Review – The Stone Tapes – Avebury

Was this sent to me in the post or did I discover it in a cavity between the two damp granite walls of a forgotten stately home? Did I, driven by the impulse of a voice within me, frantically tear it from the mud and sod of a field deep in the heart of the West Country? Was I surrounded by ancient stones that seemed to sing out to me when touched or gently caressed? I am uncertain. Is this a genuine recording created using up to date digital technology or are they the sounds captured in the lusum magnetite of the dank walls, playing back when the atmospheric conditions are just right? There is an uncertainty here. This uncertainty is frightening and this fear is rich and sublime.

I listen again to ensure that it is not simply my own imagination or a half forgotten dream, but there it is; the voice in the static, the seemingly innocuous information about Avebury, the snatches of phone conversation with one voice strangely distorted. Is it deliberate? I don’t know. But I am unsettled, I am frightened and this fear is alive and immediate. But I welcome this and I stroll towards it all, arms wide.

In West Kennet the ritual has begun and my head spins, half formed voices dance out at me from within the ether, the whirling electronic dervish excites, inviting me to join the dance but I must not. I must resist. I take shelter in the lychgate, the rain pummelling down all around me and for a moment all is calm.

The rain stops and I venture towards the Owl and Druid Stone. I know I should not touch it but my hand is pulled forwards. The voices and tones thrust into me like lightning into bark. I am among the petrosomatoglyphs, the damp and the drip, the indistinct. The sound grows, it ululates through me as I spin, the light between the stones scratching at my retinas with every pass. My feet leave the ground, stray ends of grass tickling at my bare feet as I rise a narrow herepath before me, made of silver and granite. On closer inspection the path is festooned with tiny carvings, myriads of spirals, symbols, laughing mouths. The mouths move and speak and sing and question and grin. I am lost. I fall.

Reality seeps in. A voice clear and distinct on the end of a crackling line gives thanks. But, it flits away and deeper voices and drifting tones chant around me.

A cry. Someone is lost. But how can you be lost if you stand in one place? How can you be lost if you have not moved from the centre of a field? The sound builds, a low hum, growing. Reassuring dots and bleeps try to break through, but something is crawling in the dark. Something is in the way. I cannot move.

I am overtaken. I should not have listened to the Stone Tapes for madness seeps through. Sometimes we look to deep into the dark, sometimes we travel too far.

I have removed the headphones but Avebury is still within me. The sounds among the stones are sounds among the synapses. The stones are seen when I shut my eyes, when I blink, when the sunlight scrapes across the iris, the stones creep through into the dark.

Do not listen.

Do not listen.

Do not lis

Do not

Do

Sink. Tread. Spin.

Let it in. Let the stones in. Let them all in.

Chris Lambert – January 2018

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