Landscapes of Detectorists

The first essay I wrote for the Corse Present blog was a rather breathless and in-depth/pretentious account of the TV series Detectorists, so it was inevitable that the newly published book, Landscapes of Detectorists (edited by Innes M. Keighren and Joanne Norcup), would appeal to me. The book is a collection of papers originally presented at a conference of the Royal Geographical  Society in 2018 which was dedicated to our favourite TV series.

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IC40

Decades. They roll on for those left behind but for those who are departed time stops and never gets going again. And everything seems to come back to the question of time in one way or another. The last three songs on Closer: 24 Hours, The Eternal, Decades. Each a measure of time, each a reckoning with the passing years; the mystery of life always slipping through our fingers as though it were already a ghost. The sense that life is already bereavement. The statuary on the sleeves buying in to the gothic imagery but also insisting on an unending stasis. The final word: Still.stal3b Continue reading “IC40”

“Christos is Equus”: Current 93’s Hooves

Hooves is one of my favourite Current 93 songs. Not unusually for Current 93, there is more than one version of this song and the versions are radically different. To make things even more confusing the lyrics have been used for songs called Hooves, Horse and Horsey. These are essentially reworkings of the same song though, as already mentioned, they are radically different to each other. In its earlier incarnations the song appeared as Horse on the album of the same name in 1989 and then as a live version that was much stripped down on As the World Disappears in 1991. The studio version was recorded in Japan with the band Magick Lantern Cycle and has a heavy rock feel to it. It is quite different musically to much of Current 93’s output from this period when they were moving towards more of a neofolk sound.

But the version that I prefer, and which is the subject here, is the song called Hooves which was released on the 1993 compilation CD Emblems: The Menstrual Years. Just to complicate things still further, I should point out that according to the sleeve notes on that CD, Hooves is an unreleased single by Michael Cashmore’s Nature and Organisation, and so isn’t really a Current 93 track at all. Given that, it’s not surprising that this version of the song rests on Michael Cashmore’s guitar work which here has something of the feel of classical guitar to it. To me this feels like the definitive version of the song. Lyrically, the words have become more focussed and succinct. Musically, Michael’s picked strings are both melodically rich and rhythmically compelling, and the repetitive playing suggests the galloping sound of hooves racing across dry ground.

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Vis Medicatrix Naturae

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Like everyone else I’m still trying to come to terms with the new social reality imposed on us as a consequence of the Covid 19 pandemic. Presumably we are in the very early stages of this crisis and there is no clarity or certainty about how this will all play out. I am myself only on the third day of this self isolation, or social distancing regime but I have decided that I will continue my normal routine of a 30 – 40 minute walk each morning. I live very close to the graveyard where the Shropshire writer Mary Webb is buried and I am intending to head over there each morning. I can’t visit the graveyard without pausing for a moment at Mary’s grave, and this seems to be the beginning of a new sacrament for me.

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RIP GPO

For three score years and ten Genesis P-Orridge has been a constant thorn in the side of culture. Now that he has transferred over to an eternity of dreamless sleep it seems fitting to reflect back on one of the most extraordinary lifetimes and one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.

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An early indication of GP-O’s confrontational attitude with regards to artistic practise was the manifesto Annihilating Reality co-authored with Peter Christopherson. One of the themes running through this manifesto is the commonality between certain acts of art and certain acts of crime. It is almost as though GP-O and Christopherson are attempting to dissect the metaphysical body of the human machine to identify this organ of stimulation and inspiration. Notoriously, they referred to the case of the Moors Murderers (a reference that was also picked up in TG’s lyrics) and asked whether the photos that Brady took on Saddleworth moor, given his knowledge of the children he had murdered and buried there, should qualify him as a conceptual artist. Continue reading “RIP GPO”

How Soon is Now? The Consolation of Lost Futures

I’ve recently been reading Tony Fletcher’s very good biography of the English group, The Smiths, A Light that Never Goes Out[1]. Fletcher writes interestingly about the way in which The Smiths’ music developed over time, pointing out that they went through a significant musical progression during the brief time they existed as a group. Of particular interest to me was the description of the demo of a track provisionally titled Swamp. The music was worked on by the bands’ instrumentalists as Morrissey tended not to be involved in the non-vocal arrangements: “his absence allowed the others free rein to indulge their growing experimental tendencies.”[1] By all accounts, the recording session was heavily drug fuelled and there was a conscious effort to acheive a psychedelic sound. The resulting eight minute psychedelic jam would eventually end up once Morrissey had added his lyrics to it (and somewhat truncated), as one of The Smiths’ most enduring and powerful songs, How Soon is Now? Continue reading “How Soon is Now? The Consolation of Lost Futures”

Beyond the Human: A Ghost Story and Samuel Beckett’s Quad

The 2017 film, A Ghost Story, is a remarkable meditation on death and loss that somehow manages to make those themes appear fresh and alive. The primary conceit that facilitates this is the decision to keep the main character (who dies early on) draped in a white sheet for the remainder of the film. On the face of it a rather banal move, but somehow the film dodges any kitsch horror associations and instead becomes a profound deliberation on the nature of haunting and its relation to place.

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Andrew Michael Hurley’s Starve Acre

Starve Acre, Andrew Michael Hurley’s third novel, presents a sort of postmodern fairy tale; a dark and sterile fable that speaks not to wisdom and truth but to the unknowable power of inhuman forces. Whilst the story is structured exquisitely this only serves to foreground the genuinely unnerving horror that it is witness to, a horror that could be seen as supernatural but which resists any comfortable classification.

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Phil Smith: Enchanted Things – Signposts to a New Nomadism

Phil Smith’s Enchanted Things is a fascinating illustrated pamphlet that signposts a number of different ways in which we might engage with, or orient ourselves within, the landscape. And the landscape here is interpreted in the widest possible sense. This is neither a pastoral paeon nor an urban dérive, although it dips toes in both ends of the spectrum.

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Joker: A Trickster for our Times

It is apt that Joaquin Phoenix’s titular performance in Joker has sparked such an incredible amount of discord amongst reviewers and audiences, as the character is simply an avatar of the trickster figures who appear throughout various mythologies all over the world. Like Loki who always turns up at a party simply to get people arguing with each other, Phoenix’s Joker has popped up precisely on a particular faultline in society and his role is to keep that faultline open like a running sore. On the one hand, Joker is an incitement to incel gun rage, irresponsibly sympathising with entitled man-babies; on the other, it is a grim portrayal of the downtrodden outsider, the worm that turns. Dirty Harry or Raskolnikov?

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