The Haunted Generation is also a regular column in the Fortean Times magazine, rounding up new releases and forthcoming events. From Issue 416, dated March 2022…
THE HAUNTED GENERATION
Bob Fischer rounds up the latest news from the parallel worlds of popular hauntology
“It’s just miles and miles of wilderness with this tiny, empty village at its heart,” explains Will Salmon, wistfully. “It’s a sad story. This beautiful little place slowly bought up and taken over by the military. The residents were given 47 days notice that they were being relocated with the promise they could return one day… but of course that never happened.”
He’s talking about Imber, a deserted ghost village on Salisbury Plain. Requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence for wartime exercises in 1943, it stands frozen in time. And provides the inspiration for Look To Imber, a new compilation album on Will’s excellent Modern Aviation label. “There’s hardly anything left of the village itself,” he continues. “Just the Church of St Giles and the manor house, which is completely boarded up. So I gave the artists a few thematic words: loss, absence, emptiness and also mystery.” The album is a stunning collection of gentle, often folk-tinged electronica, with contributions from the likes of Stellarays, Bredbeddle and Scottish duo Burd Ellen – who partly recorded the traditional song ‘Bushes and Briars’ in the ruins of their own local lost village, Arichonan. It’s available from musiqueparavion.bandcamp.com.
Similarly haunting is Geography, the debut album by VÄLVĒ. Chlöe Herington, Elen Evans and Emma Sullivan create “folk lullabies re-imagined by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop”, with experimental sound collages augmented by the melancholy lilt of harp and bassoon. Tracks like ‘Seeds That The Wind May Bring’ are liable to make anyone born within touching distance of the Three-Day Week pine for warm milk and Ivor The Engine. It’s available from state51.greedbag.com. And for equally affecting Proustian strangeness, I also recommend Sad Old Tatty Bunting, the new album by eccentric Hampshire recluse Keith Seatman. With a whirl of trippy mellotrons and psychedelic guitars, Seatman has created a fictional gated community of nebulous disquiet: the likes of ‘The Gnome Zone’ and ‘Jumpy’s Playroom’ sound like Syd Barrett loose in the primary school music cupboard. Head to castlesinspace.bandcamp.com… and, while you’re there, check out Mystery Fields, a glorious collection of spoof TV themes from The British Stereo Collective. A must for anyone whose childhood was marred by the terrible fate of Judi Bowker in The Ghosts Of Fleet Forest.
Meanwhile Steve Netting, recording as Town & County, is lost in the newbuild wilderness. His new album A Plan For Plymouth is an utterly charming modular synth exploration of the town’s 1960s redevelopment, and “the cultural memories of a Devonshire past”. Tracks like ‘Bretonside Rain’ and ‘Intercity House’ positively reek of concrete futurism and the battered pages of ancient rail timetables. Disembark at woodfordhalse.bandcamp.com. And while we’re lingering on the coast, the new album by Cate Brooks, Maritime: Themes and Textures, is an exquisite evocation of the melancholy moods of sailing: the lonely lapping of waves; the distant crackle of the shipping forecast. It’s recorded under her Café Kaput moniker and available from claypipemusic.co.uk.
And 1970s Satanism, anyone? The Friends of Hecate performing unspeakable woodland rituals in Sussex? I thought as much. Neil Scrivin, recording as The Night Monitor, evokes these reputedly real tales of hirsute heathenism on Their Dark Dominion, a thunderous album of Paddy Kingsland-style synth workouts. It’s available from fonolith.bandcamp.com. It’s best listened to with the lights on, but maybe seek advice first from the Blyth Electricity Board, a Facebook project created by haunted Geordie Wayne Dearden. This is the collected vintage ephemera of a long-defunct power supplier that spent the latter half of the 20th century misguidedly promoting electrocution as a positive lifestyle choice. There are vintage carrier bags (“BEB – The Electric Death”) and slides from the 1970s “BEB Industrial Electrical Safety Presentation Set for Businesses”. No 4: “Finish Him Off With A Big Stick”. Head to facebook.com/blythlectricityboard, but remember to unplug your laptop before bedtime.
Because resolutely not switching everything off at the wall were the shadowy government officials of Scarness, a long-forgotten Ministry of Defence facility and the inspiration for a sumptuous new photo dossier, The Testing Site. “You’ll struggle to find it on any official listings,” claims editor Tom Murphy. “It’s a remote spot on the Norfolk coast. The only note on record is that there was a serious warehouse fire in May 1968. The local civilian fire brigade attended but were denied access…” The book purports to be the recovered journals of Professor Elise Weiss, an academic parapsychologist who took part in a “dimensional experiment” at Scarness on the night in question. It’s the latest release from Murphy’s own “nano-publishing concern”, Colossive Press. “Overlooked local history is one of my interests…” he chuckles, with previous publications detailing the inexplicably neglected story of the Croydon Spaceport. For further “flippant flapdoodle”, head to colossive.com.
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