomes host to eldritch and otherworldly events.

This is an abridged edition which was intended to be for younger readers, and the “Knockouts” series of books were created for “reluctant adolescent readers”

Presumedly to encourage those “reluctant readers”, this edition has some additions to the standard text: an introductory “The curious habits of the cuckoo” section which explains about the interloping behaviour of cuckoo birds and their connection to the story; illustrated “Characters in the story” pages, which include brief explanations of character’s roles ; and a “Map of Midwich”. The series title of “Knockouts” was also presumably meant to imply that reading can be “fun” and exciting.

The cover is wonderfully evocative of a particular time and era, and brings to mind a grungier version of the Penguin Modern Poets book covers. It could also be a lo-fi forerunner of Julian House of Ghost Box Records design work for the label (who in turn has been influenced by the Penguin Modern Poets book covers), and in it a bucolic scene of trees, plants and a church off in the distance seem to have had a 1970s downbeat filter applied to them.

Another 1976 charity shop find… a copy of the Max Bygraves with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band “Do it the safety way” 7″ single, which is a curious and almost surreal mining safety orientated record released by the National Coal Board, on which the lead song is delivered in a 1970s Saturday night television variety show manner.

I found this in the same charity shop as the “Knockouts” edition of The Midwich Cuckoos and, also somewhat curiously, there were a few near mint copies of it in the shop – perhaps somebody who had worked in education and/or health and safety in some manner back when had donated them?

The song had stuck in my mind somewhat after its appearance on Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records OST radio show:

“[A guest on one episode of OST was] Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle and sometimes Ghost Box Records, whose appearance was accompanied by a good deal of knitting and ‘doing’ the actions to a mining safety song by once highly popular light entertainer and singer Max Bygraves.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country…, as above.)

The accompanying text from the back of the single writes of how “The special sing-along style of Max Bygraves gives the whole arrangement hit parade appeal”. Imagine if it had been a hit, it would have been great to see Max Bygraves “doing the actions” on Top of the Pops.

Above is a 2002 book written by Andrew Bolton and published by the V&A museum called The Supermodern Wardrobe, which focuses, largely, on 1990s and turn of the millennium fashion, such as that created by Vexed Generation, which mixes urban utilitarian design with a stylised futuristic aesthetic that at times incorporates digital technology devices and control panels.

Viewed today the fashion in the book very much seems like “the shape of the future’s past” and to be part of an imagined science fiction-esque parallel world future where the general populace wears a particular type of functional but highly stylised fashion.

(Above: the city as imagined Bladerunner-esque dreamscape –  images from Liam Wong’s TO:KY:OO book.)

Imagined ideas of future fashion have often, for a long time, looked like the images in this book, as though we can’t quite seem to imagine (or maybe don’t want to imagine) a future that doesn’t look like Blade Runner meets Aeon Flux by way of the cyberpunk-esque images in Liam Wong’s TO:KY:OO photography book and Space 1999. It’s almost as if the collective idea of the future is stuck on and haunted by the idea of a more “futuristic” seeming future, a sort of fashion/aesthetic/design orientated version of a hauntological “cancelled future”.

In reality elements of such fashion have found their way into day-to-day clothing and much of the population today do actually carry around miniature computers/video phones (i.e. mobile phones) but it’s in a much less showy or just more mundane manner (and quite possibly more wearable) than the ongoing Blade Runner-etc-esque imagined idea of the future, and the miniature computers generally are made to be slipped into any pocket etc, rather than being an inherent part of specially designed clothing.

And then finally, and to end the year, a virtual walking visit around the set of The Prisoner courtesy of Catherine Németh Frumerman’s On the Trail of The Prisoner: A Walking Guide to Portmeirion’s Prisoner Sites.

Of places I have visited, Portmeirion, which is a stylised tourist village in Wales and one of the locations where the 1960s cult television series The Prisoner was recorded, has probably the most “porous” blending of reality and imagination. When wandering around it, it can be at times difficult to separate memories of the series, documentaries and stills of it and the actual place you are presently in. Looking through On the Trail of The Prisoner can be a little similar, as many of the contemporary photographs in it show how the Portmeirion locations used in the series have often stayed very similar to how they were when the series was made and their distinctive design lends them a film set meets dreamscape quality.

And with that I bid you and this year a fond farewell. Be seeing you.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country (which is a fair few “elsewheres):


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Oberon’s “Nottamun Town” from A Midsummer’s Night Dream: Songs for A Year In The Country 26/26

And to end this particular cycle of A Year In The Country… a step back to 1971 and the rather lovely “Nottamun Town” from Oberon’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, originally released in a privately pressed edition of just 99 copies. Something to drift off and away with…




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Delia Derbyshire and Ron Grainer’s “Original Theme / Main Title” from the Doctor Who Soundtrack: Songs for A Year In The Country 25/26

1963. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Adventures in space and time (and sound). The root of so much.




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The Shadows Episode “Dark Encounter” and Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” Sequence – Returning to a Mystical Battle on an Endless Midsummer’s Eve: Wanderings 25/26

The “Dark Encounter” is an episode of the television series Shadows, which as I wrote in an earlier post:

“was a supernatural and fantasy young adult orientated British television anthology drama series that featured 20 approximately half-hour stand alone episodes, and was produced by the commercial broadcaster Thames Television and broadcast for three seasons between 1975 and 1978. It is part of the strand of late 1960s and 1970s British television that also included the likes of The Owl Service (1969-1970), The Changes (1975), Children of the Stones (1977) and Raven (1977), which often contained and explored surprisingly complex, challenging and at times dark themes and atmospheres, particularly considering its intended younger audience, and which in part due to these characteristics has become a reference point for hauntological related and/or otherly pastoral or wyrd culture.” (Quoted from the A Year In The Country post “Shadows Episode ‘The Inheritance’ and the Layering of Ancient Folklore and Myth”.)

Susan Cooper wrote “The Dark Encounter” episode and it was originally broadcast in 1976 as part of the series’ second season and it could be considered to be part of the folklore and myth infused strand of young adult literature in related earlier work by its writer Susan Cooper, and also other books published in the 1960s and 1970s, including Josephine Poole’s Billy Buck (1972), William Rayner’s Stag Boy (1971), Penelope Lively’s The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy (1971) and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (1967).

I discuss those books in the above “Shadows Episode ‘The Inheritance’…” post and how what has been called at the whistleinthewind site as being the “invasion of ancient folklore and myth into the present” in fictional young adult orientated work was also something of a recurring feature of 1970s British television: examples of such work include the previously mentioned The Changes and also Raven (1977) and The Moon Stallion (1978) that draw from Arthurian legend; alongside “The Inheritance” episode of Shadows, which I also discuss in the above post; and some of the other episodes of Shadows including “Peronik”, which takes as its basis the ancient Celtic mythology Grail legend of the quest of Peronik.

Between 1965 and 1977, Susan Cooper published The Dark is Rising Sequence of five contemporary set young adult novels, which could also be considered to be interconnected with the above strands of fiction and television. They draw from Arthurian legends, English folklore and Celtic and Norse mythology and have been called “one of the [young adult fiction] cornerstones of Wyrd Britain” by Ian Holloway at his Wyrd Britain site, and

Although it does not make explicit reference to the book sequence, the “Dark Encounter” episode appears to be set in a similar story world as it, with both depicting a struggle between the forces of good and evil called the Light and Dark, and both also featuring a young boy who is destined to do battle on the side of the Light. Alongside which, as with “The Inheritance”, the episode veers towards the territory and tropes of folk horror.

In a narratively and conceptually multi-layered story “Dark Encounter” tells of a 47 year old actor named Jonathan Brent who returns in contemporary times for a holiday in a rural area that he was evacuated to during the Second World War. He talks with the proprietor of the hotel where he is staying about how he cannot remember much about his time there as a child but that something in a field near to an old mill greatly scared him, and he has never felt easy with trees. She attempts to suggest and direct where he might go for a walk, and when he is pictured in the fields wearing a suit, the style of which would be more at home in an urban environment, he very much appears an alien outsider figure amongst the landscape, while at the same time there is a sense that something is drawing him back to the rural events and locations from his past.

Brent comes across a young boy who has injured his ankle after falling from a large oak tree when he was attempting to rescue his kite. The actor gives him a piggyback to a nearby cottage which is next to a windmill, where the boy says he should be able to get help. When he enters the cottage Brent has unknowingly stepped over a threshold into some other form of reality where he is the “chosen one”, who three times in his life must do battle with the Dark, in order to stop it taking over the world.

He does not immediately realise what is happening nor notice anomalies such as the date being 1941 on a wall calendar, that the windmill is in fact one which he was told at the hotel no longer exists or remember having fought this battle once before when he was young. Slowly his role is explained and revealed to him by the three adults in the cottage, who also tell of how they are in this place and continuum forever, and that they are a form of helpers in the battle against the Dark. His being uneasy with trees is shown to be a result of his previously doing battle with the Dark residing in them when he was young, and one of the helpers tells him:

“The Dark needs to rise in a living thing… and it did choose that oak tree in which to dwell… you know they used to say in these parts in the old days that just as time was divided by the day and the night, so the world itself was divided by two great forces, the Light and the Dark. Good and evil. And every so often on Midsummer’s Eve the Dark tries to take over control of the world for itself alone. And the Light chooses one man whose courage must keep the dark out.”

The “helpers” prepare for his second battle with the Dark by ritualistically placing a plate with lighted candles on a table in the middle of the house, and dropping various parts of plants on to it, such as witchwood (aka mountain ash), which has been used traditionally to ward off evil. After this Brent joins forces with the young boy he helped in order to fight the Dark through their mental courage. The boy is actually himself from an earlier time, and as they do battle together with the Dark their faces merge and fade into one another and a branch of the “Dark” infused oak tree smashes through a window. Other than this the depiction of the battle does not utilise extensive special effects but still manages to create an unsettling and chilling atmosphere.

Once the battle is over the boy and Brent suddenly reappear in the fields in contemporary time, with neither of them seeming to remember their experiences, and as Brent attempts somewhat unsuccessfully to demonstrate his skill at kite flying the boy disappears, presumably returning to his own (and therefore Brent’s earlier) time. When Brent returns to his hotel the proprietor has a knowing air about her and she subtly implies that, as with the helpers in the cottage, she knows his role in fighting the Dark, and that she will also always be there to guide him and those who follow in his footsteps.

The episode inverts the way that trees are often associated with goodness and positive forces, and in this it is not dissimilar to the television drama “The Ash Tree”, which was an adaptation by David Rudkin of a story by M.R. James originally published in 1904, and that was broadcast around a similar time as “The Dark Encounter” in 1975. That also focuses around a cursed or evil infused tree and, as with Shadows, has come to be associated with the loose genre of folk horror and otherly pastoral or wyrd culture. In its depiction of possessed or evil trees, and the way the oak tree bursts through the window and attempts to attack the inhabitants, “Dark Encounter” is also somewhat reminiscent of the mainstream supernatural horror film Poltergeist (1982), in which a gnarled tree in a family’s garden supernaturally comes alive and grabs one of the family members through a window.

“Dark Encounter” also shares some similarities with the television drama “Robin Redbreast”, that was broadcast in 1970 as part of the BBC’s Play for Today strand and which has also come to be associated with folk horror. “Robin Redbreast” features an urban outsider who, as with Brent in “Dark Encounter”, is also involved in the entertainment industry, and as with Brent is shown as an outsider away from her normal urban home when she moves to the countryside. “Robin Redbreast” also involves a “chosen one” who, in this instance, is a special totem of the local pagan religion, although it is an adult orientated drama and somewhat darker in its themes than “Dark Encounter” as its plot revolves around the script editor becoming caught up in a folk ritual based conspiracy to sacrifice this human form of totem.

The sense of time slip and the “helpers” being in one place and instance of time forever in “Dark Encounter” also has similarities with the British television preternatural fantasy drama series Sapphire & Steel (1979-1982), which as with Shadows and some of the other 1970s young adult orientated British television drama series discussed at the start of this post, has become a reference point for hauntological culture.

As with a number of the episodes of Shadows, including the time portal lens themed episode “The Other Window”, Sapphire & Steel deals with the porous nature of time, and it focuses on the activities of the titular interdimensional operatives who attempt to guard the correct flow of time, and who have to battle and correct elements which threaten this by crossing over from one time to another. Alongside their similarities in containing porosity of time based themes, the way in which the “helpers” in “Dark Encounter” remain forever in one time and place outside the bounds of reality seems to forebear the final desolate episode of Sapphire & Steel; as this ends the operatives are shown as being trapped, quite possibly for all time, in the location of a roadside cafe that is floating lost amongst the cosmos, and one of their betrayers satisfiedly and almost nonchalantly callously tells them “This place is nowhere. And it’s forever.”

As with Sapphire & Steel, “Dark Encounter” ends on an ambiguous note, which leaves the viewer’s imagination space to wonder (and wander); unlike Sapphire and Steel, Brent is left to roam free, but he has only so far carried out and won two of his lifetime’s three battles against the Dark, and whether he will be successful for a third time is left unclear.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:


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Espers’ “Dead Queen” from II: Songs for A Year In The Country 24/26

Released in 2006 this song still sounds decidedly contemporary while also being part of a lineage of reimaginings of folk  that can be traced back to 1960s and 1970s acid/psych folk. As with many of the “Songs for a Year In The Country” it conjures a world, time and space of its own…




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The Otherly Geometries and Hidden Cartographies of Spectral Studio: Wanderings 24/26

Back in the first year of A Year In The Country I described Julian House of Ghost Box Records design work for the label as, at times, containing a form of “otherly geometry” and said that it “often seems to make use of geometric shapes and patterns to invoke a particular kind of otherlyness, to allow a momentary stepping elsewhere”.

Similar could be said of much of Nick Taylor’s Spectral Studio design work, which shares some similarities with Julian House’s Ghost Box Records work and possibly also David Chatton Barker’s work for Folklore Tapes, but the Spectral Studio work has its own character, in part because it seems to have a subtly organic or homespun aspect, and at times it puts me in mind of folk art by way of some imagined government sponsored design organisation back when.

Spectral Studio’s output has included a fair amount of work for the Castles in Space record label, which if you’re not aware of it, is well worth checking out for its hauntological meets otherly pastoral orientated releases, which have included, amongst others, work by Pulselovers, The Soulless Party, The Heartwood Institute, Keith Seatman, Field Lines Cartographer, The Twelve Hour Foundation, Polypores, Concretism, Drew Mulholland and the Scarred for Life compilations. Nick Taylor has also produced designs for Buried Treasure’s The Delaware Road’s events, which have explored a not dissimilar and at times interconnected cultural landscape as Castles in Space.

In this post I’ve gathered together some of the Spectral Studio designs that have caught my eye and/or ear, over the last year or few, beginning with the dreamlike and almost hallucinatory artwork at the start of the post which accompanied Pulselovers’ eponymous 2016 album.

Above is the artwork for Tomorrow Syndicate’s VHS, released by Polytechnic Youth, which captures a sense of time and media gone by in all kinds of ways, and brings to mind the semi-forgotten landscape of video rental shops and also early 1980s computer game cassettes for sale in WH Smith.

The front cover design has a classic 1980s-esque grid pattern that was often used to indicate a futuristic aesthetic during that period, accompanied here by a certain cosmic sci-fi character, and the format of the release was on an actual VHS tape and case (accompanied by a download card for the videos).

The design for The Delaware Road Kelvedon Hatch map and guide booklet, an event organised by Alan Gubby of Buried Treasure which took place in 2017 at an underground decommissioned Cold War bunker and featured, amongst others, Radionics Radio, The Twelve Hour Foundation, Simon James, DJ Food, Howlround, Dolly Dolly and Concretism.

The images of the participants have had a circular halftoning applied, which has given them a sense of being hidden away electronic boffin explorers that fits the event well, while the cover images collage of disembodied eyes, tape reels, some kind of crystal etc all gathered together and positioned amongst geometric shapes brings to mind the intro sequence for a 1970s  British television series that never quite existed, a darker and more adult orientated flipside to the Tomorrow People perhaps.

The minimalist cover art and (in part unsettlingly redacted text) leaflet design for Simon James’ Akiha Den Den album, which is described as collecting “electronic music created for an abandoned space: Akiha Den Den, the crumbling amusement park at the centre of a surreal radio drama” and of which I have previously written:

“[The album] is part of a multilayered, interwoven project that includes an audio drama podcast and darkly ambient, Radiophonic and, at times, John Carpenter-esque ominous haunted electronica, combined with the sounds of dilapidated ghost train rides, the musings of a talking, thought-mining cockroach and a radio ham picking up the transmissions from Akiha Den Den, and which has been described in the text that accompanies the album as ‘a fever dream of radio waves and half heard transmissions’… Akiha Den Den… is what could be described an enigma wrapped in a riddle; one that you can only try and solve as you tumble down the darkening rabbit hole of the world it creates.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country: Straying From The Pathways, 2019.)

Logo, flier and postcard designs for the above mentioned Castles in Space label. The flier  in the middle has a particularly intriguing design, with the concentric patterned image recalling both the circles in a tree and also possibly a secret surveillance image of a moonscape, with the vintage computer punch tape design adding to the sense of it being part of some mysterious hidden away research and surveillance project.

Keith Seatman’s Time to Dream but Never Seen album, also released by Castles in Space, which in a post earlier this year I described as containing an atmosphere of vintage seaside days out via the time trap mysteries of Sapphire & Steel.

The accompanying art has a playful, kaleidoscopic and also subtly and vaguely unsettling folk art-ish character, and would not be out of place amongst the objects in the Black Eyes and Lemonade exhibition of popular/folk art which would not normally be included or displayed in a fine art gallery setting that took place in 1951 and was curated by Barbara Jones.

The Time to Dream… artwork could also sit alongside Barbara Jones’ Unsophisticated Arts book (1951, republished by Little Toller in 2013), which explored some similar areas:

“[Unsophisticated Arts told of Jones’] explorations in the 1940s of everyday art throughout Britain and which took in some similar subject matter to that in Folk Archive: fairgrounds, tattoo parlours, taxidermists, house- boats, high street shops, seaside piers and amusement arcades… Although it was intended as a recording of real life and day-to-day art, viewed now it provides a document of a fabled lost Britain; there is a certain whimsical fairytale like quality to the images of often ornately and elaborately decorated canal boat interiors, fairground rides, table cupboards etc.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields, 2018.)

The cover art and vinyl for Pulselovers’ Cotswold Stone album, again released by Castles in Space, the artwork for which has a notable found folk art-ish design.

In a previous post I described the album as “a rather lovely slice of gently hauntological pastorally inflected electronica (intertwined with more than a dash of traditional ‘organic’ instrumentation). It draws from Mat Handley of Pulselovers personal and sometimes hazy memories, not so much in a hauntologically melancholic manner but rather in a reflectively reverential and playful way”.

While text which accompanied the release said:

“[The album is a] meditation on the passing of time and the persistence of memory and is, in part, a reflective work of familial dedication and reverence. When taken in a single sitting these soundscapes create a strong overarching narrative that take you on a journey through the rolling hillsides of England… This is a very personal album and is an attempt to preserve the memories of a happy childhood where along with siblings and cousins, I spent a lot of time in the Oxfordshire town of Burford in the mists of time… Many of the titles are taken from road signs of towns and villages in the surrounding countryside, some of which I never actually visited but the words themselves trigger unspecific memories from those long 70’s summers: Cleeve Hill, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bradwell Grove and Moreton-In-Marsh don’t hold any particular place in my heart (though I do remember Bourton was a great place to feed the ducks and Auntie C’s ramshackle Bradwell Grove cottage was situated within the grounds of the Cotswold Wildlife Park), but the words themselves silently echo throughout the album like vaguely familiar ghosts, like rain on hot tarmac or lavender on a summer breeze.”

Some of the artwork for Field Lines Cartographer’s The Spectral Isles album, again released by Castles in Space. The artwork hints at hidden cartographies, which reflects the album’s intriguing concept that centres around an island called Hy Brasil:

“The Legend of Hy Brasil: Situated in the Atlantic, approximately two hundred miles off the west coast of Ireland, the island of Hy Brasil featured on maps from around 1325 until the mid 1800s. Legend has it that it was surrounded in mist, appearing only every seven years. It was long thought to be the home of an advanced mysterious ancient civilisation… Although often spotted by sailors, landing on Hy-Brasil proved elusive, though the Scottish sea captain, John Nisbet reports to have made land there in 1674. His expedition describes an island of large black rabbits and a stone castle, inhabited only by a strange magician… In a strange twist, the phantom island is linked to the infamous Rendlesham Forest UFO event of 1980. After touching the craft that reportedly landed in Suffolk, USAF Sergeant Jim Peniston describes telepathically receiving a 16 page binary code text. Many years later, this code was deciphered to reveal that it was a list of co-ordinates of ancient sites around the world including the pyramids of Giza, the Nazca lines in Peru…and the location mapped over centuries as being that of Hy Brasil.” (Quoted from text which accompanied the album’s release.)

The artwork for Drew Mullholland’s Three Antennas in a Quarry album, released by Buried Treasure, the cover art for which has a mysterious geological aspect that connects with the title. The album’s artwork also features a graphic score that electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire sent Drew Mulholland after they became friends in the late 1990s, which provided the inspiration for the album:

“[Delia Derbyshire] couldn’t remember what it was for but dated it vaguely as ‘the late ’60s’. In his sleeve notes Drew Mulholland talks of how she had provided him with a fragment of a recipe but no indication of what its ingredients were or what the intended sound sources were. He goes on to say that in order to create the album he began to ‘sketch with sound’ after studying enlargements of the score that he had pinned to his study wall. The subsequent album could be considered a ghost-like, will-o’-the-wisp interpreting of the score, and the spirit of Delia Derbyshire’s music.” (Quoted from the A Year In The Country post “The Radiophonic Workshop, Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society and Drew Mulholland – Sonic Archaeology and Electronic Explorations Inspired by Delia Derbyshire”.)

Jonathan Sharp’s (aka The Heartwood Institute) Divided Time album, again released by Castles In Space and about which at a previous post I wrote:

“This was inspired by a cache of faded 1970s family snapshots that he discovered and which have a particularly intriguing character – the cover image conjures a spectral pastoral sense and seems to have tumbled backwards and forwards in time and has an ‘I can’t quite place what era it’s from’ air to it.”

I’ll end this post with images from Nick Taylor’s Space Junk zine / magazine, which is possibly one of the most purely “otherly geometry” examples of his Spectral Studio work.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:


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Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner’s “The Miller’s Song” from the Bagpuss Soundtrack: Songs for A Year In The Country 23/26

Gently lilting, life affirming pastoral folk to soundtrack what Andy Votel of Finders Keeper’s records called a post-dinnertime “secret shop window” and the work of a beloved saggy old cloth cat and friends.




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Codename Icarus – Hidden Teatime Cold War Intrigues: Wanderings 23/26

As I have written elsewhere at A Year In The Country there is a strand of late 1960s to approximately early 1980s British children’s and young adult television drama that has become a hauntological and wyrd or otherly pastoral reference point due in part to its odd, unsettling and adult themes and atmospheres:

“For most of its history, children’s television has been childish. Shows with simplistic plots and large casts of children have long dominated the afternoon schedules… Yet during the 1970s, commissioners slowly began to experiment with more mature programming, bringing in adult themes in disguise through science fiction and fantasy shows such as Ace of Wands, The Tomorrow People and Timeslip… By the late ’70s and early ’80s, this pushing of boundaries meant it was possible to have a programme on children’s television that was firmly embedded in an adult genre, with mainly adult leads and adult dialogue, and for it still to be accepted as a children’s show.” (Quoted from “Lost Gems: Codename Icarus”, Rob Buckley,

As commented on by Andy Beckett and Roger Luckhurst in The Disruption booklet published in 2017, which I have discussed elsewhere, that explored The Changes (1975) dystopic television series which is part of the above strand, this pushing of boundaries may have been part of the wider sense of experimentation and liberalism that was present in society in the 1960s and 1970s and which came to be present, to a degree, in large scale cultural institutions such as the BBC.

Although not as prominent or well known as some of the above mentioned programmes and others which are part of this strand, such as The Owl Service (1969-1970) and Children of the Stones (1976), the BBC children’s drama Codename Icarus (1981) could also be considered to belong to it. Rather than being purely fantasy orientated it drew quite specifically from contemporary events in the real world and explored the Cold War and resulting arms race, around which tensions were heightened when the series was first broadcast.

(In this drawing from the real world Codename Icarus has parallels with the also slightly less well known 1979 young adult television series Noah’s Castle, which I have also discussed elsewhere, that could be grouped with this strand of television. This dealt with adult themes by extrapolating from contemporary societal problems to create a near future Britain plagued by hyperinflation, dysfunction and food shortages.)

Produced by the BBC and consisting of five half hour episodes, Codename Icarus was only rebroadcast once on British television in 1984, was released on VHS cassette in the UK by BBC video in 1985 and on DVD in 2006 by Home Vision Entertainment in the US. The DVD is out of print and at the time of writing the series has not been officially released to stream etc online.

The plot involves the supposedly benevolent privately funded Icarus Foundation, which headhunts the brightest teenage science pupils and free of charge provides them with a place in its international system of residential schools, where they are provided with the resources which will enable them and their work to flourish. One such pupil is Martin Smith, a mathematical physics prodigy who is misunderstood by the teachers in his conventional school, as they mistake his advanced abilities for arrogance and cheating. He accepts a place at the Icarus Foundation’s Falconleigh school, which is in an isolated rural location and overseen by the subtly eerie and creepy John Doll. Fairly quickly after arriving Martin begins to question the Foundation’s activities and becomes aware that he and his fellow pupils are being used to carry out research intended for military use. However he is unable to escape as in order to ensure the pupils remain compliant, keep them focused on their work and to stop them leaving they are subject to routine CCTV surveillance, brainwashing, hypnosis and given psychotropic drugs.

Accompanying events with Martin and at the school is an interwoven plot where submarine launched British nuclear missiles are destroyed during testing by some method unknown to the military and scientific communities. The British naval intelligence agent Andy Rutherford, who tries to investigate how this is being done and by who, thinks it may be the result of technology developed by a group working outside the known scientific community. He begins to suspect that the Icarus Foundation is involved but is met by high-level opposition within the apparatus of the state and intelligence services when he tries to investigate the Foundation. He is subsequently suspended, apparently due to directives from those high levels, with the intention of stopping his “meddling”, after which he begins his own unauthorised investigation. He infiltrates Falconleigh by posing as a tutor, discovers it is behind the missiles’ destruction and attempts to stop its schemes and rescue Martin.

Visually the series has aged fairly well as, although loosely science fiction orientated in subject, it does not feature much in the way of special effects, the use of which can often cause programmes to appear dated, particularly when produced with relatively limited budgets, as much of British children and young adult genre television was in the 1970s and 1980s. Imagery of submarines, missiles, explosions etc in Codename Icarus utilise pre-existing real world footage which, while it jars slightly due to it having a different visual appearance to other sections in the series, means that the depiction of them avoids the use of potentially dating special effects. Also the series largely appears to have been shot on location, which avoids the “wobbly studio sets” that was prevalent in much British genre television in the 1970s and early 1980s. Alongside this the technology featured in the series, such as the computers Martin uses, are generally of real world commercial origin, which means that, while they decidedly belong to their period, they sidestep the “futuristic banks of flashing lights and high-tech gizmos” that can cause series to appear more unrealistically dated.

(As an aside, Martin has his own professional level personal computer in his room at Falconleigh, which in the early 1980s, when such devices were still relatively expensive and rare in homes and schools, may have seemed like a notable indicator to viewers of the Icarus Foundation’s ability and willingness to provide considerable resources for its pupils.)

The series was written by Richard Cooper, who also wrote the novelisation released in the same year as its first broadcast, and directed by Marilyn Fox, both of whom worked on other television series which intersect with the above mentioned strand of British children’s television which had surprisingly odd and adult themes. Cooper also wrote children’s drama series Knights of God (1987), in which a future Britain that combines elements of rural Medieval-like life and futurism is ruled by an oppressive militaristic religious order that utilises brainwashing “re-education camps”, from which two teenagers escape and join a quest to find the rightful King of England and restore democracy. Fox also directed the one off children’s drama The Bells of Astercote (1980), in which two young children discover a man in the local woods who is protecting an ancient chalice that he believes is keeping at bay an ancient pestilence which once wiped out the nearby village of Astercote.

(The Bells of Astercote was written by Penelope Lively, who also wrote the 1971 young adult novel The Wild Hunt of Hagworth, which focuses around the revival of ancient folklore rituals in contemporary times and can be considered to be part of a strand of work from around that time which explored similar themes and which is discussed further in the post “Shadows Episode “The Inheritance” and the Layering of Ancient Folklore and Myth – see link below.)

At times the above mentioned strand of television intersects with some of the tropes of folk horror in that rural settings are depicted as having a flipside to their more bucolic aspects. As part of this in folk horror such locations are used and depicted as places which contain or allow for hidden layered or preternatural stories and/or actions which variously sidestep, skew, transgress and stand apart from conventional wider society’s beliefs. These actions and subsequent events are often facilitated by the isolated nature of the rural settings. A number of these aspects are present in Codename Icarus; as referred to previously Falconleigh is situated in an isolated rural setting, more specifically in a grand mansion style house with extensive, well-kept, beautiful and idyllic gardens. Here the Icarus Foundation are able to sequester their pupils from the world and avoid potential questions about its methods, although this isolation is cloaked as being for the pupils’ benefit in order that they can concentrate on their work, and acceptable norms of behaviour are able to be cast aside.

The Icarus Foundation is depicted as a quietly efficient and ruthless organisation which in the pursuit of its goals appears to be driven by a belief that the end justifies the means, whatever the cost to people or nature. This is particularly heightened in a section when Martin, who is a keen birdwatcher, observes a bird flying over the school gardens, which is intercut with scenes of the Foundation demonstrating the weapon technology it has created to Soviet military officers by destroying an aeroplane as it flies across the sky. The plane crashes into the sea and the bird suddenly plummets from the sky after flying over a semi-hidden building in the gardens of Falconleigh (which is later revealed to contain weapons development related experimental equipment that caused the bird’s death). Martin runs to the fallen bird and finds it dead, those involved in the military technology demonstration are shown congratulating one another on a job well done and this then segues into Martin stroking the dead bird before silently screaming and the episode abruptly ends on this unnerving image.

There are number of other sections of the series which make for unsettling viewing, particularly scenes related to the brainwashing of pupils at Falconleigh. They are repeatedly summoned to a squash court, which is empty apart from a table and chairs, where they take part in “The Game” with their assigned tutor. During this they are subject to a form of brainwashing or gaslighting whereby they come to question the truth of what they have seen or believe if it is likely to threaten the furtherance of the Foundation’s aims. Through the mental manipulation of The Game, and elsewhere the use of deep hypnosis and drugs, it is instilled in the pupils that the only safe place for them and their work is Falconleigh and when necessary they are induced to work until they drop.

Accompanying this there is a sense of the corruption and exploitation of nature, as part of this process of brainwashing involves, in Martin’s case, the use of ominous aggressive bird caws, recordings of which are embedded in his mind by his controllers at Falconleigh and are triggered in a terrifying hallucinatory manner by the stone bird ornaments at Falconleigh’s gates. This stops him from being able to escape and creates a hidden from view and non-physically violent but nonetheless effective form of incarceration which, as with “The Game”, is somewhat unsettlingly depicted.

The unsettling aspects of the series are given a real world connection and heightening due to the contribution and background of author and academic Professor John Taylor, who is listed in the credits as providing scientific advice. Although precisely what he advised on is not made clear, it may have been connected with the area of mathematical physics that Martin works on in Codename Icarus, as this was one of the areas that Taylor worked in during his career, alongside a wide-ranging number of subjects, which also included research into scientific explanations for the paranormal.

It is also possible that Taylor’s advice was on the subject of mind control, as he was the author of The Shape of Minds to Come: A Startling Report on the Mind Mechanics of the Future, which was originally published in Britain in 1971 by the independent publishing company Michael Joseph and reissued in 1974 by the high profile mainstream commercial publishers Penguin. In this book Taylor considered how developments in the future would allow for the modification of the brain, moods and increase in intellect. Although it presented a more optimistic view than is present in Codename Icarus of the reasons for and ways that the mind could potentially be controlled or enhanced, a number of its subjects intersect with the brainwashing methods used by The Icarus Foundation:

“With a happy hedonistic grin Professor Taylor predicts that in the not-too-distant future… electrodes [will be] placed in the… reward centers of the brain. A wide range of human drives and moods – sleep, hallucinations, aggression… will be ‘packed and sold across the counter’… Dr. Taylor is hopeful that chemistry and electricity can wipe out criminality, disease and stupidity. Human self-awareness is destined to multiply exponentially as carefully controlled foetal environments, infant brain grafts, memory pills and the preservation of disembodied brains raise the level of human intellect individually and collectively… Dr. Taylor’s book incorporates a good deal of the most recent research in biochemistry, hypnotism and psychology sandwiched in between his startling conclusions… Taylor remains an optimist as to the nature of society and politics after the mental revolution… ” (Quoted from “The Shape of Minds to Come”,, author and date unknown.)

There is a perhaps unintended comment in Codename Icarus on British Northern (or at least non-London and Home Counties) working class authenticity and morality versus British Southern and related metropolitan privilege and corruption. Reflecting this Martin’s suspicions about The Icarus Foundation’s motives seem initially to stem more from a distrust of its privilege aping and “airy fairy” nonconventional liberal ways, rather than being based in anything he has discovered about its activities (the pupils are formally served their food by white clad waiters in an opulently decorated dining room, they are called “sir” by their tutors, who they are instructed to call by their surname, due to the pupils’ supposed intellectual superiority and so on). Martin also has a notable Northern accent and his personality is abrasive, rebellious, aggressively and bluntly confident and no nonsense in a manner not dissimilar to a more brattish teenage take on the “angry young men” of 1960s British New Wave cinema.

A number of similarities can also be noted between Codename Icarus and the iconic television series The Prisoner (1967-1968). In both a central abrasive and rebellious character does battle with a hierarchical organisation, which on the surface appears benevolent but which is actually controlling and sinister. Also in both the central character is incarcerated in an isolated and initially idyllic seeming rural and/or coastal community and subject to near omnipresent surveillance, and the “organisation” uses mind control techniques on their “prisoner”, which includes mental manipulation and the administering of psychotropic drugs when they are asleep in order to bend them to its will.

In Codename Icarus, Martin does not come from a privileged background and before entering Falconleigh School he is shown as living in a very normal working class area. This is in marked contrast to the Falconleigh school which, as previously mentioned, is situated in a country mansion house and idyllic gardens and its controller’s office, which is decorated in a classical near aristocratic manner. Martin’s background, demeanour and accent is also at odds with the non-region specific accents of a number of the duplicitous characters in the series and also the arrogant smugness and upper middle class manners of a high ranking member of the intelligence community who is the intelligence agent Rutherford’s superior. Martin’s motivations throughout are shown to be, albeit possibly somewhat naively, pure in intention, whereas this often does not seem to be so with regards to those he meets who are from different backgrounds.

Martin describes the work the Icarus Foundation have him doing as being on a path towards and pushing at the door of something dreadful, and that when it opens there will be nothing there or “maybe it will be the end of the world”. He realises that he is working on the theoretical basis for a quark super bomb that will be capable of wiping out not just cities but whole continents. Due to his uniquely advanced and prodigious grasp of mathematical physics, which will enable the development of this bomb, he becomes the most important and valuable pupil and “asset” of The Icarus Foundation, which expends considerable effort, including further extensive brainwashing, in order to keep him both focused on his work and to prevent him from leaving.

Throughout Martin aggressively and unswervingly attempts to defend the purity of his theoretical mathematical physics work and berates those who cannot see its beauty (this includes a teacher at his former conventional school, of whom he says showing him his work would be like giving flowers to an ape). As the series progresses he becomes caught in a set of moral quandaries due to him being driven to complete his work, which he does not seem to be able to stop even when he is helped to escape from Falconleigh by Rutherford and his accomplice rogue helpers, but at the same time he knows that it, as with much of scientific knowledge, could be utilised for both good and bad.

Codename Icarus does not present a well-defined good versus bad view of science nor the series’ protagonists and the states and alliances involved in the Cold War. Rather these various sides and protagonists are shown to be morally complex and at times to be involved in a murky and morally ambiguous world that might be more expected to be found in the likes of BBC adult orientated dramas from a similar period, such as nuclear conspiracy thriller Edge of Darkness (1985) and the labyrinthine Cold War espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), rather than children’s or young adult television.

In both of those series there is a paranoid hall of mirrors sense of not knowing who you can trust, who holds what knowledge or what the motives are of those involved in the intelligence services and hierarchies of power. Also, particularly in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there is an accompanying sense that these hierarchies etc have been deeply infiltrated and corrupted by those they are intended to be working actively against or to control, and also that there is a refusal within them to accept that “one of their own” or those in positions of power within that hierarchy could possibly be duplicitously working for the “other” or “wrong” side.

Similar aspects can be found in Codename Icarus; the Icarus Foundation has gained hidden influence and control at high levels of society’s hierarchy, Rutherford thinks he is working independently after he has been suspended by naval intelligence but eventually is told by his controller that they knew what he was doing all the time and so on.

All three of these series draw from and reflect the times of their making and the real world background of fear, paranoia and distrust engendered by the Cold War and also, particularly in the case of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the post Second World War infiltration of the British intelligence services by what has become known as “the Cambridge spy ring”. (Footnote 6)

This “ring” and the resulting scandal when several of its members activities were exposed and they defected to the Soviet Union in the early 1950s and 1960s are specifically referred to in Codename Icarus; Rutherford discusses with a superior the way his investigations are being frustrated due to his suggestion that the Icarus Foundation and its creation of special schools for the gifted is anything but benevolent being met with disbelief by those in positions of power. His superior replies jokingly “Who, one wonders, is the ‘fourth nanny’? Will she ever be unmasked?”

This is a direct reference to the Cambridge spy ring’s mysterious fourth man, who was offered immunity and secrecy in exchange for revealing details of the ring’s activities to the British intelligence services and whose identity remained unknown to the general public until 1979, only slightly prior to Codename Icarus’ first broadcast, when he was revealed to be Anthony Blunt.

The subjectivity and ambiguity of being on the “right side” is explored in Codename Icarus when Rutherford attempts to tell Martin that he will make sure his work will not be seen by the wrong people. Martin challenges him, and the unspoken moral assumption that the wrong people would be anybody but the Western alliance, by merely saying “And you’d decide that? But the bomb would still get made, wouldn’t it?” To which Rutherford has no answer.

The series is less ambiguous in regards to the Cold War arms race. This is notably highlighted when a Russian military officer comments to Froelich, the founder and patron of The Icarus Foundation, that the technology the Foundation has created, which can destroy nuclear missiles after they have launched, has rendered the money spent by the West on them a waste. Froelich replies with a heavy heart “It’s all a waste of money. A never ending game of leapfrog.” However such lack of ambiguity in the series is relatively rare, and some of the final scenes add a particularly complex layering of moral questions and stances.

At the end of the fourth episode Martin, and a female pupil with whom he has grown close and shared his discoveries about the true nature of the Icarus Foundation, are helped to escape from Falconleigh by Rutherford, his accomplices and Martin’s brother (who came to the school after being concerned about not hearing from him). Martin is only briefly free as he returns to Falconleigh after coming into contact with his former tutor, who taps into and utilises the ideas he previously embedded in Martin via brainwashing in order to impel him to do so.

There is a subsequent confrontation between Martin and the Icarus Foundation’s founder Froelich, which again takes place in the empty squash court, the location of “The Game”. Froelich reveals that he uses the scientific research carried out by the pupils to create weapons, which he sells first to one side of those involved in the Cold War, and then the opposing side. He talks of how he does this in order to effectively control the world and its conflicts by ensuring that no side has the upper hand, causing the different sides to “sweat in a dance of fear”.

His actions and the Cold War conflict are given a deeper historical founding, and moral complexity, when he describes to Martin how he too had been a mathematical physics child prodigy. Froelich emotively relates how his experiences during the Second World War, when he falsified his research that the German state were attempting to use in order to build a nuclear weapon, left him with a hatred of men in power and disgust that they would sully science with such intentions. It also caused him to lose his “gift” in physics, as he had not followed his role as a scientific “teller of truth”.

He goes on to talk of how this led him to found The Icarus Foundation, which would nurture the gift of scientific ability in others, funding it by the sale of the results of their work in developing the theories which underpinned and could help develop weapons (although he does not acknowledge the somewhat perverse nature of this).

Froelich tells of how the eventual destination of his work with the Icarus Foundation is the quark bomb that is intended to be the “final solution”, the ultimate mutually assured destruction deterrent weapon, which he thinks Martin has the ability to be the creator of:

“We have all the power of history in our hands. You and I. We can make the world beautiful, perfect.”

To which Martin replies, still clinging on to his optimistic view of his work and the use of science:

“And I know what kind of world it would be. Like Falconleigh, where everything seems perfect but everyone’s watched, controlled, doing what we decide. You used science to kill the birds. Now you want to kill men. Kill them inside. I want to use science to make men free. I want a world where they can fly.”

This discussion, as with the series as a whole, grapples with some very complex moral questions: a youthful scientific research prodigy who has lived through and experienced first hand the actions of the German state during the Second World War goes on to attempt to stop future outright conflict and abuses of power; he does this by setting up an organisation that – unbeknownst to them, their parents or the wider world – utilises the abilities of school age children, and when necessary brainwashes them, in order to develop weapons that are sold to all sides to maintain the balance of power; the proceeds of these sales are cyclically used to nurture the abilities of those children and therefore develop more weapons; this subsequently heightens the level of threat by developing ever more powerful weapons and fuelling the arms race.

Accompanying these already complex themes is a debate around the origin of intellect and its possessor’s duties towards it:

“Martin’s intellect is presented as a gift almost from God that cannot be wasted – [Froelich describes it as] ‘A tiny glimmer of light in a great darkness’. He has to act according to the rules of the gift or else it will be taken from him.” (Quoted from “Lost Gems: Codename Icarus”, as above.)

Those rules seem to include following it wherever it needs or can go, whatever the consequences, even if they mean creating theories which lead to a weapon that could destroy all of civilisation.

The questions raised in the series with regards to the ends justifying the means in terms of the morals of scientific research, which side is the “good side” etc are quite dizzyingly complex and ambiguous, particularly when put in the context of the series’ intended young tea time audience (it was broadcast on week nights around 5pm).

The drama ends in an open-ended manner; the police and intelligence agents arrive en masse to apprehend Froelich, and Martin is shown running across Falconleigh’s gardens to embrace his fellow escapee and his brother, who have arrived with the authorities. This then segues into a bird flying which fades into an aerial view of rural fields.

This ambiguous ending implies that Martin’s idealism is unlikely to end any time soon but also that it contains a moral naivety at odds with reality. In the context of the Cold War arms race, it is unlikely that his own Western “side” of the conflict will be prepared to merely let slip away the military and political strategic advantage that his ability in mathematical physics may provide. The embrace with his friend and brother may well just be a brief moment of normality before he is plunged into a further murky world of political power battles and moral quandaries which will seek to use, and possibly corrupt, the science and seeking of knowledge which he holds so dear.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:


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Steeleye Span’s “All Around My Hat”: Songs for A Year In The Country 22/26

Folk goes pop by way of The Wombles. A version of the sung produced by Mike Batt, who also created The Wombles’ band, and was a top five hit back in 1975, just after The Wombles had albums in the UK charts for more weeks than any other act in 1974. Blimey.




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The Wicker Man Cinefantastique Issue – Reclaiming a Folkloric Behemoth: Wanderings 22/26

Although The Wicker Man’s original release and related reviews were limited and patchwork, over the decades it has gained a higher profile and critical appreciation, and since around 2010 it has come to be one of the main reference points for the loose genre of folk horror and wyrd or otherly pastoral culture. A prominent landmark in this process was the publication in America during October 1977 of a special issue largely devoted to The Wicker Man of the science fiction, fantasy and horror film magazine Cinefantastique, which is quoted from in this chapter. This was published just prior to the cinema re-release of the shorter Theatrical version of the film in America, and approximately a year before the premiere, also in America, of a longer version in September 1978, and the issue’s editorial presciently predicts the growth of interest and critical appreciation of The Wicker Man:

“[It’s] reputation can only grow over the years. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be among the first to champion the film in the United States, for I think the test of time will show that The Wicker Man is the Citizen Kane of horror films.” (Quoted from “Sense of Wonder”, Frederick S. Clarke, Cinefantastique, Volume 6 Number 3, 1977.)

(This reference to Orson Welles’ 1941 film Citizen Kane is notable as it attempts to place The Wicker Man alongside the very height of critically and publicly acclaimed films, as Citizen Kane is considered by many to be the greatest film ever made and has repeatedly topped lists of the best films.)

In this issue The Wicker Man was the only film pictured or mentioned on the front and back cover and of the 46 inner pages 34 were taken up by a long article written by David Bartholomew on The Wicker Man and colour and black and white photographs from the film and its production. Also the index page’s background was a photograph of the wicker man pyre from the film and the text on the editorial page focused on the film.

The main long article was based in part on interviews with the abovementioned director Robin Hardy, Christopher Lee who played Lord Summer Isle, Anthony Shaffer who wrote the screenplay, the soundtrack composer Paul Giovanni, producer Peter Snell and also Stirling Smith and David Blake who were involved in the film’s American distribution.

The article opens with details of the cast and crew and then is split into sections numbered in a Biblical or Roman numeral style. These included I: The Film – a review of the film and overview of its plots; II: Genesis – details of the project’s initial development, the writing of the script and finding a backer; III: Research and Background – details of the research carried out which created the background and underpinning of the script; IV: The Screenplay – Anthony Shaffer’s background and views on the screenplay and the horror film genre; V: Production – details of the actual filming; VI: Lord Summerisle – Christopher Lee and other’s views on his character; VII: The Music – extensive background details on the soundtrack that draw from an interview with Paul Giovanni; VIII: Aftermath – the film’s troubled release and eventual re-release in America.

This extensive article predates and is a forebear to Allan Brown’s book Inside The Wicker Man (2000, 2010), which focused on the film, and the issue was unusual at the time, and in large part still is, due to the way that it dedicated so much space within a magazine to one particular film, and in that sense it anticipates the contemporary trend for one-off “bookazines” released by magazine publishers which focus on a particular musician, area of film etc.

It is also unusual in the way that it gave a (nominally) horror genre film a level of critical appreciation that this area of film was at the time normally precluded from.

The amount of detail and information contained in the magazine is quite astonishing, particularly considering that it was produced prior to internet access, and so to discover details of the company buyouts and the film’s production etc featured in it, if they were not supplied by the interviewees, is likely to have involved a taxing and rigorous process of investigation.

Physical copies are now fairly rare and can cost anything from approximately £8 to over £100, although links to a PDF scan of the entire magazine and a text only transcript of the article can be found at The Wicker Man (1973) Wiki archival fan site. The magazine and article are well worth seeking out as a unique part of the film’s history and rehabilitation, and also for its both concise and in-depth exploration of the background, production, themes and inspiration of the film.

It reveals the depth of research into ancient folklore, traditions and beliefs which underpin The Wicker Man and its world, alongside the experiences of its creators which may have gone on to influence the film. This includes the following quote from its director Robin Hardy which, although not directly referred to in the article, seems to mirror and possibly informed how the islanders’ treatment of Howie is depicted in The Wicker Man:

“[In the later 1960s] we were filming in the Cornwall area, and one evening we went into Padstow for dinner. Now that is a village where these [tradition folk] festivals are still held, and quite by accident we stumbled right on to it. We saw the hobby-horse chasing the girls [as shown in The Wicker Man], everything. But they had seemed to put up a wall of evasion about it. And it was very unpleasant being a stranger in that town on that day.” (Quoted from “The Wicker Man”, David Bartholomew, Cinefantastique, Volume 6 Number 3, 1977.)



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country (well, a few of such things, I expect there are more):


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Burial’s “Nightmarket” from Tunes 2011-2019: Songs for A Year In The Country 21/26

The soundtrack to a fractured urban landscape… spectres of spectres of dreams and hopes lost in a soundscape awash with static..




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The Mind Beyond Episode “Stones” – Activating Preternatural Ancient Defence Mechanisms: Wanderings 21/26

“Stones” is an episode of the BBC 2 supernatural anthology television drama series The Mind Beyond that was broadcast in 1976, which in itself was part of the BBC2 Playhouse series of one-hour dramas that ran from 1974 until 1983.

The episode was written by Malcolm Christopher, which is a joint pseudonym for Malcolm Bradbury and Christopher Bigsby, and was adapted as a short story by the series’ producer Irene Shubik that was included in a tie-in anthology book of the stories from the series that she edited, which was also called The Mind Beyond (1976).

The Mind Beyond series consisted of six episodes and was only broadcast once on British television and has not received an official home physical media or online streaming etc release, although copies are held by the BFI’s National Archive and are available for private viewing at their onsite facilities. Some of the episodes have been unofficially distributed as versions with degraded quality video online, the original source for a number of which, including “Stones”, is likely to have been internal studio copies, as they feature time codes throughout their running time.

In “Stones” an academic at Oxford University called Nicholas Reeve, who studies ancient stone based languages and cultures, clashes with a government minister, who plans to move the ancient stone circle Stonehenge from its rural location of Salisbury Plain to the urban setting of Hyde Park in central London in order to boost tourism, with Reeve being strongly against its moving. Reeve’s wife Anne was romantically involved with the minister when the three of them were at university together and she despairs at her husband’s narrow academic focus and lack of drive, particularly when compared with the minister.

Reeve becomes obsessed with symbols hidden under the binding of the first in a set of three rare 17th century books on Stonehenge, that he discovers after the cover comes off the book when it has fallen from a shelf in his study in a possibly preternatural manner that may have been instigated by his teenage daughter while she is in a trance-like state. He thinks the symbols could be part of an ancient language and sets out to investigate their meaning. Running parallel with this his daughter Vanessa’s sleep has become unsettled and she cries out the names Pierre and Sian in her sleep, and at points she seems to be having some form of waking visions or even possession that revolve around ancient stones and her father’s rare book on Stonehenge. This all sets the stage for an exploration in the drama’s story of ancient stone circles and sites of standing stones having some kind of preternatural power and influence on the world.

The themes of “Stones” places it alongside other films and television that have become hauntological, folk horror, wyrd and otherly pastoral reference points and in which ancient stone circles and standing stones appear, and are sometimes central to their stories. These include, amongst others, the final series of Quatermass (1979), in which ancient stone circles act as gathering points for an extraterrestrial presence to harvest the world’s youth; Psychomania (1973), where undead bikers respawn from the “Seven Witches” stone circle; and Children of the Stones (1977), in which a village situated around a stone circle is caught in a time rift and the stones are used to harness the power of a black hole in order to keep the villagers docile and controlled.

In such productions the ancient stone structures and sites are used as markers of hidden and preternatural stories in the landscape and it has been suggested their recurrence in related work is due in part to them:

“[Possessing] an atmospheric sense of the eerie, drawing on ties to the ancient and the otherworldly… [they] represent the ultimate figure in the landscape, hinting at ancient human presence while also suggesting more macabre, unearthly forces at work.” (Quoted from “Stone circles: 10 staggering standing-stones on screen”, Adam Scovell,, 2018.)

Accompanying which they contain an inherent and ongoing sense of mystery as, despite them being built in thousands of locations around the world and there having been centuries of research and debate around them, their purpose is often not known. It has often been suggested that they were connected with astronomy, as many of them can be matched with the positions of stars and the rise and fall of the sun and moon and/or that they were places of religious worship. However, as referred to in both the television and short story adaptation of “Stones”, the latter of which the below is a quote from, there have been a multitude of explanations as to their purpose, a number of which may be considered somewhat outlandish or at least at a remove from conventional science, history, beliefs etc:

“After all no one had ever explained the meaning of [Stonehenge]. One minute it was a Roman Temple, then a Danish burial ground, a Druid place of sacrifice, an English pyramid, a launchpad for spaceships, a radio telescope, an intergalactic signal… the latest theory was that it was a simple old communal centre.”

While elsewhere in “Stones” it is suggested that ancient standing stones and stone circles were:

“A secret tree alphabet, the consonants were months, the vowels solstices. A secret worship alphabet, an organic alphabet, not like our rational ABC, QED.”

“Stones” is at heart an exploration of the further flung, less conventional or more “outlandish” beliefs around stone circles and standing stones, in particular their ability to influence the world and people. This is expressed quite overtly in a heated debate between Reeve and the minister at a formal dinner party about Stonehenge, its planned moving, importance etc, when Reeve says:

“Now it is entirely possible the whole thing has a magnetic field that in some mysterious way influenced the development of our culture and has shaped worship and knowledge. Even influenced the acts of individuals. And for all we know still does.”

At this point the drama wanders into very Nigel Kneale-esque territory, as it connects with, and possibly even draws quite directly from, one of the themes of the influential science fiction television drama series Quatermass and the Pit (1958-1959) that Kneale wrote, in which a buried ancient alien spacecraft and the race that created it are discovered to have been influencing human behaviour for many millennia.

In Quatermass and the Pit it is implied that some of mankind’s religious and mythical imagery, such as that of devils, may in fact have originated with images of these aliens and their god-like powers. In a similar manner in “Stones” it is, albeit less implicitly, implied that there is a connection between standing stones, alien forces and god-like beings. This inference is made both in the previously mentioned suggestion that they might be launchpads for spaceships, a radio telescope or an intergalactic signal, and also when the bookseller who sold Reeve his copy of the rare book on Stonehenge quotes the books, in which he says it is written that “Learned men came from elsewhere and a built a stone language to speak to the gods”, which could be interpreted as a reference to visitors from far afield on the Earth or possibly elsewhere in the universe.

As the story of “Stones” progresses ancient stones and the symbols on the rare book’s spine seem to gain ever more sway over Reeve’s life and his rationality. Obsessively and to the exclusion of almost all else he is driven to discover the meaning of the symbols, alongside which in her earlier mentioned trance-like states his daughter becomes repeatedly drawn to the book and also paints silhouettes, which may be similar to the symbols in the book and/or sections of a stone circle, that she sticks to the walls of their home.

(As an aside, in relation to these paintings, Reeve’s obsession with the symbols and the potential extraterrestrial aspects, the drama forebears the renowned and commercially successful science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which was released in 1977 the year after “Stones” was broadcast. In that film two of the main characters become obsessed with making models and sketches of a particular location, which has been implanted in their minds through their contact with UFOS, and that they are impelled by this implanting to visit.)

A side effect of Reeve’s obsessive quest and his narrow focus, and also the resultant neglecting of his family that his wife accuses him of, is that he overlooks what is literally under his nose at home, i.e. the paintings his daughter does which may connect with the symbol’s meaning.

He also begins to act increasingly irrationally and reflecting this in the British Library he rips the cover off one of the books in the only other known set of the rare Stonehenge books, and is banned and threatened with prosecution. He also resorts to petty thievery, as when he is visiting the bookseller who sold him his volume of the book set, he steals a photograph of the bookseller’s which has similar symbols to those on Reeve’s rare book on its reverse. Then when he returns home he discovers that his copy of the book has mysteriously disappeared from a locked drawer.

Largely the play features interior scenes but this changes when Reeve goes to visit Caradoc Hobbes, who bought one of the other volumes in the rare set of books. Hobbes lives in rural Wales, near the Pentre Ifan ancient standing stone monument (that as with Stonehenge exists in the real world), which Hobbes’s daughter Sian, who appears to be a similar age as Reeve’s daughter, is shown standing amongst. As Reeve and Hobbes walk across the open landscape and towards the stones Hobbes reveals that his copy of the book has also gone missing, possibly overnight, although he does not know how.

As with a number of other unofficially distributed copies of television programmes from a similar period, such as some episodes of Leap in the Dark which are discussed elsewhere in the book, the degraded quality of the video adds, for a brief moment, an extra eerie and preternatural quality to the story. Hobbes’s daughter is wearing a shawl and this, coupled with the video’s low quality reproduction, makes her at first appear to be some kind of hooded almost grim reaper-esque or wraith-like figure.

When Reeve returns home his wife Anne is distraught as their daughter has gone missing from school and he realises that the name Sian his daughter was crying out during her disturbed sleep is the same as Hobbes’s daughter’s. Sian is then pictured physically touching the Pentre Ifan stones, after which it is discovered she is missing also. Hobbes then arrives at the Reeve’s home and in a discussion between him, them and a police inspector he says that their daughters may have been in touch via psychokinesis and that he knows Sian is psychic and encouraged these abilities in her. When the inspector tries to refute this, describing such abilities as being merely stage performance, he is promptly refuted by Hobbes:

“No inspector the old rational code is dying. We are less ordinary than we think. And a lot of people are finding that out and expanding their consciousness.”

Nobody at the Reeve’s seems to resolutely take issue with this and they all even appear largely to readily accept such explanations as rational. This is notable in part because those present – Hobbes, the Reeves, the police inspector – are middle aged or older, are not dressed eccentrically and, although Hobbes is slightly more eccentric in character, the Reeves appear quite “normal” and live an apparently respectable middle class life. They are far removed from stereotypical ideas that people who are interested in or accept such ideas are more likely to dress or act in a mystical, hippie, alternative or new age manner and/or be part of the more youthful sections of society.

The ready acceptance of the paranormal by them in the drama could be considered a reflection of a growth of interest in such topics throughout society and in the media during the 1960s and 1970s, which has been described as a “psychic boom”. Accompanying this more topical growth of interest Irene Shubik suggests in her introduction to The Mind Beyond tie-in anthology book that such interests have longstanding roots:

“The common theme of these stories is one as old as mankind. The need to explore what lies beyond the world of our normal and rational experience; to explain sensations we have all felt, not through sight or hearing or any usual sense, but through a facet of the mind or soul beyond these… The idea of a collective soul and of the extra sensitivity of some members of the collective to perceive and communicate with others, even sometimes after death, runs through the stories.”

Further connecting “Stones” to the “psychic boom” of the 1960s and 1970s, in the drama Hobbes gives credence to another mystic orientated concept, that of triangles acting as an energy portal. During the discussions about their missing daughters he and Reeve come to realise that the third in the rare Stonehenge book set was bought by somebody who lived in France, near another set of ancient standing stones known as Carnac stones (which is a “stone corridor” that exists in the real world). As Hobbes forms a triangle with his hand through which he views a painting of Stonehenge in the Reeve’s home he says:

“The forming of the triangle. Carnac, Pentre Ifan and Stonehenge.”

Their daughters and a third child, a young boy who is later revealed to be French and also the Pierre whose name the Reeve’s daughter cried out in her sleep, are all subsequently shown to have arrived at Stonehenge, with it seeming as though in some unknown way the triangle of ancient stone sites have transported them there.

Also it is unspokenly implied that Reeves and Hobbes have deduced this is where they have gone.

The trio each have one volume of the rare Stonehenge book set and seem to be in a trance-like state, and once all the book’s covers have been removed by them all three of the book’s spines are revealed to have similar symbols on them. As suggested by Hobbes each of the trio have effectively become one point of a “mystic triangle” in terms of the ancient stone sites that are near to where they have come from, locations that are also where the symbol containing books somehow, through an unknown process that now seems to be more than coincidence, came to be located. After silently embracing the stones the trio act as one to perform some kind of ritual, with the codes on the books seeming to act as a form of mysterious and unexplained set of magic runes or spells (or in more modern-day language, a three part activation code).

Their ritual utilises the way the stones interact with the sun and cosmos, and as the trio move the books in the air with their spines facing skywards the sun shines dazzlingly through the stones. This is somehow transferred to blind the minister who wished to move Stonehenge to London as he drives his car, which he then loses control of and is killed. Once their ritual and its outcome are complete all three of the trio collapse, although when Reeve and Hobbes arrive to find them they appear unharmed.

Reeve’s wife Anne is, of course, greatly relieved when he phones to tell her their daughter is okay, but when she prepares her daughter’s bedroom for her return she discovers a photograph of Reeves, his wife and the minister from their time together at university under the pillow. The minister’s face is crossed out, which puzzles and worries her, more so when she then hears on the radio of the minister’s death.

The play concludes in an open-ended manner, with much being left unexplained. Anne sits down in her husband’s study and listens to some of his notes for his next book, where he says:

“Stone monuments and curses go together. One man who tried to sell [Stonehenge] ended his days in a madhouse. The air force officer who wanted to move it flew into a hillside. And these stories go back… there are the barrows where Stonehenge bluestones are found inside the corpses. A magic power? A curse?”

The final image is of a minimalist framed painting of Stonehenge pictured when it was complete, casting dark shadows across the land around it.

Although not explicitly stated in the play, it is possible that similar rituals as the young trio were impelled by some mysterious force to perform in order to protect Stonehenge had been carried out before. The photograph which Reeve stole from the booksellers who sold him the rare book on Stonehenge, and which as said previously had similar symbols on the back to those on his rare book’s spine, was of a young woman in front of Stonehenge. It is described in the drama as dating from around the First World War, which is also when the abovementioned air force officer who wished to move Stonehenge was killed. Was the photograph also part of a “mystic triangle”, an ancient activation code which was used to harness the power of the stones and the sun in order to blind the air force officer and prevent his plans?

In the drama it does not seem so much that ancients stone circles etc are cursed but rather that through some unexplained process they are able to communicate across long distances, transport humans and influence them to carry out an activation ritual which removes threats to the stones.

Why do the stones have the need to do this? Are they sentient in some way? Part of some vast mechanism that operates outside the bounds of conventional scientific knowledge? Are they part of some god-like or extraterrestrial beings’ plans?

Reeve is drawn to the symbols but for some reason he does not seem to be able to fully connect with them or the stones’ power and influence. Is this due to his age and does this therefore imply that those of a younger age are chosen to enact the ritual at Stonehenge because they are more receptive to these mysterious processes and powers? The drama leaves all this for the viewer to wonder about.

Due to its themes and its broadcast in 1976, “Stones” could be seen as an accidental prequel for the earlier mentioned final series of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass that was broadcast in 1979. In this, as said previously, ancient stone circles become gathering places at which some unknown extraterrestrial force harvests the world’s young people, who are being influenced in some way by this force to cast aside conventional society and become hippie-like wandering “Planet People” that are drawn to such sites, believing that this harvesting is a form of redemption during which they leave the Earth. The ancient stone monuments appear to be markers for this “reaping”, and they were possibly put in place due to the extraterrestrial force influencing humans to do so in ancient times.

That it only seems to be the younger sections of society who are drawn to these sites in Quatermass connects with how in “Stones” the mysterious forces at play choose and/or affect the younger characters more than Reeve, and it also connects with Reeve’s suggestion that ancient stones may act to influence human behaviour in some unknown manner. Taking the accidental prequel concept further, perhaps the curses attached to stone circles which are discussed in “Stones” are actually part of this process and represent the activation of some ancient defence mechanism which will leave these cosmic markers in place.

Such ideas connect with a part of popular culture in the 1960s and 1970s that interconnects with that period’s earlier mentioned “psychic boom”, in particular Erich Von Daniken’s bestselling non-fiction book Chariot of the Gods?, first published in 1968, which went on to sell millions of copies and to have a wide-ranging influence on culture. The book proposes that the technologies of many ancient civilisations were given to them by ancient astronauts (also known as ancient aliens), who were welcomed as gods, and suggests that the origins of religions are reactions to contact with technologically advanced alien races.

Although Von Daniken is often credited with popularising such notions, they were not novel ideas. As mentioned previously in this post, Nigel Kneale had explored similar ideas in the 1950s in the television series Quatermass and the Pit. Alongside which the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in the same year as Chariot of the Gods?, also explored the notion of visiting extraterrestrials having guided mankind’s evolution and development. In that film the connection to ancient standing stones is made fairly implicit as this “guiding” is done via featureless mysterious monoliths which the aliens left behind that are somehow able to trigger shifts in evolution, and which in appearance are not dissimilar to single standing stones from ancient monuments.

Viewed in the context of such work, “Stones” could be potentially considered part of, or at least loosely connected to, a lineage of science fiction and fantasy work that draws from this “ancient astronaut” idea, which continues to act as an influence today and in recent decades has been a prominent part of the plots of the mainstream films Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and Prometheus (2012), both of which were commercially highly successful and took hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:


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John Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s “Main Title” from Halloween III: Season of the Witch: Songs for A Year In The Country 20/26

For myself Halloween III… is possibly the most “Carpenter-esque” John Carpenter soundtrack. The film itself is an intriguing and curious piece of work that via it’s plot’s use of fragments of stone from Stonehenge that contain an ancient mysterious power still reverberates with echoes of Nigel Kneale’s apparently considerably revised original script.




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Russel Hoban’s “Come and Find Me” Episode of Leap in the Dark, Stone Tape Theory and the Porosity of Time: Wanderings 20/26

As mentioned in an earlier post, Leap in the Dark was a paranormal orientated British television anthology series broadcast on the BBC for four seasons in 1973, 1975, 1977 and 1980. There were 24 episodes in total, with the first series being documentary orientated, while seasons two and three mixed documentary footage with dramatisations of real-life cases of paranormal events. Season four featured original dramas themed around the paranormal and included episodes written by, amongst others, renowned writers Fay Weldon and Russell Hoban, alongside Alan Garner and David Rudkin, the latter two of whose work has since come to be associated with “wyrd” rural and folk or otherly pastoral culture.

And as also mentioned in that earlier post, a large number of the episodes are thought to have been wiped, with only seven seeming to be available and/or exist, either via unofficial distribution online or in the British Film Institute’s National Archive.

“Come and Find Me” is the fifth episode in the fourth season of Leap in the Dark. As mentioned previously it was written by Russell Hoban, who is best known for his 1980 post-apocalyptic novel Riddley Walker (Footnote 1).

Its metatextual fictional story involves a writer called who receives a letter from a television series called Leap in the Dark which “examines the paranormal”, asking him if he had experienced an event he would consider paranormal and would be interested in writing about or if anything in their files might interest him. He subsequently visits a middle aged widow in a grand rural house who says she is being visited by the ghost of her dead husband and finding it frightening, with him presumedly following a lead from Leap in the Dark’s files, although this is not specifically explained. His investigations of this haunting are interwoven throughout the episode with sections where a young woman – possibly the widow’s daughter – is pictured with her boyfriend, possibly in a previous time period, and shown to be struggling both with being allowed to progress into adulthood and fears that if she cannot then she may become a literal spectral version of herself.

Other sections feature the writer walking down darkened streets as in voiceover he considers his findings, sometimes accompanied by ghostly images of the daughter, and it is in these sections where the philosophical discussion of the nature of ghosts, how they come into existence and why they appear or linger, which are some of the episode’s main themes, is particularly prominent:

“A ghost is a defeat. A ghost is a remnant. It’s what’s left behind when you go away and haven’t the strength to take all of yourself with you. No wonder people are afraid of ghosts. You see a ghost and you know it could happen to you. You could lose yourself. You could end up transparent. No strength to move. No strength to get away. Not even wanting to get away. Because a ghost is what hangs on. A ghost is what can’t let go.” (Quoted from the writer’s dialogue in the episode.)

The degraded quality of the version of the episode that is available online notably affects this episode and potentially the viewer’s interpretations of the story. It is difficult at times to distinguish if during his investigations the writer is carrying a tape recorder or some kind of electronic ghost hunting device; and as just mentioned the identity of the ghostly spectre that appears on his walks is probably the widow’s daughter but this is at times hard to fully ascertain due to the video quality; also responses to situations indicated by facial expressions cannot always be ascertained, nor even can the style and era of the characters at times.

At one point the writer captures an audio tape recording of a cry that may have originated with the ghost of the daughter, which connects with the episode and the wider world’s debate of the nature of ghosts; are they a physical phenomena that can be recorded by conventional media such as photographs, film, video, audio cassettes and in more recent years on digital devices etc and/or be detected by other scientific techniques?

Related to scientific explanations of ghosts, in “Come and Find Me” there is a connection to stone tape theory, which was popularised by it being the central theme of Nigel Kneale’s drama The Stone Tape, that was broadcast by the BBC as part of a Christmas television ghost story tradition in 1972. This theory involves speculation that ghosts and hauntings are analogous to tape recordings, in that mental impressions during emotional or traumatic events can be projected as a form of energy and “recorded” onto rocks and other items, with these “recordings” being able to be “replayed” under certain conditions. A stone tape theory-esque discussion occurs in “Come and Find Me” when the writer first visits the widow at her apparently affluent and well appointed in a traditional manner home and they have the following exchange:

The writer: “Do you think there’s something in this house that is particularly retentive of… spiritual essences?”

The widow: “I think it’s the brick. It’s all the old brick… yes, clay. And what are we all but clay, really?”

The writer: “And the clay holds them [the ghosts] you think? The clay brings them back?”

The widow: “I don’t say it brings them back. I think it’s the impression. Having once been made, it makes it easier for them to show themselves.”

Their discussion of such esoteric subject matter seems terribly sensible, British and respectably middle class (or upper middle class or higher in the widow’s case) and they could well be merely talking about the lawns. Despite, as previously discussed, the occult revival and related interest in the paranormal spreading throughout numerous different strata of society from the mid-1960s and into the 1970s (and continuing to a degree after that), the commonplace acceptance of such subject matter in the episode is notably unexpected and surprising, particularly in this social setting. Because of this it creates for the viewer a sense of having stumbled into or being given a view of an intriguing semi-hidden corner of the world and time where such interests have taken root and flourished.

In its exploration of the fantastic and paranormal in relation to crossing over into womanhood, the episode intersects with the aforementioned film The Company of Wolves, which, is in part a darkly hued reimagining of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood and explores its central character’s attempt to escape her trapped existence and enter adulthood and womanhood. Similar themes are explored in “Come and Find Me; in some unspecified previous time the daughter talks of how the ghost that she sees, that seems to be walking right through her, gaining substance as it makes her fainter and more transparent, appears dressed all in white and innocent as that is how “they” want her to be, i.e. caught in a never ending limbo of adolescence. The daughter also says she needs her own “special place” and later, when she and her boyfriend walk alone in a walled garden, she seems to have found it, saying “This is where the first of me happened. This is where the best of me happened. This is the place I’ll come back to.”

Although who the “they” she refers to are not explicitly revealed, through voice-overs and visions it is implied that the young woman may be the widow’s daughter and that there has been some kind of battle of wills between them, particularly in regards to the daughter’s romantic affairs, and that the widow is being haunted by multiple remnants of a cyclical battle between the generations which has repeated over centuries. However this is not fully clear, partly due to the episode’s layered and oblique storytelling, and also because the previously referred to degraded quality of the video muddies the water somewhat, as mentioned earlier, in terms of period style and even at points which character is which.

Throughout the episode there is a layering of another form of existence with the conventionally alive and an intertwining of their stories. Spectres and spectral versions of people appear, change location and seem to return to and interact with normal flesh and blood existence throughout the episode. These spectres include English Civil War era soldiers, the ghosts of which the widow had mentioned seeing when discussing the appearance of her husband’s ghost in her first meeting with the writer.

Certain locations in the episode seem to be particularly embedded with such layering and contain a sense of the “porosity of time”. This is expressly shown in one multi-faceted section where at first the widow walks alone on the stairs of her house in contemporary times and steps off a landing into a bedroom and has apparently stepped over or in-between the threshold of time; she sees the young woman, who is possibly her daughter and also exists in a previous period of time, in an intimate embrace with her lover; they turn shocked to see her but without comment the widow, presumedly in contemporary times, leaves the room and walks silently back down the stairs. A ghostly presence dressed in an “innocent” white dress then appears on the stairs as a mother’s voice berates a daughter for her “tawdry” behaviour; this spectre fades and the widow is pictured gulping down alcoholic spirits, possibly as a form of Dutch courage. She returns to the stairs and has a giddiness to her step, and is followed by an English Civil War era soldier; when outside the daughter’s bedroom, as the image begins to brighten before bleaching away, she appears to openly and perhaps even wantonly accept the soldier’s embrace.

This porosity of time and the way the episode attempts to provide alternative preternatural explanations for ghosts has similarities with some of the themes of the previously mentioned science fiction and fantasy television series Sapphire & Steel, which was originally broadcast between 1979 and 1982, at a similar time to the final season of Leap in the Dark’s transmission in 1980. In Sapphire & Steel the titular transdimensional operatives attempt to guard the flow of time, and it is explained that time is similar to a progressing corridor that surrounds everything. However, roaming this corridor there are weak spots where creatures from the beginning and end of time attempt to break through and take things and people, as also does Time itself, which is implied to be a malignant force. Throughout the series various such “raids” across time occur, often featuring spectral versions of people and events, which break through into the present day. In terms of the depiction, setting and eras which intertwine via the porosity of time there is a notable connection between “Come and Find Me” and Sapphire & Steel’s first story “Assignment 1”, which features the spectres of Civil War era soldiers who cross over time and are shown in contemporary time marching up stairs, across a landing and attempting to enter a bedroom in order to repeat an historic atrocity.

A further connection between Sapphire & Steel and “Come and Find Me” (and some of the other episodes of the final drama orientated season of Leap in the Dark) is that they both have a willingness to present their stories and explanations of events in an open ended and enigmatic manner, allowing space for the viewer’s imagination to explore, wonder (and wander) long after the credits have rolled. This aspect seems to contrast somewhat with much of contemporary mainstream science fiction and fantasy television series, where often little is left unexplained or not having been neatly rounded off (apart from to allow for the continuation of the series).

As with the widow, and to a lesser extent possibly also the writer, the daughter also appears to cross over and travel through different times, adding to which she also seems to exist in and inhabit different forms of existence. Throughout the episode she is shown in times gone by, which connect in a porous or portal-like manner with the present, and as previously mentioned, appears as a spectral presence which accompanies the writer on his night time walks.

She also seems to exist in the “real” world as a form of unseen phantasm. This is implied when it is revealed that she has run away from her conventional life and husband and the writer attempts to track her down and meets her husband at their home. However the only indicators of her actual existence are a photograph and her presence in the memories of others. Through these she appears no more “real” than any of her other timeslip and spectral appearances, and though the photograph and memories are accepted as representing fact they may well merely be further spectral will-o’-the-wisps.

Connecting to the daughter existing in different forms, and returning to the stone tape-esque intersection of the paranormal and recording technology, the writer is pictured in the dark with a tape recorder and asks the audio recording it contains, and therefore the daughter’s ghost, which he believes is imprinted on it:

“Where do you want to go? Do you want to join up with the rest of yourself? You must want that, that’s why you came away from the house. Alright, I’ll take you where you want to go. Where do you want to go?”

(It is at this point that the young couple are shown in the walled garden and the daughter says it is the place she will “come back to”.)

The tape contains a cry and when he plays this to the widow she is upset by it but claims to not know who it is. After this (possibly untruthful) claim he is shown outside the widow’s house in the dark and asks what exactly it is that he has on his tape, wondering if it is the ghost of the young woman who lost some kind of battle in the house, one who is not dead but who has grown up and gone away, leaving a spectral fragment of herself behind to “cry out in the shadows”.

As he considers this and whether the recording was the result of this left behind spectral fragment, which had gathered up the last of its strength in order to imprint itself on the tape and escape the house, there is a sense that he is losing his connection with the real world and that he has become too personally entwined with the conflicts between the living and spectral that he is investigating and studying. This sense of losing himself, of going “native”, is heightened by the playing on the soundtrack of a psych or wyrd folk-like siren-ish song, which is also effectively the episode’s title song, in which a female voice seductively and somewhat eerily and sinisterly calls him her sweet and beckons him to “come and find me”. (Footnote 2) As he disappears into the distance of the blackened street a spectral image of the daughter’s face appears and she smiles in a knowing, satisfied way, as though she knows that the spell she has spun has caught her prey.

Towards the end of the episode the writer is shown alone in the same garden as the young lovers previously were, but on a different plane of existence and time as them, and he asks “Is this the place? Is this where the best of you is?” This indicates some kind of supernatural telepathic connection between him and the daughter, as it is very similar to the daughter saying about the garden, as referred to earlier, “This is where the first of me happened. This is where the best of me happened. This is the place I’ll come back to.”

The writer plays the tape containing the young woman’s cry in the garden and the first time it is present but on a second playing it is no longer part of the recording. His intention is revealed to have been utilising the stone tape-esque spectral recording in order to return the daughter to her “special place”, where she can be free from restrictions. The porosity and intertwined layering of time is further shown as the daughter and her lover appear as ghostly apparitions in the garden, then the writer is shown as a spectre walking past them before he becomes another spectre walking down the dark streets where he debated the origins and forms of ghosts. He then seems to have returned to conventional reality and is pictured outside the widow’s house.

On entering he sees a motionless female figure, dressed in a similar white dress as the one worn by the ghost which appeared on the stairs, and which the young woman had worried was taking her over and making her transparent. Again the degraded video quality initially makes this scene ambiguous; is it the young woman’s physical body, an abandoned corporeal vessel of a ghost finally able to rest now it has been returned to a place it can find peace? In fact it is the body of the widow, who appears to have attempted to take on the physical appearance, and possibly even form, of the ghost which her daughter once feared, and she also seems to have taken an overdose. Is this due to guilt at how she treated her daughter or perhaps for betraying the memory of her husband with a spectre? Does she feel defeated by the escape from her grasp of her daughter’s spectre? Is it fear of the spectral “other”? Was she in fact once the daughter berated for her “tawdry” behaviour? As with many other aspects and strands of the episode this is left unexplained.

The penultimate scene features a return to the metatextual setting of the story, as the writer discusses via telephone the events that have occurred with a member of the production team of Leap in the Dark; after worrying that the writer has gone native and is becoming “transparent” (i.e. a spectre) the team member says “Who would’ve thought this would’ve happened when I wrote to you?”

The final scene again returns to the writer walking alone at night; as he says that he does not think the young woman’s husband will be the one to find her, his own transparent spectre now appears to accompany him and intermingle with his own real world body, before it materialises as a solid presence and his two incarnations continue their lonely walk. He has indeed started to become “transparent” and there is a sense that, despite having set the ghost of the young woman who sought her escape via his tape recorder free, he will still continue to obey her siren call to “come and find me”.


  1.  Russel Hoban’s Ridley Walker is set 2000 years after war has devastated civilisation, in a society where church and state are combined, with the authorities telling stories of the war using Punch and Judy shows where missiles have been replaced by sausages. Written in a corrupted version of English similar to Nadsat in Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), its central character is an adolescent who stumbles upon efforts to recreate a weapon from the ancient world. It has been adapted for the stage several times and has also been the inspiration for a number of music releases, including Diana Collier’s album Ode to Riddley Walker (2020), the title song of which is a hauntingly atmospheric folk ballad that explores scenes from the novel. This album provides lines of connection with the lineage of wyrd folk as its recording and release involved work by various members of the alternative folk music collective The Owl Service that was active between 2006-2016, which Collier was a member of and that forebears and inspired aspects of wyrd folk.
  2. The song was written and/or performed by Frank Evans and Norma Winstone, who are more known for their work in jazz. Evans (1930-2007) was a member of the Tubby Hayes Quartet and by the 1970s had performed for and appeared in around 250 television shows for the BBC and ITV, and across his career also recorded approximately 20 film and television scores, including three for Leap in the Dark. Winstone is a jazz vocalist who has released 38 albums over a fifty year career, and is credited with almost 200 appearances on record releases at the website.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:


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Silly Sisters’ “Fine Horseman” from No More to the Dance: Songs for A Year In The Country 19/26

Maddy Prior and June Tabor’s cover of Lal Waterson’s “Fine Horseman”… conjures a gently fluttering world unto itself (which towards the end wanders off into a guitar solo that always makes me think of the Edge of Darkness soundtrack).




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Paul Weller’s In Another Room, Broadcast’s Psychedelic Reimaginings and Signposts Towards Ghost Box Records’ Parallel World: Wanderings 19/26

It may have seemed like something of a surprise cultural meeting to hear that in early 2020 Paul Weller, who has longstanding connections with mod music and culture, was to release an EP called In Another Room on Ghost Box Records, a label which is often associated with hauntology and that is one of the progenitors of such work.

However, looking back there have been all kinds of pointers towards the possibility of this collaboration happening – or at least points of connection between Paul Weller’s, Ghost Box’s and interconnected hauntological and “wyrd” folk or otherly pastoral work – that make it a lot less unlikely seeming that Paul Weller might one day collaborate with, to quote the description of Ghost Box on its website, “a record label for a group of artists exploring the misremembered musical history of a parallel world”. Below I discuss a few of those points of connection (but there are a whole lot more!)

Although, as suggested above, Paul Weller is often associated with mod music and culture, one of the main things that has characterised his work has been exploring, combining and reinterpreting different musical styles and eras, and an associated exploring of unexpected tangents. His work at various times has eclectically contained and explored elements of punk, new wave, jazz, soul, electronica, funk, folk, psychedelia, prog etc, and his experimenting with hauntological-esque work that incorporated tape loops and field recordings on his In Another Room EP, which was released digitally and as a gatefold sleeve 7″ by Ghost Box, could be seen as being part of this lineage of exploring different cultural areas and influences, albeit in a more further flung reaches of culture manner.

Accompanying which, Paul Weller’s work often shares with Ghost Box and much of hauntological related work a sense of drawing from past eras, while at the same time not attempting to create a straightforward replication of them, rather it contains a reimagining and intertwining of different styles and times:

“[Iconic 1960s band] The Small Faces wanted to sound like Booker T & The MGs and they added another edgy thing to it. I loved all that. Why close yourself off to any one influence. Mod? The clue’s in the title innit?” (Paul Weller quoted from an interview with Jon ‘Mojo’ Mills, “Different Little Worlds”, Shindig!, issue 69, July 2017.)

Also at times, as with Ghost Box, in Paul Weller’s work there has been a sense of parallel or imaginary world creation, particularly during his earlier years with The Style Council, the band he formed with Mick Talbot in 1982 after Weller’s previous band The Jam had split earlier that year.

Related to which, the mod cultural style or genre with which Paul Weller is often associated and has drawn inspiration from, has an inherent aspect of parallel world creation, one where the daily grind is kept at bay and escaped from by the creation of a subtly parallel world through meticulous attention and even obsession with clothes, style in general, music etc.

Paul Weller’s creation of an imaginary parallel world in his work found one of its peaks around the time of The Style Council’s first album Café Bleu, which was released in 1984. For this Paul Weller and Mick Talbot reinvented and reimagined the “clean”, sharp mod style and way of life and seemed to create a world unto itself by channelling a form of imaginary European New Wave-esque lifestyle and music which, amongst other areas, explored and created jazz and soul orientated music and sophisticated left-wing leaning pop. The resulting work seemed to be contemporary, belong to a time of its own and also, as with much of hauntological orientated work, draw from and reimagine some indefinable past era.

The gatefold cover image for The Style Council’s 1985 album Our Favourite Shop, to a degree, returned the band’s creation of an imaginary parallel world back to the shores of Blighty. The cover created and imagined a shop which was full of many of Paul Weller and Mick Talbot’s favourite things and cultural touchstones at the time, including albums, books, posters, magazines, clothes etc. The items for sale in the shop, its fittings and Weller and Talbot’s clothes draw from a number of different decades and styles, including that of a traditional British style shop or gent’s outfitters, and although the overall impression is one of being mod friendly, the cover and “shop” do not portray a collection of narrowly defined traditional 1960s mod reference points. Rather, as with the Café Bleu period of The Style Council’s work, it seems to draw from and reimagine some indefinable past and create a form of atemporal space or world of its own, one which exists separately to history’s timeline, and casts a spell over the viewer which may well convince them that somewhere in time the shop exists and is open for business, the bell above its door just waiting to sound as you step over its threshold.

For a number of years preceding the release of his In Another Room EP, Paul Weller had mentioned in interviews that he liked Broadcast, a band founded by Trish Keenan and James Cargill, and which prior to Weller’s collaboration with Ghost Box had worked with the label and the associated The Focus Group (aka Ghost Box co-founder Julian House, who also created the majority of Broadcast’s artwork and worked on a number of their videos).

Broadcast share with Paul Weller and Ghost Box’s work a sense of drawing from and reimagining past eras and influences:

“It’s hard to cite many latter day bands that have taken the aesthetics of ’60s psychedelia and avant-garde music, and moulded them like a child playing with multicoloured blobs of plasticine: but that’s exactly what the otherworldly West Midlands collective Broadcast have been doing for the past 18 years…” (Quoted from “The Children of Alice, Broadcast: A Love Story”, Shindig!, issue 32, 2013.)

I wrote in A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields (2018), that the music Broadcast released is “both contemporary and also seems to belong to some separate time and place all of its own, with psychedelia incorporated in a manner nearer to an explorative portal then rosy-eyed nostalgia”, and Trish Keenan has said:

“I’m not interested in the bubble poster trip, ‘remember Woodstock’ idea of the sixties. What carries over for me is the idea of psychedelia as a door through to another way of thinking about sound and song. Not a world only reachable by hallucinogens but obtainable by questioning what we think is real and right, by challenging the conventions of form and temper. Bands like The United States Of America, White Noise, A To Austr and… The Mesmerizing Eye, all use audio collage, clashes of sound that work more in the way the mind works, the way life works, extreme juxtapositions of memories and heavy traffic noise say, or reading emails and wasps coming through the window. But as well, I feel that in my own small way I am part of that psych band continuum, but in a make-believe reality stemmed off to exist outside of the canon.” (Trish Keenan quoted from an excerpt of the unedited transcript of Broadcast’s interview with Joseph Stannard featured in The Wire issue 308, October 2009: “Unedited Broadcast”,, March 2020.)

Paul Weller included “Come On Let’s Go” by Broadcast as the opening track on the cover CD he compiled for Mojo magazine’s April 2012 issue, a compilation which featured work by a number of different performers and took its title from the Broadcast track featured on it. In the accompanying notes for the CD he says that:

“I only discovered Broadcast in 2009, when I heard their album with The Focus Group, Witch Cults Of The Radio Age. Well, I heard that and I had to go out and buy all their other records. There’s a real otherworldly quality about their music. There’s an early Floyd synth sound in there, but really it’s very English sounding, that otherworldly electronica state.”

This sense of an “otherworldly” quality to Broadcast’s music could, in an oblique manner, be interconnected with Paul Weller’s work with The Style Council that is discussed above, particularly in relation to The Style Council’s creation of a world and time of its own, both visually and in some of the music on the Café Bleu album, which as suggested earlier is difficult to place as belonging to a particular era, and almost seems to exist in a dreamlike imagined world.

The Come On Let’s Go Mojo cover CD is described in the magazine as having “themes of English folk and psychedelia, and… moods of autumnal melancholy… [run] through many of the 15 tracks” and throughout his accompanying notes Paul Weller repeatedly references folk, psychedelia and other musical styles from previous eras when talking about the tracks’ atmospheres etc, but as referred to above in relation to The Style Council and Ghost Box’s work, there is a sense that one of the things which draws him to this work is that it is not a straightforward, purist or traditional replication but rather a cross pollination, reinterpreting and reimagining:

“[Diagrams’ “Night All Night” has] got that English folk feel with an electronic edge to it, modern but rooted in tradition… [Cow’s “Black Harvest” has also] got a very sort of English psychedelic feel to it, quite folky as well… [Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” is] another track that’s tapping into that mystical English folk feel and, as the title suggests, it has the feel of an old English hymn. It makes me think of Gregorian chant a little bit as well as that whole tradition of the cyclical English folk song… [With Tame Impala] they’re obviously influenced by psychedelic music but it’s a modern sort of take on it as well, so it’s familiar but different as well… [With Joanna Newsom’s work] I like not knowing whether it’s her song or an old traditional song… ” (Paul Weller quoted from his notes for the Come On Let’s Go cover CD, Mojo, April 2012.)

Interconnecting with such themes, are the pastoral aspects that have recurred throughout Paul Weller’s work, including in poems of his that were published in the early 1980s in the December’s Child fanzine, which was published by his Riot Stories publishing project:

“Weller’s poem, ‘In the Summer Months’, displayed a beautiful, pastoral innocence, its stanzas talking about ‘butterfly catching without nets’, and ‘boating on a lazy river’… while ‘Re-Birth’ [talked] about ‘country lanes’, ‘glistening sunshine’, set against the ‘volatile world of yesterday’… ‘Ten Times Something Else’ was… full of analogising, the final verse detailing ‘like a Sussex, summer field, with tall wheat’ set on a ‘country road, walking lonely but carefree’ [and] was redolent of the sort of bucolic landscape Weller enjoyed losing himself in.” (Quoted from “excerpt: in echoed steps: the jam and a vision of albion”, Simon Wells, 3:AM magazine, 13th March 2017.)

(As an aside, Simon Wells co-wrote with Ali Catterall the book Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since The Sixties, which was published in 2002 and includes a particularly fine chapter on the 1973 film The Wicker Man, which as I have discussed elsewhere as part of A Year In The Country, has become somewhat iconic and influential with regards to folk horror and wyrd folk culture. I have something of a long-standing soft spot for the book, which is very accessibly written and for which the authors put in a fair bit of legwork by visiting filming locations, carrying out interviews etc, and I have written about it at the A Year In The Country site and in the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book.)

The pastoral themes in Paul Weller’s work and where he found his inspiration for them have at times sprung from and explored territory which also interconnects with wyrd folk and otherly pastoralism, with him being quoted in an article titled “A Vision of Albion” in issue 69 of Shindig! published in July 2017, which was written by  one of the magazine’s editors Andy Morten, that around the time of Sound Affects, the fifth album by The Jam, which was released in 1980, he was:

“really into King Arthur. I remember organising the band and our road crew a trip to Glastonbury to go and find some of the Arthurian sites.”

Andy Morten goes on to write in the above article that:

“the [Arthurian] dream of Albion – an ancient Britain united in an age of peace – was writ large all over Sound Affects, from the quote from radical/romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy printed on the back cover to the soft focus photo of the band shrouded in mist as they gaze at an ancient country pile, used on the inner sleeve…”

Paul Weller’s Albion related inspirations at that time came in part from fairly esoteric sources:

“Weller would later admit, the main inspiration behind [the Sound Affects album track] ‘Set The House Ablaze’ [was] Geoffrey Ashe’s book Camelot And A Vision Of Albion. Published in 1977, Ashe’s book was not a bestseller, nor something that was referenced freely other than in fairly erudite circles. Ashe, a noted authority on Arthurian history, had drawn a line with noted English poets and visionaries through the centuries who’d attempted to decode the human condition – a continuum that had… stemmed from King Arthur’s vision of Albion. Assessing the quandaries that beset humanity over the ages, Ashe concluded that humanity had lost sight of its goals and had had its perception obscured and distracted via political or material obstacles, [and he concluded that] ‘Somehow human beings must recapture the lost glory in themselves, must transcend their present state if they are to change the world.’ Weller had come upon the book [via] his wide coterie of informed friends, and it clearly had a profound effect on him… ‘The ideas behind the Sound Affects lyrics were influenced by Ashe’s book,’ recalled Weller to the NME. ‘Which were we had lost sight of our goal as human beings, that material goals had hid the spiritual ones that had clouded our perception. There was also religious overtones. I suppose, on reflection, that the ideas are quite ‘heady’ and ‘hippyish’ but it was… a phase I was going through basically because of the books I was reading. Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley was another – because they were concerned with mysticism and raising the spiritual and intellectual level of people.'” (Quoted from “excerpt: in echoed steps: the jam and a vision of albion”, as above.)

Other signposts which could be seen as pointing towards the possibility of Paul Weller working with Ghost Box, or at least ways in which his work intersected with Ghost Box’s, can be found in the abovementioned issue 69 of Shindig! magazine, published in 2017 prior to the release of In Another Room. In that issue during Andy Morten’s interview with Paul Weller it is commented on how the track “Green” from his 2012 album Sonik Kicks is a “textured piece, [which] showed the influence of Ghost Box’s haunted electronica”, and accompanying this in the interview Weller also expresses his appreciation for Ghost Box and Broadcast.

The strobing, hallucinogenic, geometric patterns, collaging of ’60s-esque and cosmic imagery in the video by Ruffmercy (aka Russ Mercy) which accompanied “Green” are not dissimilar to some of Ghost Box co-founder Julian House’s video work for the label, albeit in “Green” they are more mod-psych-pop art-esque filtered via digital artwork rather than seeming to be woozily abstract fragmented TV transmissions from a time you can’t quite place or remember, as is often the case with Julian House’s Ghost Box video work.

It was Shindig! magazine that provided the introduction and initial point of contact between Paul Weller and Ghost Box, which seems somewhat appropriate as the magazine draws from and covers past eras and musical styles which interconnect with a number of Paul Weller’s inspirations and reference points – including 1960s and 1970s psychedelia, pop, rock, soul, folk etc and contemporary performers who draw from and reinterpret such work – but as with Weller’s work, the magazine blurs the lines between years and genres somewhat, and at times wanders off into more tangential territory. At times this can include coverage of hauntological electronica and wyrd folk orientated performers, and those that have influenced and inspired them, including work released by Ghost Box and also some of the performers who have contributed work to the A Year In The Country themed compilations, and also the likes of electronic music pioneers Emerald Web, Delia Derbyshire and the aforementioned Broadcast, who were the cover stars of issue 32.

All of which brings me back to Paul Weller’s In Another Room EP. It’s a fascinating record, equally resolutely avant-garde, melodic and accessible.

The EP contains four tracks called “In Another Room”, “Submerge”, “Embarkation and “Rejoice”, which were created by Paul Weller and his long-time engineer Charles Rees from a fragmented musique concrète-esque collage of sounds, a number of which were created from field recordings made by Weller and subsequently manipulated via analogue tape. As the EP’s tracks play a looping, possibly child’s voice appears and reappears and fades away; bucolic church-like bells peel; gnomic chants arrive from out of the ether; somebody begins to play pleasantly and gently melancholic piano; running water burbles away; birds quietly tweet; sounds appear and then suddenly drop away in a jump cut-like manner; at points it is as though a distant radio broadcast is trying to break through; and elsewhere bursts of unidentifiable electronic sound have a Nigel Kneale-ian/Quatermass-like otherworldly menace to them.

The final track “Rejoice” begins with subtly unsettling cosmic seeming sounds before a cheerful and uplifting piano jam oscillates to the fore, like some long lost tape loop that is somehow transmitting from the corner of a sunny attic that everybody had forgotten about, and towards the end of the track conventional vocals are introduced and for a moment it almost becomes like a segment from a more conventional song by Paul Weller. But it is only for a moment and then the song quickly and suddenly oscillates away and the track and EP ends on a very Ghost Box-like archival public information film-sounding sample of a woman’s voice saying “Oh dear.”

Stewart Gardiner wrote about the EP at his Concrete Islands website and captured its essence rather well:

“[In Another Room] contains a plethora of inviting avant-garde ideas that don’t trip over themselves into self-indulgence. It’s The Prisoner via [The Beatles’ sound collage track] ‘Revolution 9’ whilst maintaining easy restraint. If that sounds contradictory then so be it, for this is a 7″ of delightful contradictions… The title track is the sonic equivalent of a door wedged open but a crack, allowing snippets of sounds to be overhead from the universe beyond. Magic is taking place inside or else the magic of places is seeping out…”

The Beatles reference in the above review intertwines with Ghost Box’s co-founder Jim Jupp being quoted in a review of In Another Room in the March 2020 issue of Mojo magazine as saying that the EP is “like a late Beatles studio experiment”, and listening to the EP can be like hearing the lost and refound ghosts of such work carried out by The Beatles that evaded view and was left hidden away somewhere pleasantly bucolic but also subtly and quietly unsettling for 50 or so years, with the sounds of the surroundings somehow imbuing themselves onto the tape as time passed by.

That subtle sense of unsettledness is particularly heightened when watching In Another Room’s final track’s accompanying video which has been posted online by Ghost Box (and is presumably created by Julian House, as it contains his distinctive hazily dreamlike faltering transmission, layered collage, jump cut and minimal duotone, tritone etc style and draws from the colour scheme and visual elements of the EP’s artwork). Just before halfway through the track an ominous tone appears and it seems as though the pastoral fever dream landscape depicted on the screen tips over into darker territories and urban drudgery, which are all the more unsettling for their sudden and brief arrival and departure and the way in which why they are unsettling is difficult to quite put your finger on or define. The resulting combination of the audio and visual elements seem both entrancing and deeply unsettling. Brrrr.

At times In Another Room is not a million miles away from some of the melodic, cut-up experiments and pastoralism of the above mentioned Ghost Box affiliated Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age album, which as also mentioned previously was the first album of Broadcast’s that Paul Weller heard.

Interconnected with which, In Another Room also brings to mind the more out there sections of Broadcast’s Mother Is The Milky Way EP/mini-album released in 2009, and its use of pastoral field recordings and an accompanying sense of a melodic, avant-garde and otherworldly “milling around the village”. In this sense and its melding of the experimental and accessible, In Another Room could be seen as an exploration of Trish Keenan of Broadcast’s comment that “The avant-garde is no good without popular, and popular is rubbish without avant-garde” and what writer and academic Mark Fisher described as “the circuit between the experimental, the avant-garde and the popular”.

(As a further aside and in relation to Broadcast, listened to now the instrumental track “In Amsterdam” on Paul Weller’s 2010 album Wake Up The Nation can seem like something of a signpost towards his eventual “stepping through the door” and “into the other room” of Ghost Box’s parallel world, as during the track’s brief one minute and 28 seconds audio journey it seems to channel Broadcast via a sunny day out on a seaside pier that only happened in distant dreams.)

An inherent part of Ghost Box releases and the narratives, atmospheres and moods they conjure and create are the packaging, artwork and design which, including the artwork for In Another Room, are generally created by Julian House. Reflecting the multilayered audio collaging of the EP, the front cover artwork for In Another Room is also multilayered: the topmost layer is a scene of what may be urban decay and that brings to mind the social strife in British society from the later 1970s, and then through a portal-like doorway can be seen shadowed and silhouetted figures, while just behind them are a group of children singing and playing guitar. Off in the distance and seemingly in a field in the middle of nowhere people sit on park benches with their backs to the viewer and further again in the distance another portal-like doorway opens off into… well presumably another room and universe and another doorway and another room and universe and another doorway and…

Each panel of the EP’s gatefold packaging images seems to exist in a space of its own, related to which Jim Jupp said in a January 2020 interview with Bob Fischer on his BBC Radio Tees show, which Fischer transcribed for his The Haunted Generation site that:

“[Julian House’s artwork was intended to capture the] idea of rooms, and doorways, and moving through into other spaces. But what he’s also done… he looked at some graphic scores, which used to be part of the avant-garde, where the musical score was a piece of artwork itself. So you’d often start with a conventional musical stave, but there’d be dynamic paint splatters or shapes on the sheet of music. So on the gatefold of the single, he’s taken that idea and overlayed a collage onto a musical stave.”

The resulting imagery seems to also capture a sense of possibly being some form of previous era’s more experimental “Music and Movement” educational material, which is an aspect of culture that Ghost Box releases and interconnected hauntological related work at times explores. In this sense it could perhaps be some distant and even more out there relation to David Cain’s The Seasons album:

“Originally issued in 1969, The Seasons has become almost mythical over the last few years. With its mix of unexpected electronics, percussion, tape manipulation and austere poetry, it sounds like no other. The Seasons has also become a major influence on bands such as Broadcast and a key reference in the development of Ghost Box and the whole ‘hauntology’ soundscape. It is seen and heard very much now as an important and lost classic. And after over one year of detective work and rights investigation (which is a lot in this modern world of instant communication), this impressive, strange and wholly unique album is seeing the light of day once again… Originally made as part of the BBC’s Drama Workshop broadcasts, this album was meant for educational purposes. Coming in the later period of what is commonly known and remembered as ‘Music and Movement’ or ‘Movement and Mime Classes’, the album was issued briefly as a teaching aid for the modern thinking 1960s classroom. The idea was to play the album and get the school children to dance, improvise, think and create to the sounds and words.” (Quoted from text which accompanied The Seasons’ 2012 reissue by Trunk Records.)

(As another aside, in an intertwining connections amongst the cultural landscape manner, as commented on by Bob Fischer in the above interview with Jim Jupp, Cathy Berberian created a graphic score for her experimental 1966 sound work Stripsody, while her name inspired Peter Strickland’s 2012 film Berberian Sound Studio, which is also featured in the abovementioned issue of Shindig! that featured Broadcast as the cover stars, and in which a sound engineer’s reality fragments and fractures into a dreamlike world while recording a horror film soundtrack in the cloistered environment of an overseas recording studio. Ghost Box’s Julian House created the titles, poster designs, the film-within-a-film The Equestrian Vortex, graphic design for the tape boxes etc used in the film and also the artwork used for the album release of Broadcast’s soundtrack work for the film.)

As an almost final note, in issue 97 of Shindig!, there was an article on In Another Room, which was based in part on an interview with Ghost Box’s Jim Jupp and also the time when Jon Mills and Paul Osborne from the magazine’s editorial team visited Paul Weller in his Black Barn studio in Surrey, which is not all that far away from Woking where he was born, to hear a preview of and discuss In Another Room and his collaboration with Ghost Box. The article ends on a humorous note which  is quite refreshing in the way that it undermines the sometimes more po-faced aspects of avant-garde and experimental music:

“As our conversation… comes to an end, Shindig! asks if he considered releasing the EP under a pseudonym more in line with previous artists that have graced Ghost Box’s output. ‘No but I’m equally happy to do that as well, I’ll call myself Woking Watermill’s or something,’ jokes Paul. ‘Cycling Club maybe!'”

The vinyl version of In Another Room was issued in a limited run of 1000 copies, the majority of which sold out in around fifteen minutes during the preorder and then on the day of its release, and at the time of writing it has not been repressed and generally fetches a fair few pounds online via Discogs etc, although it is available digitally. Here’s hoping for a physical reissue one day – perhaps on that semi-forgotten format of a CD single? Just a thought, I can imagine it making for a rather fine object as a gatefold CD with a matt/subtly textured reverse board finish.

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Johnny Flynn’s “Detectorists” from the Television Series’ Soundtrack: Songs for A Year In The Country 18/26

Uplifting and gently, melancholically heartbreaking at the same time. That seems to make it somewhat appropriate as the title track for Detectorists. A lovely contemporary take on folk music.




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Sharron Kraus’ Preternatural Investigations, Simon Reynolds’ “Haunted Audio: Society of the Spectral”, Oliver Assayas’ Personal Shopper, Robert Macfarlane’s Investigations of the Eerie Countryside and The Eccentronic Research Council’s Identification of Modern Day Magic on a Monthly Tariff – Journeys on the Edge of Knowing and the Phantasmal Nature of Recording Technology: Wanderings 18/26

Over a number of years musician Sharron Kraus’ work has included a personal and distinctive exploration of pastoral and folk culture, and the quote below is an indication of some of its atmosphere’s and themes:

“[In the text which accompanied her 2013 album Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails] there is a sense of her discovering and rediscovering the land as she had begun to live in or visit the Welsh countryside, exploring her surroundings and unlocking some kind of underlying magic or enchantment to the landscape… [the music on the album contains] a dreamlike quality that is rooted in the land but is also a journey through its hidden undercurrents and tales… Her text for the album also infers a sense that… [she was] making work which could try to interpret and/or represent the secrets in the valleys, streams and pathways through which she wandered.” (Quoted from A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields, 2018.)

A more recent exploration of the “magic or enchantment” and secrets of the landscape and interconnected culture which Sharron Kraus has undertaken is her Preternatural Investigations series of podcast released in 2020, that explored themes including “Magic and the Preternatural”, “The Magic of Place”, “Old Traditions and New”, “How Weird is Folk?” and “The Quality of Wildness”.

The podcasts have a calming and almost hypnotic character and although at times they wander into darker tinged territories, there is a positivity to them, and they explore some quite complex, layered theories and subject matter in an accessible manner, which is accompanied by an atmosphere and evocative use of music.

At the podcasts’ website Sharron Kraus describes them as being:

“about things that are strange but not too strange; the marvellous things that lie ‘between the mundane and the miraculous’.” (Footnote 1)

Related to which, one of the central themes of the podcasts appears to be a sense of trying to find a more balanced, less oppositional or dichotomous view of the world, its mysteries, experience, life in general etc; a way of viewing and experiencing things that is able to interconnectedly explore science, religion, nature and culture alongside the magical, mystical, preternatural, supernatural and so on.

This connects with hauntological, otherly pastoral or “wyrd” rural/folk culture in that often in such culture there seems to be a seeking and exploring of something on the edge of knowing, a layered sense of mystery and things which cannot be straightforwardly explained; a seeking out of secular magic and mystery accessed through the “portals” of culture.

This sense of culture containing some layered sense of the not fully known also interconnects with some of the topics discussed in Simon Reynolds’ article “Haunted Audio: Society of the Spectral” that was published in Wire magazine’s November 2006 issue, which was an in-depth exploration of hauntological related work around the time it had begun to coalesce as a loosely interrelated cultural grouping:

“[Hauntological] ‘ghostified’ music doesn’t quite constitute a genre, a scene, or even a network. But it is a [nebulous entity which is] more of a flavour or atmosphere than a style with boundaries… [one that perhaps] ought to elude our grasp, like mist or a mirage.”

Preternatural beliefs and interests often interconnect in various ways with new forms of technology, which Simon Reynolds also refers to in the above article:

“it could be argued that music is inherently phantasmal. Partly this is a matter of the immateriality of sound, its insubstantial and evanescent quality; the way certain melodies haunt our days whether we wish it or not; the madeleine-like capacity of certain harmonies or sound-textures to unlock our memories. Another facet to this relates to the spookiness of recording. Edison originally conceived the phonograph as a way of preserving the voices of the dearly beloved after their demise. Records have habituated us to living with ghosts. We keep company with absent presences, the immortal but dead voices of the phonographic pantheon… [while sampling can create] an uncanny friction caused by ‘different auras, different vibes, different studio atmospheres, different eras’ being placed in ghostly adjacence. If phonography has never fully shed its [original] Edisonian function… then sampling is even more unnatural: a mixture of séance and time travel.”

As also suggested by Simon Reynolds in the above article, through enabling us for the first time ever to be able to hear, manipulate and recontextualise recordings of the deceased it could be considered that newer technology still retains a sense of the mysterious, although such “spooky” aspects seem to be quickly overlooked. Similar themes and how audio and video recording devices and other media can have a time portal, preternatural or paranormal-like ability to disrupt the natural progression of time and the fading of memories were discussed by Jess Hicks in a review of science fiction author William Gibson’s collection of his non-fiction writing Distrust That Particular Flavor which was published in 2012:

“‘Time moves in one direction, memory another’, [author William Gibson writes in Distrust That Particular Flavor], ‘We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting.’ And because time and forgetting are natural forces, those artifacts always have the hint of the uncanny about them. Gibson notes the relative novelty of recorded music: it’s only recently that Elvis could keep crooning from beyond the grave. Yet rarely do we stop to consider this change…”

Such technologies and their abovementioned abilities are accepted as normal and commonplace, whereas the (admittedly less reliably accessible) use of a medium to do the same is not. Interconnected with which and the “phantasmal” nature of music and recording technology, in an article called “Smoke and Mirrors: Spiritualism in World War One” at the BBC’s website (Footnote 2) it is claimed that burgeoning technology around the time of the First World War played a major role in the increase in popularity of spiritualism. In the article it is said that the advent of radio and telegraphy was able to link people together during the war, and also gave people a way to understand spiritualism, with the term “tuning in” being used to describe a medium making contact with the spirit world, alongside which people would talk about the channels and wavelengths of the “other side”.

This interconnection and appropriating of terms connects with comments in the preternatural documentary orientated first series of the BBC television series Leap in the Dark (1973-1980), that water divining only seems mysterious as it cannot be explained, in a similar way that electricity would have seemed mysterious in previous centuries; one era’s witchcraft and sorcery becomes another’s scientific theory and prosaic part of reality. Such interconnecting and appropriating of terms related to spiritualism and technology as that just referred to may also be representative of a liminal or transitional point between practices and beliefs predicated on older more folklore, superstition and magic orientated ways and newer more scientific and technology orientated ones.

The connection between the paranormal, afterlife and technology seem to continue occurring through different decades, although often its expression is via fictional stories – such as when a television set acts as a portal for the ghosts of the deceased and an evil spirit in 1982 film Poltergeist, and more recently the 2006 film Pulse, where a computer virus unlocks a portal that connects the realms of the living with that of the dead – rather than as part of people’s own lives and experiences, as was the case in spiritualism’s appropriation of radio transmission terminology.

Hauntology orientated work’s exploration and conjuring of the spectres of half-remembered or misremembered memories, parallel worlds, “the past inside the present” and often eerie or unsettling atmospheres could be considered to be loosely connected to such themes, albeit in a less directly preter or supernatural manner:

“[Hauntology at times uses and foregrounds] recording medium noise and imperfections, such as the crackle and hiss of vinyl, tape wobble and so on that calls attention to the decaying nature of older analogue mediums and which can be used to create a sense of time out of joint and edge memories of previous eras… It [reimagines and misremembers past decade’s culture] to create forms of music and culture that seem familiar, comforting and also often unsettling and not a little eerie; work that is accompanied by a sense of being haunted by spectres of its, and our, cultural past…” (Quoted from A Year In The Country: Straying From The Pathways)

Hauntology and wyrd rural/folk culture’s exploration and searching for a form of “otherlyness” and “something on the edge of knowing, a layered sense of mystery and things which cannot be straightforwardly explained” could be considered to be a variation on another loosely interconnected area or mode of culture, that of magic realism orientated literature, film etc. In these areas of work, realistic or even mundane views of the modern world are presented, accompanied by magical elements that often are merely an accepted and day-to-day but unexplained part of their fictional worlds.

Hauntological, wyrd rural/folk work, and Sharron Kraus’ thematically interconnected Preternatural Investigations podcast, could also be considered at times to be a variation or exploration of the preternatural, the unknown etc that sidesteps some of the preconceptions and baggage which such things can carry with them. This is an aspect of related work which writer and academic Robert Macfarlane has discussed when he suggested that:

“It would be easy to dismiss [such work] as an excess of hokey woo-woo; a surge of something-in-the-woodshed rustic gothic. But engaging with the eerie emphatically doesn’t mean believing in ghosts. Few of the practitioners… would endorse earth mysteries or ectoplasm. What is under way, across a broad spectrum of culture, is an attempt to account for the turbulence of England in the era of late capitalism. The supernatural and paranormal have always been means of figuring powers that cannot otherwise find visible expression. Contemporary anxieties and dissents are… being reassembled and re-presented as spectres, shadows or monsters: our noun monster, indeed, shares an etymology with our verb to demonstrate, meaning to show or reveal (with a largely lost sense of omen or portent).” (Quoted from “The eeriness of the English countryside”, Robert Macfarlane,, 10th April 2015.)

A (fairly) recent example in cinema of attempting to update explorations of the preter and supernatural can be found in Oliver Assayas’ film Personal Shopper (2016), which explores and offers a nuanced and layered subtle contemporary take on the preter/supernatural and ghost stories. Its story provides an alternative to more conventional paranormal orientated work and tropes and, as is often the case in magic realist orientated work, there is an acceptance of the preternatural as just being merely another part of the day-to-day world and there is little discussion or debate of its veracity or of those who claim to be able to connect or communicate with it.

In Assayas’ film the central character is a woman called Kyra who is in her twenties, played by Kristen Stewart, and who works as a high fashion personal shopper for a wealthy celebrity. It is mostly set in the built-up centres of the capital cities London and Paris, although it opens in an area which may be the suburbs of Paris but that due to it having a leafy autumnal bucolic appearance which is backgrounded by hills and fields could equally be a smallish rural town. It is here that Kyra spends the night in the house where her brother lived and has her first brief encounter, in the film at least, with some form of preternatural or spirit presence.

Kyra has stayed the night in the mansion as, somewhat contrastingly with her work as a personal shopper, she also acts as a medium, including in this instance for a couple who knew and loved her late brother and wish to find out if her brother’s former home has spirits, whether benevolent or malevolent, before they buy it, and while there she also attempts to contact her deceased brother’s spirit.

There is a sense of Kyra putting her life on hold and she describes herself as just waiting, with her existence being defined by and centring around a wealthier “other”.  There is also an interrelated accompanying sense that the resultant possible squandering of ability and potential, and the subsequent emotional fallout of the related frustration and dissatisfaction, has been redirected to become a source for the creation of externally manifested psychic spectres or wraiths and preter or supernatural phenomena.

During the film Kyra experiences paranormal phenomena that she initially assumes are spirits, or her brother attempting to contact her. However the film ends on a variation of séance-like table rapping carried out by her, and when she asks an apparently visiting spirit to tell her if it is her brother there is only silence but it knocks just once to signal yes when she asks “Or is it just me?”

This ending, as indeed does much of the film, does not attempt to neatly round things off or answer every question that the viewer has in relation to the preternatural events. In this sense it provides and allows for a (relatively rare) fictional space in which the viewer’s imagination can wonder, and wander; this is in a manner that is not wholly dissimilar to the also not fully explained nor neatly resolved preternatural events in the television series Sapphire & Steel (1979-1982), which has become something of a hauntological reference point.

In one sequence during Personal Shopper there is an intertwining of the supernatural and modern prosaic seeming but actually very advanced high-tech digital technology when Kyra receives a barrage of text messages on her smartphone sent by some unknown person, or thing, which is perhaps the spirit of her brother. Related to this and the film’s intertwining of day-to-day reality and the supernatural, Oliver Assayas spoke in an interview for the MUBI website of how Personal Shopper was influenced, in part, by his interest in 19th century spirit photography, with him going on to say that:

“I like the idea of the two parallel narratives: to have on one side the very documentary reconstruction of the [central character’s] London trip; and on the completely invisible level this conversation with ‘something’, someone that’s not there. I like the idea of communicating with something that’s invisible, that’s mysterious, that’s not completely elucidated… We never know who actually, where that person is… Which ultimately connects somehow with the spiritualism, in the sense that the birth of spiritualism, the origins, in the mid-19th century has to do with all the incredible inventions that were happening at the same time. And which gave a sense of making possible things that had always seemed part of the magical world. To see something that’s far; to hear someone who’s not there. It gave some kind of legitimacy to the whole idea of communicating with ghosts. The spiritualism is very close to the technical avant-garde movement of the time.” (Oliver Assayas quoted from “The Process of Dreaming: Oliver Assayas Discusses Personal Shopper”, Daniel Kasman,, 6th October 2016.)

Which in turn, as a final point, makes me think of how The Eccentronic Research Council suggest on their Finders Keepers Records released album 1612 Underture (2012) – which was described in text which accompanied its release as “A fakeloric sonic pilgrimage to the home of the Pendle witches” – that mobile phone handsets and their uses are a form of “modern-day magic on a monthly tariff”.


  1.  The quoted phrase in the description is taken from lorraine Daston and Katharine Park’s book Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (1998).
  2. “Smoke and Mirrors: Spiritualism in World War One”, author unknown, Home Front,, date unknown.

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Pentangle’s “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” from The Pentangle: Songs for A Year In The Country 17/26

Traditional folk as reimagined in a smokey jazz club basement back when… the song made a surprising and rather welcome appearance in Ben Wheatley’s at times lushly dreamscape-like gothic romance film Rebecca…




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Burial’s Tunes 2011-2019 and Spectres of Spectres Awash in a Landscape of Static: Wanderings 17/52

Burial is the recording alias of William Emmanuel Bevan, who has been releasing music since 2005, initially anonymously until his identity was revealed in 2008, although he has remained reclusive, giving few interviews and avoiding public appearances.

While Burial’s eponymous debut album released in 2006 and the 2007 follow up Untrue could be considered a spectral take on electronic dance music, they still retain a discernible and reasonably easily recognisable sense of drawing fairly directly from dance music such as garage and jungle. However much of the work on his compilation album Tunes 2011-2019 (2019), which collects together work from a number of singles and EPs he has released on Hyperdub, sounds more akin to the spectres of spectres of dance music, a far off faded fever dream of it.

The music on Tunes 2011-2019 could be considered to create and represent an alternative view or version of hauntology, one which may only subconsciously, coincidentally or even accidentally connect with or be informed by the themes and characteristics of hauntology such as a melancholia, yearning or nostalgia for lost futures, the reimagining and misremembering of past cultural forms and the use of the audio flaws of older physical media to create a sense of time out of joint and edge memories of previous eras.

If you could leave digital files of electronic dance music buried in the earth for a decade or two and they slowly rotted and deteriorated here and there, as photographic film can, then when they were unearthed they might sound like sections of Tunes 2011-2019. But only if the music somehow contained dreams and memories not so much of nights lost in the euphoria of clubland but rather created an atmosphere that invokes a sense of roaming the streets and late night garage shops of a city that you know but can no longer remember the name of, looking for some way out, something you could never find, that you never knew but hoped and longed for.

The tracks on Tunes 2011-2019, as with much of Burial’s work, are full of the imperfections, crackle, drop outs etc of physical recording mediums, and on the album’s track “Nightmarket” the listener is taken on a journey through a fractured audio landscape where melodies and elements of more traditional song forms offer a false sense of security, expectancy and normality before it all not so much fades away but at times just suddenly drops away below you and leaves you awash in a landscape of static. It is both brutally urban and softly dreamlike, and there’s a John Carpenter meets Blade Runner atmosphere at times as voices infrequently intone “Come with me”, “The frontier” and “I’m here”, which seem like seductive invitations that are more siren call than rave siren.

Interconnected with what writer and academic Mark Fisher called the conjuring of “audio-spectres out of crackle” in relation to the work of Burial, Tricky and Pole, Burial and Boards of Canada could be considered to represent two flip sides or undercurrents of spectral or hauntological audio; distantly related publicity shy urban/rural cousins. (Footnote 3) Both use older analogue media’s flaws to conjure a hazily distant “past inside the present” and almost hallucinatory atmosphere, although Burial’s perhaps has a more submerged and less overt or conscious philosophical underpinning. Rather Burial’s work on Tunes 2011-2019 contains a more instinctive seeming creation of its spectres, which could be seen as interconnecting with the spectres of the primal release and escape of dance music, culture and events which can be found in his music.

Returning to conjuring “audio-spectres out of crackle”, below is the section of the article which that quote is taken from: Mark Fisher’s “London After the Rave: Burial” article, which was originally published on his k-punk website in 2006 and republished in his 2013 book Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. (Footnote 4) The book was one of the first, if not the first, to focus on and extensively explore hauntology as a cultural form and in it Fisher wrote passionately and evocatively about Burial’s work, alongside interviewing him:

“[Burial’s debut album could be considered] a collection of the ‘dreamed songs’ Ian Penman imagined in his epochal piece on Tricky’s [debut album] Maxinquaye. Maxinquaye would be a reference point here, as would Pole – like both these artists, Burial conjures audio-spectres out of crackle, foregrounding rather than repressing sound’s accidental materialities. Tricky and Poles ‘crackology’ was a further development of dub’s materialist sorcery in which [as written by Penman] ‘the seam of its recording was turned inside out for us to hear and exult in’… But rather than the hydrophonic heat of Tricky’s Bristol or the dank cavern’s of Pole’s Berlin, Burial’s sound evokes what the press release calls a ‘near future South London underwater. You can never tell if the crackle is the burning static off pirate radio, or the tropical downpour of the submerged  city out of the window.'”



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