Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hauntology Parish Newsletter, May 2017 : Further at the Portico Gallery, South London, this Saturday; ToiToiToi; The Focus Group; IX Tab; Radionics Radio; Portland Vows; The Heartwood Institute; "folk horror".

News of an exciting gathering in London this weekend. Organised by DJ Food & Pete Williams, Further takes place at  a former theatre turned community centre in West Norwood (my old parish in the mid-Eighties, it so happens). Featured artists include Ghost Box's Jupp & House doing an audio-visual set and Howlround live sound-tracking  the film A Creak In Time by Steven McInerney of Psyché Tropes.

Says DJ Food a/k/a Kevin Foakes, the concept is neither a club nor a film night, but "somewhere in between... where the visual is as important as the musical."  

Date: Saturday May 6th
Location: Portico Gallery, 23B Knight's Hill, London, SE27 0HS,
Price: £7.55




Talking of Ghost Box, the label has a really cool new release out by a name completely unfamilar to me - ToiToiToi. Who turns out to be a German fellow (a first for the label, I believe... Indeed I wonder if they've ever put out anything by someone who wasn't British?). Appropriately they use the term "wunderkammer" - German for cabinet of curiosities - to describe Im Hag. Which seems bang-on, for the previous Ghost Box release it reminds me of a tiny bit is The Transactional Dharma of Roj  - which itself very much felt like a cabinet of ungainly marvels... queer little audio-contraptions whose design and purpose was unclear but that nonetheless entranced the ear.

 I also think sometimes of Mouse On Mars's buoyant and airy dinkytronica  

Release Rationale: 

Im Hag is the debut Ghost Box album for Berlin based Sebastian Counts’ ToiToiToi, following on from his single for the label’s Other Voices series in 2015. It’s very detailed and lovingly produced music, crafted from electronic, synth, sampled and acoustic sources. Its a wunderkammer of an album crammed with original ideas. All at once managing to be witty, spooky, melodic and abstract.

The music and design explores the polarities of folklore vs modernity, and wilderness vs civilization. It’s an album about German culture but it pre-empts a nostalgia for the vanishing concept of internationalism, once exemplified by town twinning. It’s also a warm-hearted record, hopefully a tiny morale booster against Europe’s resurgent spectres.

It's the best thing Ghost Box have put out for a while I think .... although it may not be for long, judging by the preview I've been permitted of the forthcoming and splendid album by The Focus Group - possibly Julian H's best since hey let loose your love.  

This reminded me of my remissness in forgetting to mention in the last newsletter the excellent debut album by Children of Alice - the ghosty supergroop comprising House, Roj, and Broadcast's James Cargill. I was supposed to be writing a feature on them, but owing to elusive obstacles that still mystify, this came undone. A classic of the ungenre, nonetheless, so don't miss it


A soul-sister to Focus Group in some respects, but less twitchy with detail, IX Tab's The World Is Not Where We Are  (due June 1st via Twiggwytch Recordings) is another fab excursion of dronescape-gardening and abstract-leaning bucolictronica... finding the (un)common hinterland between Laurie Lee and Luc Ferrari....  And hark at those mind's-eye-activating titles: "The Orchard Dream",   "Meeting in a Roofless Church", "The Smoke and The Birds", "The Tired Synths"...

Release rationale:

"The World Is Not Where We Are completes a trilogy of IX Tab albums and, while clearly cut from the same dirty cloth as Spindle & The Bregnut Tree and R.O.C, it is something of a departure in that, this time around, there is manifestly an acceptance of the feminine into the harte of the wud. The World Is Not Where We Are is moon-driven and burnished in silver. It’s anima(listic) and tidal, altogether more graceful in it’s movements. 

This time around, IX Tab features Eli Murray aka Gentleforce and Joan Pope of The Whip Angels, two collaborators from across the seas who instinctively understood the ritualistic nature of IX Tab and the strong sense of place. Gentleforce released arguably the best ambient album of 2016 in Refuge From The Great Sadness, while Joan Pope’s audio-visual sex cult, sexdeathrebirth, is in the process of taking all the worlds by storm. 

Other things have remained the same: old energies pushed in new directions. Lyrics by Kant by way of the Noumenal; songs by W.B. Yeats and Colette; atmospheres and sex magick exercises from Israel Regardie and Pope Joan; drones made from creaking swings and squeaking munkins; folk dirges and shotgun fire; wassails & poetic re-imaginings of lost causes. We know it’s an increasingly unpopular opinion, but we don’t believe that any music speaks for itself.
As ever, the IX Tab universe spills out into a 16-page full colour booklet bursting at the seams with esoteric ephemera, loose psycho-geographical details, lyrical shards, totems and potentially libelous slurs against 18th C portrait artists."

Pre-order via and downloads soon-come via

Three  other projects of reasonably recent vintage:

Released on SubRosa, Radionics Radio: An Album of Musical Thought Frequencies is a project created by composer / researcher / instrument builder / sonic contemplator Daniel R. Wilson, who informs me that the album "employs a technique theorised by Delawarr Labs that promises a brand new way of making music: by (supposedly) embedding 'thoughts' or 'moods' within the electronic musical tunings".   On pieces like "Heal Chakras" and "Wonderful Feelin" the process generates slowly gyrating planes of drone that put me in mind of Nurse With Wound's Soliloquy for Lilith, but other tracks are more eventful and internally varied excursions in the quirktronic mode. 
Advert and mini-documentary on the project below, while a full-blown release-rationale can be found at Wilson's Miraculous Agitations blog.

Word also reaches me of a newish album from Concrète Tapes -  Play Nicely by Portland Vows, a pleasing set of electronic sketches and mood-vapors. 

Also fresh to the parish: The Heartwood Institute, an apple-cheeked nephew to the gnarly-thumbed wood-whittler of an uncle that is Belbury Poly - at least judging by this album Mix Tape One.


That Heartwood Institute cover image - so redolent of the maypole scene from The Wicker Man  - reminded me that I was chatting over the fence with parish elder Ian Hodgson the other morn... 

Ian remarked how much "‘auntology by any other name" stuff was going on at the moment, pointing to the book Scarred For Life Volume One by Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence, which is blurbed as "an affectionate look at the darker side of pop culture in the 1970s. Public information films, scary kids' TV show, bleak adult dramas, dystopian sci-fi, savage horror films, violent comics, horror-themed toys and sweets and the huge boom in paranormal paraphernalia; all this and much more is covered in depth. Prepare to relive your childhood nightmares. The things that made us... Scarred For Life!".

He also pointed to the imminent Fortean Times feature "Haunted Generation: The Analogue Nightmare of a 70s Childhood" (for which I was interrogated, as it happens). 

Much of the by-another-name activity hides under the another-name "folk horror", as elaborated here in Guardian article  and in a recently-published book by Adam Scovell,  Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange.

And then published this very day: Louis Pattison's Bandcamp listening-guide to artists working in the F-H genre, including various outfits on the Reverb Worship label such as this "spookfolk" group The Hare and the Moon.

This comes with a fictitious-TV series mise-en-scene that raises a chuckle:

A five-part ITV children’s drama originally transmitted over the summer of 1972 and produced by Harlech Television based in Wales. Set in a village outside Hereford the story follows the preparations for the annual Wakes event but dark forces are unleashed when the organisers decide to build a ‘Witch’s Hat’ ride on an ancient burial mound. Roy Kinnear plays Mayor Hamilton who wants the Wakes event to go ahead in spite of warnings from local newspaper reporter Jane Meadows (Elisabeth Sladen). Also attempting to avert disaster are young white witch Heddwen (Camila Vargas) and visiting archaeologist Robbie Duggan (Iain Tranter). The series' obscurity is explained by the fact that a Welsh Nationalist transmission engineer deliberately confined the broadcast of the programme to Wales, failing to perform the switch required and thus enabling the Welsh language programme ‘Ffalabalam’ to be shown on the nationwide ITV network whilst ‘Hereford Wakes’ was shown only in Wales. A combination of luck and coincidence led to us being able to contact a relative of the composer and so we're delighted to present the music from Hereford Wakes for the first time. 

Hereford Wakes (1972) from Rachel Laine on Vimeo.

During the piece Pattison mentions this handy survey of the landscape at the site Folk Horror Revival by Andy Paciorek.

It all feels a bit terra cognita  (terror cognita, even!)...  a distinctly compact patch of British film and TV history (as Ian observed - Wicker Man, Blood on Satan's Claw, Witchfinder General - Penda's Fen and Robin Redbreast - Children of the Stones - some PIFs) now trampled frisson-less after successive waves of visitors...

That feeling of deja deja vu exacerbated by the news that English Heretic are soon to release their fourteenth record Wish You Were Heretic, which contains a sampled snatch of  the folk ditty "Bushes and Briars", soundbites from Robin Redbreast, narration of Houseman's "On the Idle Hill of Summer"... 

Round and round and round we go, big kids prancing endlessly around the memory maypole...