In the current issue of the Wire, there's a write-up by yours truly of When It's Time To Let Go by Lo Five, a review that doubles up as a sort of quasi-profile of Patterned Air Recordings. As you're probably aware they put out three of my favorite long-players of 2016 (not bad going considering they were the label's first three releases and the sum total of their releases at that point!). The review explores the mystery of hauntology's uncanny persistence and also allowed me to think aloud about the issue of framing - how release-rationales and the conceptronica trend (which extends way beyond the H-zone) can be at once catalytic for creators, experience-expanding for listeners, but also runs the risk sometimes of confining the music's meaning-potential. Tricky one that, and something I have yet to resolve in my mind - I tend to take it on a case by case basis. But it does seem like there has been a bunch of music these last five or so years where the spiel surpasses the feel.
The Lo Five album - another fine addition to the Patterned discography, and an unusual listen - is out on April 14. But you can hear it now and pre-order
Also out in mid-April is the latest album from Keith Seatman - all hold hands and off we go.
Excellent stuff from Mr Keith - darker and more woozily abstract than his previous releases.
Perhaps the most prolific of hauntology's second-wave labels, A Year In the Country has a new themed album, The Restless Field, for release on May 2nd: another exquisitely packaged affair with audio contributions from Patterned Air's Assembled Minds, Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Listening Center, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Polypores, Depatterning, Time Attendant, and David Colohan.
One of their best efforts so far, I think - murky and ominous as befits the guiding thematic: places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles. Particularly enjoyed the blackly buzzing pulsescape of "Congested District" by Listening Center.
The Restless Field is a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with often more referred to urban events.
It takes inspiration from flash points in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land.
References and starting points include: The British Miners Strike of 1984 and the Battle Of Orgreave. The first battle of the English Civil War in 1642. The burying of The Rotherwas Ribbon. The Mass Tresspass of Kinder Scout in 1932. Graveney Marsh/the last battle fought on English soil. Gerrard Winstanley & the Diggers/True Levellers in the 17th century. The Congested Districts Board/the 19th century land war in Ireland. The Battle Of The Beanfield in 1985.
The Restless Field is Released as part of the A Year In The Country project, a set of year long journeys; cyclical explorations of an motherly pastoralism, a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land – the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edge lands.
Those wanderings take in the beauty and escape of rural pastures, intertwined with a search for expressions of an underlying unsettledness to the bucolic countryside dream.
It is sent out into the world in two different hand-crafted Night and Dawn editions, produced using archival giclée pigment inks; presenting and encasing their journey in amongst tinderboxes, string bound booklets and accompanying ephemera
Word reaches me of a very special event this summer organised by Buried Treasure.
The Delaware Road takes place on July 28th at the Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker - the lineup includes many well-known faces from around the parish (Robin the Fog's Howlround project, Britronica archaeologist Ian Helliwell, Concretism, Dolly Dolly, DJ Food) along with a number of names new to me (Telplasmiste, Loose Capacitor, The Mummers & the Pappers, Radionics Radio, The Twelve Hour Foundation, Glitch, Saunders & Hill).
Tickets available here
Buried Treasure - founded by Alan Gubby - is also a label. Past releases include John Baker: The Vendetta Tapes - Incidental Music from the 1960s BBC TV Series and Other Radiphonics and The Delaware Road, a compilation based around a narrative devised by Gubby and Dolly Dolly's David Yates that concerns a pair of Radiophonic-style pioneering electronic composers who "discover a recording that leads to a startling revelation about their employer. Fascinated by the occult nature of the tape they conduct a studio ritual that will alter their lives forever."
Buried Treasure have released a whole bunch of stuff, it seems - including an anthology of works by Soviet psychotronic musician Yuri Morozov and a pair of remixes of Groundhogs mainman Tony McPhee's 1973 electrono-bluesrock stampede "The Hunt"
At the end of this month Buried Treasure are also releasing the debut album by REVBJELDE, a foray through hinterzones of "industrial noise, motorik folk + jazz psych"
Uncanny persistence indeed...