The Haunted Generation in the Fortean Times – Issue 407

The Haunted Generation is also a regular column in the Fortean Times magazine, rounding up new releases and forthcoming events. This was the most recent feature, from Issue 407, dated July 2021.

THE HAUNTED GENERATION

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

“I think a kind of localised mass hysteria might have occurred,” says Drew Mulholland. “The original reports were more to do with strange sounds, but they quickly became visual phenomena, too”.

He’s talking about the rash of UFO sightings that unsettled the Wiltshire town of Warminster in the mid-1960s, a cluster of vintage oddness that provides the inspiration for his splendidly disquieting new album The Warminster UFO Club. It’s the culmination of an interest that began with his own fuzzy childhood memories of the resulting media coverage. “I remember jittery television images of soldiers using metal detectors on what looked like bleak moorland,” he recalls.

The album combines Drew’s epic 1999 composition ‘Warminster’, a collaboration with Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley, with a raft of atmospheric new pieces, all the result of his typically eccentric sound manipulations. “There’s always some sort of Heath Robinson malarkey,” he says. “How about the 62 foot tape loop that ran the length of our hall? Or recording the sounds that come down our chimney in the small hours?”

The album is available from castlesinspace.com, a label that has thrown itself into traditional Forteana recently. Also available is Black Water, an album of immersive Radiophonic Workshop-style compositions fuelled by Scottish producer RJ McConnell’s fascination with the Loch Ness Monster. Recording as Everyday Dust, he aims to put the fear back into his subject. “I’ve never warmed to the cute or endearing portrayal of the monster,” insists RJ. “‘Nessie’ sounds like the name of a puppy. I wanted to bring back some of that sense of dread: the trepidation of the open black water and sense of the unknown. Black Water is my soundtrack to a non-existent TV film, and in my mind it’s out there on a grainy VHS tape in somebody’s attic, having been taped in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s…”

Similarly out in the sticks: North Yorkshire-based Marcus H, aka Soiled. His new album Blistered and Patched is a gloriously spooky hotch-potch of jagged guitars and sound collage that reeks of the windswept moors… as well as the haunted radio that once tormented his sister on a family holiday in Devon. It’s available from wormholeworld.bandcamp.com. And mired in a more concrete wilderness is Harold Turgis, whose album Satellite: 1997-2001 comprises two suites of affectingly dystopian synth compositions; a love letter to the “unfinished ring roads, closed shopping centres and railway depots” of Croydon. As well as the innocent optimism of “office blocks related to the space age – Apollo House, for example”. Visit haroldturgis.bandcamp.com.

Also pining for the golden age of cosmic ambition is multi-instrumentalist D Rothon, whose second album for the superlative Clay Pipe label is a delightful evocation of the late 1960s space race. As he recalls: “Being taken to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, trips to the London Planetarium, the moon landings… there was a sense that we were living on the cusp of an exciting futuristic world.” Although the album, Memories of Earth, is equally infused with melancholy as Rothon uses his trademark pedal steel guitar to explore the “sense of disconnection one might feel millions of miles from home”. It’s available from claypipemusic.co.uk.

Other nuggets: Kemper Norton has released Troillia, a beautiful collection of folk-tinged drones inspired by“Cornish dances, Scottish children’s songs and other community events”. It’s soothing enough to provide closure for anyone still scarred by memories of the dreaded “country dancing” at school, and available from kempernorton.bandcamp.com. The Family is a new collection from Scottish producer Alan Sinclair – in his guise as Repeated Viewing – and is a pounding, John Carpenter-style imagined soundtrack to a tale of “biker gang raids, odd rituals and a bit of romance”. Visit spunoutofcontrol.bandcamp.com. And feeling similarly cinematic is LA-based Klaus Morlock – aka The Unseen – whose album The Goatman is a glorious spoof Giallo soundtrack, dripping with the delicious sleaze of funky 1970s horror. Head to libraryoftheoccult.bandcamp.com.

And for those with languid summer afternoons to fill: a superb 12-part podcast from musician Sharron Kraus. Preternatural Investigations examines “things are that strange but not too strange” and takes a decidedly Fortean approach to an eclectic range of topics, skilfully investigating the means by which avowed rationalists – including herself – can find magic in the inexplicable. Backed by her own dream-like compositions, she takes an approach that is both charmingly personal and wryly funny. “One of my earliest memories is playing with a toy telephone, and using it to have conversations with fairies,” she recalls in Episode 1, and later episodes look at the diminishing nature of childhood wonder and the depiction of magic in classic fiction. Put the fairies on hold, and visit preternatural-investigations.org.

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