Tuesday, 31 December 2013

"A waking dream on the margin between two universes" - A review of "Marshland" by Gareth Rees

A waking dream on the margin between two universes

“Cocker spaniel by his side, Rees wanders the marshes of Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, avoiding his family and the pressures of life. He discovers a lost world of Victorian filter plants, ancient grazing lands, dead toy factories and tidal rivers on the edgelands of a rapidly changing city. Ghosts are his friends. As strange tales of bears, crocodiles, magic narrowboats and apocalyptic tribes begin to manifest themselves, Rees embarks on a psychedelic journey across time and into the dark heart of London. It soon becomes clear that the very existence of this unique landscape is at threat. For on all sides of the marshland, the developers are closing in… Marshland is a deep map of the East London marshes, a blend of local history, folklore and weird fiction, where nothing is quite as it seems.” (Taken from the blurb.)

It is hard to write a considered review of a book that has affected one emotionally. This book is inspiring, emotive and eye-opening.

I have never been to Hackney. I fear London. There is a side of me that despises it. This is the seat of our utterly disappointing government, the home of evil bankers, vacuous celebrities and relentless musical theatre. London decides what to watch, what to visit, what is best and fashionable to wear, what to listen to, to read, to eat. It is faceless and monstrous, the twisted soul of our country.

I initially approached this book with some trepidation, did I want to spend days trawling through a text that explored an area of this city?  After exploring the blurb and the fantastic quote pulled from its recesses:

“I had become a bit part in the dengue-fevered fantasy of a sick city.”

I figured that the writer could be singing from the same hymn-sheet. In many ways his book reveals an attitude far more complex than that. Whilst he despairs at the encroaching development of London into the edges of the Marshland in Hackney it is also clear that were it not for earlier developments such as the railway it would not exist. Significantly it is the meeting of these two worlds – this island of nature and the bizarre mix of architecture and industry - that creates a synergy. A little universe in which the strange will occur. A world in which the mundane and the surreal collide. This little world sticks its middle finger up at the city with such defiance that it crackles with an other-worldly energy.

 “Wherever you’ve got a margin between two types of culture and two types of landscape you often get a deeper awareness of the supernatural and the spiritual.” - Revd. Tony Redman – (taken from M.R.James: Ghost Writer - BBC)

It is this margin that Gareth Rees explores. Like a 21st Century Kay Harker, he explores a world in which the lines between imagination and reality are continually blurred. In Masefield’s “The Midnight Folk” we constantly question whether Kay is dreaming or awake and the sensation is similar here. By placing the real; the architecture, news reports and stringent historical research, alongside the unreal, we are plunged into a vortex of monsters, bears, time-slips, shamen and hallucination.

The book explores the geographic reality of the Hackney Marshes, but overlaying this in soft swirls of mystical graffiti are utterly compelling tales inspired by or pulled from Mr Rees’ study of the area. It appears that his study is a mix of hard graft and rambling through the Marshes with his dog Hendrix.

Rees introduces us to a man who transforms into a bear, two unfortunate time-travellers and an unhappy couple who find themselves possessed and changing into the occupants of a demolished factory. We meet the occupants of a barge from London’s netherworld, explore the legacy of the Olympic Village whilst visiting a mystical peddler in contraband antique books. This scratches the surface and I would urge you to seek out this book to discover more.

What strikes me about this book is how it has opened my eyes to my own town. I live in Reading which like many urban sprawls contains a weird mix of old and new. It was on finishing the final chapter that I took my children out for a walk. We have been to the nature reserve in Reading but on our way there we decided to try a different route and found ourselves on an old railway line. This ran high above the water meadows. On one side the beauty of the floods were framed by pink-grey tower blocks, while on the other streams and rivers snaked through swathes of green before the drab majesty of the town dump in the distance. We discovered:

dumped mattresses, ceiling fans and wheelbarrows vomited out of the backs of broken garden fences

the remnants of an old fire on the old railway bridge, made from its tumbling bricks

                                a lake of glass (my son’s words)

two rusted metal fences that framed the path creating “a gate to Narnia” (my daughter’s words)

It was into this margin that a deer ran across our path.

We were in the town yet not in the town.

We were in the country yet not in the country.

I had discovered the margin between worlds.

I hadn't looked for it before.

Friday, 27 December 2013

EXILED: "One of the best releases we had this year" - Revi...

Our brother Soulless Party has a lovely write-up on Musicblob that Exiled Publications shares below. This album contains some MFZ magic so do check it out!

EXILED: "One of the best releases we had this year" - Revi...: Lovely article from Musicblob about the alt-folk renaissance features many great artists including... The Soulless Party "Even...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

MFZ Christmas Picks - 2013

Ahhhhh, Christmas Eve. A time for sitting and listening to music that transports you. This is what I have been wrapping presents to this year, sipping mulled wine and eating mince pies.

First up is the incredible Golau Glau with their Silver Tear EP.

The first track "Nowell" is a fantastic mix of instrumental and soundscape capturing how Christmas music mingles with the everyday at this time of year, puncturing the mundane with the magical.

The title track recreates the Christmas tale in a new piece of star-based folklore. Lovely to hear the unique Golau Glau vocal again. First fell in love with this voice on the superb Close Encounters track "Seeing this Shape". Suits Christmas perfectly.

We end with the ethereal Night of the Star. Three great tracks. Watch out for more from Golau Glau in 2014.

Next a spooky mix of music and spoken word from the godlike Melmoth the Wanderer. This mingles extracts from "Box of Delights" and other nostalgic treats with a beautiful selection of ethereal wonder.

Finally settle down for a warm and toasty mix from "Evening of Light".

All very calming this Christmas.

Here's to a successful and fun 2014

EXILED: Black Meadow Talk at Todmorden Library - Saturday ...

EXILED: Black Meadow Talk at Todmorden Library - Saturday ...: If you can get yourself across, down or up to Todmorden Library and have a gander at "Tales from the Black Meadow" and the wond...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

MFZ - "Do You Hear the Sound" on 6ft Plus - Episode 87

I created this song a year or two ago.

Stretching some instrumental Christmas tune to the nth degree and then improvising (initially) some ethereal vocal over the top. It felt like a successful stab at creating a mysterious Christmas song.

See what you think - American Radio Station "6ft plus" contacted me to ask to play it on their Christmas show. I am honoured. It is the little track that did...

Have a listen here - it's a great show with loads of exciting Christmas tracks to get you into the mood!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Discovery - The Duke Street Workshop - "The genius bastard offspring of John Carpenter and Palace Pictures"

 The synth heartbeat and sense of nostalgia for something frightening and half-remembered pervades this collection. Feeling like the genius bastard offspring of John Carpenter and Palace Pictures this should tickle many a fancy. I was transported to a memory of sitting in darkened lounges watching crackly videos with a racing heart. What this music does is capture what you half-remember rather than what the actual films were really like. So you get the excitement of the memory without the disappointment of reality. Splendid!

 Try this...

 And this...

 And this

 Listen and listen again.

(Mind you, that said, these films ARE ace!)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Discovery - Black Classical - It is happening again

I love love love this.

Listen to it in order with your headphones on and see where it takes you.

     The mind wanders as the tracks attack...

                              First a beautiful drone sweeping from ear to ear with snatches of haunting dialogue from Twin Peaks and other shows...

     Static to the left,                                                      static to the right,
                                                                                                  is something hiding in there?

There's a lovely windy build in "Sanctuary Lost" that reminds me of the opening to Cliff Richard's "I wish we'd all been ready" the best version of Larry Norman's joyous paean to the apocalypse ever created. Seriously.

"And then it happened" - a lyrical mix of what sounds like electronic old computer dial-up sounds, piano stings, attacking from all sides.
      I really would like to find my old ZX81 tape that contains the old loading noises. A cacophany of magical coding noise. 

Some of the time it feels as though I am travelling down the wires in lines of code, sweeping along without a care on my light cycle...

There is something comforting and dangerously hypnotic in the creaks and groans, the crackles and and static whispers.

At times elements appear alive.

An electric spider on a web spun from hums and crunches.

Experience for yourself.

An exciting and vivid work...

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Favourite Halloween Mixes of 2013 - Hermione Harvestman - Ghosts

And to finish! Spooky drumroll please! Thanks to Soulless Party for the heads up. This is epic and splendid! Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Favourite Halloween Mixes of 2013 - Samhain Seance 2 - The Revenge of the Ephemeral Man

I love the Ephemeral Man. I could listen to this all year. Do check out his mixcloud page here. Every mix a winner. This year's Halloween mix is superb. A great combination of extracts from Evil Dead, Sapphire and Steel and stonkingly spooky music...

Samhain Seance 2: Hex with a Daemon by The_Ephemeral_Man on Mixcloud

Last year he did this which is equally excellent. Wallow at Halloween. Hmmm Walloween...

Samhain Seance by The_Ephemeral_Man on Mixcloud

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Favourite Halloween Mixes of 2013 - Unearthing Forgotten Horrors - Melmoth the Wanderer

Ah Melmoth what dark delights you weave before my ears. A mix to celebrate an event of the same name. what more could you want from a Halloween mix...

Unearthing Forgotten Horrors by Melmoth_The_Wanderer on Mixcloud

Also check out this earlier mix too. Spooky stuff

A Tale of Witches, Woodland and half-remembered melodies... by Melmoth_The_Wanderer on Mixcloud

Monday, 28 October 2013

Favourite Halloween Mixes of 2013 - The Shadow of Aethereus - The Soulless Party

I am so busy at the moment with work and writing words that music isn't getting much of a look in. So over the next few days I will be sharing some ace mixes from around the world to celebrate Halloween. First up is the magnificent Soulless Central Radio with The shadow of Aethereus. Superb mix with a touch of Black Meadow goodness.

The Shadow of Aethereus by Soulless Central Radio on Mixcloud

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Lovely stuff - Test Transmission: Test Transmission Archive Reel 14

Listen to this.

Test Transmission: Test Transmission Archive Reel 14: Test Transmission Archive Reel 14 by Keith Seatman on Mixcloud Test Transmision Archive Reel 14 is now on Mixcloud. This time round...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Lost Trail and Implicit Order - The Blackridge Tapes - A Triumph

I discovered Lost Trail last year and in their new work they impress even further. This mix of crackle and stretched tape, old music, pitch bends and sound swirls is utterly beguiling. This transports me. Join me on the Lost Trail.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Discovery - Taskerlands

Bloody hell.

This is lush.

Perfect for making some art to!


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Keith Seatman Album - Food for the Brain

Right up my weird street this.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Butcher's Voice - Stuart Warwick - If you buy one album this year...

I was extremely fortunate to see Stuart Warwick at a private gig in Brighton last year, a softly spoken, frighteningly funny and by turns filthy stage presence with a startlingly beautiful voice that brought to life a fantastic set of songs that were coloured with wit and a striking melancholy (just listen to "Man with a Pussy" as an example).

Sometimes compared to Rufus Wainwright, whisper it, but I think he's a hell of a lot better. Don't tell anyone I said that, Rufus can get really angry.

This is is second album (the first is the excellent "The Ordeal") and it is an instant winner, Stuart Warwick has a beautiful voice, lyrically he is excellent, the music is haunting and beautiful.

If you only have the budget for one album this year make it this one, you will get a thousands of listens out of it.

This will be my soundtrack to 2013, make it yours.

You can buy it through Amazon here

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Test Transmission: Test Transmission Archive Reel 11/Last one this ye...

Seriously you have to listen to this.

My god it's full of utter sound joy star stuff...

Test Transmission: Test Transmission Archive Reel 11/Last one this ye...: Test Transmission Archive Reel 11 by Keith Seatman on Mixcloud Welcome to the last Test Transmission Archive Reel of 2012. It...