Tentative Histories

Undefined Boundary. The Journal of Psychick Albion (Temporal Boundary Press)
Interzone, Cormac Pentecost & Lawrence Bailey (Temporal Boundary Press)
Tapeworks. Art & Design of 80’s Experimental Electronic Music (resampld.com)

From humble beginnings in the experimental wings of nature writing, anthropology, history and archaeology, not to mention the early 20th Century concept of ley-lines, through folklore, pagan ritual and Druidic revivals, hippies and the counterculture, the idolisation of the flâneur, and what is now known as psychogeography, have emerged Psychick Albion, alongside Folk Horror and Hauntology: terminology open enough to include anything and everything you want it to.

Undefined Boundary, which now has two years of publishing to its name, two paperback issues per annual cycle, is a case in point. Alongside what I can only call the usual suspects, such as authors Arthur Machen and Susan Cooper, the film Penda’s Fen, and the music of Current 93, we find the artist Paul Nash, author and occultist Ithell Colquhoun, singer Kate Bush, feminist experimental writer Angela Carter, Surrealist Leonora Carrington, Catharine Blake (Mrs. William Blake to you) and the mystics Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich. Oh, Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and Led Zeppelin too.

Landscape, magic and visionary arts are the main focus of the journal, with contributions from a wide range of authors, each with their own personal take on things. Mark Fisher and his ideas of hauntology emerges as a key touchstone here, as do what Ithell Colquhoun called ‘Influences, essence, presences […] Stirrings of life, expanding spores, limbo of germination, for all you give me, I offer thanks.’ Embedded memories, communal activities, traces of the unknown, music, painting and creative writing all become ways of navigating the world. Not all of this is inherently good, there are oppressive forces and ‘Provisional Demonology’ considered here.

Although some articles veer towards an academic approach, most adopt a fluid and reader friendly relationship with their subjects, utilising creative non-fiction strategies as a way of combining the personal and experiential with more theoretical ideas. The magazine is a warmhearted and delightful potpourri of material, with issues variously announcing themselves as ‘a resurgent psychedelia for an age of digital conformity’ or an exploration of the ‘numinous underbelly of British culture’, with the aim of ‘keeping the sacred flame [or spark] alive’.

Cormac Pentecost, the editor of Undefined Boundary, is also the writer of Interzone, a dense, wide-ranging typewritten text about areas which are ‘Invisible to cartographers, invisible to the busy and purposeful’, ‘the residual remainder left after Capital has glutted itself to sickness.’ Along with Lawrence Bailey’s photographs of discarded objects, abandoned cars and general waste and decay, Pentecost eulogises the abandoned spaces around us and suggests that ‘The edgelands are the natural place for a countercultural, subversive and radical praxis of artistic and ritual refusal to take place in’, and proposing that ‘There should be a concerted effort to claim the edgelands as a zone of autonomous artistic freedom wherein the beginnings of a new folklore should be forumulated.’

I’m not sure you can simply bring into being ‘new folklore’, which to me is something that emerges naturally from society, place and memory, but I enjoyed this provocative and inspiring pamphlet which questions capitalism and asks us to rethink community, boundaries, counterculture, and indeed how we inhabit and make use of the landscape itself.

Tapeworks is a wonderful small but thick paperback which curates and re-presents art and graphics from albums and tapes of the mostly d.i.y. electronic music scene in the 1980s. If some of the text images, often basically liner notes, make you wonder about their inclusion, the majority of the book showcases the striking use of letraset, collage, pens, typewriters and photocopiers which were de rigeur back in the day. Although I have history in the tape underground, and recognise a few names such as Attrition, Bourbonese Qualk, Coil and Sleep Chamber, most of the bands and their releases are new and unknown to me.

There is little sense of organization, thematic overview or completeness (which is probably for the best given the fetishistic and pornographic art which a lot of industrial and noise releases utilised back in the day), this book simply feels like a quirky personal selection, a gathering up of what was around before time and the relentless march of digitalisation consign both music and this art work to the dustbin of history. It’s a lovely reminder of one countercultural activity in Psychick Albion from back in the day.



Rupert Loydell

Temporal Boundary Press can be found here.

Tapeworks is available here.







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