Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hauntology Parish Newsletter - June 2018 : Moon Wiring Club stuff 'n' nonsense; Bloxham Tapes; new A Year in the Country themed album The Shildam Hall Tapes; Andrew Pekler's Phantom Islands

Celebrating the Summer Solstice tomorrow, here's a new Moon Wiring Club mix! 


Mr. Hodgson describes it as starting out as your "pretty standard hyper-soup of the usual 70s/80s audio synth nonsense with added vocal bitsy" that then veers into an unexpected "Industrial dance selection... everyone needs to have heard Soma Holiday at least once."

Mr. Hodgson also points out some related MWC action:


- a MWC interview that features in new "folk horror" book  Harvest Hymns. Volume II - Sweet Fruits

-  MWC track contributed to "3rd Wave" hauntology compilation, Present At The Terminal, on the  Modern Aviation label


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Mr. Hodgson mentions in passing a new 3rd Wave hauntology entity possibly worth checking out -  Bloxham Tapes.  





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A Year In the Country have a new themed album involving multiple contributors out next month, The Shildam Hall Tapes, which sounds excellently eerie on a first listen. 

Release rationale: 

 “Reflections on an imaginary film.” 

In the late 1960s a film crew began work on a well-funded feature film in a country mansion, having been granted permission by the young heir of the estate. 

Amidst rumours of aristocratic decadence, psychedelic use and even possibly dabbling in the occult, the film production collapsed, although it is said that a rough cut of it and the accompanying soundtrack were completed but they are thought to have been filed away and lost amongst storage vaults. 

Few of the cast or crew have spoken about events since and any reports from then seem to contradict one another and vary wildly in terms of what actually happened on the set. 

A large number of those involved, including a number of industry figures who at the time were considered to have bright futures, simply seemed to disappear or step aside from the film industry following the film's collapse, their careers seemingly derailed or cast adrift by their experiences. 

Little is known of the film's plot but several unedited sections of the film and its soundtrack have surfaced, found amongst old film stock sold as a job lot at auction - although how they came to be there is unknown. 

The fragments of footage and audio that have appeared seem to show a film which was attempting to interweave and reflect the heady cultural mix of the times; of experiments and explorations in new ways of living, a burgeoning counter culture, a growing interest in and reinterpretation of folk culture and music, early electronic music experimentation, high fashion, psychedelia and the crossing over of the worlds of the aristocracy with pop/counter culture and elements of the underworld. 

The Shildam Hall Tapes takes those fragments as its starting point and imagines what the completed soundtrack may have sounded like; creating a soundtrack for a film that never was. 

My memory is getting foggier as the years advance, but I think - I think - that I forgot to flag up this recent A Year in the Country release from just last month, Audio Albion


release rationale: 

Audio Albion is a music and field recording map of Britain, which focuses on rural and edgeland areas. 

Each track contains field recordings from locations throughout the land and is accompanied by notes on the recordings by the contributors. 

The tracks record the sounds found and heard when wandering down pathways, over fields, through marshes, alongside rivers, down into caves and caverns, climbing hills, along coastlands, through remote mountain forestland, amongst the signs of industry and infrastructure and its discarded debris. 

Intertwined with the literal recording of locations, the album explores the history, myths and beliefs of the places, their atmospheres and undercurrents, personal and cultural connections - the layered stories that lie amongst, alongside and beneath the earth, plants and wildlife. 


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News from the parish's twinned town in West Germany - Andrew Pekler invents a new genre - hauntonautology - with the announcement of  Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas  - "an interactive online map that charts the sounds and histories of islands that were once found on nautical maps but have since disappeared." Part of the larger Fourth Worlds online project /  real-world exhibition + conference for "l'ethnographie imaginaire dans l'experimentation musicale et sonore". 

Release rationale: 


"Phantom Islands are artifacts of the age of maritime discovery and colonial expansion. During centuries of ocean exploration these islands were sighted, charted, described and even landed on – but their existence was never ultimately verified. Poised between cartographic fact and maritime fiction, they haunted seafarers’ maps for hundreds of years, providing inspiration for legend, fantasy, and counterfactual histories. Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas interprets these imaginations in the form of a map of speculative sounds from 27 phantom islands around the world.

"Explore the map by clicking on the names of phantom islands to learn the histories of their discoveries and the dates of their cartographical existence. Zoom in on individual islands to hear their musical, biophonic and geophonic soundscapes. Or, engage Cruise mode to be taken on an audio tour of all the Phantom Islands – ideal for passive listening in a separate browser window or tab. (In this mode, all the sounds, played in sequence, amount to something like my new album.) Recommended browsers: Chrome (version 67+), Firefox (version 60+ ), Safari (version 11+). Not usable on mobile devices. 

"Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas was commissioned by Jeu de Paume for the exhibition Fourth Worlds: Imaginary Ethnography in Music and Sound and was produced with the support of DICRéAM, CNC. "


Friday, June 08, 2018

s.f and rock

Here's my review for 4Columns of Jason Heller's book about the interface between pop music and science fiction in the 1970s - Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded.




Along with the many cross-contaminations between rock-etc and s.f., one thing that Heller's book reminded me of was that many of the very earliest rock criticism publications were started by people who had previously done science fiction fanzines. Crawdaddy’s Paul Williams had earlier published Within; Greg Shaw, founder of Who Put the Bomp, attended s.f. conventions and made mimeographed zines; Lenny Kaye self-published periodicals like Sadistic Sphinx long before he became a rock critic and Patti Smith guitarist. 

Intensely self-reflexive fields, rock criticism and science fiction share a strange mix of inferiority and superiority complexes.  Painfully aware of their marginal position vis-à-vis “proper” journalism and “respectable” literature, they nonetheless  believe that they are doing the  Most Crucial Writing of Our Time. I can remember from my own days as an adolescent s.f. fanatic being struck by the s.f. writer's culture of workshops and conventions  - by how the writers loved to write essays defining s.f. as a genre, proclaiming its unique contribution to literature. There were even a few volumes of essays by s.f. writers debating s.f. that I remember reading. 

S.f. was what I was into immediately before getting into music; writing s.f. and in particular alternative history, a special passion of mine, was what I imagined I might do in life, until I discovered the music press. During this mid-teens enthusiasm for s.f., I thought that I would never ever be one of those who grew out of the genre. But sure enough, the zeal for s.f. got displaced abruptly and entirely by a different fanatical focus, once I heard Sex Pistols and Ian Dury. Aged sixteen, I swapped one New Wave (the Sixties-onward school of experimental and inner-spacey s.f.) for another New Wave.  

But then I came back to the genre in middle age - did some catch-up with cyberpunk, which I'd missed as it was happening in the Eighties... reread old favorites...  caught up with a few that I'd somehow missed (like Lem) even during the days of taking four paperbacks a week out of Berkhamsted Library as well as buying as many as I could on my slender means...  But I never got round to any of the post-1990 giants (if giants there be). To me, it's still Pohl and Bester and Brunner who loom largest in my mind.