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

Peregrine
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.



Sunday, 9 March 2014

Death To Fascist Insect That Preys Upon The Blood Of The People!


In the liner notes to Anti-Heroes I explained the conceit for the remixed extract of Plan For The Kidnap Of Princess Anne that appeared on the album. The remix was called The Mallian Timeslip as a nod to the Phil Dickian nature of what I perceived to be Ian Ball's cosmic paranoia. The addition of sparse drum machine and Floydian guitars was to re-imagine the track as the off kilter attempt of some out of touch prog rocker to get down with the kids – a spaced out anarchist protest song. In terms of the song's languid structure,  I was very much thinking of Peter Gabriel's Biko - I song (and sentiment) I love, and as a child Biko's death left a big impression on me. He died a few days before my 9th birthday. I was an avid radio listener as a kid and I still remember the news reports. Weirdly, Biko's death also fused in my memory with Marc Bolan's death - which happened a few days later, on my 9th birthday. These morning radio news items remain burned into the valves of the hippocampal transistor.

Since writing those liner notes, I've discovered an interesting connection between Ian Ball and Steve Biko, as well as some strange insinuations regarding the kidnap that suggest Ball was a cog in a grand master plan to initiate World War 3. As for my original assertion - that Ian Ball was a paranoid schizophrenic embroiled in a fantasy of revolution - I am not so sure now! The red sands of Martian conspiracy seem to be shifting beneath my feet, revealing a delirious sub plot in which I am not so sure of my own role.

It turns out that Ian Ball was defended by Sir David Napley, a very high profile "celebrity solicitor" of the 60s and 70s. Napley, as is perhaps is normal with solicitors, had a curiously ambivalent resume. He defended the Rolling Stones against their drug charges in the 60s, a London gallery for exhibiting nude photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and most famously Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe in his trial for the conspiracy to murder Thorpe's lover Norman Scott. If ever Alan Moore's League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen needed a solicitor to defend themselves in some hideous occultural miscarriage of justice, then I would recommend Napley.  However, Napley also appears to have been a champion of the underdog and the less attractive defence case, of which Ian Ball must be included. He defended Jeremy Bamber, who, in common with Ball, still protests his innocence via an obsessive website hosted behind the firewall of a high security prison. And most serendipitously, given the conceit of the track on "Anti-Heroes", Napley served as an independent witness into the inquest of Steve Biko. His report was instrumental in laying the blame on the South African police; Napley concluded, "I was left in no doubt Mr Biko died as a result of brain injury inflicted on him by one or more unidentified member of Security Police."

Just to seal Napley's credentials as the perfect participant in some wild forensic metafiction, he also worked on a miscarriage of justice case from 1967, involving a Newcastle gangland killing, by two Londoners - Dennis Stafford and Michael Luvaglio. The crime centred around the syphoning of profits from one arm bandit fruit machines. Stafford and Luvaglio traveled from London to kill one Angus Sibbett, who had been robbing from machines, set up in Newcastle nightclubs, by London "business" men. Sibbett's bullet ridden body was discovered in the boot of an MK 10 Jag. If the crime sounds like an underworld cliche, it is because the case provided the basis for Ted Lewis' book Jack's Return Home which was made into the film Get Carter.  But not content with dipping into the murky world of pulp archetypes, Napley's career extends as far was the icy waters of the Illuminati. He worked for the family of Roberto Calvi, God's Banker, whose assisted suicide still haunts the stanchions of Blackfriars Bridge, in London. Two images fuse: Get Carter – Michael Caine pursued over the high level bridge by henchmen in their doorless red Jag, and the police photographs of Roberto Calvi on the deck of Blackfriars, pockets laden by Masonic stones. 
"St. Peter's not very happy about his car, he's going to shit all over you."


Angus Sibbett, clearly a big man and out of shape
Roberto Calvi, St. Peter's not very happy.



And if you're feeling unnatural pangs of sympathy for this champion of justice, Napley also defended General Pinochet - moral compass out of control...

Where this legal jackanory starts to get even stranger is when we get back to Ian Ball. In the booklet for English Heretic's last release, Mondo Paranoia, I discuss the hoaxed missing chapter from William Manchester's Death Of The President. This infamous hoax was published in the deeply subversive magazine The Realist. This magazine became a primary vehicle for the fascinating work of one Mae Brussell. Brussell is an example par-excellence of what I was trying to highlight in Mondo Paranoia: that the assassination of Kennedy was like some traumatic occult event that appeared to awaken a paranoiac pineal gland, and enabled certain folk to insight a frightening and amorphous new reality. It certainly seemed to serve that purpose for Mae Brussell: it is stated in her biographical notes that the,
"Complacent Beverly Hills housewife Mae Brussell had quite an awakening in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, and again when she read and cross-indexed the massive 26-volume Warren Commission Hearings. She saw that the international terrorist network that had made up the Axis powers during World War Two had gone underground and continued their world-wide fascist campaign, overthrowing one country after another. America was not exempt."

Brussells' C.V. reads like a cross between a cookie baking homemaker and an industrial culture Nostradamus:

* On May 29, 1968 she confronted Rose Kennedy at Monterey Peninsula Airport, handing her a note telling her that Robert Kennedy would soon be assassinated. A week later he was executed by Sirhan Sirhan.
* Two weeks before Patty Hearst was kidnapped, she addressed a Syracruse Univeristy audience informing them that the Symbionese Liberation Army's murder of school superintendent Marcus Foster was the beginning of a terror and psychological sabotage campaign, orchestrated by the government, and similar to that instigated in Nazi Germany during the 1930s.
* In August 1977, discussing the recent relocation of Jim Jones' move to Guyana, she speculated that it might be a training camp for assassination teams.

If Napley was a forensic everyman of some countercultural yarn, then Brussell was its prophetess.

The Symbionese Liberation Army was much the focus of Brussell's obsessions. In 1974, she wrote an article for The Realist in which she laid out the argument that the SLA was in fact the CIA, or rather ,a fictional terrorist group set up by the CIA to bring a fascist revolution in the United States. It's a frightening theory, especially for one cooked up by a once complacent Beverly Hills housewife. Analysing the kidnap of Patty Hearst, Brussell lays out the elaborate project of the fabricated SLA:

"The end goal of the SLA – World War III – is to plunge the Third World masses into starvation and slavery. We have accomplished this through the CIA in 77 countries. The Third World inside the United States is the next selected victim."

Then most incredibly, Brussell brings Ian Ball into the equation stating,
"Every kidnapping since February 4, 1974, should be carefully investigated. The kidnappings may be real, but the circumstances surrounding them are questionable.
The Secret Service, for the first time in U.S. history, presented an award outside the United States. It is no surprise this was delivered to Inspector James Beaten, the man who was wounded March 30 [sic] when Ian Ball was supposed to "kidnap" Princess Anne.
Was there any relationship between this altercation and the earlier abduction of Patricia Hearst? The Secret Service knows the answer. Were they acting accordingly, apologizing for a near victim in a provocateur-inspired event?"


So Brussell makes the fantastic insinuation: that Ball was a patsy or a brainwashed agent for a secret service operation on foreign land, and the copper inadvertently caught in the crossfire received an award from the United States as a covert apology!

And what of Princess Anne? If Ian Ball's kidnap been successful and, if it was an operation based on the blueprint of the Patty Hearst case, would Princess Anne later have appeared on the security cameras of a branch of Lloyd's Bank  - presumably on horseback  -  yelling at the tellers and brandishing an AK47. Would she later appear on some pirate radio broadcast intoning the paradoxical mantra of SLA leader, Donald DeFreeze,  "Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the blood of the people!"

I would sincerely like to think so.  

In trying to retain a rational perspective on of all this, it's probably worth pointing out the following clipping from an American Daily on March 23rd 1974, in which the kidnap of Princess Anne appears on the same page as news coverage of Patty Hearst.


Finally, let us apply William Burroughs' technique for the paranoid reading of newspapers, which entailed scanning across the page so that the unrelated news items would fuse to reveal a new narrative...  Cut across reality and future conspiracies leak through. The headlines, cut across, read thus:
"Army Guards Hearst Kidnap Message: 'Probably Royal Family'"

Friday, 28 February 2014

Oh Xiurell And I'll Come To You

 


I've been looking at various mermaid myths recently and while doing this, started looking at references in Robert Graves' "The White Goddess". I am not sure how widely disseminated this is, but thought it worth sharing. Anyhow it's very interesting to me, being Suffolk based (where M.R. James based 'Oh Whistle'), and offers some intriguing connections between M.R. James, Graves, as well as further interpretations of the story, and some nice cinematic doubling.

To summarise, in a chapter of "The White Goddess", called "Gwion's Heresy", Graves discusses winnowing feast mysteries and makes mention of a Majorcan artefact of this harvest festival. It is called the xiurell, and is a white clay whistle, decorated in red and green. The whistle is handmade and cast in various shapes such as a mermaid, a coiled serpent, or a full skirted woman rocking her baby in her arms. According to Graves the whistle figured in an ecclesiastical festival that took place on 12th of September. The festival entailed the villagers of Bonanova, near Palma, perambulating up the hill, presumably blowing these whistles. The object of the whistle, posits Graves, "must originally have been to induce the North-East winnowing winds which, according to the local almanack, begin to blow at this season and which at the end of the month summons rain clouds from the Atlantic Ocean to soak the winter wheat planted earlier in the month." 

Graves says that the mermaid, locally called a 'siren', evidently represents Aphrodite (also represented by the woman and baby shaped whistle).  The serpent is represented by the wind (presumably denoted by the coiled serpent whistle). He maintains that "this is the only time when the wind is welcomed by the Majorcans, who... fear the sirocco as they fear the devil". The whistling is not heard in the island except in the xuirell season.  Then most curiously Graves injects the following non sequitur:
"The ploughman sings as drives his mule and the schoolboy as he runs home from school; for the rest furbis, flabis, flebis - 'whistle shrill, weep long' ".

The fur fla fle bis, is of course, one of the inscriptions on the whistle excavated in M.R. James' tale. I am not sure what to make of this. Were James and Graves drawing from a similar Mediterranean custom, or was Graves merely injecting James' story into his mythopoesis - which is an interesting insight into the mechanics of his creativity. I haven't read any accounts of Graves studying James' stories. It also adds another aspect to 'Oh Whistle'. I've always considered to the story to have strong succubal or incubal overtones, as well as being a quite strong evocation of sleep paralysis, but it could be drawing from Greek mythology too, though Jacqueline Simpson in her essay on folkloric elements in M.R. James draws on Jutland customs to possibly explain the roots of the story.

As well as Graves' account of the harvest time ritual, there's also a festival in the municipality of Llubi on Majorca, which takes place on the Saturday before Shrove Tuesday. It's called the "Fiesta of the Xiurell" and during the ceremony a giant xiurell or demon-shaped whistle is burnt. Presumably this is to mark the beginning of the agricultural year.

I also wonder whether there is  a connection between the film "The Shout", which came out in the late 70s, and "Oh Whistle". "The Shout" was filmed in Devon among the dunes and starred Alan Bates. He plays a madman who infiltrates a couple's lives, seduces the wife and plays mind games which her husband, played by John Hurt. Hurt's an electronic music composer and Bates claims to have learned from aboriginal shaman how to kill with a shout. The coastal location and the demonic use of the shout bare some resemblance to M.R. James' "Oh Whistle", but most interestingly, "The Shout" is based on a Robert Graves short story. In a weird twist of cinematic fate, John Hurt was recast as Parkin in the recent TV remake of "Oh Whistle".

In Graves' story the husband and wife begin to experience telepathic dreams in which the husband is seen walking on the sands with a strange man who is discussing the whereabouts of the soul. The woman in her version of the dream runs from these figures. Graves' "The Shout" is quite clearly also a conceit for his preoccupation with the story of the poet, muse and wyrd. But there are certainly some intriguing overlaps between the folkloric roots of Graves' and James' research.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Pherenike


I finally managed to get to St. Etheldreda's church in the heart of London. The church houses a wooden sculpture depicting St. Peter holding a veronica of Christ. The Alchemist Fulcanelli, in "Dwelling Of The Philosophers," discusses this very statue and its hermetic meaning. The Pherenike is a baffling conundrum: the Christian reading is that it is the remnant of a cloth used to bathe Christ's face  - an acephalic turin shroud. But there are obviously allusions to the cult of the severed head and stranger still - Christ's thorns more resemble the coiling serpent hair of the Medusa.

I'll be exploring this mystery and much more in the forthcoming release "The Underworld Service". "The Underworld Service" extends and extrapolates some of the ideas set out in the "Weekend Other World" event last April. "The Underworld Service" pitches some Melvyn Bragg like culture vulture deep in Hades - what I term sepul-culture. Over the last two years I've been visiting and recording at a wide range of venues from: Hiroshima to Blythburgh, Sizewell B, De Grey's Mausoleum, and finally St. Etheldreda's. "The Underworld Service" builds on these locations to create a concrete irrational documentary: taking the mid 70s obsession with Greek Thrillers, the atomic alchemy of Fulcanelli, Victorian Funeral customs and their cannibalistic antecedents; the potentials for misuse in the field of music thanatology; the hermetic journeys of The Haunted Shoreline; James Hillman's Revisioning Psychology and much more. Musically and thematically, "The Underworld Service" is English Heretic's most death enhancing release, covering a wide genre of styles, philosphical stoner, corpse orientated rock (where adult orientated yacht rocker's sail to); chiliasm music and many other puns.

The album will feature 8 new tracks.

The provisional track listing is:

* River Of Black Rams Blood
* The Invisible Cannon
* The Pherenike
* Inside The Mausoleum
* Under Vulcan Skies
* Why I Should Never Become A Music Thanatologist
* The Alchemist Of Saltdean
* Biscuits For The Funeral Of Mrs Oliver

I am hoping to have the release available around mid 2014. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Coming soon: Film And Its Double


When the thrill seeking anthropologists of the English Heretic field unit set out to investigate the locations of what appeared to be a merely harmless video nasty from the 1970s, they got a lot more than they bargained for. Winnats Pass in Derbyshire, England –a beautiful limestone ravine reveals its deeper and disturbing history. From Spanish Italian zombie horror “Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue” to the brutal regimes of industrial slavedom, the mines beneath tell a story of lead poisoned, schizophrenic labourers, the savage murder of eloping lovers and gruesome karmic retribution. Might the caves that scar this once submarine coral reef, lead to hell, the devil's fundament, or further … to the black temples of Atlantis where the priests themselves infused their soul controlling rites with diabolical and tantric methods.

English Heretic present Film And Its Double: "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie" – an excursion to the most dangerous vales of reason, a deep history lesson taking in film, folklore and the outlandish theories of voodoo gnosticism.