The Dark Masters Trilogy, A Review

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The Dark Masters Trilogy comprise of a trio of novellas from acclaimed horror writer Stephen Volk, a member of the select group of Welsh writers alongside Arthur Machen, whose work is held in the highest esteem within horror circles. Volk is most famous for his scriptwriting work on Ken Russell’s Gothic, and above all else the BBC drama Ghostwatch.

The Dark Masters Trilogy brings together three novellas, Whitstable, Leytonstone and Netherwood as a trio of dark tales of fiction constructed around a quartet of celebrated horror and occult figures from the 20th Century’s cultural past. Hammer legend Peter Cushing takes the lead role in Whitstable, a juvenile Alfred Hitchcock in Leytonstone and we get a twofer in Netherwood with both horror novelist Dennis Wheatley and Occultist Aleister Crowley squaring up to one another.

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Whitstable is up first. This is a story about the darker side of the 1970s that takes place in Peter Cushing’s beloved Whitstable in the period directly after the death of his much cherished wife, Helen. The story itself features some wonderfully written characters, and an interesting and well developed plot, however the real genius here is Volk’s touching portrayal of Cushing at this most difficult time in his life. The whole novella revolves around his incredible portrait of the horror legend as a broken man, the loss of his soul mate had rendered him a physical and mental wreck until a chance encounter with a young boy who mistakes him for the character he portrays on screen, the vampire hunter Dr Van Helsing. This leads to Cushing undertaking the role of investigator, delving into a crime that has been committed against the young boy, and saving himself at the same time.

Leytonstone is a story based on the childhood of Alfred Hitchcock that examines the roots of his fascination with crime and punishment, the two factors that form the basis for much of his cinematic output. The story begins with the young Hitchcock incarcerated in a police cell for a crime he did not commit. His Father had him locked up for a night to teach him a lesson. This inspires the young Fred as he was known to further investigate these ideas of crime and punishment with severe repercussions for those involved.  Once again this is beautifully written, Volk once again highlighting his incredible turn of phrase and attention to detail, as well as his incredible knack for writing wholly believable characters. Despite much of this story being fictional you feel as though you are delving into the mind of the real Hitchcock, such is Stephen Volk’s incredible talent for writing character.

Netherwood is the final entry in the trilogy. Volk imagines a meeting between two of the most important figures in the Twentieth Century occult world, Dennis Wheatley and Aleister Crowley. Once again Stephen Volk has created a truly believable work of fiction by rooting it in facts. An aging Crowley requests the presence of Wheatley at Netherwood, the guest house in Hastings that was to be Crowley’s last resort. A visibly sick and dying Crowley requests Wheatleys assistance to complete one one final magickal working before his death. The interplay between the two men who never actually met in real life is excellent and you really do get the sense that this is exactly how these events would have  played out had they actually happened. This is of course Stephen Volk’s greatest achievement, his characters are so well researched and developed that he almost instinctively knows how they would behave in almost any scenario. A rare commodity indeed and one that should be cherished.

The Dark Masters Trilogy is a triumph, a beautifully written volume that takes the Twentieth Century’s most infamous practitioners of horror and the dark arts and places them into new scenarios. Stephen Volk has written three fictional tales, that are so believable as to be future urban legends, such is the power of his writing, the great attention to detail, and his knowledge of the history of horror and the occult. You simply can’t imagine these stories having the same impact in anyone else’s hands. Each tale having its roots in fact provides a strong base for Volk’s writing, whether this is Cushing’s sad loss, Hitchcock’s incarceration, or Crowley’s final days at Netherwood.

As many of you will already be aware, Stephen Volk is a visionary writer in the field of horror and these novellas are a very strong addition to an already richly acclaimed career. I simply cannot recommend these tales highly enough.

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The Dark Masters Trilogy is published by PS Publishing and is available to order from their website now at the link below.

https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/the-dark-masters-trilogy–hardcover-by-stephen-volk-4696-p.asp

 

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The Sermon – available to view online now.

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The rather wonderful Folk Horror short, The Sermon from director Dean Puckett is now available to view online. This fabulous short film deals with issues that arise from the question of a young woman’s sexuality in a small rural English village. The film is both thought provoking and beautifully shot on 35mm film in deepest darkest Dartmoor. Puckett uses the British landscape to great effect in this near 12 minute masterpiece. Don’t just take my word for it, view the film yourself from the link below.

Director Dean Puckett cut his teeth making documentary films, the most recent of which was released in 2013, Grasp the Nettle highlights the exploits of a group of land rights activists who battle to set up alternative communities in Britain. The Sermon is his second fiction short to have been supported by Creative England and the BFI after the comedy, horror, sci-fi short Circles in 2015. Circles, which was also set in Devon involved paranormal investigators taking their revenge on a group of crop circle hoaxers. The Sermon premiered at the BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival on March 24th, 2018 to critical acclaim.

DR. BALDEN CROSS: BEYOND THE VOID

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Press release from the PMRI:
Who on Earth is (or more accurately, was) Dr. Balden Cross you may ask? Only one of the most controversial TV heretics and paranormal investigators of our time that’s who! The man who sought to find that there was more to our existence than met the eye promised to send a message back from the void before he left our mortal coil back in 1982.
A TV documentary was released on the man himself in 1984 by the now defunct Wessex Television Studios – presumed deleted and lost forever after it’s initial broadcast. The documentary concluded with a seance trying to make contact with the man himself to fulfill the promise he had made. This event has now passed into television folklore and infamy, as events that night in late October, on live TV were said to have been truly disturbing.
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Luckily for us, as a treat this Halloween an old VHS copy of the documentary has been found in the vaults of the Paratheological and Metaphysical Research Institute – The PMRI – which was founded by Dr. Cross back in 1971. The archivist at the institute says it had narrowly missed the skip and has now been put online for our viewing pleasure.
Watch this forgotten slice of TV Forteana here:
For more info on Dr. Balden Cross and The PMRI visit: https://m.facebook.com/ThePMRI
Pictures: Dr. Balden Cross portrait, Beyond The Void poster, Dr. Balden Cross outside the PMRI.

Rowan: Morrison – Bury The Forests EP Review

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Bury the Forests EP

Miller Sounds 2018

https://rowanambermill.bandcamp.com
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The aptly and splendidly named Rowan:Morrison (who are wyrd folk outfit The Rowan Amber Mill with singer Angeline Morrison) present the Bury the Forests EP, a specially chosen selection of tracks from the forthcoming and much anticipated long player In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses alongside some essential non-album cuts. Both The Rowan Amber Mill and Angeline Morrison should be familiar to those of a folk horror bent; the Mill for their pursuit of the uncanny and the unusual in their own unique take on acid folk that can be heard on (highly recommended) recent recordings such as The Book Of The Lost and Harvest The Ears, Angeline for her previous work with the Mill as well as her delicate yet eerie releases with Emily Jones as ‘Emily & Angeline’. Thematically the new EP and album stand together, described by the band as exploring issues ‘of our beautiful natural surroundings, and how the pursuit of profit guides us to learn ‘the cost of everything and the value of nothing’, paving the way for the scarring of the landscape with fracking, HS2, retail parks and so on…’ These ideas and values permeate the songs with a gentle yet stubborn melancholy and a quiet but persistent sense of foreboding, of something beyond a monetary price which is inexorably being lost to us all. The album itself will take the story further as the land itself reacts to decades of man’s interference and destruction and promises to have a Play For Today styled edge to this unfolding narrative. One to watch out for indeed.

The EP begins with The Buzzard and the Nightingale, flute and harp encircling Morrison’s repeated intoning of ‘the light cometh in’. At once bewitching and otherworldly, the song’s ritual chants and delicate woodwind evokes an enchanted space; the most hidden part of the forest, somewhere liminal. Regal and richly detailed, this opening offering casts a persuasive spell which then does not falter for the duration of its fellow songs. Indeed, Bury the Forest is arguably best listened to as a whole, a song cycle with its own inner narrative, pace, mood and concept. We Rode The Horse, a melancholic and sepia tinged acoustic slice of perfect psych folk is swathed in orchestral sweeps and cascading piano, however, whilst truly beautiful, there is an air of dread and tension that befits the subject matter. Rowan:Morrison hold this dissonance masterfully throughout the EP, the interplay of darkness and light only serving to enhance each aspect and provide a finely crafted and nuanced take on the outer edgelands and more haunted furrows of folk. Likewise Gather Around, with its vintage electronic squeals and throbs weaving and wefting into both the warmth of its central cello and Morrison’s lilting vocals, is a lament as much as a call to arms. Its successor, The Meadows Call (Ridgeway) offers an effective musical crossroads whereby psych folk meets analogue electronics, the latter perhaps an area more usually associated with ‘hauntological’ artists such as Belbury Poly, The Advisory Circle or, journeying further back, Broadcast. Indeed those in thrall to the work of Trish Keenan and James Cargill will find much to admire here in Rowan:Morrison’s eye for the eerie, period detail and folktronic orchestration. The EP proper finishes with the somnambulant and beguiling Fall To Sleep, a baroque and wistful piece of chamber folk that would fit equally at home within Paul Giovanni’s The Wicker Man soundtrack as it would PJ Harvey’s piano led and ghost filled White Chalk. Two further bonus songs that will not feature on the soon to be released album peal the closing bell for Bury The Forest; these feel equally as crucial as their predecessors and would be a significant loss not to obtain by missing out on this release. The Meadow’s Call (Original), whilst an alternate take on a previous song, is a strikingly different version and holds its own individual approach and emotional impact, its layered strings and synths offering a more strident, stirring and ornamental interpretation. It is the last of the additional tracks however which feels utterly indispensable; At The Circles End marries an evocative spoken piece on the precarious state of the land to huge, filmic swells of strings and a resolute and reoccurring harp melody that seems to hang in the air itself, all framed by the constant chatter of birdsong. That such a strong piece of work is considered a bonus song demonstrates the level and quality at which Rowan:Morrison are operating.

Beautifully housed in a metal tin replete with badges, prints and stickers (and available in both a monochrome or colour version), Bury the Forests is a carefully crafted and sublime slice of psychedelic folk. This is the real deal, a genuine artifact that doesn’t simply seek to emulate or provide an imitation of the original, antiquated acid folk recordings of the past but which instead carries on and furthers the tradition in an individual and fascinatingly unique fashion. It also bodes extremely well for the release of In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses, creating significant anticipation for the album itself. Both the CD versions and a download of the EP can be found at The Rowan Amber Mill’s Bandcamp page; haste ye there.

Grey Malkin.

Soirée – A Short film by Charles Doran

The following review is for Charles Doran’s fascinating new short film Soirée.

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Soirée tells the story of Bill, a young academic who we learn lives in the beautiful house at the top of the hill with the Bougainvillea – a thorny ornamental plant that grows in his garden. Bill is incredibly proud of his garden and loves nothing more than spending time sitting outside and enjoying the peace and tranquillity it provides. When we are first introduced to him this is where he is. His girlfriend Soledad (Surely a reference to Jess Franco muse Soledad Miranda) joins him, she hands him a gift to celebrate their one month anniversary. Bill looks unimpressed by the cufflinks and admits that he has not bought a gift for Soledad. Bill comes across as being very self-centred, claiming that his very presence is present enough for Soledad, who then mentions that they have been invited to a party by a Professor friend of hers that evening. Bill doesn’t seem too keen to attend but he begrudgingly accepts the invitation to the party.

The soirée, which is being held at the Institute for the Scientific Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena is hosted by a gentleman named Wilhelm, played by Doran’s brother and co-writer Timothy. As he and Bill become acquainted over a few drinks, we are treated first hand, to what a scene stealer Doran is. His role as the Aleister Crowley type occult leader figure of Wilhelm is a perfect bit of casting, he exudes a genial menace of the sort made famous by Charles Grey’s Mocata in The Devil Rides Out or Niall MacGinnis as Julian Karswell in Night of the Demon. He is also attired most appropriately in a 1930s style suit, and even his home décor seems appropriate for an occult leader. As the two drink and become further acquainted we begin to see just how thoroughly unpleasant Bill really is. He tells Wilhelm and Soledad of the despicable way in which he was able to cheat the former owner of the house out of her home, and when they are joined by Wilhelm’s friend Jason, he is dismissive and rude about the occult figurine that Jason has brought to the party for the ritual that is due to take place. A very drunk Bill then agrees to be silent during the upcoming ritual in order that he may stay and watch.

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Timothy Doran as Wilhelm

Warning! The following two paragraphs may contain some slight spoilers. The camerawork and direction are spot on, particularly during the ritual scenes, which are just oddball enough to be truly menacing. The use of drums and a ritual dance performed seductively by a female cast member help to create a suitable atmosphere, whilst the use of animal masks draw influence from Robin Hardy’s classic The Wicker Man. Wilhelm’s mask,  on the other hand, harks back to something very Lovecraftian in nature, but even more terrifying.

As an interesting side note I would like to draw attention to the film’s use of the ancient Roman religion of Mithraism, which was practiced throughout the Roman Empire in the early centuries of the common era. This is particularly of interest to me as I live in the North East of England, near to the site of the Temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh, on Hadrian’s Wall, which was built around 200 CE. Legend would have us believe that the God Mithras captured and killed the primeval bull in a cave. This apparently led to Mithraic temples being small, gloomy places as they try to replicate the atmosphere of the cave.

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Overall, this is a beautifully made short film with a straight forward but well executed plot. The production values are great, and the main cast are all excellent, Matthew Nelson as Bill, Catie Smith as Soledad, Timothy Doran as Wilhelm, and Patrick Peterson as Jason. All ably buoyed by a fine supporting cast. In fact, the whole film looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, which is real credit to the director who has created something that looks good on a budget. All credit to him for his hard work because it really does pay off here. I look forward to seeing where Charles and his brother go from here…

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Charles Doran is an Administrative Professional for a major university in Southern California. His previous short films, Westsider, and Ennui, played at film festivals all over the world. Soirée is his first attempt at an “urban wyrd “ type of film. Soirée was co-written by his brother Timothy, an Assistant Professor of History  at Cal State Los Angeles, who runs the very real Institute for the Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena, the primary setting for the film.

Cinder Well – The Unconscious Echo album review

Our very own Lutenist extraordinaire Peter Lagan reviewed the most recent album by haunted folk combo The Cinder Well for us. We hope you find his musings most enlightening.

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“From the outset I have to invoke Shakespeare and others to say “All comparisons are odorous” I say this because it’s common for reviewers to give the reader some sort of peg to hang music on. All I will say is this music has a strong flavour of the 1970s folk revival which took place in England. With a gentle nod to the Strawbs. The music is beautifully crafted with some tracks having the mournful air of broadside ballads accompanied by the sounds of haunting fiddle and viola with the lilting voice of Amelia Baker, carrying each song effortlessly.

Granted this album was recorded and performed in America by American artists . Yet for me the music has many echo’s of English and Scottish traditional songs .And as such should be required listening for those who like their Folk music with a dark and melancholy taste.

The band recently undertook what seems to have been quite a long tour which took in England, Scotland and Ireland.”

 

For those not in the know, Cinder Well are made up of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Amelia Baker (Gembrokers and Blackbird Raum) on vocals and guitar, Marit Schmidt (Vradiazei, Disemballerina, and Sangre De Muerdago) on viola, Mae Kessler (Ekstasis) on violin, Magnus Nymo (Regn, Blackbird Raum) on drums and vocals, Peter Olynciw (Blato Zlato, Blackbird Raum) on upright bass, with special guest CPN on old-time fiddle.

My own opinion is that the album is a beautifully dark collision of traditional European and American folk music, with a post rock twist. Amelia Baker’s voice is both sombre and exquisite, and the whole album is a melancholy masterpiece of some astonishing quality. Don’t take mine and Peter’s word for it, give it a listen at the bandcamp page below and if you’re impressed please consider investing in a copy.

 

Bandcamp: http://www.cinderwell.bandcamp.com

Recording our own ghosts; a review of ‘A Year In The Country – Wandering Through Spectral Fields, Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology’

Grey Malkin

For nearly five years the A Year In The Country project has been diligently producing field reports from the more haunted and folk horror inclined borderlands and wyrder areas of popular culture. Transmitting via their regularly updated webpage and issuing audio relics in the medium of themed compilation CD/ downloads featuring such artists as The Rowan Amber Mill, Sproatly Smith and United Bible Studies, A Year In The Country (AYITC) has amassed a valuable archive of all that is uncanny, unusual or unsettling in modern culture, whether it is film, TV, literature or music. Be it Bagpuss or Beyond The Black Rainbow, Shirley Collins or Sapphire And Steel, AYITC has documented these idiosyncratic yet highly significant moments in modern media.

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These writings (or transmissions) are reproduced, revised and expanded upon here, in the first AYITC publication ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ (for the musical side of the project please do visit AYITC’s splendid Bandcamp page). Divided into 52 distinct chapters (one for each week of the year), the book is described as;

an exploration of the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams and where they meet and intertwine with the parallel worlds of hauntology; it connects layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, journeying from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions’.

Indeed, AYITC embrace a wide range of avenues to bring together not only a sense of how far reaching and varied the origins, mainstays and current players of genres such as folk horror or hauntology can be, but crucially also how they intertwine and cross pollinate. There are chapters therefore on 70’s acid folk and its impact and influence on today’s folk artists, on ‘Folk Horror Roots’ (including an entire chapter on ‘cultural behemoth’ The Wicker Man) but also on ‘Folk Horror Descendants’ such as Kill List, on apocalyptic popular culture through the decades (taking in the horrific The War Game as well as Frankie Goes To Hollywood) and on dystopian literature and cinema such as No Blade Of Grass, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day Of The Triffids. Television series that have become a part of the folk horror conversation also feature prominently, such as The Owl Service, The Changes, Penda’s Fen and the influential Robin Redbreast (arguably a forerunner for The Wicker Man). Each chapter expertly charts its chosen subject’s impact upon the public consciousness as well as indicating that these artefacts are now part of a greater cultural cobweb that may well have threads and components that are radically different in genre or style but that equally have a strong commonality in their sense of unease and their haunted content; of similar ghosts in the machine (or spooks in the television and bookshelves). Further investigations delve into folklore, TV public information films and the landscape itself as a medium through which a certain mood, an uncanny, can be evoked.

Speaking to author Stephen Prince, we discussed this sense of cross pollination, over genres overlapping and finding common themes and ground;

SP: I think, to a certain degree, the way in which it isn’t easily definable how the different and loosely gathered areas of culture that are discussed in ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ appear to connect, influence one another, have become part of a lineage etc is an aspect of what is appealing about them and that gathering; it is part of what creates a certain mystique around it. Possibly in an age where every area of culture, no matter how niche, can be investigated and explained by for example a brief online search, it is the sense of a hidden history and stories, of an at least partly unexplained aspect to such work that is one of the things which may draw people to it. Along which lines, some of the older culture, although at times inherently containing a left-of-centredness, was initially produced and intended as quite mainstream entertainment. However, over time it has gained an otherlyness and also become points of interconnected reference and inspiration for future hauntological/ otherly pastoral work or again a loose “tradition” or set of themes:

 

“…they have come to be touchstones or lodestones that seem to invoke a hidden, layered history of the land but which also encompass and intertwine with a wider, hauntological, parallel, alternative version of Britain…” (Wandering Through Spectral Fields, P. 38)

 

In Chapter 4 of the Wandering Through Spectral Fields book (Cuckoos in the Same Nest: Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings) I discuss some possible shared ground for such work, including a yearning for lost utopias; whether Arcadian dreams within more folk/pastoral orientated work or the lost progressive futures of hauntology. Connected to which you may know of this article but in Robert Macfarlane’s “The Eeriness of the English Countryside”, that he wrote for The Guardian in 2015, he suggests a possible more overtly politically orientated or at least rooted explanation for this curious confluence of culture:

 

“What is under way, across a broad spectrum of culture, is an attempt to account for the turbulence of England in the era of late capitalism. The supernatural and paranormal have always been means of figuring powers that cannot otherwise find visible expression. Contemporary anxieties and dissents are here being reassembled and re-presented as spectres, shadows or monsters: our noun monster, indeed, shares an etymology with our verb to demonstrate, meaning to show or reveal (with a largely lost sense of omen or portent).” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/10/eeriness-english-countryside-robert-macfarlane

 

There’s not really an overarching and definitive name for this “broad spectrum” of work but in that article he describes such “eerie counter-culture” as being an occulture; which seems appropriate and connects to the earlier mentioned sense of the hidden within such possibly disparate seeming work as some of the roots of the word occult are from the older French word occulte meaning “secret, not divulged” and the Latin occultus which means “hidden, concealed, secret”. I’m wary of seeming overly serious (!) about such things; to a certain degree you could see such cultural exploring as in part a form of grown-up make-believe and world creation, a form of escapist fun. At the same time and connected to the above comments by Robert Macfarlane, that escapist aspect may also at times have roots in more serious areas in that such intertwined work and the worlds it creates could be seen to also create a bulwark from what some may see as the more potentially overwhelming, rapacious or secularly monotheistic aspects of modern life, culture and dominant belief systems.

 

Philosopher Jacque Derrida, who again as you may know introduced the idea of hauntology, suggested that in a certain stage of society (what has been described, possibly erroneously/precipitously, as “the end of history”) the present will start to orient itself towards ideas and aesthetics that can be thought of as rustic, bizarre or “old-timey” or towards the “ghost” of the past. Much of the culture that I discuss in ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ whether older or more contemporary, folkloric and/or hauntological, could be seen as having an “old-timey” or nostalgic aspect. At the same time often rather than purely providing the potentially more comforting, familiar and recreation of the past aspects of nostalgia, it also has reimagined, unsettled or eerie aspects:

 

“A re-imagining and misremembering (that creates) forms of music and culture that seem familiar, comforting and also often unsettling and not a little eerie, creating a sense of work that is haunted by spectres of its and our cultural past…” (P. 27-28; from a section in ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ that brings together some of the recurring themes of hauntology and which could also be applied to work which explores the flipside/undercurrents of folkloric culture).

 

The flipside of folk/pastoral culture and hauntology seem to interconnect to create those familiar but also reimagined, unsettling, eerie and spectral aspects; creating a cultural harvest that on paper and technically you would not expect to, as you also say, cross pollinate but which has proved curiously and intriguingly fertile and hardy.

 

FHR: Can you say more about your motivation for producing ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ and the possibility that this may just be a first volume of many?

 

SP: In terms of why I produced ‘Wandering Through Spectral Field’s as a book separate from the AYITC website; at heart and in part it’s not all that much more complicated than it was a book that I wanted to read, that I found myself looking for over the years. Previous to and since its publication/I finished writing it there have been a number of books released which have explored some similar areas but they have generally more tended to focus on one particular area of related culture; semi-consciously I wanted to bring all these different aspects together as, well, they seem to fit, interconnect and influence one another. Online and print orientated publishing both have their pros and cons, their strengths and weaknesses and I’m not didactically more inclined towards one or the other but the more possibly curated, edited etc aspect of a book can bring a particular theme or set of themes into focus – or again as you say, on reading a collection of writing in book form it is hopefully possible to “see how they become part of a larger cultural tradition”. In terms of ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ possibly becoming part of a series of books; we shall see (!).

 

The AYITC webpage continues to be updated with new thoughts and recollections, new features and films, books, television and music that seem to exist either in a more liminal space outside of the mainstream or that instead occupies the mainstream in a more liminal and unusual manner. Seek it out if you are not already a regular visitor. And for those who favour a little Quatermass with their Wicker Man, a touch of Belbury Poly with their Incredible String Band or a taste of Children of the Stones with an offering of Chocky, this volume is highly recommended.

 

With thanks to Stephen Prince for his time and answers. ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ is available from ayearinthecountry.co.uk as well as Amazon.

 

Unearthing Forgotten Horrors Radio Show 25/06/2018

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This week’s Unearthing Forgotten Horrors show features a smorgasbord of amazing music including new tracks from two Folk Horror Revival favourites Goat and Sharron Kraus, as well as a sseasonal classic from Grand Magus as well as great tracks from Umberto, Black Mountain Transmitter, Trappist Afterland and Hawkwind. Our  soundtrack of the week is Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso, and comes courtesy of both Goblin and Giorgio Gaslini, Join me on a1radio.co.uk, Monday from 7pm UK time.

https://www.a1radio.co.uk

Black Mountain Transmitter will be appearing at the Folk Horror Revival Witch Cults event at the Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle on July 14th.

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https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

Our Final Witch Cults Announcement!

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After several weeks of build up we have arrived at our completed lineup and damn good it looks if you ask me. Joining those already announced we have even more amazing musical performances, and some of the finest independent short films you could shake a very big stick at. Anyway without further ado, here they are.

Nathalie Stern

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Nathalie Stern is a Swedish singer-songwriter based in the north-east of England. She draws inspiration for her music from her surroundings, the north-east’s rich cultural history and it’s breathtaking landscape are both influential in the creation of her own unique brand of  what she calls “experimental, electro, glitch folk”.

For Witch Cults Nathalie will be performing a very special set based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, one of the true greats of American wyrd fiction. We are overjoyed that Nathalie is able to join us for Witch Cults. I can guarantee you will be mesmerised and captivated by her dark electronic drones and vocal loops.

Here is a little taster of Nathalie’s work.

https://nathaliesternmusic.bandcamp.com/track/7-flowers

 

Georgia Seddon

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Georgia Seddon is a classically trained musician, who performs her own songs as a solo artist. She trained at the City of Edinburgh Music School and Newcastle University, and now lives in Glasgow where she works as a musician and music transcriber. She is a member of the Mike Heron (Incredible String Band founder) Band, and more recently Alex Rex (Alex Neilson, Trembling Bells founder); and among others, she has performed with Alessi’s Ark, Green Gartside, the Trembling Bells, Robyn Hitchcock, The Album Leaf, and Scott Fagan. Georgia and her father (Mike Heron) have taken part in two high profile Incredible String Band tribute shows (Barbican Centre, London, 2009; and the Edinburgh Playhouse, 2017), and in 2008, they performed at the Hollywood Bowl with The Album Leaf, and alongside Devendra Banhart and Gilberto Gil. In recent years, Georgia has toured the UK and Europe with Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells, Scott Fagan, and Ed Askew.

Georgia’s EP – available via Bandcamp – was recorded by Green Gartside (Scritti Politti) in his home studio in London.

https://georgiaseddon.bandcamp.com/album/georgia-seddon-2

 

Marcus H

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Bristol born Marcus H is an experimental musician from the North East Coast of England near to Saltburn.

His studio project ‘Soiled’ commenced in 2002. Combining elements of beats, noise, guitar phrases and drones. The Quietus described it as ‘a rather unique, loose, expressionistic collage style yet manages to keenly infer a peculiarly English style of strange fiction’.

His music has featured on / in BBC 3 Late Junction, BBC 6 Freakzone, WFMU New Jersey & KALX Berkeley, Mojo Magazine, Electronic Sound Magazine & Wire Magazine.

We are very proud to  have Marcus making a very rare solo appearance for us at Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults.

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Short Films

We also have four wonderful short films that have been handpicked by us for the purpose of screening at this event. As well as screening classics like Simon, King of the Witches and the Italian print of Witchcraft ’70 we want to celebrate the emerging talent that is regularly brought to our attention within the Folk Horror Revival cabal. These four films represent some of the very best talent around at the moment.

Bella in the Wych Elm

Director Tom Lee Rutter, was born and raised in the black country, and now lives in nearby Worcestershire where he crafts films of a horror fantastical and sometimes bizarre nature. Tom has a decidedly DIY approach to film making and aims to create fantastical worlds that belie their tiny budgets.

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Bella in the Wych Elm is a film made to celebrate a most fascinating local murder mystery via the spooky films and TV shows of yesteryear. It is also a salute to the elder Black Country generations of whose superstitious natures turned him onto a love for the unknown to begin with.

In 1943 a group of boys wandering the woodland of Hagley Hall discovered the remains of an unknown woman stuffed inside a hollowed Wych Elm tree. To this day her identity is still unknown. In 1944 however, mysterious graffiti began to adorn the walls of the neighboring towns; WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM. Somebody knew but who? This curious folk phantasmagoria feverishly displays the known possibilities which take us from the mystical realms of witchcraft, restless ghosts to sinister WW2 espionage. Bella In The Wych Elm will intrigue, and frighten in all it’s quaint yet claustrophobic glory.

If you’d like a taste of what to expect you can view the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/210934584

Thelema and Conjuration

Two films from Folk Horror Revival’s very own Gary Parsons.

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Gary Parsons is an MA film graduate from Goldsmiths College London who specialises in short films. Utilizing both, elements of the surrealist genre and images of the occult, these films are both beautiful and at times disturbing. They also tap into the verisimilitude of the erotic and the unconventional.

Gary has been influenced by film-makers such as Jan Svankmajer, Kenneth Anger, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel, Hans Richter, Man Ray and Jean Rollin. All these elements meet within a melting pot to find visual references within the work.

The films can be viewed in many different ways, as straight forward narrative pieces but also as ritual film as demonstrated by similar film-makers such as Maya Derren or even as music promo video. The films stand as an ongoing obsession of their maker as an overall understanding of the human psyche within certain specific landscapes.

Thelema is a short film that was based upon several of Aleister Crowley’s writings and how other writers including Kenneth Grant interpreted them. The film has an almost documentary feel to it, in fact a certain amount of the footage was shot at the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily, Crowley’s home, temple and spiritual centre during the early 1920s.

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Conjuration is Gary’s most recent film and is based around an Alexandrian ritual. It deals with modern day magick, but also correlates it with magick’s heritage through Gary’s impeccable choice of shooting locations. Several powerful ancient sites, notably Avebury, Glastonbury, Pompeii and Oslo were chosen for this purpose.

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American Witch (documentary)

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Welcome to a voyage from novice to initiate. The chthonic path is the common thread that weaves together the various underground religions in America from Wicca to Voodoo and Stregheria to Santeria, and everything in between. Along our pilgrimage, we will unfold the historical background in places where witchcraft came into its own distinctive form such as Salem, New Orleans, New York City, and Los Angeles. American Witch will also explore the stories of practitioners and how it’s changed their lives.

Scarlett Amaris has co-written scripts for the seminal horror anthology THE THEATRE
BIZARRE (2011), the award-winning, supernatural documentary THE OTHERWORLD
(L’AUTRE MONDE) (2013), featuring years of her research into the mysteries of the South of France, in which she appears as a resident expert, and the horror film REPLACE (2017). She’s co-written the dark fantasy trilogy SAURIMONDE I, II & III, and her first contemporary fiction novel DESIRED PYROTECHNICS will debut in 2019. A well-regarded authority on alternative history, her research has been featured in numerous books and anthologies. She also teaches comparative mythology and witchcraft at The Crooked Path Occult Apothecary in Los Angeles, and is a founding member of the Tridents of Hekate coven.

Melissa St. Hilaire wrote film and music reviews for The Heights Inc. Her poetry has appeared in the periodicals Shards, The Outer Fringe, and The Laughing Medusa. She co-authored several scripts for Tone-East Productions. She has written articles for Feminine Power Circle, Savvy Authors, SF Signal, and The Qwillery, among others. She has also appeared in the anthology books Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies and Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads. Her debut book was a memoir titled In The Now. She co-wrote the dark fantasy series, Saurimonde, with Scarlett Amaris, and is currently finishing a sci-fi novel called X’odus. She is also a founding member of the Tridents of Hekate coven.

 

Andy Paciorek

Our compére for the day is Folk Horror Revival creator Andy Paciorek. Andy also runs the publishing arm of FHR, Wyrd Harvest Press, which donates all profits from sales to The Wildlife Trusts. Andy is also a writer in his own right, having written books on the Celtic Otherworld (Strange Lands) and the Slavic Otherworld (Black Earth). His main role is as an in demand illustrator and he has worked on a variety of projects with the likes of Chris Lambert, and Dr Bob Curran. He is currently working on a book project with Darren Charles and Gary Parsons. As well as compéring the event Andy will be giving readings from Wyrd Harvest Press’s latest title The Wytch Hunter’s Manual written by Dr Bob Curran and illustrated by Andy himself.

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So there we have it, our lineup is complete. There is a suggestion that we may have one or two very special guests on the day, but you’ll just have to wait and see if they come off.

 

The full lineup is as follows:

Compére

Andy Paciorek

Speakers

Diane Purkiss, Gail-Nina Anderson, Darren Charles, Bob Beagrie, and The Witch play written by Tracey Norman and performed by Circle of Spear Productions

Music

Black Mountain Transmitter, Georgia Seddon, Nathalie Stern, Heartwood Institute, Peg Powler, Hokano & Marcus H

Films

Simon, King of the Witches, Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri (Witchcraft 70), Thelema, Conjuration, Bella in the Wych Elm & American Witch

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Tickets are available from the eventbrite link below. There is a two tier price structure, the first option is an all day ticket covering the full event from 12 noon until 1am priced at £27.54. The second option is a partial ticket, just covering the evening event from 7pm to 1am and costing £16.76. We will get a timetable of events up as soon as possible.

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

 

 

 

Witch Cults T-Shirt Now Available to Preorder.

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The news that our rather wonderful new Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults shirt is now available to order has been received with great delight here at FHR towers. The admins are frothing at the mouth over the beautiful new design created especially for the event by Andy Paciorek and Cobweb Mehers, in conjunction with Jonas at Tyrant Designs who has done a remarkable job with the manufacturing of these individual pieces.

If you are planning to join us on July 14th and would like to preorder your shirt, either contact Kt Mehers via PM on Facebook, or email us at folkhorrorrevival@gmail.com, please include a contact email address, a delivery address and your chosen size.

The shirts are available in size S, M, L, XL and XXL and are priced at £15. These can be collected at the event. Those who can’t make it can still order a shirt, postage and packaging is priced at £6, and please state in the message that you require the shirt to be posted out to you.

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Another announcement is due in the next few days so keep your eyes open, however if you want to get in early tickets are currently available from the eventbrite link below, priced at £27.54 for the full day event and £16.76 for just the evening.

Hope to see some of you there.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-