Hidden Histories, Echoes of the Future’s Past and the Unsettled Landscape
Author: Stephen Prince. 238 pages. Paperback and Ebook.
In keeping with the number of months in a year, A Year In The Country: Straying from the Pathways is split into 12 chapters, which travel from eerie landscapes and folk horror to the dysfunctional utopian visions of Brutalist architects via hazily misremembered cultural memories.
The book explores the wider realm of “otherly pastoralism” and its intertwining with the lost futures and parallel worlds of hauntology. It examines 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.
The book is edited and typeset by Ian Lowey of Bop Cap Book Services.
1. Explorations of an Eerie Landscape: Texte und Töne – The Disruption, The Changes, The Edge is Where the Centre is: David Rudkin and Penda’s Fen: An Archaeology, The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, The Stink Still Here – the miners’ strike 1984-85 – Robert Macfarlane – Benjamin Myers’ Under the Rock: The Poetry of a Place
2. Fractured Dream Transmissions and a Collapsing into Ghosts: John Carpenter – Prince of Darkness, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Village of the Damned, Christine – Nigel Kneale – Martin Quatermass – John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos
3. Hinterland Tales of Hidden Histories and Unobserved Edgeland Transgressions: Adrian McKinty’s In the Morning I’ll Be Gone – Clare Carson’s Orkney Twilight – David Peace’s GB84 – Tony White’s The Fountain in the Forest
4. Countercultural Archives and Experiments in Temporary Autonomous Zones: Jeremy Sandford and Ron Reid’s Tomorrow’s People – Richard Barnes’ The Sun in the East: Norfolk & Suffolk Fairs – Sam Knee’s Memory of a Free Festival: The Golden Era of the British Underground Festival Scene – Gavin Watson’s Raving ’89 – Molly Macindoe’s Out of Order: The Underground Rave Scene 1997-2006
5. The Village and Seaside Idyll Gone Rogue: Hot Fuzz – The Avengers’ “Murdersville” – The Prisoner – In My Mind – Malcolm Pryce’s Aberystwyth Mon Amour
6. Albion in the Overgrowth and Timeslip Echoes: Requiem – The Living and the Dead – Britannia – Detectorists
7. In Cars – Building a Better Future, Peculiarly Subversive Enchantments and Faded Futuristic Glamour: In the Company of Ghosts: The Poetics of the Motorway – Joe Moran’s On Roads: A Hidden History – Chris Petit’s Radio On – Autophoto – Martin Parr’s Abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland – The Friends of Eddie Coyle – Killing Them Softly – Langdon Clay’s Cars: New York City 1974-76
8. Brutalism, Reaching for the Sky and Bugs in Utopia: Peter Chadwick’s This Brutal World – Bladerunner – J.G. Ballard – Ben Wheatley – High-Rise – Peter Mitchell’s Memento Mori – Brick High-Rise
9. Battles with the Old Guard and the Continuing sparking of Vivid Undercurrents: A Very Peculiar Practice – Edge of Darkness
10. Lycanthropes, Dark Fairy Tales and the Dangers of Wandering off the Path: The Company of Wolves – Danielle Dax – Red Riding Hood – Wolfen – Hansel & Gretel: Witchhunters – The Keep
11. The Empty City Film and Other Visions of the End of Days – Survival and Shopping in the Post-Apocalypse: Day of the Triffids – Into the Forest – Night of the Comet – The Quiet Earth
12. Universe Creation, Spectral Lines in the Cultural Landscape and Reimagined Echoes from the Past: Hauntology – Hypnagogic Pop – Synthwave – D.A.L.I.’s When Haro Met Sally – Nocturne’s Dark Seed – Beyond the Black Rainbow – Mo’ Wax, UNKLE, Tricky, Massive Attack, Portishead, DJ Shadow, Andrea Parker – Ghost Box Records, The Focus Group, Belbury Poly – The Memory Band – The Delaware Road – Rowan : Morrison – Howlround – Mark Fisher – the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – Adrian Younge’s Electronique Void – DJ Food – Grey Frequency – Keith Seatman – Douglas Powell – Akiha Den Den – The Ghost in the MP3 – Black Channels – The Quietened Village – The Corn Mother
“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
“Author Prince’s eye remains firmly fixed on things you may not have seen, even when you were watching them… takes reality as its starting point, and not only makes its weirdness tangible, it tells you why as well.” Dave Thompson, Goldmine
“Straying From The Pathways is a comprehensive and hugely satisfying read, both as a book and as a reference guide to the liminal and the eerie in popular culture. There are numerous rabbit holes and recommendations for the reader in which to wander or to explore, and the book as a whole rewards repeated readings, such is the wealth of ideas or intriguing cross-referencing between genres and mediums… Highly recommended; a haunted house of a book that you will wish to frequent time and time again.” Grey Malkin, Moof
The book is released as part of the A Year In The Country project, which is a set of year-long journeys though the undercurrents and flipsides of bucolic dreams; it is a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the further reaches of folk culture, the hidden and underlying tales of the land and where they meet and intertwine with the spectral histories and lost futures of what has come to be known as hauntology.
As a project, it has included a website featuring writing, artwork and music which stems from that otherly pastoral/spectral hauntological intertwining, alongside a growing catalogue of album and book releases. The books and the written posts on the site are intended to draw together and connect layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, journeying from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators and pioneers and folkloric film and photography.