Sunday, 4 February 2018

Review - Buried Treasure presents RARE PSYCH, MOOGS & BRASS – REMIXED 1969-1981 – Music from the Sonoton Library

The old trunk sits in the corner of the room. It creaks and cracks as I fumble with the latch. Sound erupts from within. Excitement. Passion. Forgotten sounds of teletext dreams from Sonoton library remixed by the likes of Revbjelde, Jung Collective, Monoslapper, Zyklus, Jazz Spanky and Buff Plaza swirl about in a hurricane of luminescence.

I click my fingers to High Tension like a Smarties stuffed disco biscuit. Exhausted, I sink to the floor and let the rhythms of a Life in the Fast lane sweep me into a sweet tasting long exposure traffic jam. As the lights drift off into the distance I am reminded that Big Brother is Watching You - undaunted I reach for his enormous hands, letting him pull me into a deep and passionate swing. The 70’s Fun Pop begins and I switch between the joyous slow beats, the siren sweeps and the groovy Scooby Doo backing band. The Moog and Brass take over, a great accompaniment for the late 60’s crime fighting that I feel driven to engage in. I pause for a moment at Towerstreet 17, watching the lights of the elevator as it climbs through the smoke of the ravaged skies. But I must keep Moving Along and so I do, finding myself at the Droid rave on an abandoned space station that orbits the forgotten and blighted sepia landscape. As I turn to leave, O’Mane begins, the melancholy ambulance turns circles around me as the Tokyo motorcycles weave about the floor, bathed in yellow orange and blue flashes of faded neon.

Bathe in this.

Lose yourself in utter groove.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Review - The Stone Tide: Adventures at the End of the World - Gareth E. Rees

Published by Influx Press 

‘The problems started the day we moved to Hastings…’

When Gareth E. Rees moves to a dilapidated Victorian house in Hastings he begins to piece together an occult puzzle connecting Aleister Crowley, John Logie Baird and the Piltdown Man hoaxer. As freak storms and tidal surges ravage the coast, Rees is beset by memories of his best friend’s tragic death in St Andrews twenty years earlier. Convinced that apocalypse approaches and his past is out to get him, Rees embarks on a journey away from his family, deep into history and to the very edge of the imagination. Tormented by possessed seagulls, mutant eels and unresolved guilt, how much of reality can he trust?

The Stone Tide is a novel about grief, loss, history and the imagination. It is about how people make the place and the place makes the person. Above all it is about the stories we tell to make sense of the world. (Taken from thebBlurb)

Gareth Rees has moved to Hastings. His house is a mess. He is haunted by the half-remembered death of a childhood friend, the gradual disintegration of his marriage and inexplicable attacks by seagulls. Hastings is the last stomping ground of Aleister Crowley (noted dark magician and self-publicist) the Piltdown Man hoaxer and John Logie Baird. What links these three figures with Gareth Rees and his adventures in Hastings is an intricate and heart-breaking puzzle that teeters on the edges of sanity.

This is a deeply personal piece of work. Like Marshland before it, this is a life, a landscape and a mind examined. It is one that is at once totally unique but also strikingly familiar, he appears to have captured what it is to be trapped inside your own obsessive patterns of thought, but, thrillingly (and reassuringly) he is able to navigate a way out of the maze.

My own study is a little bit like Gareth Rees house in the Stone Tide. I plan to put up shelves, get a desk I can work at and buy a swivel chair that doesn’t keep descending when I am in the middle of a fruitful sentence. But my own procrastination and imagination get in the way. The machinations and misfiring synapses of my tired brain hold sway and construct a more vivid narrative than the one the real world offers. I am often sideswiped by my own obsessions and unwanted thoughts that gain weight and resonance by the very fact that I try to avoid thinking about them. Rees does not do that, he opens the haunted music box of his brain and lets us in, capturing the nature of memory, obsession and dream perfectly. His work tears open the mind and exposes its vulnerabilities, nightmares and delights. The process of engaging with our own personal events and tragedies are bound up not only in our bumbled memories of the past but also in fiction, history and dream. This is the world that Gareth Rees invites us to explore.

We move seamlessly between his personal present and past whilst occasionally shifting into real and imagined history. Each element of the journey - whether it be exploring Hastings, re-imagining the final days of the deeply pretentious Crowley, Rees’ own fevered remembrances of a lost friend or the utterly painful examination of a failing marriage and the dreamlike powerlessness to stop it – lays bare the complexities, flaws and delights of the human condition.

There is a real heady rush in sifting through Rees memories and experiences. He allows us into his home, into his imaginings and his mind. He pulls apart his own inner and outer-life to enable us to examine our own.

Although The Stone Tide is set in Hastings, raising this town on the edge of the world to a mythical status through Rees’ esoteric exploration of its past and present; this book is ultimately about living. Whilst this is an exciting, fast-moving mix of travelogue, reminiscence, occult adventure and urban wyrd; in reality this is a deeply personal, profoundly moving and truthful autobiography. Highly recommended.

Chris Lambert

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Stone Tapes - Avebury

The Stone Tapes - Avebury - Available to buy as a digital download from Bandcamp here.
Was this sent to me in the post or did I discover it in a cavity between the two damp granite walls of a forgotten stately home? Did I, driven by the impulse of a voice within me, frantically tear it from the mud and sod of a field deep in the heart of the West Country? Was I surrounded by ancient stones that seemed to sing out to me when touched or gently caressed? I am uncertain. Is this a genuine recording created using up to date digital technology or are they the sounds captured in the lusum magnetite of the dank walls, playing back when the atmospheric conditions are just right? There is an uncertainty here. This uncertainty is frightening and this fear is rich and sublime.

I listen again to ensure that it is not simply my own imagination or a half forgotten dream, but there it is; the voice in the static, the seemingly innocuous information about Avebury, the snatches of phone conversation with one voice strangely distorted. Is it deliberate? I don’t know. But I am unsettled, I am frightened and this fear is alive and immediate. But I welcome this and I stroll towards it all, arms wide.

In West Kennet the ritual has begun and my head spins, half formed voices dance out at me from within the ether, the whirling electronic dervish excites, inviting me to join the dance but I must not. I must resist. I take shelter in the lychgate, the rain pummelling down all around me and for a moment all is calm.

The rain stops and I venture towards the Owl and Druid Stone. I know I should not touch it but my hand is pulled forwards. The voices and tones thrust into me like lightning into bark. I am among the petrosomatoglyphs, the damp and the drip, the indistinct. The sound grows, it ululates through me as I spin, the light between the stones scratching at my retinas with every pass. My feet leave the ground, stray ends of grass tickling at my bare feet as I rise a narrow herepath before me, made of silver and granite. On closer inspection the path is festooned with tiny carvings, myriads of spirals, symbols, laughing mouths. The mouths move and speak and sing and question and grin. I am lost. I fall.

Reality seeps in. A voice clear and distinct on the end of a crackling line gives thanks. But, it flits away and deeper voices and drifting tones chant around me.

A cry. Someone is lost. But how can you be lost if you stand in one place? How can you be lost if you have not moved from the centre of a field? The sound builds, a low hum, growing. Reassuring dots and bleeps try to break through, but something is crawling in the dark. Something is in the way. I cannot move.

I am overtaken. I should not have listened to the Stone Tapes for madness seeps through. Sometimes we look to deep into the dark, sometimes we travel too far.

I have removed the headphones but Avebury is still within me. The sounds among the stones are sounds among the synapses. The stones are seen when I shut my eyes, when I blink, when the sunlight scrapes across the iris, the stones creep through into the dark.  

Do not listen.

Do not listen.

Do not lis

Do not


Sink. Tread. Spin.

Let it in. Let the stones in. Let them all in.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

MFZ Favourite Sounds for Halloween 2017

Very happy and excited to share some superb sounds for Halloween. Put them in your ears and turn them up loud...

Firstly the superb Heartwood Institute and their magnificent "Witch Phase Four..." Follow this with the brilliant Triffid Witch from the Ephemeral Man... When you have recovered from the stings of the Triffids and the spells of the Love Witch turn you ears to the wonderful work of Melmoth the Wanderer as you the strange feeling that "There's someone else in the room..." As you party begins tune into the aural delights of Phantom Circuit... After that explore the magnificence of a Folk Horror Halloween with this mix from GASP... Top it off with fantastic all vinyl live Halloween mix from The Trip. When you have doen all that reflect on the montha dn relax with the unnerving October mix from Wyrd Kalendar...

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A Rest Before the Walk - Keith Seatman - Review

A Rest Before the Walk cover art
Click to listen/buy.

And so I rest before my walk. I put Keith Seatman's new album into the player and begin my ritual. I know it will be good for me. I have been Around the Folly and Downhill

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1. We all had our dreams. Keith Seatman seems utterly adept at capturing them in the laser grooves of the compact disc. The distorted stretched bells and terrifying backwards sounds combine throwing me beyond the black lodge and into nightmare.

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2. These Strange Tales and Lost Paper Trails indicate that Keith Seatman is, as I have long suspected, the love-child of Delia Derbyshire and John Carpenter. The wonderful panic stricken keyboard loops mingled with swooping low whistles and metallic gongs out-halloween Halloween. I am scared to go outside now.

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3. But There's something outside, someone whispering in the glowing feedback. A voice telling me that something is outside. The music is building. Sounds moving left and right. I am terrified.

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4. Once more with the whirligig. That will be fun. A whirligig is fun. Huge beats and metallic loops combine with a beautiful xylophone. A spell is cast  - I am thrown into the whirligig. "Never no more will we dance will we sing in a whirligig ring to the old woman's tune on a bucket with a spoon in the moonlight on mondays." I am caught up in a ritual of Seatman's choosing. I cannot turn off. Must not turn off.

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5. One of the Broken Folk Douglas E. Powell tells me that an Empire is falling. His soft voice resurrecting the ghost of John Foxx appears reassuring but there is a deeply sinister edge to this song. We sing and dance in the dark. What are we trying to hide? Where have the Broken folk gone? They are standing behind me as I listen.

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6. An ancient voice from the past rides on a wave of throbs and cracks Made by Sun and Ice

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7. If I was out and about I would Race you to the top but I am running on the spot, my heart thumping backwards. My legs flying behind me. The drum calls me on but I am lagging, pulled back by the forces I cannot see. Everyone overtakes. The mist swirls. The dark board wobbles. I float to the top but not on my own steam. Something has allowed me to rise. The view is obscured by the deepest mist. The moon rises. I drift on the wind. Frequencies from the ether call to me. Try to bring me down. I drift on the wind.

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8. "Watch your step!" I fall to earth with a bump. I am forced into a mechanical ritual of Thinking, Doing and Moving. Angry notes make me dance against my will. "Look before you leap" chant the invisible children. I will not sleep tonight.

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9. I should have done My Morning Ritual. The beautiful voice of Douglas E Powell suggests what could be done. I could be dancing barefoot on the kitchen floor, dancing in the meadow. He tries to entrance me. He succeeds. I am happy right here right now. But should I be? For they tell me that's the way that it is. I spin myself so dizzy for a while.

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10. I wish I wish I wish all musical experiences could be like this one. I am being taken to so many places on my rest before the walk. The enormous joyous beats transport me to an idyllic 1980s that is better than I remember - before drifting on strange frequencies into cosmic horror

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11. The beautiful sound of birds and train distort under the thrust and push of the machine. I am Waiting for Mr Fieldpole. The landscape distorts as he approaches, his head tilted to one side, hat askew, his feet tramp against the ground, louder than any step I have heard. He smiles at me. His teeth sharp and glinting. His eyes a dark purple. 

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This ritual is opening doors to things I do not understand.

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12. Maybe she can help. She holds the sun in her hand. But she stands next to Mr Fieldpole. He defers to her. The electronic beeps and calls only increase my anxiety.

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13. I should be  reassured as I move Along the Corridor 1st on the Left Room 2882 but the terror increases. As this soundtrack of imagined horror grows. The assured synth rhythms and loops collapsing into low swoops. A phone rings. Answer the phone. Who is calling? Who is in 2882? Why do I need to go there. Answer the phone. Answer the phone. Answer the phone. Who is coming down the corridor?

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14. I was told that I would need a Rest Before the Walk. But I am exhausted now. My heart is racing. What is it? It would appear I have walked in circles. I shake the bones in my bag. Cast them on the floor. The shape they land in gives me no comfort. I am trapped in a delicious hell of Keith Seatman's making. It would appear I have come full circle. But I haven't moved. I have been sitting, headphones on, lost in this electronic ritual. 

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The Ritual does not end.

I begin again.

I loop. 

Lost in Keith Seatman's electronic dreams.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Footbook of Zombie Walking - Phil Smith - Review

Phil Smith
Triarchy Press

Phil Smith (aka Crab Man) used to walk sideways. Now he stumbles, shambles and groans.

In his fantastic book Counter-Tourism:The Handbook he encourages us to see the world in a new way, to re-view the familiar through our own mischief, to play with established sites, to usurp the rules set by the heritage industry and question the geographic and historic hegemony. He enables us to recognise that history and our expectations of landscape are a construct and that we would have much more fun if we fabricated our own. Above all Phil Smith encourages us to play again, (in the case of some atrophied readers he may be encouraging us to play for the first time) to rip up our guide books and write a new narrative over the landscape.

He encourages us to slip into liminal spaces, explore boundaries, discover that the most interesting places are often the least visited. In his dérives he has uncovered ways of enjoying the world anew.

There is something distinctly spiritual about his books. Phil Smith encourages us to re-engage with an environment we mostly ignore. Since reading Counter Tourism and On Walking I often find myself contemplating the pleasures of getting lost. Leaving the path or the motorway and exploring unknown spaces. I enjoy finding out facts and folklore about unfamiliar locales and revel in lying about overly familiar places. These experiences are akin to laying a transparency of magic over the landscape.

With his new book The Footbook of Zombie Walking his approach has evolved further. The journey through the landscape is explored through the myth and tropes of the Zombie. But rather than this being an exploration of elaborate Zombie role play (which I was expecting) it becomes something far more eye-opening, spiritual and ultimately moving.

The book uses a structure that those of us familiar with Phil Smith’s work will recognise: observation, italicised records of discoveries, suggestions for exercises to enhance your dérives and academic cross-referencing between discoveries on the walk and his own extensive knowledge. However, owing to the focus of the book being on the Zombie, it delves into very strange and enlightening territory.

For some, Zombie movies are revolting excesses of gore and violence, they appear repetitive and often cheap, they revel in death and decay, and they celebrate the post-apocalyptic life. For others the films appeal for the exact same reasons. The Zombie film is about rebirth. The rebirth of the landscape, the body and the mind. It is this notion of starting again - of our overly familiar environment becoming a brand new place of unexpected possibility – of our own minds and bodies being agents and vessels of this change - that appeals to us.

Walking and Zombies might not seem well-matched bedfellows but on reading this book I am surprised that this has not been covered before. The majority of Zombie films contain more walking and landscape than Peter Jackson’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies combined. Zombies can only walk and the survivors, with defunct technology all around them, are forced to do the same. The Zombies see a world full of possibility and food and the survivors see a ravaged shell, full of danger. Both parties are invigorated and changed by the transformation of their world. Phil Smith enables us to see our own world through these eyes.

I am a Zombie Apologist. (I have become recently acquainted with the term “apologist” when I discovered that there is a sub-genre of religious literature known as Christian Apologetics – these books are written to appeal to non-Christians who view the violent excesses of religion with suspicion. The Christian Apologist edits or re-interprets the nastier bits of religion to make it more palatable to the liberal, anti-slavery, sexually tolerant post millennials. It therefore seems an apt modifier to use next to “Zombie”.)  When speaking to those who think of undead film and literature in the same way that I consider football (i.e. not at all) I find myself avoiding the Zombie in my explanations. This is similar to the way that football aficionados try to win me over with talk of atmosphere and camaraderie to get me to watch a match whilst avoiding mention of the game itself. I find myself talking of survival, metaphors and “It’s about family really.” A classic defence of “The Walking Dead”, when met with “Hasn’t that got Zombies in it?” is “Yeah, but it’s not really about Zombies.” The Zombie cockerel has crowed three times. Not only does Phil Smith reveal this to be an utterly cowardly riposte he also encourages us to embrace the Zombie in our lives and perambulations. Phil Smith is less Zombie Apologist and more Zombie Evangelist.

Zombie films are about transformation. Primarily two things are transformed: the body and the landscape. The book acts as a guide to how we can engage with landscape, community and our own selves in a different way. The Zombie’s shambling gait is a portal to new experiences and ways of seeing.

The Footbook of Zombie Walking revises our view of the Zombie, but, strangely and movingly for such a fearful and stupid creature, it allows the Zombie to guide us into a new way of living. This is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for the post-millennial generation – we can find enlightenment through the Zombie in much the same way that Pirsig finds it through embracing the mechanical.

This fascinating book does require some knowledge of Zombie films due to the myriad references made throughout, I would suggest as primer material that you read The Walking Dead graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Watch Night of the Living Dead (both the original and the 90’s remake), Dawn of the Dead (both versions), Day of the Dead (the original), Les Revenants, Shaun of the Dead and see where that takes you.

Embrace your inner Zombie and see the world anew.

Seek it out. Consume. Stumble. Groan. See the familiar as though it is new.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Take a trip down The Delaware Road

And we begin...
Reading Town Centre - A dark damp Saturday in November 

The fireworks are exploding around me in time with the mundane tunes of the now. 
I push past the gawping hordes looking out at the Oracle, illuminated by exploding gunpowder expense in this empty ritual to vacuity and excess.
South Street Arts Centre calls. 
Warm red brick.
The old Labour Exchange playing host to ghosts of an imagined past.
The launch of The Delaware Road.
These are not your eyes.

He sits at a table.
Face furrowed in concentration.
This is how it happened.
The lights dim. 
Words weave. 
Tongue and teeth. 
Spit and fury.
Magic and drama. 
Poetry and song. 
Tape and video. 
Valve, magnet, beep, button, loop, moog. 
Sine waves. Liminal waves. Waves of half remembered nostalgia.
We are dragged under the waves into the deep, into and down the Delaware Road.

This unique event was a mesmerizing mix of film, music and poetry. A piece of ritual that at times captured the essence of the UFO gigs with the psychedelic oil projections, dry ice and beautifully weird music.

Surrounded by Smarties they flew their ship onward.

The album that this ritual launched has been in constant use in my house since the gig. Calling up the electric spirits of the 70's, moving me from synthesised ecstasy to mystic knowing to utter joy with each track.The Delaware Road is the brainchild of Alan Gubby, the curator of Buried Treasure, a relatively new but achingly successful record label based in Berkshire.

Hold, hold bare up thy rapture.

The album straddles various genres but is held together by a sense of displaced nostalgia. The title itself is unsettlingly familiar. The Delaware Road, I have been there, I know it.

After several attempts Loose Capacitor make the line go wiggly.

At various stops on the Delaware Road we visit the world of synthesisers, loops and electronica - from the beauty of The Twelve Hour Foundation with Hundreds Twelves and Units; the aural poetry of Ian Helliwell's Water Gardens (his manipulation of ancient sound boxes was a joy to watch); the unsettling joy of Trouble and Strife's The Shag (an instrumental paean to the glories of the thump of glam rock); the electric 80's film noir of Robin LeeAsterion's Que; the freakish mix of sweet loops and demonic possessions in Monoslapper's Twit to the toe-tapping brilliance of  Loose Capacitor with their superb "Theme to Robins Nest".

A watcher in the darkness.
 The road was navigated by Dolly Dolly, his account of this lost aural ritual punctuating the acts. An extract of this poem is on the album. This little snatch of brilliance makes me long for a full length version.

Some people are able to pronounce Revbjelde. I am not one of them.
 The album also plays host to the incredible Revbjelde. This mix of occult chants, didgeridoo, voodoo beats, scratches, mandolin and strings at times seemed like the lovechild of Beats Antique  and the instrumental adventures of the Beastie Boys on Ill Communication  (Tidworth Drum) but it was something far more unique. If I were to sum up the experience of listening to Revbjelde in one word, that word would be: lovelushsmokylicious.

Joining the haunting sounds of Revbjelde is the sublime Howlround's  Cradle Cheat (with their tape hanging all over the shop).  We are also joined by the wonderful Dandelion Set who deliver music that matches their clothes (see above).

The man with long hair escaped the screen four minutes and thirty seven seconds after this picture was taken.

The other houses on the Delware Road are populated by Folk Horror - the Rowan Amber Mill's Buzzard and the Nightingale is a haunting piece of music with harp and vocal used to conjure a dream of mist and heather, whilst the brass of Tongues of Fire is the sort of thing that wouldn't be out of place on the narrow streets of Summerisle.

I will never forget this gig.
It was eye and ear opening.
The album is a joy.
Delaware Road is a place I will be visiting again and again.

Buy it!