The A Year In The Country Books

There are currently four A Year In The Country books:

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A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields – Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology

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Wandering amongst the further reaches of folk culture, “otherly” pastoralism and their intertwining with the parallel worlds of hauntology, the book connects layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, journeying from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions.

It includes considerations of the work of writers including Rob Young, John Wyndham, Richard Mabey and Mark Fisher, musicians and groups The Owl Service, Jane Weaver, Shirley Collins, Broadcast, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Virginia Astley and Kate Bush, the artists Edward Chell, Jeremy Deller and Barbara Jones and the record labels Trunk, Folk Police, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.

The book also explores television and film including Quatermass, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, Phase IV, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, Bagpuss, Travelling for a Living, The Duke of Burgundy, Sapphire & Steel, General Orders No. 9, Gone to Earth, The Changes, Children of the Stones, Sleep Furiously and The Wicker Man.

A new book caught my eye recently – the title A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields, that goes in search of the darker, eerier side of the bucolic countryside dream by looking at films of a certain genre, books, TV series, music; it is great to have this fascinating subject explored so thoroughly and brought together under one title.Verity Sharp, Late Junction, BBC Radio 3

 

The Corn Mother

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The Corn Mother novella is a further exploration of the world, stories and dreamscapes of an imaginary near-mythical film, which first began on an album released with the same name in 2018. It is an exploration and relection “of the whispers that tumble forth from the corn mother’s kingdom”. A place and story where fact, fiction, reality and dreams blur into one:

1878: A villager is forced to flee from her home after rumours begin that she has cursed the crops. Her vengeful spirit, known as the corn mother, is said to visit those responsible in the night, bringing ill fortune and an all-encompassing sense of guilt.

1982: A film called The Corn Mother begins to be made. Although the plot is fictional, it closely resembles the story of the fleeing villager. The film is completed but never released, with all known copies disappearing after its production company collapses.

1984: A lifelong quest begins to find the near-mythical film.

2020: All mentions of The Corn Mother begin to disappear from the world, calling into question if the film ever existed.

A fascinating and truly inventive novella… This is an original and significant piece of work, not only in its novel, singular and successful approach to folk horror and ‘imaginary’ films but in the creation of its own self referencing folklore.” Grey Malkin, Folk Horror Revival

 

A Year In The Country: Straying From The Pathways – Hidden Histories, Echoes of the Future’s Past and the Unsettled Landscape

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From eerie landscapes and folk horror to the dysfunctional utopian visions of Brutalist architects via hidden histories and hauntological reimagined cultural memories, the book explores such varied and curiously interconnected topics as the faded modernity and “future ruins” of British road travel; apocalyptic “empty city” films; dark fairy tales; the political undercurrents of the 1980s; idyllic villages gone rogue; photographic countercultural festival archives and experiments in “temporary autonomous zones”.

The book also discusses film, television and books, including: Requiem, Prince of Darkness, The Prisoner, The Company of Wolves, Detectorists, A Very Peculiar Practice, Edge of Darkness, Day of the Triffids, Penda’s Fen, High-Rise, The Living and the Dead, Night of the Comet, In the Company of Ghosts: The Poetics of the Motorway, The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, GB84, This Brutal World and The Fountain in the Forest, as well as music that draws from, or interconnects with, hauntological spectres and reimaginings of the past, including hypnagogic pop, synthwave and the work of Ghost Box Records, Adrian Younge, D.A.L.I., Grey Frequency, The Ghost in the MP3, DJ Shadow and Howlround amongst others.

Chock full of treasures, both well-known and obscure… the twelve chapters tackle their subjects in an accessible yet scholarly manner, never shying away from often weighty concepts but never using unnecessarily complex language when simple terms will do… Simply put, A Year in the Country: Straying from the Pathways is a delight, and will thrill existing seekers of hauntological fare as well as serve as an introductory hit to those yet to sample its enchantments.Alan Boon, Starburst

 

A Year In The Country: The Marks Upon The Land

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Collects all 104 images which were created during the first year of A Year In The Country – a visual exploration the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edgelands, taking in the beauty and escape of rural pastures, intertwined with a search for expressions of an underlying unsettledness to the bucolic countryside dream.

The imagery in the book takes inspiration from and channels the outer reaches of folk culture and hauntology, alongside memories of childhood countryside idylls spent under the shadow of Cold War end of days paranoia and amongst the dreamscapes of dystopic science fiction tales.

The Marks Upon The Land… converts the bucolically familiar into something more eerie or even sinister, a series of widescreen mutations that create pareidolia spectres through symmetry and layering. Seen in isolation, these images are arresting enough but they gain power by being collected together, fashioning a statement of intent.” John Coulthart, feuilleton