Appearing in the Doomsday Book and with evidence of Iron Age trackways, the small, isolated village of Imber, in Wiltshire, is an ancient Village that holds a special place in English folklore. In 1943 the Ministry Of Defence commandeered Imber for military training. Much of the land around Imber had already been purchased by the military and on the whole the residents considered it their duty to do their part in the war effort. They were given 46 day’s notice before being evacuated. Legend has it that many residents left tinned goods and other non perishables behind, on the belief they would return in around six months time or at the very least, after the war.
The villagers were never allowed to return to their homes in Imber. Imber’s grade 1 listed Church still stands and has been maintained. Once a year, on the closest Saturday to St Giles day, a service is still held and is enthusiastically attended, otherwise Imber is an English ghost town.
I’m currently diving in and out of a rather weighty book on “The wickedest man in the world” Aleister Crowley. There has, so far been no mention of the “Great Beast” visiting the Village of Imber, on Salisbury Plain. Yet, I’m half expecting to turn a page and discover Drew Mulholland and Crowley had met somewhere on Salisbury Plain.
Obviously the pair hit it of famously, went for a spot of lunch and a pint, or two, at The Bell Inn in Imber to discuss all things wyrd, magical and horned God like. Incidentally they were delighted to discover the legendary ghost hunter Harry Price having a cheeky sherry.
This is the atmosphere and setting for Drew Mulholland’s latest album “My Life With The Imber Goat Cult (1911-1913)” A 15 track album crafted around field recordings, composed as experimental soundscapes touching on modern classical, horror folk, ambient drone, and hauntronica styles. The perfect ingredients for a ghostly, nightmare inspiring, Pagan God worshipping hauntology album.
“Imber Goat Cult” uses very limited harmonies and extremely sparse melodies. Instead Mulholland assembles a layered tapestry of samples and tape loops into a compelling and mysterious sonic journey into a world pregnant with paranormal and occult imagery. There’s organic recordings of rhythmic chanting, spliced with distorted, warped Synthesizers and the loops are deformed and sublimely disorientating.
Peculiar, unnerving sounds flit about, sometimes floating in, sometimes crashing and crunching into the mix. There’s also recognizable samples, like a church bell, a heavy door opening, bird songs and possibly even laboured breathing. This coerces the listener into the feeling of a discernible location, an English village, where the Church probably isn’t the main location for worship.
Unquestionably Mulholland is the master of giving his recordings a notion of time and age. There’s often a suspicion on “Imber Goat Cult” of a recently discovered collection of old field recordings. They’ve been cleaned and this is the first time they’ve been heard, conceivably in a 100 years. A really inventive, mystical, dark, fascinating listening experience that I believe would have enthralled Crowley and intrigued Price, especially if the pair invested in a decent pair of headphones.
“My Life With The Imber Goat Cult” is Drew Mulholland’s first recording for the independent label Subexotic Records. Its released as a limited edition Lathe Cut flexi-disc and as a download. However, if you are new to Drew Mulholland’s music its worth mentioning he has been making music for quite some time. In 1997 he started The Mount Vernon Arts Lab and has been making otherworldly soundscapes ever since. I’d highly recommend a visit to his bandcamp page where you will find Drew’s lifestyle motto
stay up all night and make tape loops from field recordings