missed this when it came out (April 2014)
always a little taken aback when I find that yet another recruit to the oddly undwindling and undisbanded H-battalion has slipped under my radar
in this case the outfit self-describe as "landscape folk, fond of field recordings and strange technologies"
"We are living... in an period of immense and rapid change. After thousands of years of simple almost unchanging life patterns, we have been catapulted into a world of hitherto undreamed of technical complexity. This sudden acceleration in the speed of advancement has left us slightly bewildered and while in the main we welcome the new, we also regret the passing of the old. the process of change is by no means yet complete and though we are adapting well outwardly, our hearts remain stubbornly unmoved, Rather like a pie in the baking when the crust is crisp and golden but the meat inside is still uncooked"
Bob Copper - Songs & Southern Breezes, Country Folk & Country Ways 1973
The Further Navigations EP is a continuation of the exploration of the ancient Harrow Way the "lost" road of Southern England, which informed The Memory Band album On The Chalk (Our Navigation Of The Line Of The Downs) also released last year on Static Caravan. It features remixes from Belbury Poly and Grantby and a brand new Memory Band track.
The choice of collaborators are two producers who have had a profound impact on The Memory Band sound in different ways, fellow travellers on the journey between an eternal past and technological innovation. Both bring to the fore the cinematic elements of The Memory Band's approach to traditional music and landscape in the digital age.
In the decade since The Memory Band began one of its greatest contemporary influences has been the impressive catalogue of work released by the Ghost Box label, in particular the Belbury Poly aka label boss Jim Jupp. Spectral, haunting and yet vibrant and knowing, his work has established Jupp as a truly English original, making some of the essential electronic music of the new century. The "hitherto undreamed of technological complexity" which Copper described of his time has itself seeped into our folk history and become the source of that strange mixture of nostalgia, discomfort and wonder which the past evokes in all of us. It is this seam of contradictions that informs the core of the "hauntoligical" sound critics have ascribed to the Ghost Box aesthetic. For "Hobby Horse" Belbury Poly takes the blueprint from the Memory Band's version of the traditional funeral march "When I Was On Horseback" transforms it by speeding it up, flicking the swing setting and produces something that sounds like David Munrow making music for schools on analogue synthesizers.
Grantby aka Dan Grigson has a mysterious history, famed for the Timber EP and tracks for labels such as Mo-Wax in the mid ‘90s, his work defined and exceeded trip-hop and garnered a loyal international underground following. Memory Band leader Stephen Cracknell worked alongside Grigson on some of those early recordings and when Grigson withdrew from music after an ill-starred move to Creation Records, Cracknell focused on his own projects which led to formation of The Memory Band. Recently Grigson returned to music, working on music for film and television music before returning to remixes and production. Here Grantby takes the traditional ballad "As I Walked over Salisbury Plain" leads it into the military zone and the result is "The Ballad Of Imber Down” named after the "lost village" of Imber upon Salisbury Plain, from which its inhabitants were evacuated by the Army during the Second World War only to learn that after the War that it had been decided the village would remain the property of the military and that they could never return again. Their ultimately doomed campaign to return has itself passed into legend.
The Memory Band original "Walk Along It" is a hymn to majesty of walking in the open air. It borrows heavily from the anonymous and haunting version of the traditional English tune The Lincolnshire Poacher, broadcast from a shortwave numbers station and believed to be operated by the British secret services.
They have quite a discography, The Memory Band
From last year, featuring titles like "Children of the Stones"
That album comes with a bibliography attached!
'Poly-Olbion, A chorographicall description of all the tracts, rivers, mountains, forests, and other Parts of this Renowned Isle of Great Britain' by Michael Drayton (1612 &1622)
'English County Songs' by Lucy E. Broadwood and J.A. Fuller Maitland. (J.B. Cramer 1893)
'Frensham Then and Now - An Informal History' by Harry Baker and H.C. Minchin (Langham 1938)
'A Voice Through A Cloud' by Denton Welch - (John Lehman 1950)
'English Fairs And Markets' by William Addison and Barbara Jones (Batsford 1953)
'Mercian Hymns' by Geoffrey Hill (Andre Deutsch 1971)
'Gilbert White, a biography of the author of The Natural History of Selborne' by Richard Mabey (Century 1986)
'Map of a Nation: a Biography of the Ordnance Survey' by Rachel Hewitt (Granta 2010)
This from 2013
indeed actually predating Ghost Box et al with the very earliest, more or less folk records