Give yourself in to any slipstream, let go and you'll soon find yourself transported to wonderful landscapes. Look back on your journey and you'll discover the unique narrative thread that binds them.
Besides being a catchy title, The Dark Side of Britannia is a cursory incursion into the experimental undercurrent that runs in the topography of British music from the last couple of decades. The works of the holy-tryptich Coil, Nurse With Wound and Current 93 would serve as a good primer - along with David Keenan's in-depth tome, England's Hidden Reverse.
Alongside Brian Williams (aka Lustmord), their concern for the gothic, the dark corners of the imagination where traditional instrumentation voices primal impulses of fear, discovery and illumination serves as a musical antipode to British stiff-upper-lip stoicism, fixed in the primeval, the undergrowth of ritual and folklore. And so, we pluck the fruits from different branches of sonic explorations, directly or associatively connected to their work.
The musical pastorals of British folklore are similarly conjured in Cyclobe and Stargazer's Assistant, who share not only the collaborative nature of the Coil/NWW/Current93 triad, but also their structural and thematic narration of British paganism. A more direct variation on this can be found in John Williams' scores for Ben Wheatley's cinema and more recently, Folklore Tapes, which has further tapped into Britain's folk arcana.
These two explorations of narrative structures and folk musicality are brought together in the amneotic fluid of memory, a playing field where Leyland Kirby and his multiple pseudonyms deconstructs within various degrees of sonic violence and tenderness, British music of yesteryear or its ruined future. This notion of bringing the ghost out of the machine of memory is similarly explored by L.Pierre and his fabulist collages of haunting beauty.
Peppered throughout are more direct manifestations of British phantasmatogia, from Phantom Plastics' explorations of EMT to Okkulte Stimmen's library of paranormal recordings.
The guiding structure for the mix was one of self-aware pathos which oscillates as much as it grows, leading to a de facto finale with the b-side of L.Pierre's last recording, 1948, fading into the oblivion of its runout groove.
Whether it's paganism, remembrance or otherworldly creations, The Dark Side of Brittania has never looked so enlightening. As the famous poet once said, "come on, come in, for we have some flax golden tales to spin."
Words & mixtape by Andrei Tanasescu
*photo credits: Tacita Dean - Ship of Death