Things have been unspeakably busy for the last few months! Doing a PhD part-time, alongside teaching and working on the new Hawthonn album, provisionally entitled Flood, has meant the blog has lapsed a bit. However, I hope to write in some detail over the Christmas break about on of my recent obsessions: the music of Kristina Wolfe.
I hope the following might provide some distraction while my beloved country tears itself apart. At present I’m for embracing cosmic anarchy and seeking solace in the transcendent: the only territory impervious to toxic political manoeuvring!
Anyway, plenty of news: Hawthonn’s first interview was published in The Quietus. We must thank Russell Cuzner for concisely editing what was quite a long and far-ranging conversation.
… of course, this was coincident with the release of our second album, Sea-Spiral Spirit, on Reverb Worship. The physical edition is now sold out (although there will hopefully be second edition), although the digital edition is still available and includes a 15-minute bonus track.
Recently, Layla mentioned how much she enjoyed the mellotron that permeates many of Julian Cope’s albums and live performances. One source suggests that this may also be same mellotron that is played by Thighpaulsandra on a number of Coil albums – certainly the mellotron is used to excellent effect on Astral Disaster, particularly on the visionary Sea Priestess:
This prompted me to revisit an idea that came up while we were working on the first Hawthonn album. Obviously the album explored themes surrounding Jhonn Balance’s resting place at Bassenthwaite, and the symbol of the hawthorn tree was particularly important. While exploring associations with the hawthorn, S.: of the Psychogeographical Commission mentioned that there was a legendary connection with Merlin. Continue reading
Some recent bits of news:
Andy Paciorek, illustrator and instigator of the Folk Horror Revival forum, has recently edited a 498-page book of writing and interviews around the idea of ‘folk horror’.
Contributors include Adam Scovell, John Coulthart (writing on David Rudkin), Sharron Kraus, Gary Lachman (on WIlson’s The Outsider, and also interviewed himself), Grey Malkin, Chris Lambert, and more. There are also interviews with Kim Newman, Philip Pullman, Drew Mulholland… so, if you like pagan things, landscapes, the uncanny et al, take a look. It’s quite cheap and any profits will be donated to environmental, wildlife and community projects undertaken by The Wildlife Trusts!
I have a piece included called The Haunted Fields of England: Diabolical Landscapes and the Genii Locorum, which uses the idea of the diabolisation of pagan landscape features to trace the development of the genius loci from semi-benevolent tutelar daimons of Antiquity, to the ghouls and monsters of the Anglo-Saxon imagination and the treasure-guarding demons of Medieval and Tudor magic!
The various Hexadic pieces written over the last couple of months have been collected together, edited, sequenced and mastered under the title Sorath, which is available to stream and download at Bandcamp on a £3 or more basis. Sorath also includes two additional pieces: Pastorale with Interleaved Progressions and Integral Hexady – thanks to Jesse Jarnow for unexpectedly playing the former of these on his WFMU show!
Hawthonn’s success as a conceptual album can be seen in its eerie evocation of Coil’s underlying themes – ghostly sketches of possibility emerge from these sonic landscapes, a peculiar and specific spirit hovers over the work. Using what can in some sense be described as musical necromancy the Legards have created a series of sound evocations that allow the listener to embark on a mythopoetic voyage beyond the waking world.
Hawthonn has also provoked some encouraging reactions. David Metcalfe, quoted above, has written an incredible reflection on engaging with the album during a rural retreat over at Modern Mythology. This piece was very interesting and timely, since a colleague questioned me after my paper at The Alchemical Landscape about how people react to my (- and now our -) music. I confess that I rather foundered on this question: having been so concentrated on the creative process during the writing of my paper, and in general, I’ve never really sought out narratives from people who have encountered a deeper experience with it – the kind of experiences that resonate with the ‘imaginal’ aspects of the work itself. Unbidden, David has filled in this missing piece of the jigsaw, and writes beautifully about the relationship between the album, the journal and the making of the work, and his own experience. He has also illuminated some pieces of hawthorn-lore that we were unaware of, and makes the connections between the project and Coil’s Jhonn Balance more explicit. Read the article here.
Photo by David Metcalfe.
At The Active Listener, Grey Malkin also wrote very positively about the project, concluding that:
Hawthonn is a unique and visionary piece of music that is clearly a labour of love and is utterly heartfelt. It speaks of Balance himself and of his loss. It also evokes a rural unease and a true sense of nature at its most wild and unknowable. You need this album; this is an incredible and special work that needs to be heard and experienced.
The limited digital edition of 72 copies, including the album, with additional 32-page journal and 80+ minutes of bonus music is still available here.
I’m pleased to say that the eponymous Hawthonn album is now available to download as a limited digital edition.
The first 72 copies include the Hawthonn album, plus:
* Four additional ‘holophone’ tracks: more than an hour of extra musick
* 32-page Hawthonn journal
* Full size cover artwork
* Personalised, numbered certificate (emailed separately within three working days)
Once sold out, the album will revert to an unlimited edition featuring album tracks and cover art only.
Listen & download here.
I’d also like to say that I’ve recently been enjoying Ben Chasny’s book The Hexadic System rather a lot, since it appeals to a lot of my wider interests in speculative music, atonality/new tonality, ars combinatoria and so on. I’m hoping to write in greater detail about it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Ben has begun to put together a series of pages to support the book, and you can also listen to some experiments that I’ve composed/recorded using ideas derived from the system.
I am very pleased to say that Wounded Wolf Press are now dispatching copies of Angelystor, and you can get yours on their website for £12.50, including international p&p. Thanks to Atay for all his hard work in bringing this to fruition, and putting up with my endless typo-spotting.
This edition of Angelystor is a a 72 page hardcover book with narrative, photos by Layla Legard, and graphic score. The book also comes with a CD containing Angelystor and Yew Invocations I-IV, and an insert containing graphic scores of the Yew Invocations. And, to top it all off, the book has a foreword written by cult author Warren Ellis.
The Hawthonn project terminated on December the 1st, and all the blogs, Soundcloud playlists and so on have been archived, while we move toward a limited first edition in 2015 – the image below is a teaser for this (- there will be 20 exemplars, please get in touch if you are interested in one).
Until then, you can read the final post to the project blog here. However, the videos, currently being produced by Ætheric Anomalies, will be posted as they are realised. Here are videos for Aura, Epsilon and Ghosts. The remaining videos for Foxglove and Thanatopsis will be released on the DVD with the limited edition. We’re both very pleased with how this project developed and the music that came out of it over such a short period.
It’s been quiet here. For the first time in longer than I can remember, my summer wasn’t spent madly scrabbling round for ad hoc jobs and projects and I was able to spend some time with my family – and speaking of which, Layla and I have begun working on a new project called Hawthonn. It takes its inspiration from the landscape of Bassenthwaite, the final resting place for the earthly vessel that hosted Coil’s Jhonn Balance.
While the legacy of Balance’s life, art and death could be called the daemon that is guiding the project, we are keen to stress that this is also very much informed by our own process of engagement with the imaginal landscape of Bassenthwaite and the complex of myth and image currently emerging from this; we hope that the final album will be an oblique (or, rather, ‘occult’?) tribute to a figure whose vision continues to haunt us. Since speaking to friends and acquaintances about this project, I have been humbled by their recollection of the kindness of both Balance and Christopherson during the early years of their project, before the volume of correspondence became impossible to deal with. An example I hope that we will to be able to follow (on my own I am terrible at maintaining correspondence…).