The Quietened Bunker

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Bunkers were a recurrent feature in the media of the 1980s, a consequence of increasing Cold War tensions following the election of Ronald Reagan and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The decade birthed new horrors of the body-mutating variety, and also reanimated some older ones in the figure of the knife-wielding psychopath, but the omnipresent spectre of nuclear war posed a threat not only to characters in films and TV serials but to the audiences who watched them. That threat manifests most strikingly in the middle of the decade with the TV film Threads (1984), the TV serial Edge of Darkness (1985), and the comic-book serial/graphic novel Watchmen (1986–87). To these you could add feature films such as WarGames (1983) and James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) and its sequel. Not all of these works feature bunkers but nuclear warfare by its very nature implies the existence of subterranean control centres with all their latent mythological resonances. Some of those resonances are played with in David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen (1974) and Artemis 81 (1981), the latter featuring an extended sequence in a sinister subterranean complex. Troy Kennedy Martin’s superb nuclear thriller, Edge of Darkness, runs the gamut of underground enclaves, from labyrinthine cave systems and abandoned nuclear shelters to a dusty Cold War command centre with a telephone link to Downing Street.

Bunkers of the abandoned variety provide the theme for the latest compilation album from A Year In The Country:

The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

Track list:
1) Lower Level Clock Room – Keith Seatman
2) Drakelow Tunnels – Grey Frequency
3) The Filter’s Gone / The Last Man Plays The Last Piano – A Year In The Country
4) Aggregates II – Panabrite
5) Bunker 4: Decommissioned – Polypores
6) Comms: Seen Through The Grey – Listening Center
7) Crafty Mechanics – Time Attendant
8) Crush Depth – Unknown Heretic
9) Waiting For The Blazing Skies – David Colohan

This is another quality collection in distinctive black-and-white packaging that will be of immediate interest to anyone who enjoys the releases on the Ghost Box label (Listening Center are already Ghost Box artists): spectral pianos, shortwave radios, ambient chords. The bunker theme connects to shared concerns among related artists with the old Civil Defence films, samples of which have been used on releases by The Advisory Circle and Mordant Music. The Cold War bunker is more than another empty space, it joins the bio-weapons lab (see The Satan Bug) as a source of contemporary horror that doesn’t require any supernatural component to chill the blood.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fractures

Owls and flowers

1: The pattern

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2: A novel by Alan Garner

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The Owl Service (1967). Cover design by Kenneth Farnhill.

3: A Granada TV serial

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The Owl Service (1969). Eight episodes, written by Alan Garner, directed by Peter Plummer.

Continue reading “Owls and flowers”

The weekend artists, 2014

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The Crystal Gazer (or The Magic Crystal, 1904) by Gertrude Käsebier.

Once again the annual review of artists/designers/photographers featured in the weekend posts arrives at the beginning of the new year rather than the end of the old. Scroll down to see what caught my attention over the past twelve months.

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We Are The Water – Snow Drawings Project, Colorado (2014) by Sonja Hinrichsen with 50 volunteers.

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Le Palais des Merveilles, 1907 – 1927 – 1960 by Clovis Trouille.

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The Three Witches (2014) by Lorena Carvalho.

Continue reading “The weekend artists, 2014”

Weekend links 236

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The Three Witches (2014) by Lorena Carvalho.

Immersion, a new album by Grey Frequency, “…is a recording of the broken signals, wraiths in the ether from lost futures and utopias which were once promised…”. Box Of Secrets (1999) is an album of electronica by Ian Boddy that’s a free download until the end of December.

• “Hothouse flowers, Egyptian statuary, jewels, Nubian servants, crystal balls, cocaine, opium and champagne were just some of the things she spent her money on…” Lucy Davies explores the riotous world of Marchesa Luisa Casati.

• “London is a network of complete nexuses, coincidences, overlaps, references…” Stephanie Boland talks to Iain Sinclair about his new book 70×70: Unlicensed Preaching: A Life Unpacked in 70 Films.

My Women’s Studies professors would say: “You don’t know how hard we fought for you.” And yet, when they told me my sexuality was not correct, I felt embarrassed. I knew I had longings that didn’t line up with the politics, but I refused to repress them, particularly in my writing. I fought to unravel a political correctness that was censoring desire.

Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson on sex, cinema and secrets

Cthulhu, Fiction and Real Magic, a lecture by Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent at Treadwell’s, London, on December 3rd. For those who can’t attend, Erik Davis has just posted his essay about Lovecraft and contemporary occultism.

• “John Gielgud was obsessed with trousers, loved corduroy and leather. And so he wrote a film set in a menswear shop.” Gielgud’s unfilmed screenplay for gay porn director Peter de Rome may now be filmed.

• “The stories are even more fantastic and full of marvels than those in the Arabian Nights.” Robert Irwin on the newly-translated Tales of the Marvellous.

• Mixes of the week: The Advisory Circle present Winter From Out Here; Fall by The Ephemeral Man; Secret Thirteen Mix 136 by Cosmin TRG.

Danny Cooke‘s drone views of Pripyat, Chernobyl. Related: Into the Zone: Gasworks Park (Seattle, WA) by Christina Scholz.

• Watch Dragnet’s 1967 LSD episode. More psychedelics: “Magic mushrooms change brain connections“.

• Earth Magic: Peter Bebergal on photography of witches at play and at ritual.

• Düsseldorf 1970: The crucible of Krautrock by those who were there.

• It’s Alright Ma, It’s Only Witchcraft (1968) by Fairport Convention | Witch’s Will (1973) by Wilburn Burchette | Witches’ Multiplication Table (1982) by Holger Czukay

Weekend links 231

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Design by Julian House.

Always good to hear of a new release on the Ghost Box label, and a new album by The Advisory Circle (due on 5th December) is especially welcome. From Out Here is described thus: “Exploring darker territory than 2012’s more pastoral As The Crow Flies, The Advisory Circle hint at a Wyndham-esque science fiction story, where bucolic English scenery is being manipulated and maybe even artificially generated by bizarre multi-dimensional computer technology.” The Belbury Parish Magazine has extracts.

• Jon Hassell’s Fourth World Music Vol. I: Possible Musics receives a long-overdue reissue next month. Possible Musics was a collaboration with Brian Eno, and Eno has some of his own albums reissued again in expanded editions. Most notable is the first official release of My Squelchy Life, an album that was withdrawn in 1991 to be replaced by Nerve Net.

• Some Halloween theatre on Friday (the 31st) at the Museum of Bath at Work with a dramatisation of Ringing the Changes by Robert Aickman. There’s a repeat performance the following week (8th November) with added spectral atmospherics from the Electric Pentangle. Free admission.

The value of these books wasn’t anything wholesome they contained, or any moral instruction they offered. Rather, it was the process of finding them, the thrill of reading them, the way the books themselves, like the men they depicted, detached you from the familiar moral landscape. They gave a name to the palpable, physical loneliness of sexual solitude, but they also greatly increased your intellectual and emotional solitude. Until very recently, the canon of literature for a gay kid was discovered entirely alone, by threads of connection that linked authors from intertwined demimondes. It was smuggling, but also scavenging. There was no internet, no “customers who bought this item also bought,” no helpful librarians steeped in the discourse of tolerance and diversity, and certainly no one in the adult world who could be trusted to give advice and advance the project of limning this still mostly forbidden body of work.

Smuggler: A Memoir of Gay Male Literature by Philip Kennicott

• Getting in before the Mixcloud Halloween rush, mix of the week is Samhain Seance 3: Better Dead Than Never by The Ephemeral Man. My Halloween mix for this year is almost finished; watch the skies.

• For those who can’t wait until December for From Out Here, there’s a new Howlround album, Torridon Gate, out this week from A Year In The Country.

• Last week, Yello’s Boris Blank was choosing favourite electronic albums, this week he runs through a list of thirteen favourite albums.

Altered Balance: A Tribute to Coil by Jeremy Reed & Karolina Urbaniak. Richard Fontenoy reviewed the book for The Quietus.

Cut-Ups: William S. Burroughs 1914–2014, an exhibition of Burroughs’ typescripts at Boo-Hooray, NYC, from 7th November.

Brando, a film by Gisèle Vienne for the song by Scott Walker & Sunn O))).

NASA has a Soundcloud page

The art of leaves

Cobra Moon (1979) by Jon Hassell | Moon On Ice (1987) by Yello feat. Billy MacKenzie | Moon’s Milk Or Under An Unquiet Skull Pt. I (1998) by Coil