All of the following selections are based around the The Summerisle Trio`s Willows Song, something released a few weeks ago on Golden Lion Sounds. The Summerisle Trio are Sean Johnston (Hardway Bros, ALFOS), Duncan Grey (Sons Of Slough, Tici Taci), and Sarah Rebecca, and they also have a top 12 due on Is It Balearic? The label was spun out of Golden Lion pub, in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, during the pandemic, as a means of raising funds to try to keep the important music venue afloat. This single, like all of their releases, disappeared in a blink. Fingers-crossed they’ll consider doing a comp at some point.
Sonically speaking this an ethereal electronic cover of a song taken from the soundtrack to Robin Hardy`s seminal `70s British folk / horror flick, The Wicker Man. In the film it`s sung, well mimed, by a butt naked Britt Ekland as she seduces, casts her spell over, a virginal Edward Woodward.
Back in 2009 Finders Keepers put together a damn fine collection of traditional pieces that inspired the music in the film – Will O`the Wisp whispers and gently rubbed “jingalos” – of which Lodestone`s Willows Theme is one. All woodwinds and strings, serene, and certainly not sinister, it could even be a Cafe del Mar / sunset crossover.
The Summerisle Trio`s twanging guitar chords conjure the vibe of TV, film, Italian Giallo, scores, and in doing so also recall the similar homages to cult cinema made by Stereolab, and especially, Broadcast.
Dave`s Dream is one of my favourite Broadcast tracks. It was originally released on their Extended Play E.P. in 2000, and then collected on the Future Crayon compilation in 2006, Trish Keenan`s sweet, maybe slightly eerie, at the very least strange, vocals are off set by Joe Meek-like electronics and underpinned by some damn funky drumming. Its bleeps positioning it somewhere between Stereolab and Aphex Twin. The track taps into the weirder end of `70s library music, and arguably spearheaded that whole folk horror / hauntological thing, now honed to perfection by Jim Jupp and Julian House`s label, Ghost Box.
One of Broadcast`s influences was Luboš Fišer`s soundtrack to Jaromil Jireš` cult Czech erotic horror, Valerie A Týden Divů (Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders). The score was unreleased at the time, so initiates and devotees would carry VHS copies of the movie around in their coat pockets. It became essential viewing at select in-crowd after parties. Finders Keepers, again, did the decent thing and finally issued Fišer`s “cues” 36 years later – in 2006. The Magic Yard is the one that does it for me – a truly “enchanted” (and to be honest, creepy) suite of children’s choirs, harpsichords, and snatches of music box chimes. The melody carried by alternating reeds and tinkling keys.
When I’m waffling on about harpsichords, Roy Budd`s Hallucinations always comes to mind. Taken from Mike Hodges` brilliant, dark, gritty, and damn bleak, Michael Caine-starring `70s British gangster flick, Get Carter, it`s a slice of stoned, psychedelic funk to rival David Axelrod`s work with The Electric Prunes – their medieval madrigal-edged movers like Holy Are You and General Confessional. Plus it`s also got some lovely delay drops.
The soundtrack was originally only available in Japan (?), and then actually missing Hallucinations. It wasn’t until 1998, when Cinephile did a deluxe, expanded reissue, that this classic cut was made officially available. DJ Harvey then included it in his scene-shaking mix, Sarcastic Study Masters Volume 2. Since then its been repressed a few times – most recently by Dynamite Cuts.
While we’re on Get Carter, I have to mention Jah Wobble`s tabla and, of course, bass-tastic take on the film`s main theme. A skanking, moody, deep headphone meditation, an almost raga-like mantra, serenaded by wistful, weeping violin. It`s the 10” on Pressure Sounds that you need.
Following Trish Keenan`s tragic death in 2011, two bands who`ve picked up the baton from Broadcast are the Cathy Lucas-led Vanishing Twin and Swedish duo, Death & Vanilla.
It Sends My Heart Into A Spin was initially a digital bonus included with Vanishing Twin`s debut LP, Choose Your Own Adventure. It was later pressed up on a 10” for Record Store Day. I love everything the group`s done, but this was the song which had me hooked – and it`s possibly their most “balearic” number, due to the sampled chants, and great bass-line, which resembles Stereolab`s marvelous Metronomic Underground.
Death & Vanilla`s early retrospective LP, titled EP, released in 2013, collected all of their recorded work to date onto vinyl for the first time. Piecing together self-published files and CDs, and assorted one-offs produced for other labels. The, again, harpsichord haunted, The Dödens Vaniljsås Theme is Joe Meek`s Tornados meet the river boat / dream sequence in Charles Laughton`s The Night Of The Hunter, while Ghosts In The Machine, goes in heavy with that spooky David Lynch / Angelo Badalamenti / Twin Peaks tremolo guitar. Running in parallel to the Liminanas` tributes to the French rock`n`roll, ye-ye sound, and / or David Holmes` “noir” Unloved project, plus stirring in super nostalgic stuff such as John Barry`s The Persuaders! TV theme (which was coincidently also covered by Jah Wobble).
For more musical musings, from Dr. Rob, Balearic Mike, Dennis Kane, Cal Gibson, Adam Turner, and house music expert, The Insider, please visit Ban Ban Ton Ton.
Please don’t forget that Chris and Matt from The Chillout Tent takeover London’s Spiritland, in Kings Cross, this Sunday as part of their fortnightly residency. Do join `em if you can.