Monday, 9 March 2015

A Study Of Lunar Research Flights

A Study of Lunar Research Flights was the codename for a US military operation to explode a nuclear bomb on the moon. The phallic lunacy of cold war weapon testing is the launchpad for English Heretic to meditate on the cosmic battle between sol and luna. The red and white of alchemy as primal landscapes and archetypes, designated by sun and moon. This release navigates a rich route from the solar temple of Bawdsey missile base via the utterly mysterious shrine to Astarte at Margate's Shell Grotto back to the cruel tophet of Carthage. Under the tutelage of Tanit and Ba'al, this is music for hermetic time and space travel: flight commanders Carl Sagan and Artaud. Comes with 24 page A5 illustrated booklet

Head over to the Eighth Climate shop to purchase this release.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Weekend Other World, a letter of appreciation.

Gyrus discussing Polar Cosmology and The Thing - photo by Jack Hunter

Weekend Other World was a blast and I think everybody who attended and spoke had a great time.
We will be looking to put together a publication of some of the papers in the near future.

I received a very nice and thoughtful email from Russell Cuzner which serves as a lovely appreciation of the day.  Russell's kindly allowed me to quote his correspondence as a means of thanking all who took part:

Dr Riley's demonstration of the 'death of the sixties' was very nicely framed and emphasised the longevity afforded to the heady cultural mix of the time - I certainly don't expect anyone to be talking about the "terminal decline of the 1990s" or "...2000s" in years to come (sadly)!

Hannah's fascinating, anthropological lens on horror films has been stirring my head ever since as I consider other movies and the motives behind their manoeuvres. In a similar way to the folk horror demonstrating localised alienation, I wonder if class could be observed as another, similar facet - does the political wax and wain from Tory to Labour and back again get reflected by films whose threats are respectively, the secretive indulgences of the rich, or the wild, waywardness of disaffected youth and the poor? (stuck at work I can't think of many examples, though I'm sure there are many - maybe the perverse rich in 'Society' and the killer hoodies of 'Eden Lake', perhaps?)

The very dapper Mr Hunter covered areas I've only started getting into - to my shame - in fact I'd begun reading Machen's 'A Fragment of Life' just a few days before the weekend, and now greatly look forward to the 'Great God Pan' chapter; while my experience of MR James is, like many, limited to BBC dramatisations. I wish my RE teachers were as open minded when I was at school - all I seem to remember doing was trace maps of Israel and colour them in!

Evie Salmon's insights into the increasing influence of place confirmed the current of psychogeographic concerns that seem to making their way through much of modern musics. I'd like to think that part of this will flow into musicians becoming more concerned with actually playing and recording in specific places, or composing for particular environments even, so place and music become closer once more.

Gyrus' cosmic extrapolation of The Thing went far beyond (no pun intended!) the scope I was anticipating. I loved the way it resonated with Hannah's illustrations of fear of the foreign, but turned it on its head to suggest that we are the aliens we're struggling to understand within the context of the rest of nature (as we continue to pillage it).

John Doran's confessional chapters were as wryly humorous and affecting as ever and certainly cleansed my palate (although I was thoroughly enjoying all previous flavours!)

Lisa Cradduck's brave solo speech peaked (ahem!) my interest on yet another book that I've somehow managed to miss so far - to put things right Under the Volcano is now on order from eBay! (and then, weirdly, an unpublished manuscript of Lowry's was reported the same weekend).

Unearthing Forgotten Horrors was a revelation - Darren Charles' curation swiftly travelling from the romantic orchestrations through prog to more 'post-industrial' pastures deftly demonstrated the important changes in approaches to sonic scariness over the years. I wonder what he thinks is coming next?

For Will Fowler's summary of Jarman's more experimental (and, in my opinion, strongest films) - I particularly appreciated the way he emphasised how this work wasn't something that necessarily needed de-coding, and can be rewarding by merely letting the combination of images and sound flow over you uncramped by comprehension.

It was an ideal prelude to the actual thing which was simply awesome to behold - as I think I mentioned, the fact that the sound came from a separate source meant that the quality was likely better but also lent the showing a deft aptness - the 'tracking' of sound to image being slightly different, and so, unique to any other 'copies' - particularly given this was how Jarman showed the films originally to friends at home.

As ever, English Heretic's outline of approach to cinema and its use as a 'score' to inspire and guide  recorded work I found dangerously catalytic.

Thanks also to Matthew Shaw, Teleplamiste (Mark Pilkington and Mike York) and the Pond Scum light crew (Jamie Sutcliffe and Jennifer Pengilly) for their audio visual extravaganza's on Friday night.

Here's a couple of them pics in action:

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Gigs and Events

October 10th - Bournemouth, Shelley Manor

October 24th - Apiary Studios, Hackney

October 25th - Weekend OtherWorld talks and music (Cinema Museum)

October 30th - Folk Horror, Let's Dance, Sheffield

November 8th - Brugata, Oslo

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Out Now: The Underworld Service

The Underworld Service available now at the shop or in digital format from Bandcamp

Go to Bandcamp

After a decade of toil in the blood drenched, worm eaten, occult battlefields of Albion, English Heretic takes a well earned holiday... in Hades.  The Underworld Service is a 70 minute radio broadcast from Tartarus, where every song and news report is an intimation of our mortality. The Underworld Service subverts the culture show format and celebrates the hard hitting documentary format. Scanning a waveband of Corpse Oriented Rock, Philosophical Stoner, Field Trip Hop, Horror Folk, and Funereal Disco, The Underworld Service is English Heretic’s most death enhancing release to date.

The Underworld Service comes with a 48 page colour guide to accompany your voyage. Informed by the work of James Hillman, English Heretic undertake a series of ritual descents and movements towards the seas of the unconscious.

We survey Greek Horror fads of the 1970s. We look at the eschatological warnings of the fabled alchemist Fulcanelli and follow his trail from a church in London to the irradiated coasts of Suffolk. We travel to the white cliffs of Sussex to meet an occult beachcomber. The living dead are unearthed in the beautiful limestone ravines of the Peak district and traced to their necromantic origins in the Black Temples of Atlantis. We raise a glass to the enolic mornings of Malcolm Lowry, inside a giant mausoleum. We travel to Hiroshima to record the voice of Kwannon and transmit haunting military experiments from the jungles of Vietnam.

CD track listing
* Inside The Mausoleum
* River Of Black Rams' Blood
* Invisible Canon
* The Alchemist Of Saltdean
* The Pherenike
* Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
* Video Anxieties
* Peregrine
* Transmutation At Sizewell B
* Operation Wandering Soul
* The Underworld Service

48 page colour A5 book

Price £11 (UK) £13 (Rest Of The World) 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Underworld Service - track notes

The next English Heretic release, The Underworld Service is due for release at the end of August. Over 70 minutes of new music. The Underworld Service is a holiday in Hades. It subverts the bouffant intellect of Melvyn Bragg culture and celebrates the hard hitting documentary investigations of World In Action. The Underworld in our vision doubles as an hermetic process. We look at the eschatological warnings of the fabled alchemist Fulcanelli and follow his trail from a church in London to the irradiated coasts of Suffolk. The living dead are unearthed in the beautiful limestone ravines of the Peak district and traced to their necromantic origins in the Black Temples of Atlantis.  We bathe in the enolic mornings of Malcolm Lowry, Under The Volcano, inside a giant mausoleum. Informed by the work of James Hillman, English Heretic undertake a series of Katabases: ritual descents and movements towards the seas of the unconscious.

Musically, we scan a waveband of Corpse Oriented Rock, Philosophical Stoner, Field Trip Hop, Horror Folk and Funereal Disco . Radio broadcast from Tartarus, no matter what station you tune into, where every song, news report and culture show reminds you of your own mortality and the hermetic ciphers embedded in pop culture. Music genre as a form of word play, honouring the cabalistic punning tradition of Fulcanelli.

Inside The Mausoleum
In honour of the katabatic alcoholic tragedy of Malcolm Lowry. The track began with an improvisation carried out inside De Grey's mausoleum near Clophill in Hertfordshire. It's my argument that fictions should start at the point of death. Lowry's Under The Volcano is an example par excellence of this process. The track evolves into an evocation of an hermetic journey, a paean to the universal solvent of inebriated lyricism. The situationists paid homage to Lowry by carrying a series of psychedelically informed derives to the Paris suburb of Sarcelles. They were high on mescalin at the time. Sarcelles by a curious coincidence was the location of the alchemist Fulcanelli's legendary transmutation in 1922. 

River Of Black Rams Blood
Kereyni's description of Hades re-imagined as the main theme to a Greek horror film. The track was composed from snippets of  "Land of the Minotaur" theme together with field recordings from a corpse road at Walsham Le Willows in Suffolk. As I recorded the church bell peels, a child  could be heard playing on a swing in a neighbouring garden. The creaking of the swinging was oddly melodic and when processed back in the studio created a perfect imitation of a folk rock flute riff. Vocal wise, Alan Vega or Andrew Eldritch (depending on your critical angle) down the Greek discotheque backed by an ageing English Lit. Professor – the types you'd meet on an horrific  Mediterranean  holiday. 

Video Anxieties
This forms part of the research I've being doing into  constructing a private inner cinema. The track is an attempt to remap the locale of zombie Horror flick – Living Dead At Manchester Morgue. This infamous video nasty set bizarrely enough in the Peak District, gives the film a gory beauty. Our interpretation is folk horror soundtrack part documentary of a vaguely anxious travel guide, the dialogue abstracted from Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue – to recast the script as a paranoid holiday outing. A sinister  documentary  element is added by an  Italian voice over reading an extracts from Kenneth Grant's  Nightside  of Eden,  In  Nightside  Grant makes the claim that the  Altantean  Priesthood employed  sexual necromancy in their the creation of zombies. Hardcore horror and hardcore occultism meet in the mid 70s.

  Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
Horror folk. The song is a traditional Derbyshire ballad  concening  the infamous Winnat's  Pass Murders. Sound affects are taken from Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue, of the zombies' curious gurgling sound. Director George  Grau  based the sounds of the zombies on his memory of hearing his own father's death rattle. 
Transmutation At Sizewell B 
The Greek concept of the  Katabasis – a ritual descent – can also mean a journey toward the sea. The track is derived from recordings made during a serendipitous katabatic journey toward the Suffolk coast.  The journey began at the infamous Blythburgh  church (where the devil is said to have visited in the middle ages). While there, we recorded a local choir were rehearsing Office Of The Dead. We then drove to Sizewell B and recorded the ambience, to be later processed into an imaginary  geiger  counter sound. The lyrics come from the final chapter of  Fulcanelli's  Mystery Of Cathedrals. Mystery of Cathedrals is an alchemical warning  against  the misuse of atomic chemistry. Most curiously, opposite the entrance to Sizewell B, is a pub called the  Fulcan  Arms. The pseudonym  Fulcanelli  is thought to be derived from the name for the Roman God of fire and forge – Vulcan.

The Pherenikos
Philosophical Stoner Rock: in which we tackle the ancient veneration of the severed head in the figure of the Gorgon contrasting feminine tenderness with US servicemen's abuse of VietCong in the process of trophy skull adornment.  The track that exposes heavy riffs whilst also considering serious gender issues encompassing religion, war and masculinity.

The Alchemist Of Saltdean
An extract from an interview with south coast hermeticist - Haunted Shoreline

Field Trip Hop - the predatory cousin of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross - A setting for a reading from J.A. Baker's shamanic nature book, The Peregrine.

Invisible Canon
The piece began with two field recording on a visit to Hiroshima. The first, the sound of the thousands of cicadas near the ruin of the Atomic Dome, the closest surviving building left standing after the bomb. The second field recording taken on video on my Cannon camera was of myself striking the peace bell.

The piece includes the choir of Gyuto monks. This was inspired by a dream recounted in Michael Horwitz Hill's book Dreaming the End of the World  in which one of his subjects experiences a nightmare where sound of B52 bombers has been replaced by a choir Gyuto monks.

For the structure of the piece, I wanted to create a track in the style of apocalyptic DJ Shadow - DJ 'Falls The' Shadow - a reflection on an incredible exhibit in the Peace Museum at Hiroshima. The museum contains the steps of a local bank with the shadow of a body, evaporated during the explosion: the most haunting and violent sculpture, one can imagine.

Operation Wandering Soul
The early 70s as the underworld, a report on the documentary roots of Apocalypse Now.  A homage to  ITV's World In Action and its expose of rebellion in the ranks of U.S grunts and  the use of sound warfare to create imaginary Viet Cong ghosts. Operation Wandering Soul was conceived in the echo chambers of the US military.

The Underworld Service
A unique new music service: English Heretic Music Thanatology ®. The first prototype will be used on the death bed of English Heretic. We have identified a market for a more edgey listener who would like something more terrifying than the platitudinous harps of conventional Music Thanatology practices.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Update on Activities

Live In Sheffield, Thursday 12th June

Doors 8pm
Riverside, 1 Mowbray St.

I'll be playing at this wyrd folk night at The Riverside, in Sheffield. It's part of a series of monthly events put on by the Heretics' Folk Club. The aesthetic I dig very much.

Commission For The Liverpool International Music Festival

English Heretic have kindly been invited by the LIMF and The Quietus to contribute to a project commission called  Minor Characters.  For more details on this fascinating concept - which I am delighted to be part of - go over to the festival site.
The character is a very EH figure and has serendipity would have it, was someone in some form I had wanted to commemorate since the project's inception.