Since posting the 22-minute Dolente…Dolore back in July, this blog has been rather quiet. Of course – much has been going on behind the scenes: I’m pleased to say that 2018 is looking quite exciting – there will be a new Hawthonn album at the start of the year (vinyl, CD and digital: pre-orders should hopefully be announced in a few weeks!), and I have a solo track on a brilliant compilation album that should be released at around the same time.
Furthermore, I’m finishing off a book manuscript for one of my favourite occult publishers. I’m also doing plenty of academic work: a paper on Coil, Killing Joke and Kenneth Grant for Cambridge University Press’ Popular Music Journal (manuscript due in 2018, but not published til 2019!) AND working on my PhD thesis on esoteric discourse and musical creativity! Oh, and I also wrote a short piece for the spring 2018 issue of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic’s Enquiring Eye magazine, the first issue of which was excellent.
Alongside all this, we’ve also managed to record a new Hawthonn track, which will hopefully be the starting-point for our next album. It’s part of an excellent compilation curated by Kim Cascone, entitled Tulpamancers: A Compilation of Sonic Thoughtforms. The download also includes a book typeset by myself, to which the artists contribute descriptions and visual imagery for their pieces. You can listen to it and read our description below:
And, sticking with Kim Cascone as curator of esoteric drone gems, the Transcendigitalism compilation which accompanied the Sustain//Decay book is now available as a digital download. You can listen to our track below, and read our notes. It features grass reeds played at the ancient settlement of Din Lligwy in Angelsey, and also at Conistone Moor. The vocals were recorded in the man-made caves at Rowtor Rocks, Birchover.
Cave-Witch, Grass-Witch, Star-Witch develops from a group vocal recording made at Rowtor Rocks, Derbyshire, along with a series of grass-reed calls made on Conistone Moor, and at the ruined settlement of Din Lligwy, Anglesey. We took turns to intuitively explore, expand and rework the material into a form possessing the necessary balance between movement and stasis, harshness and purity, that would enable a sense of engaged, imaginative enchantment.
When opportunities to audition the music in a relaxed, receptive, meditative state presented themselves, these were used to evaluate the explore the hieroeidetic field of the sound, and to develop the emergent symbolism. One such instance occurred early in the process: the reed calls seemed to suggest a series of particular daemonic personalities, an insight triggered by the imaginative perception of one of the calls as a sigil (see the figure below). Following this insight, visual forms relating to other reed calls began to proliferate in the minds’ eye. Allied to this, an emergent notion of daemonic agency led us to strengthen the cause-and-effect relationship between the foregrounded calls and the underlying textural material.
Other vivid imagery emerging from listening sessions included: a goat looking into a cave; a raven; a stone floor embellished with auguries in flaming blue calligraphy; and a sense of penetration into the mysteries of a witchcraft. Given that a major interest of ours recently has been the women’s mysteries, as approached through Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, and Peter Redgrove & Penelope Shuttle’s The Wise Wound, it seemed also appropriate that the structure had unconsciously developed into a tripartite one, associated with the three visible phases of the moon and maiden-mother-crone symbolism.
Addendum: A third compilation track was released on November 7th to mark the feast day of St. Bega. It is part of Brave Mysteries’ Communion of Saints project, and our track remixes Aura, from our first album, whose lyrics were originally derived from the invocation to the aforementioned saint.
Layla Legard (vox); Phil Legard (electronics)
St. Bega enjoyed a strong cult of relic worship during the medieval period, and the 10th century church at Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, is dedicated to her. The lyrics for this piece are her invocation: “Ora pro nobis, beata Bega”. A number of feast days are recorded, of which the most celebrated in the Cumbrian area was the 7th November.