Friday, July 11, 2014

Fusions Of Fright: Tales From The Black Meadow

 ~by Marie Robinson

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 CD consists of 12 musical tracks to accompany the tales, beginning with the “Main Theme”. To me, it easily sounds like the opening to a television show from the late 70's. I can see the title card and the credits appearing over gently revolving images—a moonlit meadow here, an old tree, the silhouettes of children playing. I’m certain that at the start of the show we would find a gentleman in front of a blazing fire in some English parlor, closing the dusty tome he was holding to welcome us to the show.

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 ( 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"
The book reads like a book of scary stories to tell children before bedtime. The writing is simple and purposefully repetitive, but Lambert goes to great lengths to create the eerie world of the Black Meadow. The book contains 25 tales and nearly as many illustrations. One more dimension in the world of the Black Meadow exists in “The Brightwater Archive”. As the story goes Lord Brightwater was the leading scholar on The Black Meadow in the 30’s, and the blog is a collection of his research findings. After reading the book, listening to the CD and the Radio 4 Documentary I am so impressed and inspired by the lengths Lambert went to to bring his mythos to life and spread it out through so many mediums. It is always inspirational to see originality and another’s appreciation for folklore. The Tales from the Black Meadow collection of stories is available for purchase on Amazon, here .

And enjoy the “Main Theme” from Tales from the Black Meadow below!

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