September 05, 2011
The Willows - Belbury Poly 
Time and again in Arthur Machen's so-called "weird" fiction urban, urbane and above all mundane modernity is only a whisper away from ineffable pre-Christian energies; latent elemental forces poised to seep through the fabric of scientific scepticism. Representationally then not unlike the cover's Green Man superimposed on molecular model. The Green Man is essentially a syncretic deity: paganism's horned god, Cernunnos, or as Machen has it: The Great God Pan. Typical Machen protagonists dally on the cusp between science and mythos - anthropologist, ethnologist and archaeologist - or listlessly wander drab urban environments and liminal subarban streets, disconnected, apathetic but feeling still the mythopoeic pull. Inspired, Belbury Poly's Jim Jupp responds to greyly prosaic 70s Britain not with some acoustic wicca-shit wyrdout but instead summoning a techno-arcadian idyll, mixing sunny uplands and shadowy hollows. Shades encroach most balefully on third track Caermaen: both placename and setting for some very rum doings in Machen's The Hill of Dreams.
Ofttimes, Machen's characters are haunted by memory and uncanny imagination; a magical, unsettling deja vu. Belbury Poly's soundworld conjures matching sensibilities, somewhat analagous to those curious tonal juxtapositions common on 70s kids TV where perky radiophonic theme tune rubs up against spectral public information film warning children to stay away from lonely stretches of water. Check the pairing of tracks A Thin Place and Farmer's Angle. The first all eldritch arpeggios and foggy mellotron flute, the second warm glow psilocybin Jack Hargreaves puttering down a country lane.
Plenty to mine below the surface. Dig deep and mind how you go.
Oddi wrth y brawd
ornaments in formica