Revbjelde by Revbjelde – Reviewed by Melmoth the Wanderer

https://buriedtreasure.bandcamp.com/album/revbjelde-vinyl-lp Buried Treasure Records

When the opening track of an album takes you on a gentle stroll through a hazy bucolic landscape populated by campfire harmonica, drifting almost Enya-esque vocals (from Emma Churchley), haunting electronica beeps, folk violin and the sort of piano and groove that you might have expected on the more lounge lizard side of the trip-hop coin then you know that you are in for an absolute treat….and you are most certainly not wrong my friend!

Hailing from Berkshire the architects behind this beguiling debut are Richard Bentley, Roy Goss and Alan Gubby – also known as Revbjelde. They have created a unique slice of pastoral folk electronic experimentalism which fits perfectly with the current vogue for retro hauntology and folk horror soundtracks whist still producing something that sounds fresh and current. You need only listen to their version of Paul Giovanni’s `Lullaby’ from The Wicker Man soundtrack (released on Buried Treasure in 2013) to see that they have been working with this vision for some time – and boy is it paying off.

Mixing some wonderfully off kilter jazz influenced freakiness- in the vein of the Third Ear Band – over a driving acoustic guitar chug with some electrickery that wouldn’t sound out of place on a blissed out Dub track they follow the woozy introduction of `The Weeping Tree’ with short but delightfully weird ` Port of Arundel’. For all its charm there is an equal measures of darkness and this is a balance that recurs throughout the album which manages to maintain a sense of uplifting beauty to it whilst providing plenty of shadows to menace in the background.

Straight of the back of` Port of Arundel’ is `Buccaboo’ which is a track almost impossible to describe without the use of very long sentences so here we go….

Here we enter a dream world of didgeridoos and zithers the combination of which conjures up some pretty primeval vibes before some gorgeous Cooder slide guitar drags you out into the baking sunlight where shuffling brush work paves the way for some up lifting floating jazz as if Miles has just joined in the jam. It is all very `hip’ but without sounding at all contrived or forced – this is the sound of three people who instinctively know how to combine sounds and styles

Next it is the turn of `Lankin Jig’ which sounds like it should be a hay nonney nonney jaunt but by now you should realise that what you expect and what Revbjelde deliver are wildly different – and all the better for it. Ennio Morricone meets KT Tunstall in this foot tapper with all kinds of other splashes of sound and styles once again blurring the genre edges and making it pretty much impossible for the reviewer to convey to the reader quite how vibrant and original all this sounds…curse those Revbjelde guys!!

A personal favorite is `Cloister’ which introduces itself with a charming Dead Can Dance nod of the head on the hammered dulcimer accompanied by a slowly building cinematic swell which ebbs back gently before the next swell – which as before never quite manages to break. The instrumentation is inspired and wonderfully understated. This is mesmerizing stuff and a wonderful way to allow the listener to catch their breath from the myriad of sounds and styles so far before they move on `Out of the Unknown’

Hang on a minute…….what’s this?? Brass, shuffling rhythms, and the sort of keyboard and bass work that immediately embeds this track in the 80’s – possibly for use during a night time montage sequence in some New York based drama that ends with the main character taking refuge from the rain by diving into some dark basement jazz joint…. only `Out of the Unknown’ is way too cool for that. It’s like when the already cool Donald Byrd joined the already cool Guru on the first Jazzmatazz album…..it’s that sort of cool!

For `Reading Abbey’ the collective are joined by poet/story teller extraordinaire Dolly Dolly who I first became aware of from the Resonance FM’s `Weird Tales for winter’ series 6 years ago. The delivery of the spoken word on this piece starts off not that dissimilar to the softly spoken Ivor Cutler (but without the Scottish accent) but soon it takes on a strange electronic echo that reminds one of late 70’s Doctor Who and directs the piece into much creepier territory . Accompanied by some minimal radiophonic workshop madness the words take on a powerful almost magical tone and although I still don’t know what Dolly Dolly is going on about that really doesn’t matter….`God was here among them’

`Tidworth Drum’ exists in slightly more familiar territory and wouldn’t sound out of place in the company of Banco De Gaia and Timeshard on one of the marvelous Planet Dog compilation albums. Tribal and rhythmic this is the Revbjelde track that will get you dancing and is a prime candidate for a remix – those Megatripolis kids would have loved it.

`Carry My Woes’ is a track that although very short those Megatripolis kids most certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed at all……a post-apocalyptic sci-fi collage with a voice that although seemingly singing to the listener also seems to be taunting them until it is silenced by a single satisfying slab of Sunn O))) guitar. It is the sort of track that would have any buzzed up happy weekender checking over their shoulder for the approaching paranoia…

The final four tracks come together as a hymn to the old ways and to Blake’s arcadia and perfectly represent the diversity and strangeness of Revbjelde which still manages to maintain a comforting familiarity. Separately they are `Agrona Wuhhung’, `Faran Ofost’, `Manian Plegende’ and `Brigantia Lufian’ but together they become `For Albion’. The titles, like the music they represent, are hybrids taken from a mixture of old Brythonic words that further suggests a revisiting of the old ways – but altered, perverted and polluted by our modern intrusions.

There are some moments of sublime Arcadian bliss as ethereal female vocals weave their way around acoustic folk refrains and the sort of jazz/folk bass lines that wouldn’t have sounded out of place coming from Robert Kirby. But don’t be fooled as there are also some sections of experimental sound collage that suggest some sort of industrial menace (the looming presence of `Dark satanic mills’ represented by found sounds and haunted tinkering music boxes). We are also treated to some lovely squelchy ambient techno sounds which seem to cut across the green verdant landscape with a woozy lineal precision. This track – `Faran Ofost’ – acts to link the ominous sermo- like beginning of `Agrona Wuhhung’ with the pure harvest hymns vibes of final act `Brigantia Lufian’ via a diversion into modern paranoid dread in the form of `Manian Plegende’. This track seems to serve to wake us from our poetic revelry and remind us how rudely modern life, with all its ugly trappings and darkness can interrupt and seek to infect our nostalgic visions and break up the unity of our shared past.

By the time the bucolic sedative of Brigantia Lufian has finished and our visit to the strange landscape of Revbjelde comes to an end we have been treated to a hugely diverse array of styles, instruments and influences. Haunting electronica, lounge lizard trip-hop and off kilter jazz. Didgeridoos, zithers, Bouzouki and Balalaika. Ennio Morricone , Third Ear Band, Banco De Gaia and Dead Can Dance. Sound collages, Arcadian folk, dub vibes and sun baked slide guitar…..

It has been a strange old trip but not once has it sounded contrived or complicated. This is an album that stands as testament to the passion for and understanding of music…..all kinds of music. The vision of Richard, Roy and Alan is a full spectrum of creativity and they should be immensely proud of what they have achieved here on a near faultless piece of work. As long as the right people get to hear it then you can expect to see ` Revbjelde ‘featuring heavily in quite a lot of `Album of the Year’ charts.

Revbjelde is out now on Buried Treasure Records.

 

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I Summon Thee….

 

A dark and dense journey into the twilight world of witchcraft and the occult.

Melmoth has crept from the winter landscape of the Field Bazaar with his head full of the chants and incantations that echo around the haunted woods during the dark months and it is this witches brew of sound that he offers up to those who respond to the summoning.

1.Cattlemart Crows by Woven Skull

2.Midnight by Joseph Curwen
3.The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue by Giuliano Sorgini
4.In Defense of the Squeamish by Divil A’Bit
5.A Guide to your local Countryside by Vic Mars
6.The Toy Carousel by Klaus Morlock
7.Road Through the Village by Vic Mars
8.The House by the Cemetery by Walter Rizzati
9.The Altar of Lost Hearts by Septimus Keen
10.Follow the Goat by Mark Korven
11.William’s Confession by Mark Korven
12.The Shadow of the Mistress by Simon Magus & The Holy See
13.Museum of Mannequins by Simon Magus & The Holy See
14.Bohren by Joseph Curwen

Septimus Keen – the forgotten village

Where English folk music had Cecil Sharpe and American roots music had Alan Lomax the outer reaches of the sonic spectrum has its own audio relic hunter. A shadowy enigma who set off in search of lost melodies and forgotten horrors more years ago now than anyone cares to remember. He surfaces every few months with a knapsack full of dusty reel-to-reel tapes and curious field recordings. Never aging – never speaking, this denizen of the field bazaar is known only as Melmoth (The Wanderer).
It was Melmoth who first revealed to the world the truth behind the lost village and has subsequently become something of a curator of its creative output. Rumours soon sprung up as to Melmoth`s connection to this mysterious location– and it is even suggested that his shadowy origins and personae of anonymity stem from his time as a resident of this strangest of places.
There is a small, almost forgotten village in the county of Lancashire, not far from the shadow of Pendle Hill, which bears the unusual name of Septimus Keen. However it wasn’t always this way…
Traditionally the village had been a small but thriving example of Blake’s green and pleasant land until the rise of the dark, satanic mills stripped it of its workforce, its pride and its identity.
The village – by this point almost abandoned – was saved from eradication by well-known philanthropist and local eccentric Mr Septimus Mordecai Keen.
He purchased the village and then proceeded to invite many of the day’s greatest minds and artists to join him. What he had planned for the village was to set up what was initially a psychological experiment under the guise of a very unusual artist community. His first move was to rename the village after himself; then he went on to insist that absolutely everybody who came to live in the village would also be required to change their name as well – also to Septimus Keen. His dream was that a community
would grow where all sense of class or hierarchy would be rendered unnecessary because every man, woman or child would be made equal by their shared name. Without a name to identify someone when they weren’t present he believed would lead to gossip and criticism becoming a redundant concept. It was in this idyllic environment that Septimus Mordecai Keen envisaged a utopian, creative hive that would change and lead the world. This theory did seem to work for a while until the issue of the naming of babies born to community members became a reality and people started to leave in protest to his hard-line dogma. The small group who remained (a mere 14 people compared to the original 103) carried on this eccentric way of life long after their founder’s death. It was often said that the village of Septimus Keen was the only place in Europe not effected by the Great War – a fact that may have sown the final seed of resentment and suspicion which eventually lead to the abandonment of the village in 1922.
The most interesting outcome of this experiment relates to this last pocket of believers. After 20 years the name `Septimus Keen’ now no longer referred to a specific individual in any way and the name had become meaningless. What remained was a village where there were so many `Septimus Keens’ that in fact no one was Septimus Keen anymore. Labelling individual identity had become redundant.
Because of this all of the writings and the music, artwork and theatre, science and electronics that came out of the village at a prolific rate in those last 5 years are credited solely to `Septimus Keen’. There is no way of knowing the age, gender or ethnicity of any of the creators. We don’t even know how many different
people were involved in this last body of work nor if they were original invited villages, children of the commune or strangers who had found refuge there.
When Warhol commented that he wanted to distance the artist from the art and leave just the impression of the piece he was referencing the earlier achievements of this artistic community. The Sci-Fi-Delic sounds you hear were indeed written, arranged and performed by Septimus Keen – we just don’t know which one.
Inline image
One of the earliest known photographs of a resident of Septimus Keen. It can be dated due to the fact it quite clearly predates the village’s newspaper ban – which came into force 18 months after Septimus started recruiting the great and the good to join him in his privately owned village.
Inline image
Resident photographer and feminist trail blazer Septimus Keen not only recorded life in the village but was also instrumental in the breakdown of this artistic Utopia. The birth of her daughter Septimus (seen here in one of her own portraits) prompted a discussion about the anonymity of the shared name and it’s suitability for children born to the commune. It was this questioning of Village founder Septimus Mordecai Keen’s vision that signalled the start of the end for many folk.
Inline image
Recently recovered from a box of junk thrown out during a house clearance these plates record the very first spring the inhabitants enjoyed at Septimus Keen. The sense of playful excitement and experimentation that were hallmarks of the early years is evident in these charming images.
Inline image
Inline image
Experimentation with Eastern religions and beliefs and those of a more esoteric nature very much informed the outlook and attitudes of the early residents.
Inline image
Later to become a regular destination for village outings this plate shows Septimus Keen recording the recently discovered `Dark Hole’ which lay just outside the village.
Inline image
After Marcus Swift chose the village of Septimus Keen to recover from his near fatal crash on the Bexhill Seafront there was a brief craze among younger residents for assembling a convoy of sidecars and heading off into the countryside for picnics. This was brought to an end when a collision with the gates of Stonyhurst School drew attention to the unconventional commune and Septimus Mordecai Keen was forced to
ban all petrol driven vehicles from his village just as he had done newspapers a few years earlier. This heavy handed approach to maintaining the village’s integrity and survival was certainly one of the factors in the beginning of the end for the village of Septimus Keen.
Inline image
Resident photographer Septimus Keen provides the evidence for much of what is known about the strange and secretive daily life in the village of Septimus Keen. Her images and radical feminist views make her possibly the most significant resident after that of founder Septimus Mordecai Keen himself. Here is a self-portrait of Septimus with another of the village’s more well-known residents who before being invited to join the commune had performed for Princess Alexandra at Windsor Castle with a young Charlie Chaplin and The Eight Lancashire Lads
The Strigenforme Sisters from Hanover where, at Septimus Keen’s invitation, the first residents from overseas to arrive at the village but their unwillingness to adopt the communal name unfortunately meant their stay was a very short one.
It is believed that it was their ability to mimic birdsongs that amused and intrigued the village’s founder and lead to him paying for their journey from Prussia to Lancashire. It is even rumoured that they were able to reproduce a full dawn chorus using just their combined vocal mimicry
As with so many former residents it is not know what happened to them when they left the village…..but it is said that if you listen carefully as the sun comes up on a still summers morning they can still be heard in the countryside around the deserted village
Inline image
A day trip to `the dark hole’ for the villagers of Septimus Keen.
A couple of photos showing the leisure activities of village members. From cricket matches on the green which would involve everyone in the village either playing, catering or simply sitting back and enjoy the sound of leather on willow.
The children were encouraged to express their artistic side and would often put on impromptu plays based on folk legends, heroic poems and tales of high adventure that would occasionally make their way into the village from the outside world.
These images have recently come to light from scrapbooks found in the vicarage of St. Mary’s and All Saints in the nearby village of Whalley. Research continues
Inline image
There is still no explanation for the curious spheres that appeared buried on the outskirts of Septimus Keen. Many of the day’s top scientists and psychics gathered to examine them and exchange theories. Inevitably comparisons were drawn with the famous `Land Spheres’ of Yorkshire’s Black Meadow despite the lack of luminosity from those at the village of Septimus Keen. A series of leylines and old bridle paths that run through both villages are rumoured to intersect at Hobbs Lane in East London.
Inline image
Another example of the experimental work being carried out by the scientific minds of Septimus Keen. Frustratingly nothing remains of their pioneering work other than a handful of photographs – so we unfortunately have no idea of what became of either one of these two.
Inline image
Some of the nation’s greatest minds were lost/absorbed into the ranks of Septimus Keens. It is a testament to their belief in Septimus Mordecai Keen’s visionary experiment that they accepted the anonymity of becoming a village member. Of course the very fact they could hide away in such a liberal and  anonymous community also allowed them to experiment on the very edges of what scociety considered acceptable – and beyond.
Inline image
One of the more eccentric Septimus’ and his `Time Travel Device’ – no one knows what happened to him or his machine but they were both noted as absent when the village was finally closed down.
The village of Septimus Keen is considered by some as the birthplace of EVP research – recent analysis of the recordings made inside the electric pentacle have revealed an almost constant drone of voices and unexplained sounds that has left one of our researchers a gibbering wreck and seen the cylinders locked up in the basements of Cox & Co for everyone’s safety and sanity

 

(episodes from) The Field Bazaar

(episodes from) The Field Bazaar
 
In the early 1970’s, so the story goes a group of young up and coming Portuguese script writers recruited from adverts in trade magazines and on university noticeboards were locked in a room together with a projector, an endless supply of coffee and cigarettes and a pile of books. The books were mainly short story collections of the weird and esoteric fiction variety whilst the projector showed episodes of American sci-fi/supernatural TV show The Twilight Zone in continuous rotation.
This inexperienced collective were charged with producing the first six episodes of what was hoped to be Portugal’s response to a current trend for surreal storytelling and macabre tales. Given the work that Spanish filmmaker Amando de Ossorio and Italians Jess Franco and Dario Argento were currently involved with it is easy to see why television executives thought there was an opening in the market for Portugal’s take on the genre. The dream was to create a weekly TV show much like The Twilight Zone but with European art house sensibilities that showed leanings towards the current trend for the more grisly macabre work of those three directors.
 This claustrophobic setting and the darkly intense atmosphere of the continuously flickering projector led this band of writers to emerge almost two days later with the now fabled ‘O Campo Bazar’.
 
 
 Full of hope for this exciting project, filming began with alarming speed – but with scripts still being finished on set and the technical equipment in the hands of an equally inexperienced and amateurish crew the project seemed to be dying before it had even been fully born. The resulting pilot episode was critically panned and although it is cited to be Alfred Molina’s screen debut he now strongly refutes the fact claiming no involvement whatsoever in the doomed project
 Critics were relentless in their damning of everything to do with this project from the sets and stories to the acting and directing. There was however one factor that caused such embarrassment that it is often cited as the last nail in the not very convincing coffin.
 To affiliate this fledgling series to an already established genre and gain credibility, Vince Price had been employed to provide the voiceover introduction. It transpired that a staggeringly significant percentage of the overall budget had been spent on securing Price’s services – money that everyone agreed should have been spent on the program itself. What made this so embarrassing however was the fact that Vince Price’s pronunciation and overall delivery of the Portuguese introduction was so cringingly bad as to sound like a mocking stereotype. With no money left to find another actor of Price’s stature to rerecord the part, and with newspapers and radio programs daily mocking this particular aspect of the show, the station programmers decided to cut their losses and pull the plug.
 
    
 
 ‘O Campo Bazar’ would have disappeared without a trace – as was the TV Company’s wishes – had it not been for the release of the` (episodios de) O Campo Bazar’ e.p. Indeed there are no known surviving prints of the six episodes – of which only four ever saw the light of day – but the existence of this e.p. has ensured that the legacy of this doomed project is not forgotten.  ` (episodios de) O Campo Bazar’ was a promotional gimmick marketed as `a sampler of instrumental works created especially for the programme’ and has since become an ultra-rare curio hiding out with the national collection of Hen’s Teeth.
 
Inline image
Cover of the 1973 release `O Campo Bazar’
 
The original press release states that `the stunning full colour sleeve features O Campo Bazar in horrifically realistic costumes’. This is the only reference ever given to the performers who were – and still are – a mystery. Released in Portugal in 1973 on the Gravacoes Freeworld label this collection of sinister synth led soundscapes is long overdue a rerelease.
Several years later the cult status and mythos of the group/artist brought about the release of `The Bane Tree’– again on the Gravacoes Freeworld label. This vinyl version of `The Bane Tree’ is the only UK release for `O Campo Bazar’ there has been the. The artist(s) name had been translated into English – The Field Bazaar – and the` (episodes from)’, which was a clear indication of its TV series roots, had also been translated and kept. The name itself – `The Field Bazaar’ – comes from a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was seemingly chosen to represent the writers own take on `The Twilight Zone’…..a mysterious place where the weird and wonderful coexist with the horrifying and the macabre.
The Bane Tree has the feel of being demos and unused tracks from the original recordings although the music is more acoustic and pastoral sounding with greater use having been made of sound effects. The performers remained unknown.
  Inline image
Front cover of the UK release `The Bane Tree’
   Inline image
Back cover. Note the full name translation for the title whereas credits list the group as just `the Field Bazaar’
Recently artwork for a previously unreleased and assumed lost (episodes from) The Field Bazaar album `A Tale of Witches, Woodland and half-remember melodies…’ was discovered in a box of old picture frames at a church jumble sale in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire. In 2012 a ¼ inch tape also surfaced at a bankruptcy sale for a small recording studio in Bloomsbury which had been known for soundtrack and sound effect recordings. This acetate contained what is now believed to be tracks from the recording sessions for this lost album. So far a tweaked and updated `The Musgrave Ritual’ is the only track to have materialized from this lost album. The title again references Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and includes a reading of the ancient ritual from the Sherlock Holmes story of the same name.
 
                                               Inline image
                                              Artwork for the recently discovered `lost’ album
Also found alongside what is assumed to be the final approved artwork for the lost `A tale of Witches, Woodland and half-remembered melodies….’ was a scribbled early sketch for the album cover – possibly drawn up by one of the unknown, almost mythical members of the band/collective/composer who made up (episodes from) The Field Bazaar. A more recognizable sketch of the final composition shows the removal of the witch’s young companion for the image –possibly considered too sinister in its implications – and also the crucifix from the front of the building.
           Inline image
                           Inline image
The Long Crendon sketches – Note the inclusion of the child and crucifix in the first sketch which has been omitted in the second more familiar image.
 Unfortunately there are no signatures or notes on the reverse of either piece to hint at who the artist may have been or even who was operating in the studio under The Field Bazaar moniker at the time.
Several tracks recorded by (episodes from) The Field Bazaar have been rereleased in recent years thanks to the work of a small group of geekish fans who hunt down the original studio versions, strip them down, clean them up and remix them to form even the briefest of tunes into a coherent track.  Their curation and conservation of the (episodes from) The Field Bazaar’s music is not only helping to save a forgotten gem but also to bring it to a wider audience. 

(https://soundcloud.com/thefieldbazaar-1)

First blog post

Where English folk music had Cecil Sharpe and American roots music had Alan Lomax the outer reaches of the sonic spectrum has its own audio relic hunter. A shadowy enigma who set off in search of lost melodies and forgotten horrors more years ago now than anyone cares to remember. He surfaces every few months with a knapsack full of dusty reel-to-reel tapes and curious field recordings. Never aging – never speaking, this denizen of the field bazaar is known only as Melmoth (The Wanderer).
It was Melmoth who first revealed to the world the truth behind the lost village and has subsequently become something of a curator of its creative output. Rumours soon sprung up as to Melmoth`s connection to this mysterious location– and it is even suggested that his shadowy origins and personae of anonymity stem from his time as a resident of this strangest of places.
There is a small, almost forgotten village in the county of Lancashire, not far from the shadow of Pendle Hill, which bears the unusual name of Septimus Keen. However it wasn’t always this way…
Traditionally the village had been a small but thriving example of Blake’s green and pleasant land until the rise of the dark, satanic mills stripped it of its workforce, its pride and its identity.
The village – by this point almost abandoned – was saved from eradication by well-known philanthropist and local eccentric Mr Septimus Mordecai Keen.
He purchased the village and then proceeded to invite many of the day’s greatest minds and artists to join him. What he had planned for the village was to set up what was initially a psychological experiment under the guise of a very unusual artist community. His first move was to rename the village after himself; then he went on to insist that absolutely everybody who came to live in the village would also be required to change their name as well – also to Septimus Keen. His dream was that a community
would grow where all sense of class or hierarchy would be rendered unnecessary because every man, woman or child would be made equal by their shared name. Without a name to identify someone when they weren’t present he believed would lead to gossip and criticism becoming a redundant concept. It was in this idyllic environment that Septimus Mordecai Keen envisaged a utopian, creative hive that would change and lead the world. This theory did seem to work for a while until the issue of the naming of babies born to community members became a reality and people started to leave in protest to his hard-line dogma. The small group who remained (a mere 14 people compared to the original 103) carried on this eccentric way of life long after their founder’s death. It was often said that the village of Septimus Keen was the only place in Europe not effected by the Great War – a fact that may have sown the final seed of resentment and suspicion which eventually lead to the abandonment of the village in 1922.
The most interesting outcome of this experiment relates to this last pocket of believers. After 20 years the name `Septimus Keen’ now no longer referred to a specific individual in any way and the name had become meaningless. What remained was a village where there were so many `Septimus Keens’ that in fact no one was Septimus Keen anymore. Labelling individual identity had become redundant.
Because of this all of the writings and the music, artwork and theatre, science and electronics that came out of the village at a prolific rate in those last 5 years are credited solely to `Septimus Keen’. There is no way of knowing the age, gender or ethnicity of any of the creators. We don’t even know how many different
people were involved in this last body of work nor if they were original invited villages, children of the commune or strangers who had found refuge there.
When Warhol commented that he wanted to distance the artist from the art and leave just the impression of the piece he was referencing the earlier achievements of this artistic community. The Sci-Fi-Delic sounds you hear were indeed written, arranged and performed by Septimus Keen – we just don’t know which one.
Inline image
One of the earliest known photographs of a resident of Septimus Keen. It can be dated due to the fact it quite clearly predates the village’s newspaper ban – which came into force 18 months after Septimus started recruiting the great and the good to join him in his privately owned village.
Inline image
Resident photographer and feminist trail blazer Septimus Keen not only recorded life in the village but was also instrumental in the breakdown of this artistic Utopia. The birth of her daughter Septimus (seen here in one of her own portraits) prompted a discussion about the anonymity of the shared name and it’s suitability for children born to the commune. It was this questioning of Village founder Septimus Mordecai Keen’s vision that signalled the start of the end for many folk.
Inline image
Recently recovered from a box of junk thrown out during a house clearance these plates record the very first spring the inhabitants enjoyed at Septimus Keen. The sense of playful excitement and experimentation that were hallmarks of the early years is evident in these charming images.
Inline image
Inline image
Experimentation with Eastern religions and beliefs and those of a more esoteric nature very much informed the outlook and attitudes of the early residents.
Inline image
Later to become a regular destination for village outings this plate shows Septimus Keen recording the recently discovered `Dark Hole’ which lay just outside the village.
Inline image
After Marcus Swift chose the village of Septimus Keen to recover from his near fatal crash on the Bexhill Seafront there was a brief craze among younger residents for assembling a convoy of sidecars and heading off into the countryside for picnics. This was brought to an end when a collision with the gates of Stonyhurst School drew attention to the unconventional commune and Septimus Mordecai Keen was forced to
ban all petrol driven vehicles from his village just as he had done newspapers a few years earlier. This heavy handed approach to maintaining the village’s integrity and survival was certainly one of the factors in the beginning of the end for the village of Septimus Keen.
Inline image
Resident photographer Septimus Keen provides the evidence for much of what is known about the strange and secretive daily life in the village of Septimus Keen. Her images and radical feminist views make her possibly the most significant resident after that of founder Septimus Mordecai Keen himself. Here is a self-portrait of Septimus with another of the village’s more well-known residents who before being invited to join the commune had performed for Princess Alexandra at Windsor Castle with a young Charlie Chaplin and The Eight Lancashire Lads
The Strigenforme Sisters from Hanover where, at Septimus Keen’s invitation, the first residents from overseas to arrive at the village but their unwillingness to adopt the communal name unfortunately meant their stay was a very short one.
It is believed that it was their ability to mimic birdsongs that amused and intrigued the village’s founder and lead to him paying for their journey from Prussia to Lancashire. It is even rumoured that they were able to reproduce a full dawn chorus using just their combined vocal mimicry
As with so many former residents it is not know what happened to them when they left the village…..but it is said that if you listen carefully as the sun comes up on a still summers morning they can still be heard in the countryside around the deserted village
Inline image
A day trip to `the dark hole’ for the villagers of Septimus Keen.
A couple of photos showing the leisure activities of village members. From cricket matches on the green which would involve everyone in the village either playing, catering or simply sitting back and enjoy the sound of leather on willow.
The children were encouraged to express their artistic side and would often put on impromptu plays based on folk legends, heroic poems and tales of high adventure that would occasionally make their way into the village from the outside world.
These images have recently come to light from scrapbooks found in the vicarage of St. Mary’s and All Saints in the nearby village of Whalley. Research continues
Inline image
There is still no explanation for the curious spheres that appeared buried on the outskirts of Septimus Keen. Many of the day’s top scientists and psychics gathered to examine them and exchange theories. Inevitably comparisons were drawn with the famous `Land Spheres’ of Yorkshire’s Black Meadow despite the lack of luminosity from those at the village of Septimus Keen. A series of leylines and old bridle paths that run through both villages are rumoured to intersect at Hobbs Lane in East London.
Inline image
Another example of the experimental work being carried out by the scientific minds of Septimus Keen. Frustratingly nothing remains of their pioneering work other than a handful of photographs – so we unfortunately have no idea of what became of either one of these two.
Inline image
Some of the nation’s greatest minds were lost/absorbed into the ranks of Septimus Keens. It is a testament to their belief in Septimus Mordecai Keen’s visionary experiment that they accepted the anonymity of becoming a village member. Of course the very fact they could hide away in such a liberal and  anonymous community also allowed them to experiment on the very edges of what scociety considered acceptable – and beyond.
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One of the more eccentric Septimus’ and his `Time Travel Device’ – no one knows what happened to him or his machine but they were both noted as absent when the village was finally closed down.
The village of Septimus Keen is considered by some as the birthplace of EVP research – recent analysis of the recordings made inside the electric pentacle have revealed an almost constant drone of voices and unexplained sounds that has left one of our researchers a gibbering wreck and seen the cylinders locked up in the basements of Cox & Co for everyone’s safety and sanity