This December on Resonance FM Jonny Mugwump will be curating a series of Ghost Stories for Christmas in the tradition of the old TV favourites like Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad and The Stone Tapes. I was asked for a Belbury Poly contribution and the author Lawrence Norfolk kindly agreed to adapt and read. Lawrence and I spent an interesting four weeks reading as many supernatural stories as possible. We quickly ruled out MR James as too obvious a choice and we also felt my old favourites like Blackwood and Machen from weirder end of the supernatural spectrum were not quite “Christmassy” enough. So ploughing through some more anthologies of obscure early twentieth century exponents of the genre we hit upon Sir Andrew Caldecott.
Andrew Caldecott was a colonial civil servant during the 1930’s serving as governor of Hong Kong and then Ceylon. Later in life during the 1940’s he began writing ghost stories, two anthologies of which were published, Not Exactly Ghosts and Fires Burn Bright. Caldecott’s post war fictional world is tweedy, polite and teetering on the brink of insanity. Although some of the tales follow the pattern and atmosphere of MR James, Caldecott generally stops short of the big reveal, and the supernatural agency in the stories is inferred by events. Horrifying questions linger in the mind, in a way that prefigures the more sophisticated stories of Robert Aickman.
One story in particular, His Name was Legion, stood out as having a great affinity for the Ghost Box world dealing as it does with a fake parish magazine, and spirit channelling through TV and radio equipment.
The story is in production now and will feature new music and sound by Belbury Poly. It will be broadcast at some point during the week before Christmas, I’ll post the exact time and dates and news of other contributors as soon as we have them.
Lawrence reads His Name Was Legion in The Resonance Studio with Jonny Mugwump at the controls.
The new album from Moon Wiring Club, Striped Paint for the Last Post is finally here. Like the previous two Moon Wiring Club albums its a window onto a world created by artist and musician, Ian Hodgson. Its a glamorous, yet parochial world of Edwardian parlour hip hop, saucy occult rituals, supernatural sleuths and boiled sweets. At the heart of Hodgson’s world is the town of Clinkskell, a kind of Royston Vasey re-styled by Biba and Hammer. Its populated by a huge cast of characters: chimeric animal headed magicians, sinister svengalis and impeccably tailored electronic musicians.
These 22 tracks form a kind of psyched out narrative of a parallel world England where the south is obliterated by flooding and a new and surreal monarchy is established in the North. Fuzzy voices with clipped accents rescued from lost VHS tapes of British TV drama pepper these mannered and spooky tunes, giving us just enough hints as to what might be happening. This is helped along by a bonkers little CD booklet full of beautifully imagined advertisements, and magazine clippings. Like all Blank Workshop output this is designed and illustrated by Hodgson himself.
In Striped Paint bright synth clarions and big echoey basses alternate with hazy recycled keyboard washes and TV sound FX. Its all buoyed along by jaunty and unashamedly strident trip-hop style beats, which drop (in and out) at all the right dramatic moments and propel events forward at an easy, ominous pace. Hodgson achieves a sound world that’s comical and creepy in equal measure making Moon Wiring Club perhaps more worthy of the “H” word than anyone else these days. Needless to say this is hugely popular with all the youngsters at the Belbury Youth Club.
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WWF recently produced a TV ad for their penguin adoption scheme with specially commissioned music by Belbury Poly. They currently have a micorsite for the scheme that hosts a version of the ad minus voiceover, here.
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Over at Ghost Box we’re currently putting together Mind How You Go (The Revised Edition) by The Advisory Circlea new lp length version of the 2005 mini album. This will be available in February 2010, on vinyl and download only.
As well as all the original tracks it will include:
Mind How You Go Now, The Advisory Circle’s mesmerising motorik reworking of the original title track.
The new Advisory Circle track, Seasons, a pastoral reverie in the vein of the original public info film inspired material.
Osprey’s Odyssey a beautiful instrumental track inspired by the TAC tune Osprey, by special guests Seeland ( moonlighting from Lo Records)
And The Cuckoo Comes to Belbury a lumpen proggy cod-medieval reimagining of the Advisory Circle original by Belbury Poly.
For a limited time only you’ll find some preview clips here.
Not there ? Then you’re too late sorry, but check on the Ghost Box site soon.
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Ghost Box is a record label for a group of artists exploring the misremembered musical history of a parallel world.
“Buying one of its releases feels like stepping into another world” The Guardian
“...what's most impressive about Ghost Box is the aesthetic consistency and sheer quality of the material, recalling the heydays of labels such as Factory, 4AD and Warp.” Quietus
“...some of the most delightful electronica to arise in Britain since Aphex Twin, the Black Dog and Global Communication.” The Sunday Times
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