The Haunted Generation in the Fortean Times – Issue 398

As well as this regular blog, the Haunted Generation is also a bi-monthly column in the Fortean Times magazine, rounding up new releases and forthcoming events. This was the most recent feature, from Issue 398, dated November 2020.

THE HAUNTED GENERATION

Bob Fischer rounds up the latest news from the parallel worlds of popular hauntology


“I must have been about six or seven, and I woke up one morning and went downstairs into the family kitchen,” remembers Jim Jupp. “And there was a tiny footprint on the table, about an inch long. That made a huge impression on me. ‘Right, these things they’ve been telling me about, fairies and the tooth fairy… they’re real!'”

Jim, recording as Belbury Poly, is discussing the childhood memories that have partly inspired his new fairy-themed album, The Gone Away. Rather than the floaty, friendly Tinker Bells of children’s literature, it celebrates the dark, malevolent beings of traditional folklore and takes musical influence from the affecting 1970s work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, combining swathes of analogue synth with a distinctly baroque, medieval feel.

“Those odd memories, even though you rationalise them later, stay with you and haunt you,” he adds. He also reveals that the recent Fairy Census of contemporary encounters with the fey folk, compiled by Fortean Times‘ own Simon Young, played a large part in his research for the album. “There’s one that sticks in my mind,” he recalls, “Where a family are walking along a path and are suddenly buzzed by a small, flying cube…”

This sense of altered perception, of hallucinatory experiences in the deepest realms of the British countryside, is captured perfectly on a darkly melodic album that – appropriately – includes a quote from avowed fairy enthusiast Arthur Machen on the sleeve. It’s available from ghostbox.co.uk.

Also lost in the the countryside is Gilroy Mere, whose affecting album Adlestrop explores the psychogeographical imprint left by decommissioned railway lines and stations. Taking its title from the haunting 1917 poem by Edward Thomas, the album is both melancholy and elegant, summoning plaintive ghosts of the golden age of steam. “Visiting Adlestrop spurred me to get hold of a copy of the Beeching Report,” says Mere, aka multi-instrumentalist Oliver Cherer. “It lists all the stations recommended for closure in the 1960s. There are 2,000 wonderful names, like Black Dog Halt and Star Crossing – irresistible to the seasoned hauntologist! I made field recordings in as many locations as I could, using them as the starting point for each track.”

Woozy electronica, gently plucked guitars and Cherer’s own ghostly vocals effortlessly evoke the windswept remains of abandoned platforms and hidden sidings. Head to claypipemusic.co.uk to snap up a second pressing of the in-demand vinyl, and – indeed – accompanying EP Over The Tracks, which has also been reiussed. Both have cut-out model stations (Adlestrop itself, and St Leonard’s West Marina, in Cherer’s native Sussex) to assemble while you listen, although be careful with the scissors and ask a grown-up if you need any help.

Meanwhile, Lancashire’s Mark Burford – in his guise as Field Lines Cartographer – is heading further afield. His immersive new album The Spectral Isle is inspired by stories of Hy Brasil, the mythical Irish island reputedly populated by both giant rabbits and a powerful wizard. “It appeared on maps for hundreds of years, right up until what you could call relatively recently – the mid-19th century”, explains Burford. “This idea of parts of the world still being uncharted and elusive is really appealing. We’ve shrunk the modern world, but the sense of finding something undiscovered taps deep into the human psyche. It’s both scary and seductive.” This languidly beautiful ambient album depicts both a treacherous sea voyage and the magical exploration of this miniature Atlantis, and is available in September from castlesinspace.com.   

And Preston’s prolific Stephen James Buckley – recording as Polypores – has also been exploring a few aquatic fantasies. “I imagined this to be the music that the sunken stone heads from Easter Island would have on their record players,” says Buckley of his new album Azure, where tides of modular synth accompany Polynesian chants and rhythms to bring to life an otherworldly tropical paradise. “I searched for a lot of imagery of sunken cities. And all the different theories about Atlantis, and the various places where it could be located.”

The album is available alongside a vinyl reissue of 2019’s similarly immersive Flora, where dense thickets of soothing ambient sound illustrate Buckley’s imaginings of an alien world filled with oversized vegetation. Both albums are released by http://www.castlesinspace.com, and the prolific Buckley has also recorded Terrain, a new work inspired by the sprawling worlds of his favourite 1990s console games, Earthbound and Zelda: A Link To The Past. “A lot of my music is inspired by a particular environment,” he says. “With Terrain, that environment was one that was generated by pixels and mathematics.” It’s available in September from frequencydomain.bandcamp.com, and should delight electronica fans and veteran joystick-wagglers alike.   

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