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Day #24/365. White Peak Dark Peak by Paul Hill

Paul Hill-White Peak Dark Peak book cover-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country
Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #10/52.

Although part of the aim of A Year In The Country is to look at, work with and hopefully create a new take on nature/landscape photography (one which will hopefully make sense to my own and maybe other’s subcultural sensibility), I have looked at suprisingly little of the work of other landscape/nature photographers.

This has been reasonably deliberate: quite possibly I didn’t want to be influenced by what had gone before in this field and I have had a fairly extreme, almost allergic urge to look away from and put down books that contain the work of other such photographers*.

Minninglow, Looking North-Paul Hill-White Peak Dark Peak-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The CountryAn exception to this was Paul Hill’s White Peak Dark Peak, published by Cornerhouse Publications in 1990 (and I expect photography publisher Dewi Lewis who later had his own imprint had a hand or two in it).

In the very early days of A Year In The Country gestating in the old brainbox I travelled to another city’s library in part largely to look at this book (mirroring how the youthful me used to travel to record shops when hunting down records – something I’ve referred to before I think). I was coming towards the end of one of the stages of a very people orientated photography project and wasn’t sure if non-people orientated photgraphic work could have the same resonance and connection for myself and others.

Paul Hill-White Peak Dark Peak-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country

But when I looked at this book some part of my brain recognised that nature and landscape photography could do something interesting and (slowly, steadily) I was off…

The book itself has been described as a visual odyssey across a very particular part of the English landscape and in parts has a quite dark/unsettling edge in the way it documents the passing of time and nature’s processes (I haven’t included any of those more darkly hued photographs here for reasons which I may discuss later).

It’s been out of print for a fair while now and fetches probably £30-60 but it may well be worth the investment.

Wolfescote Dale, Coldeaton-Paul Hill-White Peak Dark Peak-Dewi Lewis Publishing-A Year In The Country*Although strictly speaking I don’t consider myself a “photographer” (with a capital letter). It’s more just that photography is one of the things I’m using at the moment.

Dark Peak White Peak at Eleven Fine Art

Paul Hill’s site.


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Day #23/365: Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape – a study of future haunted media

Day 23-The Stone Tape Nigel Kneale-BFI DVD-A Year In The Country 2
File under:
Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #9/52.

Well, what can I say? The Stone Tape. It was somewhat inevitable that it would be here.

I suspect that if you’re viewing this page then you already know about the film/program but if not here’s a four sentence precis (slight spoiler may follow):

A 1972 TV film/program written by Nigel Kneale which features a group of British scientists holed up in a country house/mansion while they attempt to create a new recording technique (and presciently to take on the Japanese at such things). They discover a possible form of recording which exists within the substance of the house and attempt to study, initiate and capture (?) it. It’s an unsettling number which lodges itself in your mind and is a fine example of television showing a somewhat intelligent and questioning side. Slightly curiously for such things it features future cake supremo Jane Asher.

Day 23-The Stone Tape Nigel Kneale-BFI DVD-A Year In The CountryFirst watched by my good self on a rather fuzzy digital copy, which I think actually quite suited the nature of the film (program) and seemed to heighten the cheap off-colour tape recording of the original.

I took photographs for A Year In The Country for a year. At the end of that year I returned to the small village where I had lived as a child and had found out about the possible end of the world via two brown bakelite boxes (see About for more information on such things) alongside first discovering apocalyptic/dystopian/post-disaster fiction and fact via the Doctor Who Weekly comic, odd speculative science fiction TV programs aimed at children that dealt with food shortages and so on…

Day 23-The Stone Tape Nigel Kneale-BFI DVD-A Year In The Country…curiously, on that day The Stone Tape was showing at the pictures in a city that I could easily visit on my return journey. It wasn’t planned that that should happen but it’s funny how life sometimes tells and sends you things.

So I sat in the darkness with my fellow travellers and had my own Cathode Ray Seance courtesy of flickering celluloid.

Day 23-The Stone Tape Nigel Kneale-BFI DVD-A Year In The CountryReally I think I should own The Stone Tape on tape. That’s the first time I became aware of it’s existence; I saw it on VHS video cassette in an educational institution library; I never watched that copy but it would consistently jump out at me from the shelves for some reason. Having watched it, I have an inkling why.

It is possible that one day when the new(ish) digital technology of laser read discs will be the old technology they will become the things that people hold dearly to their hearts and may have gained a layer or two of nostalgia and preciousness to their present and future owners: they may well become their own haunted media and to a degree visually this post/page is a reference and nod to that (all the images are from the original BFI DVD release of The Stone Tape).

Day 23-The Stone Tape Nigel Kneale-BFI DVD-A Year In The Country
Two other Stone Tape pathways:
Both Steve Collins of The Owl Service and (psychogeographical?) author Iain Sinclair have used Mr Nigel Kneale’s masterpiece to title their own endeavours:

Stone Tape Recordings

Stone Tape Shuffle, at Boomkat and Test Centre who released it.

Day 23-The Stone Tape Nigel Kneale-BFI DVD-A Year In The Country


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Day #21/365: In The Dark Half

Day 18-In The Dark Half-2012 Film Poster-Alistair Siddons-A Year In The Country
File under:
Trails and influences; Touchstones. Case #8/52.

The visuals of this film are sumptuous, it has supreme lenswork by Spanish cinematographer Neus Ollé. Director Alistar Siddons said that he thought the viewpoint of somebody from outside of England would bring something unusual to how the film was visually… and it does that indeed.Day 18-In The Dark Half-2012 Film Still 2-Alistair Siddons-A Year In The Country
There is a subtle sense that you are looking in on a magical otherly world. There are folkloric elements to the film but it’s not so much those which give the sense of a world with it’s own rules and even magic. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but there’s a certain lush, soft beauty to the rundown estate and it’s nearby countryside in the film (which is good to say as a contrast to the often standard British realist cinema take on such things)…Day 18-In The Dark Half-2012 Film-Alistair Siddons-A Year In The Country
…but in that lush beauty there is a sense of something else, something unsettling.

Anyway, I shan’t talk too much about this film as I think it’s one to go away and appreciate in itself.
Day 18-In The Dark Half-2012 Film still 1-Alistair Siddons-A Year In The Country

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Day #19/365: Once a Year – Homer Sykes

Day 17-Once A Year cover-Homer Sykes-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Other Pathways.
Case #2/52.

This was something of a starting point for A Year In The Country.

I was coming towards the end of one of the stages of a large, subterranean culturally city orientated project (and indeed towards the end of a long period of living in cities) and this book seemed to catch my eye in a local charity shop window.

It was one of those charity shops where they know the value of things and price them accordingly (indeed they once had photographer Paul Graham’s A1: The Great North Road book for sale for hundreds of pounds), so this wasn’t cheap: thirty of your good British pounds indeed.

It still has the price sticker on the cover, so I must have paid that much, which is interesting because looking back at that time the cupboards were quite bare at home and so the subject matter of the book must have touched quite a chord.

The book was published in 1977 and is a document of seven years of journeying around Britain photographing traditional British customs. In many ways it is a continuation of Sir Benjamin Stone’s work and is part of a lineage that leads to Sarah Hannant’s Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year book. In many ways Ms Hannant’s is very similar in some ways to Once A Year (although her photographs are in colour) and indeed apart from the hairstyles and period details some of the photographs could almost be exchanged from one book to the other.

Talking of period details, Once A Year is actually interesting as much for it’s recording of period 1970s detail and style and the way these traditional customs lived in amongst them. In that sense they remind me of the work of Tony Ray-Jones and his documentation of then contemporary English life. Along which lines, the photograph below from the book is something of a favourite:
Day 17-Once A Year cover-Homer Sykes-A Year In The Country

…to wander off at a tangent a bit, I think Tony Ray-Jones was something of a genius. I don’t know if I’ve seen anybody else’s work that captures a certain time, place and spirt of Blighty as much as his did. I must admit I’m quite excited about a soon to come exhibition of his work at The National Media Museum in Bradford.

Anyway, back in course: some of the photographs in Once A Year have a genuinely eery or unsettlingly macabre air. Particularly the cover photograph, of burning tar barrel carrying in Allendale, Northumberland. The Wicker Man come to life indeed; it presents a sense of a world that feels fascinatingly separate to mainstream contemporary society and mores (then or now).

An electronic ether pathway or two you might like to peruse:
Simon Norfolk’s We English blog post on Once A Year.
Café Royal Books limited edition edited reprint of Once A Year.
Homer Sykes Once A Year page on his site.
Tony Ray-Jones at Lens Culture.


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Day #18/365: Willows Songs

Day 16-Willows Songs-Songs That Inspired The Wicker Man-Finders Keepers Records-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and influences; Touchstones. Case #7/52.

Well, The Wicker Man was likely to appear in A Year In The Country somewhere along the line.

This is an album released by unearthers of rare sonic delights Finders Keepers Records and is one which aims to showcase the British Folk songs that inspired the soundtrack to The Wickerman.

Day 16-Willows Songs-Songs That Inspired The Wicker Man-Finders Keepers Records-A Year In The CountryIt’s Highland Lament which is the standout, hair stood on end track for me. Another case where one song is worth the price of entry on it’s own.

I know little or nothing about the song or who performs it (it’s not credited to anybody) and in a way I like that: in these times of instant knowledge about most everything via a click or swoosh or two it’s quite nice to keep the slight mystery of some things.

As is often the way with the good folk at Finders Keepers, the album is nicely packaged, with some rather hauntingly ethereal photographs of folk dancers. I expect once upon a time they were just ordinary snapshots but as can be the way sometimes the passing of time adds layers and patinas of something else. Which leads me to…

Day 16-Willows Songs-Songs That Inspired The Wicker Man-Finders Keepers Records-A Year In The Country

A curious thing The Wickerman soundtrack (and indeed the film itself): an interesting case of where something authentic has been created from an inauthentic premise. The soundtrack has come to feel as though it features songs which have belonged to these isles for centuries when in fact they were created especially for the film. The story, folk setting and history of the making of the film have become and/or inspire a form of modern day of folklore.

This could be looked upon askance as not being historically authentic but such communal cultural tales all must have a beginning (and maybe in the past were conjured from the air and mind in a similar manner, differering only in their technological recording and dissemination).

However, in culturally mediated times, the stories contained within celluloid, vinyl, digital data etc could be seen to have become our communal culture, one which is passed from person to person in a similar way that oral culture once would have done the same.

Considering it’s cult appeal, this is an album which is curiously not so easy to find, particularly on vinyl. The CD is available here.

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Day #15/365. The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale

Day 14-The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale-Strange Attractor-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Touchstones.
Case #6/52.

Well, what can I say. A journey into the world of Nigel Kneale, his cathode ray seances and risograph printing…

Mr Kneale seems to have travelled with me a good while and reappeared in my life again relatively recently: previously it was mostly in printed form which I read as a child – I was mildly obsessed by the crumbling future Britain and science fiction leyline mystery of the final Quatermass chronicles. I seem to remember I  purchased fmy copy of the book from the bargain paperback section of my local newsagents, picked from in amongst the more mainstream pulp fair that was on offer (it seems slightly incongruous to include the cover of that below next to the fine design work of The Twilight Language)…

Day 14-Nigel Kneale Quatermass book-A Year In The Country…and the Quality Comics / Hammer Halls of Horror adaptation of one of the Quatermass stories which I read has always mildly haunted and slightly worried me…

Curiously though I think it was only relatively recently that I started to explore the aforementioned cathode ray seances of Mr Kneale (The Stone Tape being of particular note in my journey through A Year In The Country but more of that in a later post).

Thinking about it, in a way this book has helped complete a circle from printed form to the siren call of the screen and back to the printed form (hmmm, scratches beard and ponders).

The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale was published to accompany a one day event in New York, which strikes me as a curious and intriguing place for this most English of scribes to have been taken to heart: possibly his work seems particularly exotic when viewed from afar?

A quick precis of the text of the book: it’s a set of essays, conversations etc produced in response to his work and features Sophia Al-Maria, Bilge Ebiri, Mark Fisher, William Fowler, Ken Hollings, Paolo Javier, Roger Luckhurst, China Miéville, Drew Mulholland, David Pike, Mark Pilkington, Joanna Ruocco, Sukhdev Sandhu, Dave Tompkins, Michael Vazquez and Evan Calder Williams…

…what has drawn me to it in particular though is that the book feels very precious, it’s something that I pick up gently and tenderly. There’s something very, um, real about it. I think in part this is because it was printed using the Risograph technique which gives it a very tactile and matt finish.

Risograph printing is essentially like a digital version of screenprinting rather than traditional lithograph printing; ink is pushed through plates and the effect is something that feels very human, less clinical and nearer to art than most printing mass reproduction technologies I have seen. I’d not consciously come across this process used in a tradtional book form before and as a sometimes screenprinter it quite fascinated me.

What adds to this is the design work by Rob Carmichael, which is just exquisite and I think perfectly captures and reflects the spirit of Nigel Kneales work in a contemporary graphic form. Quite, quite lovely. Tip of the hat to you Mr Carmichael.

But wait, that’s not all. The book also came with a cassette tape (yes, those again) featuring specially composed work by The Asterism, Emma Hammond, Hong Kong In The 60s, Listening Centre, The Real Tuesday Weld, sometime Jonny Trunk collaborator/Ghosts of Bush House creator (more of that in another post) Robin The Fog and Misinformation-ers Mordant Music (more of that I expect in a later post – I seem to be saying that quite a bit on this page)…

…the insert to the tape is Risograph printed as well. Attention to detail and all that.

Day 14-A Cathode Ray Seance-The Haunted Worlds Of Nigel Kneale-A Year In The CountryBut wait again… in the package, unexpectedly was a Risograph printed poster for the A Cathode Ray Séance: The Haunted Worlds of Nigel Kneale event that the book accompanied. Blimey. All this for £16.99 (and shipped from the US). A bargain indeed.

Unfortunately (or fortunately as it’s nice to know it’s wandered out into the world) it’s now sold out, although a standard edition may be released.

Read more about the book at Strange Attractor.

View Rob Carmichaels page of his design work at Seen Studio.

A quite extensive article on the event and Nigel Kneale at frieze.


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Day #13/365. The Wall / Die Wand… a vision from behind the walls of pastoral science fiction…

Day 13-The Wall Die Sind 2012-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Recent Explorations. Case #2/52.

I’d been somewhat looking forward to watching this since I’d first heard about it… the premise intrigued me (a solitary woman is effectively imprisoned in a section of the countryside by an invisible wall) and there aren’t really all that many films which take and use the countryside as a setting and backdrop, particularly in what is effectively pastoral science fiction.

Anyway, it didn’t disappoint. For various reasons my viewing was in three different stages and alternated between a surreally mis-subtitled version and the dubbed English version but that didn’t seem to matter as I’ve seemed to come away thinking… stately, elegaic, calming, intriguing.

Little or no explanation is given to the reason for the appearance of the barrier or to why she is not rescued (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here) but it doesn’t feel necessary to have such expositions.

I seemed to spend quite a bit of the film wandering what the lady in question would do when say her shoes wore out (she proves suprisingly resourceful and adaptable to most tasks but I’m not sure what she would do about that)…

Day 13-The Wall Die Wand-Haushofer-A Year In The CountryIn a way, it reminded me of some of the science fiction I read, watched and imbibed in my childhood: the often non-city based post-disaster/invasion and sometimes depopulated fiction of say John Wyndham’s The Triffids or John Christopher’s Tripods but mostly I just appreciated watching a film that gave your mind space to think, wander and soak in the work and the landscapes rather than the sometimes endless fizzy sweet overload of much of contemporary cinema (bah humbug, in my day it was all fields around here etc).

Ah, looking online I see there’s an English translation of the book by Marlen Haushofer. I may have to peruse that.


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Day #11/365: Lal Waterson – Teach Me To Be A Summers Morning

Day 11-Teach Me To Be A Summer Morning b-Lal Waterson-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #5/52.

Well, after the last post I feel like I need a good shower to wash and scrub away the grime of Englands past.

In lieu of that, thinking and pondering about this album/book will do.

Quite frankly it’s a beautiful object. Even though times were a little cash strapped in AYITC Towers when I first saw it, it was one of those things that I just had to have (and not spend ages thinking about whether to purchase it, adding it to electronic baskets and wish lists, stepping back, thinking about it some more etc as is often my wont).

Day 11-Teach Me To Be A Summers Morning Notebooks-Lal Waterson-A Year In The CountryIndeed, it’s a good example in these increasingly digital times of how the presentation of music in a physical form/package can still be an important and vital way of doing such things (says me, typing this into the electroic ether).

Anyway, it’s a finely and lovingly produced artifact, all bespoke attention and design (from the rounded corners to the extra thick cover, via the recess for the CD and a strap to hold it together which recalls the notebooks which it recalls inside)… it seems like a good way of presenting a tribute to the sadly departed Ms Waterson, curated by her daughter Marry Waterson

Day 11-Teach Me To Be A Summers Morning 3b Notebooks-Lal Waterson-A Year In The CountryThe book collects her handwritten lyrics, paintings, lyrics, notebooks etc…

…and is it just me or are the photographs of her notebooks just entrancing? I could stare at and lose myself in them all day.

You can have a look-see at a rather nice slideshow of the book  on the old internet goggle box here (uploaded by Topic Records, who published the book/album).

Day 11-Teach Me To Be A Summers Morning 4-Lal Waterson-A Year In The Country

PS I don’t know if this trivial but I also like the sort of indie-mod-folk-beatnik styling of Lal Waterson herself on the cover. Cuts rather a dash I think.

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

Day 10-The Auteurs How I Learned To Love The Bootboys-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Other Pathways. Case #1/52.

Although the phrase hauntology has often come to mean a particular aesthetic (ie a particular kind of often sample lead music and found imagery, often drawing on library music and TV/film soundtracks of the later sixties through to the early eighties; see Ghostbox, Julian House etc), if you consider it in a more general sense to mean the present being haunted by spectres of the past then Luke Haines is probably one of the more hauntological musicians I can think of.

Why? Well, his music often seems to literally be haunted by the past, his own and society/cultures and bogeymen/figures of one sort and another from previous decades.

Take this album How I Learned To Love The Bootboys, by one of his previous combos, The Auteurs. Lead track The Rubettes borrows liberally from 1970s pop (Sugar Baby Love by it’s namesakes), their are maruding skinhead bootboys from a similar era, we’ve an ode to a 1950s pop/rock band (the singer of whom is “dead within a year”), imbibements popular in other eras (Asti Spumante; known as a “noxiously sweet poor man’s Champagne”) and so forth… alongside a sometimes and possibly recurring sense of the playground dread of an arty-schoolboy looking back to the marauding dangers of his 1970s childhood.

Elsewhere, such as on his solo album Off My Rocker At The Art School Pop there are teddy boys discos and Vauxhall Corsas, “the three day week, half-day Wednesdays, the spirit of the Blitz”, an unsolved 1960s celebrity boxers death and that’s before we get to an entire concept album dedicated to 1970s and early 1980s wrestling (called in a “it does what it says on the can” manner Nine and a Half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early ’80s… a fine title and subject matter).

Or indeed, it’s before we get to the sublime Black Box Recorder, his trio with cohorts Sarah Nixey and John Moore. This combo often sounded to me as though they were singing from some kind of brutal, sneering, imaginary 1970s hinterland, all arch pop noir and hidden away in cupboards secrets along with Lord Lucan-esque classy British sleaze…Day 10-Moon Wiring Club-Rob Young-Uncut Magazine-A Year In The Country

…which reminds me in a way of Rob Young’s review of a Moon Wiring Club album in Uncut magazine where he talks of the enclosed music being “slathered in the fiction that it comes from an older, weirder England”… and so we come back round to what is considered hauntological culture in a more conventional sense.

So, Mr Luke Haines, a curious gent and I think an interesting example of how pop/rock can be conjoined with a certain intellectual stance and influence and still be, well, good pop/rock songs (I say pop as both The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder bothered the singles charts in the days when such things kind of still mattered a bit… oh and the songs are often catchy. “Non-populist pop”? to quote the sleevenotes to The Eccentronic Research Council’s first album).

I find that there’s a certain British nature/countryside brutality to the cover of How I Learned to Love The Bootboys (particularly more so in the original full colour cover version… the red dye splashed on the sheeps coats seems to conjure the edges of nightmares and the blood soaked history of the land. Or is that just me?).

I’m suprised returning to the cover as well as in my head the sheep are next to and below an imposing dark grey cliff. Misremembered cultural memories and all that.

Day 10-The Auteurs-The Rubettes-A Year In The CountryOh and as final note, just what is going on in tthis cover to The Auteurs The Rubettes? It’s genuinely unsettling and well, nasty. Literally contemporary folk horror.

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Day #9/365: Wyrd Britannia Festival

Wyrd Britannia Festival-A Year In The CountryFile under:
A Year In The Country: Recent Explorations. Case #1/52.

Well, on my electronic ether wanderings I stumbled upon this festival around and about the environs of Halifax and Hebden Bridge… one of those times where I suddenly find myself counting my pennies and wandering if I can afford to go to all of it if I stay at a rather (ahem) budgetly priced hostelry and eat chips for six days.

It seems like one of those times and events where somebody who works for the council/public services has had some particularly interesting get-up-and-go and has started to put something they’re genuinely passionate out into the world… the festival is actually to mark the relaunch of the Calderdale libraries Wyrd Britannia collection of films, books etc… and judging by the lineup and the photograph of the collection below it’s a collection below it includes areas of culture that you probably wouldn’t expect to see gathered together in a public library. To quote from the council’s site the collection “reflect(s) the dark and complex underbelly of English rural tradition and beliefs”. Blimey, see what I mean? It’s not three shelves or more full of some supermarket friendly blockbusters by the same author as you sometimes see in such places.

I’m not knocking libraries though. They’re some of my favourite places and I seem to visit them in the same way IWyrd Britannia Festival book collection-A Year In The Country used to track down record shops and to tell the truth I often get the sense that whoever is organising/buying the stock has an eye and ear for the left-of-centre (double Swans live albums? Check. Book of lost New Orleans Juke Joints? Check. Etc). Tip of the hat to them.

Anyway, this festival features some of the core films of what could be called English hauntological* folklore (The Wickerman, Robin Redbreast and the superb, intriguing and rather rare Penda’s Fen) alongside performances (installations?), readings and the like by Magpahi, Folklore Tapes, author Chris Lamber (Tales Of The Black Meadow… more on that I expect in a later post), author Andy Roberts on his Albion Dreaming book etc.

Well, it’s good to know that there are corners of the world where the public coffers can still be spent on such things.

Thankyou to those involved.

Wyrd Britannia Festival site

Wyrd Brittania at Calderdale Council

Wyrd Britannia on dear old social media


*Hauntological? Is this the first time I used this phrase in A Year In The Country? Something of a catchall in a way but it does seem to have come to represent a particular cultural sensibility and atmosphere…

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Day #7/365: Folklore Tapes; the ferrous reels of arcane research projects…

Devon Folklore Tapes Vol IV-Rituals and Practices-Magpahi and Paper Dollhourse-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #4/52.
Trails and Influences: Electronic Ether. Case # to be confirmed.

Now, if you want a lesson in how to create an intriguing, secret world unto itself then here would be a good place to start.

Originally monikered Devon Folklore Tapes, this could be called a record label but how it has been created and presented to the world it feels more akin to an arcane research project.

The mainstay of it’s releases are especially commissioned music projects/soundtracks (again I feel that research project would be more appropriate), generally presented on good old ferrous compact tapes which are housed in adapted, hollowed out hardback books which were very limited in quantity (ie 30 copies and once they were gone they were gone). Hens teeth is a phrase that comes to mind.

I think for a while that was the only way you could hear any of the resulting work. I liked the fact that in order to listen you would have to dig out a dusty old tape recorder and actually sit down and listen (initially I thought my copy of one of the tapes had been recorded in mono as I was listening to it on an almost end of the line dictaphone I’d bought in the mid 2000s and I didn’t realise that it would only play one channel of the tapes)…

Day 7-Devon Folklore Tapes Vol IV-Magpahi and Paper Dollhouse-A Year In The Country 2

Now, generally they also come with a download code and there are often simpler packaged copies of the tapes also available… but when they are released there is generally a feeding frenzy and whoosh they’re gone (something I often find out about just after the fact so that I can hear myself say “Darned, not again”).

The collaborators/creators of the series have included Rob St John, Children Of Alice (part of Broadcast), Anworth Kirk and David Orphan… though my favourite volume is number IV which features Finders Keepers cohorts Magpahi and Paper Dollhouse: the Magpahi side is all… well, I don’t know quite how you would put it but I think haunting folkloric vocals and quite an interesting pop sensibility while Paper Dollhouse wanders off into early morning free floating word association.

Day 7-Folklore Tapes Newsletter-David Chatton-Barker-A Year In The Country
(Folklore Tapes News Letters with screenprinted folder.)

I think Boomkat put it quite well:

Day 7-Devon Folklore Tapes Vol IV-Magpahi and Paper Dollhouse-A Year In The Country 1Volume IV in this enchanted series surveys ‘Rituals And Practices’ connected to the folklore of Devon in the south west of England. Research was carried out by Magpahi and Paper Dollhouse into the myths, legends and strange phenomena of the old county, resulting in a creaking combination of wyrdly symbolic sonic energies and spirits that manifest as haunted ambient pop and folk song. At risk of breaking the spell, we won’t go any further, other than to tell you this is our favourite in the series so far and comes recommended to fans of Broadcast, Nico, stone circles and fine storytelling.

Folklore Tapes-Field Report Films-A Year In The Country…which I think is the first place I heard any of the music and it just stuck in my head and I seemed to have to own it (a fair few possibly nolonger wanted items were flung on the pyrrhic reselling market in order to purchase a copy if memory serves me right).

What else? Well, it’s not just the tape releases, there are field trips, events, photography, newsletters mailed to you in the traditional paper style and more. I particularly like head honcho David Chatton-Barker’s design work, well worth a look-see…

I shall leave the (almost last) word to Folklore Tapes themselves:

“Folklore Tapes is an ongoing cassette-based cult devoted to exploring the folkloric arcana of the farthest-flung recesses Great Britain, via divinatory research, abstracted musical reinterpretations and experimental visuals. Exploring mysteries, myths topography and strange phenomena of the old counties. This site will archive designs, research and production of each volume.”
Sites of interest:

Devon Folklore Tapes

Place where you can see that the tape you wanted is sold out.

Place where you can see if you can afford a previous volume.

Mr Chatton-Barker’s site and design work.

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Day #6/365: The Fallen By Watchbird – Jane Weaver Septième Soeur; the start of a journey through cosmic aquatic folklore, kunstmärche and otherly film fables…

Day 6-The Fallen By Watch Bird Jane Weaver 1-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences; Touchstones. Case #3/52.

Well, what can I say, if there is a finer album of cosmic aquatic folklore out in the world I’ve not heard it.

That may sound a little facetious but this mult-faceted project by Jane Weaver has had something of a mighty hold on my imagination for a year or two or more now…

I’m not quite sure how I came across it but I think the first song I heard from it was Silver Chord, which is just haunting and is one of those songs that sends me into some almost trance like kind of state. Quite frankly sublime.

Day 6-The Fallen By Watch Bird Jane Weaver 2-A Year In The CountryI’m sure an online search will let you know all about it but suffice to say that the first/main album features all kinds of   left-of-centre and almost lost folk/pop songstresses, from Weny & Bonnie to Susan Christie via Lisa Jen… and that’s before we get to the companion (spin-off? remix? reimagining?) album The Watchbird Alluminate which features reworkings of the songs by Demdike Stare, The Focus Group, Wendy Flower, Amworth Kirk Samandtheplants and a beautiful, haunting reinterpretation of My Soul Was Lost, My Soul Was Lost And No-One Saved Me by Magpahi (worth the price of admission on it’s own I feel, tip of the hat to all concerned).

I think one of the interesting things about Fallen By Watchbird is that though in many ways it is resolutely avant garde in concept and influences, it’s actually a really good pop record; it has tunes you can and would want to hum.

Those influences? Well, they’re quoted as including Eastern European children’s cinema, Germanic kunstmärchen (fairy tales or the electronic ether literally translates it as art fairy which I quite like), 70’s television music and early murmurs of 80’s synth pop. Which is enough to intrigue a chap like myself in itself…

Day 6-The Fallen By Watch Bird Jane Weaver 3-A Year In The Country…and those influences also lead me down a path to discover or rediscover an interesting strand of cinematic history: the Czech New Wave (or the Czechoslovak film miracle, which considering the otherworldly nature of some of the films seems quite appropriate). Often playful, surreal, fairy tale like and often a feast for the eyes. Daisies and Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders are two of the standouts for me… though Ms Weaver quotes an unsubtitled copy of Malá Morská Víla (The Little Mermaid but possibly something of a world away from it’s more well known filmic twin) as having been the starting point for this album and some of the stylings of have found their way into the packaging and accompanying video.

Right, I’m going on a bit here and I’ve not even got to the packaging yet… it was something of a trek to find a vinyl copy of Fallen By Watchbird but I’m glad I did… it’s a lovely package, from the gold gently corrugated sleeve, the tipped in cover image, obi strip etc: a real labour of love.

Oh and the illustrations… I’m not sure where they’re from but they’re quite magical and intriguing…

I may natter about this fine record and it’s cultural companions another time (there is also a book, a compilation CD, a tote bag, a poster etc and it is released on Bird / Finders Keepers, all of which could easily make this post twice the length if I was to start nattering now) but suffice to say this is a record which I wholeheartedly recommend.

I would recommend a viewing of the Fallen By Watchbird video.

The album can be purchased from: Finders Keepers Records

Jane Weaver’s site is here

Day 6-The Fallen By Watch Bird Jane Weaver-European Aluminate-Andy Votel-Finders Keepers Records-A Year In The CountryPS There is also an accompanying rare as the proverbial domestic fowls molars promotional mix CD called Europium Alluminate. It  is described as “A 70 minute transmission of cosmic aquatic folklore, flickering luminescent lullabies & hand-plucked pop”, which is compiled and mixed by Jane Weaver and Andy Votel and which is a fine, illuminating and interesting musical journey (and I quite like that there’s no easily available tracklisting, so it leaves your mind wandering).


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Day #5/365: Artifact #1/52. now available.

Throughout the year we will be making available 52 artifacts from our A Year In The Country explorations.

Artifact #1/52: Transference & Transmissions print / poster is now available.

Artifact #1/52: Transference and Transmissions Print from A Year In The Country
Limited edition of 12. Each print is signed and numbered.
Size: 55.2cm x 21 cm / 21.7″ x 8.3″ (same width as A2, half the height of A2).
Size includes 2cm/0.8″ unprinted border.
Printed with archival Giclée pigment inks on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 100% cotton paper.

Available via our Artifacts Shop and at our Etsy shop.