Welcome back for your monthly dose of Fusions of Fright, our column highlighting music and musicians with a taste for the macabre.
Today I present to you a highly original project, and because of it’s nature this article will become a sort of two-in-one—an album review and a book review. Tales from the Black Meadow comes in print and audio form, although not the way you might expect it.
The book, written by Chris Lambert, is a collection of stories and poems all in reference to a mysterious (fictitious) village in North Yorkshire called the Black Meadow. Although the place inexplicably vanished, left behind was a body of work by a Professor Roger Mullins, who had a great fascination with the village and its local superstitions. He spent years collecting the local legends and writing them down in notebooks, which thankfully were saved after he went missing in 1972. Tales from the Black Meadow is presented as being taken straight from these notebooks of folkloric research.
The album was written and performed by a UK band called The Soulless Party, whose EP Exploring Radio Space is also available on their bandcamp. Every track, with the exception of “The Man from the Ministry”, has an accompanying tale in the book. I heard about the music first, and upon enjoying the opening song, found the bandcamp for the record. It was there that I learned about the book behind the music and I fell in love with the idea. Even though I believe most (if not all) of the album was done on a keyboard, great effort was put in to establish atmosphere, and I believe it was accomplished. Even without the existence of the backing stories one could still listen to the record and have a sense of the supernatural and the uncanny; dark foggy nights can be heard in the muted tracks. Little details give the songs on Tales from the Black Meadow their spooky spice, such as the soft crackling on each track, giving it the feel of an old vinyl record. Many tracks are sprinkled with atmospheric sounds, like bird song, church bells, or the tramp of a horse's hooves.
Tales from the Black Meadow is streaming for free on the Soulless Party’s bandcamp, here (http://thesoullessparty.bandcamp.com/album/tales-from-the-black-meadow). It is also available for purchase in digital form and in a 2-disc CD that includes all 20 tracks on one disc and the Radio 4 Documentary: “The Curse of the Black Meadow” on the other, not to mention a booklet of photographs and a note from writer and artist Warren Ellis.
“The Curse of the Black Meadow” is a 20-minute mockumentary on the legends of the Black Meadow, including “interviews”, songs, and even more information on the spectral village. As well as being included in the 2-disc purchase of Tales from the Black Meadow it is sold separately on Amazon (right here).
|"The old woman stood outside, behind the gate, looking at the house"|
And enjoy the “Main Theme” from Tales from the Black Meadow below!