A Year In The Country is a set of year-long journeys through spectral fields; cyclical explorations of an otherly pastoralism, the outer reaches of folk culture and the spectres of hauntology. It is a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land.

As a project, it has included a website featuring writing, artwork and music which stems from that otherly pastoral/spectral hauntological intertwining, alongside a growing catalogue of album and book releases.

 

In part in a way it is one of the first times that I've tried to create work that hasn't been defined by or drawn from my life in and culture of cities.

It is my attempt to see if I can create subcultural work that connected with a more pastoral sensibility and to try and create work/a visual aesthetic which explores that.

It has included perusings and writings on a number of related subjects and also as part of the project I have released a number of albums under the name A Year In The Country, alongside records by United Bible Studies, Howlround, Hand of Stabs, Grey Frequency, She Rocola, Racker&Orphan and Michael Tanner.

Along the way I have also released a number of themed compilations, for example The Quietened Village which is "a study of and reflection on the lost, disappeared and once were homes and hamlets that have wandered off the maps or that have become shells of their former lives and times…"

These themed albums have included work by David Colohan, The Straw Bear Band, Richard Moult, The Soulless Party, Polypores, Time Attendant, Sproatly Smith, Cosmic Neighbourhood, Keith Seatman, Listening Center, The Hare And The The Moon, Panabrite, The Rowan Amber Mill etc.

They have wandered far and wide and have been played on / written about in the likes of The Wire, Shindig!, Electronic Sound, Mojo, fRoots, The Active Listener, A Closer Listen, Terrascope, Was Ist Das?, Stuart Maconie's Freakzone and Gideon Coe on BBC Radio 6 and Late Junction on Radio 3.

A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book

As part of the project a book has been released called A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields, subtitled Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology, which draws together revised writings from the project alongside new journeyings.

In keeping with the number of weeks in a year, the book is split into 52 chapters. Connecting layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, it journeys from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions.

It includes considerations of the work of writers including Rob Young, John Wyndham, Richard Mabey and Mark Fisher, musicians and groups The Owl Service, Jane Weaver, Shirley Collins, Broadcast, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Virginia Astley and Kate Bush, the artists Edward Chell, Jeremy Deller and Barbara Jones and the record labels Trunk, Folk Police, Ghost Box and Finders Keepers.

The book also explores television and film including Quatermass, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, Phase IV, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, Bagpuss, Travelling for a Living, The Duke of Burgundy, Sapphire & Steel, General Orders No. 9, Gone to Earth, The Changes, Children of the Stones, Sleep Furiously and The Wicker Man.

 

Below are a small selection of Artifacts, imagery, albums etc from the project.

A Year In The Country albums

On the A Year In The Country album releases:

"A Year In The Country quietly go about their business releasing beautifully packaged music that is influenced by folk, electronica, drone as well as by landscape, time and place... each have themes running through them, tying the music together and seemingly telling a story as they unfold." Terrascope

"…a wonderfully curated concept album that rips up the green grass of the idyllic countryside and forces you toconsider the darker undergrowth. Beautifully unnerving stuff." Electronic Sound

“…a beautifully curated and packaged collection of tracks… The Restless Field is something quite special, a concept album that shows its references but
lets you do the thinking. We Are Cult highly recommend spending a little time in the long grass with it.” We Are Cult

"The album evokes a beautifully atmospheric pastoral reverie and a ghostly sense of loss…" Jim Jupp, Ghost Box Records

"…another exquisitely packaged affair… murky and ominous as befits the guiding thematic: places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles... a conceptual compilation of excellently eerie electronic music." Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash

"...part feverish dream, part incidental music for a folk-horror movie... another excellent snapshot of current experimental music,
showing the coexistence of darkness, strangeness and profound beauty." Bliss Aquamarine

"...beautifully packaged collection of Midwich Cuckoo ghost-folk - a haunting edgelands lament for piano, cor anglais & rustling pages." Mojo

“…one imagines such editions being buried in time capsules or cemented in stone walls for future generations to mull over: sedimentary layers of history...”A Closer Listen

"...a response to British folk traditions that acknowledges the history without seeming beholden to it." John Coulthart, Feuilleton

"An album... to listen to in undisturbed sittings, as you pick out the stories that it tells. And needless to say, it’s essential listening." Dave Thompson, Goldmine

“…conjures roofless walls holding spirits not populations, skeletal spires pointing accusative fingers skywards,
submerged shadows reflecting in water, crumbled remains wreathing a cliff’s base…” Folk Words

"…spectral sounds made for wandering the moors... interference, plain piano song, shimmering electronics, remote listeningand shadowy melodies make for an elegant and sinister experience." Include Me Out

"...mixing drones, feedback and woodland ambience to create a beautiful, disturbing evocation of the primeval forest that lives in our dreams." Shindig!

A Year In The Country image

A Year In The Country: The Marks Upon The Land book cover image


 

You can see more about the project at the links below:

The main website: ayearinthecountry.co.uk



The albums and the printed A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book are available at our Artifacts Shop and Bandcamp page:

Artifacts Shop: ayearinthecountry.co.uk/shop

Bandcamp Ether Victrola: ayearinthecountry.bandcamp.com

The printed book and Ebook are also available at Amazon's various worldwide sites.


The social ether: facebook.com/ayearinthecountrychannel2

Ornithological calls: twitter.com/yearinthcountry

Ether victrola mark II: soundcloud.com/ayearinthecountry

 

 

As some kind of PS, below are just a few of the cultural nook, crannies, pastures, trails and influences that I have wandered through along the way and written about on the A Year In The Country website and/or in the A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields book:

... the ferrous researches of Folklore Tapes, acid/psych folk by way of Gather In The Mushrooms and Seasons They Change, journeyed through the lines of stories of Britain's visionary music through the pages of Rob Young's Electric Eden book, the risograph fineries of The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, the celluloid and cathode ray flickerings of The Stone Tape, In The Dark Half, The Wickerman, Kill List, The Wall, A Field In England, Phase IV and General Orders No.9...

Rob Young Electric Eden The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale - Strange Attractor Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witchcults of the Radio Age
John Benjamin Stone Hand of Stabs Field Trip-England, Jean Richie
Edward Chell Leyland Kirby-The Future's Not What It Was Phase IV
Robin The Fog / Howlround - Ghosts of Bush Willows Songs - Finders Keepers Records She Rocola - Burn The Witch

...considered investigations of the witch cults of the radio age via Broadcast and The Focus Group, walked through the gently lysergic fields of Psychedelic Folkloristic, carried out studies of hauntological yearnings for futures not quite reached via Ghost Box Records, Leyland Kirby, Ghosts of Bush, Belbury Poly, Mark Fisher and The Advisory Circle, discovered light catching from other eras by John Benjamin Stone...

...listened to lullabies for the land by Ms Sharron Kraus and electronica summoned from the roots and soil by Hand of Stabs, taken field trips through end of lost era recordings with Jean Richie, travelled into hinterlands and edgelands with Edward Chell, wandered Under The Ivy and into secret gardens courtesy of Ms Kate Bush, spent hazy night times in Gardens Where We Feel Secure by Virginia Astley...