Wednesday, 31 October 2018


This bypassed me - anybody seen it? Any cop?

At Pop Matters, John A. Riley writes:

"Arcadia compiles footage from the British Film Institute's sprawling national archive to create an impressionistic collage film about rural Britain...

"... Paul Wright's film is primed to be received in the context of two related phenomena: Hauntology and Folk Horror. Both represent new ways of thinking about our relationship to time and place, and of finding the sinister within the everyday, the former by emphasizing repressed pasts and failed futures, the latter by emphasizing sinister textures and themes lurking below the surface of Britain's rural communities. However, it may be equally if not more helpful to think of Arcadia as a sculpture done in paracinema: countless hours of public service announcements, promotional and instructional videos, and amateur-shot footage, are here given an unruly second lease of life....

"...  a dizzying assemblage of bucolic, folkloric footage; maypole dancing and sundry village festivities that wouldn't look out of place in The Wicker Man, harvesting crops, hunting, bucolic landscapes. Occasionally footage from a well-known narrative film, such as an unmistakable glimpse of Helen Mirren from Herostratus, is thrown into the mix.... 

".... The film doesn't present the archive footage chronologically, which means that a variety of formats, from badly damaged silent-era film to pristine 35mm, to home formats such as VHS and Super 8, all brush up against each other to dizzying, sometimes foreboding effect. The film works by associating, linking things in a montage chain that, in one example, goes from the pageantry of traditional village celebrations such as Morris dancing and 'Obby 'Oss festivals, to the '60s counterculture, exemplified by a patronizingly interviewed hippy who says he celebrates love "by doing psychedelic freakouts every now and again" to more recent times, through images of the kind of barnyard raves beloved by the '80s/'90s rave generation, as the soundtrack works itself up into a relentless pulse.... 

" Arcadia is a frequently fascinating, often unsettling look at traditions and places that can often feel like they are vanishing before our eyes."

Riley also praises the score by Portishead's Adrian Utley and Goldfrapp's Will Gregory.... 

"The eclectic score, at times evoking Debussy, at other times sounding like '90s lounge music revival (not surprising given its composers), and at one point breaking out into an ominously-tinged '70s bovver rock stomp, is worthy of serious standalone consideration..."

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Winter Broken Folk

Release Date November 14th.
Available from
The Belbury Music Shop (Vinyl)

Bandcamp (Digi) 
An EP of collaborations with folk singer Douglas E. Powell selected from Keith Seatman’s last two albums. It opens with a remix of the title track Broken Folk by stalwarts of British pastoral electronica Belbury Poly.
Melancholic and subtly psychedelic, these songs are redolent of supernatural short stories and winter afternoons out on English landscapes. They are dark rustic reveries, occupying the overlapping territory between haunted electronica and wyrd folk. Seatman builds a dense collage of electronics, fragmented melody and found sound, around which Powell weaves his dreamlike lyrics. The tracks have been remastered for the EP by Belbury Poly’s Jim Jupp and the 10” is pressed on translucent green vinyl with sleeve art by Jim Jupp. It’s released on Seatman’s own label KS Audio in conjunction with Jupp’s Belbury Music.

All instruments
Keith Seatman (& Jim Jupp on * ). Vocals Douglas E Powell
Produced by Keith Seatman & Jack Packer.
Except * produced by Jim Jupp
Written by Seatman & Powell.
Except * by Seatman, Powell & Jupp
Mastered by Jim Jupp
Cover design by Jim Jupp
(P) & (C) K S Audio 2018
Belbury Music

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Ghosts of Derbyshire
by Clarence Daniel
(Dalesman Books, 1977)

To mark both Halloween next week and the proper onset of Autumn this weekend… Derbyshire, ladies and gents.

One of my less noble ambitions tin life to try to one day collect enough of these regional ‘ghosts of..’ / ‘haunted..’ / ‘mysterious..’ books to cover the entirety of the UK. I think I have a lot of the more obvious ones, but less exciting / evocative parts of the country can be hard to find, so I was thrilled to be able to tick Derbyshire off the list.

In addition to the usual round of spectral hounds and ladies in white, this particular area of the midlands seems notable for a lot of funny business involving skulls, and, if Clarence Daniel is to be believed, a frankly suspicious abundance of bad local poets, all dedicated to commemorating supernatural events using a fairly similar meter. You can draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Its Got 5 Legs!!!! Look Again

If you have traveled along the A31 in Dorset between Sturminster Marshall and Bere Regis you might very well have seen the so called 5 legged Stag standing proudly on top of a large brick gate, known as Stag Gate. The Stag gate is one of three gates into Charborough Park Estate (the others are Lion Gate and Blandford Lodge) I have driven past these three gates many times over the years and have always been interested in a particular story as to why there appears to be a Stag with 5 legs? The story is that the stag gained an extra limb because when viewed from Charborough House and the road, the Stag appeared to only have three legs and the family demanded that a fifth leg be added, so from certain views the Stag would be seen to have four legs. Unfortunately this is not true, the real reason given on The Drax Estate Website is Although the stag appears to have five legs, the 'fifth leg' is actually a 'tree stump' originally incorporated into the sculpture to add strength, which is a shame because I do quite like the story of the Stag only having 3 legs when viewed from a certain angle. The tree stump can be clearly seen in Chris Drakes photos. 
 All Photos by Chris Drake

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

An Invisible Material Force Is At Work

Leonard Rosoman illustrates a vivid account of the new Jive scene in Britain, by author and jazz fan William Sansom.

I've posted the entire article here as I reckon it's well worth a read.  Touches on the wider influence of US popular culture, the reasons for its success etc, as well as the specifics of jive itself.

From the 5th Contact Book: "The Public's Progress", 1947.

Captain Video

There was a TV version of Captain Video but the one I remember vividly was the serial on Saturday morning cinema club that used to enthrall and keep you guessing with those cliff hanger endings. See the first episode HERE.

Sunday, 21 October 2018


An abridged version of the original 79-minutes-long movie of the National Film Board of Canada theme pavilion at the Montreal Expo 67

Loving the split screen thing

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

1947 - The Changing Nation

Hugh Casson.

The Contact Books series was a magazine in disguise.  When they went into production in 1946, there was a ban on new magazines (to preserve paper), so they stuck it in a hardback cover, gave each edition its own title and put the word 'book' on the front.

Fascinating reading for anyone interested in post-war planning, architecture, world afffairs, sociology etc as seen by the broadsheet sophisticat / design set of the time.  There's probably an essay to be written on this lot and their similarities / connections to globalisation, neoliberalism, centrists, Blairites etc etc.  Or maybe not, I dunno; I've probably spent too long on twitter lately.

(Maybe even the whole bake-off, Keep Calm, Middle Class Revolt thing - which we all hate, of course - and the British artists & illustrators of the UK 30s/40s - who we all love, right?   John Minton, Edward Bawden and - I *think* - Edward Ardizzone make appearances in various Contact books).

These scans are from the 7th volume.  Barbara Jones, being snotty about the suburbs in the classical style here, was best known as an illustrator.  She went on to work on - The Woodentops!  The tv series, not the band.

There's a great piece about the history of Contact HERE.