Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Hallows Eve...

The traditional British late Autumn party-night, for kids especially, was the very obviously sectarian Guy Fawkes' Night, traditionally celebrated with fireworks, on 5th November. In the last decade or two it appears to have been eclipsed to some extent by another with which it, perhaps rather surprisingly, shares much in common.
You could advance many possible reasons for this, and with some justification, so here are two:

  • Church of England and Catholic rapprochement.
  • The creeping advance of (at least recently) US customs and celebrations.
I agree that the matter of Guy Fawkes and the grievances that Catholics harboured after the 'Reformation' makes it a sectarian issue and one that, after more than three centuries, still understandably touches a raw nerve. The interesting thing is that, if by adopting Halloween instead (adopted by the Church - long pre-reformation but banned by Cromwell during the 'Commonwealth' - as All Hallows Eve in early Medieval times), the differences have been smoothed over by celebrating something that was adopted, and carefully woven in, from Celtic Christian ritual that it in turn had adopted and were tenets of earlier pagan beliefs (and it is not the only one - Whitsun and Harverst Festival being others) instead. If that gets around the perceived problem then it is just fine by me and clearly time is a great healer.
So now we, or to use as an excuse the kids, have both fireworks and pumpkins!

Pumpkins are indeed something of a revelation: we used to have to make do with attempting to cut lanterns out of swede (called turnips in the north of England and Scotland). They are smaller, less colored and less translucent than pumpkins and they are, unfortunately, also industrially hard when uncooked!

So to the music that might fit such an occasion; as well as anything from my former suggestions in (2008) and (2007) here a few recent releases...

I've recently mentioned two 12" EPs by 'Demdike Stare', the shady side of Manchester's modern electronic witchcraft and, while they might be tricky to get before Saturday, this is the album and the track list is indeed most promising...
  1. Suspicious Drone
  2. Haxan Dub
  3. Regressor
  4. All Hallows Eve
  5. Jannisary
  6. Haxan
  7. Extwistle Hall
  8. Trapped Dervish
  9. Nothing But The Night
  10. Conjoined
  11. Ghostly Hardware
I know that this is an even greater problem but, should you want to spend the whole day in what is, arguably, even more gloomy territory then James Leyland Kirkby is the one and I've alluded to this, the final part of the LP trilogy, already...

...don't imagine that only the kids will like the sweets and 'pumpkin hunt'.

There are two obvious trails through the darkness - the nu-acoustic/folk path or the ambient/ electronic path - and just take your choice but strange to relate they are not so different as you might expect. Less scary is the folk-orientated one and anything by 'The Smoke Fairies' would not go amiss.
Bring on the witches, fairies and the other forces of darkness and light any time... and how about a vampire or two?

If so then also add any 'Twilight' soundtrack that you can lay your fangs on and the latest, 'New Moon', features 'Death Cab For Cutie' and Ben Gibbard's haunting lyrics as well as many other highlights so what more can I say?


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