The Wyrd Kalendar – The January Mix

Join us as we explore the Wyrd Kalendar

Preparing the way for the forthcoming publication Wyrd Kalendar (written by Chris Lambert and illustrated by Andy Paciorek for Wyrd Harvest Press) this explores, celebrates and exorcises the wintry spirits of January whilst giving a flavour of the delights contained within this book of folk horror themed tales…

All profits from Wyrd Kalendar will go to wildlife charities nominated by the Folk Horror Revival group…
Includes tracks by The Owl Service, The Animal Collective, Leonard Cohen, The Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Pilot, The Divine Comedy and many many more…

Best wishes and "Hold to the resolution!"

Two Occult Biographies


A review of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London’s Lost Artist (Phil Baker, Strange Attractor Press, 2012) and Madeline Montalban: The Magus of St Giles (Julia Phillips, Neptune Press, 2015)

The chances are, you are more likely to have heard of Austin Spare than you have of Madeline Montalban.

Saying you’re into the work of Austin Osman Spare these days is like saying you’re into the work of Throbbing Gristle, or Nico’s solo work, or Scott Walker’s late era: sure, it’s not a household name, but he’s not exactly unfamous either, and if you have even a passing interest in the occult these days the chances are you’ve heard of him. And that’s OK! His posthumous reputation, although largely mythologised, is deserved.

For my part, Madeline Montalban was part of the furniture of my life since childhood. I could have told you who Madeline Montalban was when I was nine. Dad’s jumbled up collection of Prediction magazines meant that I rarely read them in order; I’d find them in caches around the house, all mixed up, and I don’t recall reading her obituary as a kid (although I must have: It’s in the issue with the picture of Battlestar Galactica on the front that includes Doreen Valiente’s article about the Necronomicon).

I remembered her mainly as having written most of the articles about the Tarot, mysterious and forbidden.

(As a kid I found once a mouldy miniature Tarot deck, rotting in my dad’s garage, but it smelled bad and I left it there, and it ended up binned.)

I had seen Austin Spare’s art before I’d known his name. The lascivious, bare-breasted and faintly malevolent Isis Unveiled on the cover of my Dad’s copy of Francis X King’s Magic: The Western Tradition and several of the illustrations within, that was Spare.

Phil Baker’s Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London’s Lost Artist(Strange Attractor Press, 2012)is about as comprehensive a biography as one could want of anyone, exhaustively researched, annotated and indexed. It’s a useful reference work without once being any less than enthralling. It’s the sort of thing people call a “tremendous achievement”.

Austin Spare (1886-1956) was feted as an artistic genius in his teens. It didn’t work out for him. He crashed out of Crowley’s Argenteum Astrum. W B Yeats (who always seems to come off like a colossal prick in anything I’ve read) picked a fight with Spare over the illustration of his poems. Spare tried to launch magazines and exhibit work, and founded his own magical system. As time went on, his star waned, and a succession of reversals and misfortunes beset him, culminating in him getting bombed out of his home and losing everything during the Blitz.

He ended up in poverty, but kept ploughing his furrow, in magic and art. He exhibited his paintings in pubs, and in his final few years got tangled up with the flamboyantly imaginative artist/occultist Kenneth Grant who, it’s fair to say, is the reason for Spare’s enduring fame and influence over the occult scene as it is today, particularly through the growth of Chaos Magic.

A good biography needs a linchpin, an idea that forms its heart, and Baker, right from the beginning, stresses that Spare was above all a Cockney. This serves as an effective centre to his story, if not for the unfortunate effect of causing me to imagine Spare’s voice being exactly like the voice of the Phantom Cockney from The Mighty Boosh (I respectfully submit that should the all-too plausible BBC4 dramatisation of his life ever come to pass, Noel Fielding is a shoo-in for the title role).

Spare was, so Baker says, the man Gerald Gardner, the father of Wicca, went to in order to extricate himself from curses, something Gardner seems to have had a problem with. Spare didn’t seem to go much on the man – when Kenneth Grant introduced Spare to Gardner, Spare would later opine that “Dr. Gardner has never met a pukka witch…”

I wonder if Spare ever met Madeline Montalban (1910-1982). Certainly their circles overlapped: she knew Crowley, Gardner and Grant to some extent or other. But I think that if anyone described her as a witch, pukka or otherwise, they would have been subject to her wrath to an exquisite degree.

This was not, as far as I could tell from Julia Phillips’ biography, Madeline Montalban: The Magus of St Giles (Neptune Press, 2015), an altogether unusual occurrence. Montalban was, it seems, a fierce presence, capricious and mercurial, and yet truly beloved by her friends and students.

Looking at the issues of Prediction I have which carry her work, all of which come from the last five years of her life, none of this comes as much of a surprise. She wrote most of the astrology section (although towards the end she got a colleague to ghost it for her), had a regular column on the Tarot, and every issue supplied a piece in the middle of the magazine that was only ever called in the contents “Madeline Montalban’s long astrology article”.

These articles were not always astrology. Looking at them in recent years I’ve often felt that she just turned in whatever the hell she wanted just because she could, and knew they’d pay her to print it, whatever. It doesn’t matter: these articles are almost entirely pretty great. It went both ways, I suppose. Prediction trusted her to bring in the esoteric goods just as much as she trusted them to print her writing. Prediction was still publishing articles by her at least into May that year, although interestingly, one of the last articles she supplied, “The Throne of Understanding”, a cracking piece about using the Old Testament of the Bible as a grimoire, was printed twice, in the February and March 1982 issues. No reference is made to that mistake in any of the issues I have (although I’m missing June and July of that year, so it might be in there). My own writing is heavily influenced by her.

I owe her an awful lot.

Phillips’ biography of Montalban is barely a quarter of the length of Baker’s biography of Spare. It neither has a table of contents nor an index and it’s arranged by rough topics rather than chronologically. I think that’s a deliberate choice: It’s apparent that the bulk of Phillips’ research relies heavily on first hand accounts of Madeline Montalban’s life from people who knew her and survived her, and this necessarily means that the book skews towards living memory, and hence the latter half of her life. By avoiding a chronological structure, Phillips also avoids a more obviously lop-sided book. And it’s the right decision.

I mentioned Austin Spare’s encounters with Gerald Gardner before, mainly for the sake of comparison. Here, there’s an entire chapter on Montalban’s association with the founder of Wicca, including evidence in Gardner’s own handwriting that he had also consulted Montalban on the subject of avoiding curses.

It seems that she was a close associate with Gardner, especially during the writing of High Magic’s Aid, Gardner’s pseudonymous Wiccan ur-text (it’s originally credited to “Scire”) written as fiction for the simple reason that in 1949, witchcraft was still illegal in England. It’s incontrovertible that Montalban was Gardner’s typist and sub-editor.

According to Phillips she claimed right up to her dying day that she actually ghostwrote the whole thing, based on Gardner’s jumbled notes. The whole affair is further complicated by Montalban’s refusal to have anything at all to do with Wicca after Gardner’s death in 1964, even to the extent of cutting off the late Michael Howard (a writer on magic, not the Tory grandee) for a few years after he was initiated into a Wiccan group. Phillips gives getting to the bottom of why this happened her very best shot, but, dependent on recollections of Montalban’s surviving friends and pupils, she has to throw up her hands and let the mystery remain unsolved.

And this is largely a problem Phillips faces, which Baker doesn’t. Austin Spare is heavily documented, both in his own words and those of others, as presented in contemporary accounts from throughout Spare’s life, and Phil Baker is able to show with sensitivity and depth how the man changed over the decades; Julia Phillips’ Madeline Montalban is in some ways frozen in the memory of those who knew her, in the way that the beloved people we lose over the course of our lives so often are. With so few accounts contemporary with the earlier phases of her life, we largely see the final twenty-five years or so, and what we see of her earlier life is through the lens of that later period. This isn’t Phillips’s fault. Her perspective depends on what she had to work on, and personal retrospective, with all its problems, is the bulk of that.

In her lifetime, Madeline Montalban was undeniably far better known than Austin Spare was in his, but their afterlives seem to have afforded them opposite trajectories, I think. Spare, richly documented and mythologised, is collected by celebrities and rock stars and thanks to Kenneth Grant and Pete Carroll, is now very much part of the furniture of the occult stage. Montalban might have been published every month in an internationally distributed print magazine during the peak life of print and the heyday of public interest in the occult, but barely three decades after her death, her life is already beset with lacunae, her early existence a cipher, beloved and well-remembered in anecdote only by survivors and committed enthusiasts.

The record of her role in the history of twentieth century British occultism is in danger, even with work like this, of being forgotten. Her unwillingness to publish her writing in a more permanent form is part of it, I think; she refused to write in book form on principle, according to Phillips. As a result, her legitimately vast body of work (for example, in five years’ worth of magazines I have easily a couple hundred pages of text by her) lies largely in ephemera, in pamphlets, correspondence courses and mainly in a magazine that, reduced to a shadow of its former self, finally ceased publishing about four years ago. In a world where it seems that most things are always available in print or PDF, Madeline Montalban has become increasingly hard to track down.

Of course, one wonders if she would have had more acolytes and prophets had she not been a woman, a disabled woman at that (she’d had polio as a child, with the consequences that brought), and a powerful, awkward, difficult figure. History is kinder in general to difficult men than it is to difficult women. We call difficult men free thinkers and iconoclasts, grand, heroic labels. We call difficult women bossy and selfish, diminutives designed to make them seem childish and ridiculous. It’s easy to do.

She mattered. I suspect that it goes against her own wishes (and hence against the wishes of her literary executors) but I can’t help thinking that perhaps someone should compile Madeline Montalban’s writing into a more permanent form before it vanishes altogether. Before we lose her entirely.

Howard David Ingham

A version of this article was originally published at Chariot (chariotrpg.blogspot.com).

Unearthing Forgotten Horrors 09/01/2016

The Great He-Goat Or Witches Sabbath - Francisco Goya - WikiArt.org ...
On www.wikiart.org

On this week’s Unearthing Forgotten Horrors I continues revisiting some of my favourites of 2016. So expect tunes from Goat, The Stone Tapes, John carpenter, Jenny Hval, Inkubus Sukkubus, Demdike Stare Luciferian Light Orchestra, In Gowan Ring and a brand new track from Mzylkypop. Tune in Monday evening at a1radio.co.uk from 7pm UK time.

Unearthing Forgotten Horrors’ is an hour-long delve into the darker recesses of the musical underworld. A chance to immerse yourself in obscure horror soundtracks, dark drones, weird electronica, freaky folk, crazed kosmiche and some of the most abhorrent and twisted psychedelia ever committed to vinyl, CD or cassette.

(A1Radio – Online, Anytime)

A1Radio – Online, Anytime

A1Radio is an Internet Radio station broadcasting from Peterborough in the UK. We broadcast 24/7 with live show…

The Great Lafayette; an extraordinary interment

In 1911 one man dominated the vaudeville stage, commanding yearly earnings of what would amount to almost £4million in today’s money. He was lauded by his audiences, sneered at by his detractors and loved by those he himself loved the most; his dogs. He was The Great Lafayette, master magician and illusionist.

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The Great Lafayette was born in Munich, 1871, as the not-so-great Sigmund Neuberger before emigrating with his family to American and creating his life on the stage. He did not mix well with other people, he could be domineering and demanding, but he doted on his dogs, most especially the slender hound he was given as a gift by fellow illusionist Harry Houdini. Beauty ate the finest food, wore jewelled collars and slept on silken cushions. When Lafayette was on tour, Beauty stayed in her own suite of rooms.

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It is no surprise that when Beauty died unexpectedly, shortly before a run of shows in Edinburgh, Lafayette was inconsolable in his grief. Lafayette demanded that she be buried formally, in a proper grave and in a human cemetery. Officials responded that a pet could only be buried in its owner’s grave so, in order to achieve this goal, Lafayette bought a plot in Edinburgh’s Piersfield cemetery where Beauty would lie, awaiting the day when her master would join her.

Wrapped tightly in a cloak of despair and loss, Lafayette is claimed to have said that her death had  shattered his very soul and she would not have long to wait.

He was right.

Less than a fortnight later, Lafayette was performing in the Empire Theatre when something went terribly wrong. A pyrotechnic element of the show, some say an oriental lamp and others a wall sconce, ignited one of the theatre’s curtains, the wooden set dressing was consumed rapidly and the entire stage was enveloped in a roaring inferno. Lafayette himself is said to have escaped the fire but, realising that his black stallion was still in danger, returned to the flames. He was last seen desperately attempting to lead the horse to safety.

Eleven performers, including Lafayette, died in the fire. Amazingly, nobody in the audience was harmed although the theatre itself was razed to the ground. Confusion reigned as a charred body, pulled from the ashes and believed to be Lafayette, was later identified as a body double used in some of the magician’s routines. Where then, was the great illusionist himself? Speculation ran riot.

Legend states that a workman, sifting through the rubble of the theatre some days later, stumbled across a curious find; a papier mâché hand, itself intact but detached from the statue it had come from, that pointed ominously to a corner of the destroyed theatre. The workman followed the silent instruction and found Lafayette’s body, horribly burned but identifiable from rings on his blackened fingers.

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Given that his body was so badly burned, Lafayette was cremated and placed in an ornate urn. A grand funeral procession, described as “one of the most extraordinary interments of modern times”, carried the urn to Piersfield Cemetery where it was placed in the grave he had only recently bought, nestled between Beauty’s outstretched paws.

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Daniel Pietersen, 08/02/17

Christmas with the Wanderer

It has become somewhat of a tradition that Audio Relic Hunter Melmoth The Wanderer visits us all at this time of year with a very special seasonal gift. Not your usual sugary Yuletide fare but just as steeped in tradition and nostalgia – you can almost hear the fire crackle and smell the wood smoke mix with the smell of pine and Christmas spices as you enjoy these wintry soundscapes mixed with just a hint of Jamesian pleasing terror.

2013 – The Ghost of Winters Past

 

A mix of new and old music inspired by winter and the approaching festive season. It includes echoes of Christmas past from Shakespeare, The Box of Delights and a recounting of the Great Freeze of 1963.
I put the mix together with the idea in mind of waking to find the land white with the nights snow and the initial excitement that brings in everyone of all ages…..then the reality of what the weather means kicks in – as reflected by the Great Freeze commentary.

 

2014 – Christmas – through a glass darkly.

 

The stranger trudges through the snow covered streets glimpsing shadows and shades of the season through frosted windows. Echoes of Christmases past, present and future merge as he pauses at each window to absorb the sights and sounds…..through a glass darkly.

 

2015 – A Fireside Companion

 

This third of the Melmoth seasonal mixes is here.
The first took us through a landscape of ice and snow – the second took us back to our childhood when the television in our front room truly was a box of delights.
This year sees us attending Midnight mass and trudge back home through the snow in the company of Christmas ghosts, a certain signal man and all that makes for an un-silent night.

REVIEW -The Heartwood Institute `Witchcraft ’70′

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The Heartwood Institute – `Witchcraft ’70′

 

There are witches in today’s society… intones the voice with which The Heartwood Institute’s offering “Witchcraft ’70” opens. Allow us, if you will, to show you one of the most shocking realities of the ’70s.

These words are sampled from the trailer for Witchcraft ’70, one of the dime-a-dozen “Witchsploitation” documentaries that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s (although probably more for their lurid presentation of naked flesh than factual information about the dangers of the mid-century occult scene).

That’s not to say the newest release from the “hauntronica” outfit, hailing from the Lake District, is confined to the decade of disco. The synth work accompanying the titillating narration is rooted in the ’80s. On the title track in particular, I’m reminded of the analog work by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, as well as the more beat-heavy cuts from the post-industrial scene (think Bites-era Skinny Puppy).

Following “Witchcraft ’70” is “Diana,” an exploration of the relationship between the Classical moon goddess and Lucifer. Again, behind the sampled narration The Heartwood Institute builds a pulsing wall of electronic sound, this time with clicks in all the right places, sleazier beats, recorded birdsong, and a throwback synth bass. “Witchdrone” closes out the release, two minutes of what can best be summed up by its title.

The Heartwood Institute released “Witchcraft ’70” as a Hallowe’en special, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until next October to have a listen. A must for everyone who enjoys the combination of kitschy samples and seriously good electronica, its biggest negative is that there isn’t enough of it. From beginning to end, it’s about 12 minutes and just got this listener revved up when it ended. Fortunately, the Heartwood Institute has other issues in their catalogue to explore.

Reviewed by Katherine Beem (The Stone Tapes)

REVIEW – Hermione Harvestman `A Harvest of Souls: Requiem for Dancers (Unseen)’

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    Hermione Harvestman – `A Harvest of Souls: Requiem for Dancers (Unseen)’

     

     

    The story of Hermione Harvestman is a fascinating one, a woman who felt haunted by music and saw her creative process as one, not of creation, but exorcism of sonic spirits. She was born in 1930, a classically trained pianist who went on to play church organ in rural County Durham. She was a prolific musician working in many genres composing for her own need, the local church and even amateur theatrical productions. Abandoning the piano at the age of 26 when she was introduced to the Clavivox, an early sequencer-cum-synthesiser. On discovering the Clavivox Hermione said ‘This was my epiphany – it one stroke it solved all my problems with regard to Western Tonality. Increasingly, I was drawn to monophonic music and modality, but I was ill prepared to join the elite who called themselves Folk Musicians or Early Musicians; bourgeois sub-sects striving for an authenticity so enamoured of a certain mind-set which I’d never been able to relate to. Neither was I too enamoured of Atonal Experimentalism. The music I heard in my heard was far richer than that, somehow – at least it was to me. I dreamed of hurdy-gurdies – of drones and monophonic keyboards playing parallel 3rds, 4ths and 5ths. In reality, hurdy-gurdies sounded ghastly (with significant exception). On hearing the Clavivox I heard the music that dreamed of astrological continuities between ancient music and future possibilities; it touched the essence of what music was at its most primal – that of both the planets of the Pyramids; that of the stars and Stonehenge.’ Hermione lived and worked in the county in which I grew up, it is both wonderful and sorrowful to discover that such a fascinating character who created such a vast library, lived so near and yet I only become aware of her years after her death.

    “A harvest of Souls: Requiem for Dancers (Unseen)” is one of 12 albums of her work she selected prior to her death in May of 2012 and collected together by Sedayne. The album is a suite of 8 improvised pieces, comprised of blissful yet haunting synth works performed live and recorded in the chapel house of York Minster in 1973. In the accompanying text on the bandcamp page Hermione describe her remit as “Being simple enough, to provide a sequence of improvisations prescribed in terms of duration and “mood” each relating to particular ideas in the programme and arrived at by intuitively reacting to the movements of the shadowy dancers”. The album begins with notes which sound almost plucked, gorgeous synth tones allowed breath and flow leaving space between each as the melodies become ever more intricate. As the album progresses the sound becomes fuller never overbearing and conjure thoughts both ancient and futuristic. The melodies at times sound almost medieval however the tone palette is pure monophonic electronica of the most beautiful order. The pieces switch between the melodic tonal and slightly droney with emphasis on harmoincs, all allow the sonic richness of the instrument to be expressed in a wonderful reverby sonic backdrop. As I listened I found myself thinking of ancients contemplating the heavens and the future, how alien yet familiar such music would sound to them. The entire album is a joy to behold however my favourite pieces are parts 7 and 8 (the closing two) which contain the most beautiful melodies and at times pre-figure Board of Canada’s woozy tape delayed sound. The album is available at hermioneharvestman.bandcamp.com and I cannot recommend it enough a sublime piece of synth improvisation.

    (http://hermioneharvestman.bandcamp.com/album/a-harvest-of-souls-1973)

    (Reviewed by Antony Wealls – Equestrian Vortex and The Mortlake Bookclub

REVIEW – Look To The North `You’re A Séance, Old North’

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Look To The North – `You’re A Séance, Old North’

 

 

In a sect of Japanese Buddhism called Shingon Buddhism, there was a small group of monks in the Northern Japanese Yamagata prefecture on Honshu Island that attempted self-mummification. They called those who succeeded sokushinbutsu 即身仏.

With the devotional, ambient gem that is “You’re A Séance, Old North“, David Colohan and Zachary Corsa (the duo that constitute “Look to the North”) knowledgeably execute a process of reverential and gentle archaeology. Layers are slowly peeled away, overlapping washes are carefully and slowly resolved, care is taken throughout and the tools of the trade (the autoharp, the field recordings, the shortwave and the confessional sound fragments) are employed with deftness and expertise to reveal a truth.

There is a balance to things.

There are two tracks here, each of 20 minutes length; the two musicians present these tracks to us with complementary structures and parallel instrumentation. Corresponding curating snippets of voice in each track (male in the first, female in the second) guide us through a journey of reflective discovery that is in the best traditions of the broad church of drone music.

In the wonderfully titled first track “Where You Vanished Off The Edges Of A Cul-De-Sac, Like Falling Off A Map”; a thick, undulating landscape of ambient swell dotted with a surface layer of soft field recordings unfolds before us. This is eventually and tentatively penetrated by distant but insistent voices, and through those first few cracks in the outer mantle of this album come the plaintive notes of a parlour piano escaping out to us, providing those first glimpses of evidence that something is waiting for us, something is to be found on this record. But not yet, with easy drama Colohan and Corsa re-bury those fragments, protecting them from the atmosphere like the dutiful guardians they are.

It is with the second track “‘Harriet Was Here’, Less So Now” that revelations come more readily. As if to prepare us for the fact that these revelations will be challenging, a warning note is sounded, and then we are through. Through at first to the realm of spectral drones and ghostly backward echoes such as one might expect to find under the surface layer of things, a last attempt by arcane sentries to stay our progress perhaps. But “Look to the North” beckon us deeper, we are brave in their capable hands and things soon become more resolved. The first lone bleached notes of acoustic guitar begin to poke through, melody follows. We are glimpsing the ribs of a long-hidden sokushinbutsu, and we begin to appreciate the value of the find as it is unearthed before us.

“You’re A Séance, Old North” uncovers things, it reveals ancient truths, it awakens dormant memories and it provides a mirrored surface that allows us to reflect and view our feelings of mortality more objectively. It leads us to a discovery, gently and kindly, but the interpretation of what we find must be our own and ours alone.

Jim Griffin, Limerick, November 19th, 2016

(https://davidcolohan.bandcamp.com/album/youre-a-s-ance-old-north)

(store.aosmosis.net/products/571977-look-to-the-north-youre-a-seance-old-north)

REVIEW – The Stone Tapes `Avebury’

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The Stone Tapes – `Avebury’

 

 

Both a genuine curio and a substantial investigation into ‘held’ or ‘contained’ sound, The Stone Tapes début release ‘Avebury’ is an understated yet atmosphere drenched excursion into haunted electronics. Following the dictum of the Stone Tape theory which holds ‘that the impressions of emotional or traumatic events can be recorded into rock and replayed under certain conditions’ the group ‘have been tirelessly investigating this phenomenon’, resulting in this rather beautiful and unique cassette and download.
This recording began with a chance encounter with a box of dusty, electromagnetic tapes that were gifted to the band by one George Albert Wilberforce, an elderly neighbour who had wandered the British Isles with equipment designed to retrieve EMF and sound recordings from the stone and rock of the land itself; indeed, these old spools and reels were found to be filled with a multitude of mysterious and uncanny forms and noises. These howls from deep within the landscape were then converted and constructed into digital audio by The Stone Tapes members K. Beem and M. Peach by feeding the signals from the EMF and atmosphere recordings into a multitude of analogue and studio equipment (witness the extensive description on their Bandcamp page, it’s a veritable synth enthusiast’s wish list). This is a recording that has a connection and likeness to Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape script and film in both theme and masterful control of mood and tension; one suspects many Folk Horror revivalists will immediately have recognised and have been drawn to the project’s name. However this is also an album that stands on its own and tells its singular, engraved and hidden story. There are very particular ghosts in the machine to be found here, impressed upon not just the stone and rock that have held these long lost voices and sounds but also in the resulting playback and transmission; allowing something or someone that has perhaps been released after years of containment to take form and substance once again.
The album begins with ‘Kat Calls The Vicar’, a self-explanatory title that features said conversation about the shadowy Mr Wilberforce and the uncanny and ancient forces that are centred around Avebury. However the voices are slightly distorted and out of step, blurring our sense of reality, with an ominous tone pulsating ever louder before the call rings off with a considered, dire warning to ‘be careful’. ‘A Page From John Britten’ follows, a text excerpt on the standing stones read over a steady drumbeat and a Tangerine Dream-esque wash of hazy synths and reverberated guitar lines. Both hypnotic and utterly captivating, this is a carefully constructed and unsettling work that brings to mind The Legendary Pink Dots at their finest. Next, ‘Red Lion Interlude’ is a delicate and sepia tinged piece of acoustic wyrd-folk, the chatter and din from the patrons of the inn a shimmer of background noise against the Bert Jansch-like refrain of the guitar. A calm before the storm, this merges into the disturbing collage of ‘Faces On 19B’, analogue wails and wraithlike whispers emanating from the massed banks of electronics.This followed by ‘West Kennet Ritual’ which rasps and oscillates into view on waves of growling electronica and flanged guitar, a maelstrom of processed and unhinged sound that evokes a deep sense of diabolic and dangerous forces starting to awaken from a long held slumber. ‘The Owl And The Druid’ chatters synthetically into life with multiple layers of incantations and muttered chants, a solitary processional drumbeat sounding behind the crescendo of deranged voices and echoed howls. This is either musick to play in the dark because of its disquieting power or to always listen to with the lights on, depending on your dispensation and nerve. Next, ‘Petrosomatoglyphs’ follows, vintage electronics creeping stealthily under the crackle and sound of the rock and stone itself, the recorded and trapped voices of the ghosts of the past unleashed in waves of haunting, analogue synth. With a palpable sense of tension rising, ‘Incident On The Herepath’ creates a world of snarling synth lines and a cacophonous and nightmarish choir of twisted chatter and inhuman, forgotten languages until the fate of our protagonists becomes all too clear. The album closes with the dread and drone of ‘Sound 23’, a fitting finale to what is a truly inspired, bone chilling and breathtaking tale.
‘Avebury’ is a haunted house of an album; there is an almost tangible sense of something preternatural or not quite human living and waiting within this tape reel. Aficionados of the hauntological musings of Jon Brooks, The Caretaker and The Heartwood Institute and of the thread of electronica pursued by artists such as Belbury Poly, The Focus Group and other Ghost Box label acts will find much to admire here. Followers of Hawthonn and The Psychogeographical Commission will also doubtless wish to investigate. There are now but a small number of ‘Avebury’ cassettes left though the album is also available for download at The Stone Tapes Bandcamp page.
Highly recommended, as are Wandering Elder, another spectral and ghost filled project by the duo that covers similar ancient ground but adds a veneer of eerie folk for good measure.

(Review by Grey Malkin – The Hare & The Moon)

https://thestonetapes.bandcamp.com/album/the-stone-tapes-avebury http://www.wanderingeldar.com/the-stone-tapes/