It’s a quiet release overall, pretty meditative but with some beautiful tracks, which conjure up those bleak moorlands and soft valleys round Burnley and Clitheroe to a tee. It’s supremely trippy too, how could it not be?
Four hundred long years on the Lancashire witches still find themselves inspiring alternative types to explain, or at least partially sate, the curiosity around the riddle of their actions and existence. This particular collection of songs is collated from artists with Lancashire roots or connections: (good for them say I), putting a distinctly local stamp on the subject.
It’s a quiet release overall, pretty meditative but with some beautiful tracks, such as the marvellously melancholy Rule of Threes by Dean McPhee, which conjures up those bleak moorlands and soft valleys round Burnley and Clitheroe to a tee. It’s supremely trippy too, how could it not be?
The spoken word opener, Thee Betrothal of Alizon Device (boasting Earth’s Dylan Carson), is a soliloquy describing a pretty diabolic seduction backed by a tentative folksy strum … it’s a bit like that incredibly rural vibe the Serpents managed to infuse into their work, (but then that lot were all up trees barking mad off acid in the Welsh countryside, and I daren’t venture to suggest this is happening here). Other psyched out attempts to harness the subject with a modern sound are found with the weird keyboard-based, glitchy pop of Tom Western: this is a very strange track indeed, veering wildly and not always serenely between various sonic eccentricities. The lad’s just being daft. David A Jaycock’s Black Malkin Tower is easier to digest but just as spooky in its own way; a sort of hybrid between folk and hippy pastoral, the whispered vocals lend a brilliant edge to this piece. The Mandrake is a menacingly camp Goth horror lullaby, replete with ghoulishly high pitched backing chorus. I’m sure this would make a very warped missal….
A complete change is then presented by Bridget Hayden’s opaque wall of treated sound: a collage concrète going by the name of Music In the Rocks. It’s placing in the record is pretty masterful, in that it wipes the slate clean, and sets the listener up for darker minstrel incantations such as Magpahi’s The Power and the Glory which has the classic “wither my lady” vibe that you’d expect to sit comfortably on an LP such as this. That the song also has a whiff of Witthüsser and Westrüpp’s bonkers folk devilment is no bad thing at all: (wait for the synth intrusion – the only word for it - amidships). Things start to get loooooose with the sound collage of Mary Arches’ Hex Snoxums, coming on like some spliffed-up Lancastrian take on the Faust Tapes. Luckily there’s no respite as N Racker’s A New Maleficium doesn’t let up on the whacked-out sounds: the two tracks do give a good aural picture of this strange, bucolic and still secretive part of the world, four wheel drive invasion or not.There’s dampness in the air and the rivulets start to course down the hump of Pendle, reminding you that this hill stayed Rome-free.
As if breathing a sigh of relief after all the hocus pocus on display, Joe Duddel’s Pendle Elegy is a warm ending, hopeful almost, the odd synth growling around in the background the only hint of menace. A top record, nailing its subject and surroundings pretty well I’d say.