A couple of weeks back now, Julie Campbell AKA Lonelady, sent me a request to delve once again beneath the trembling surface skin of Mancunian unconscious memory. Scrub Transmissions, essentially amounts to a treasure hunt: in this case, the treasure to be found, is a Lonelady poem & song, playing on a permanent loop (or for at least as long as the battery on the MP3 player endures). Embedded into concrete, only a discreet input jack showing itself, this is a what I might describe as a camouflaged dissidence, a paradoxical means of promotion, since all onus is upon the listener to seek and find the sound thus hidden. I wrote about her last ScrubTransmission here. Allow me to quote myself:
"....The re-assertion of magic came with [Manchester's] death as an industrial force. Suddenly...not a factory any longer..[but] a graveyard...a peculiarly angular Pere La Chaise. And more (or less)...it became a ruin....the importance of the ruin on the British psyche cannot be under-estimated...the Romantics clashed against the arrival of the modern, by venerating the ruin. A ruin invites the Wild Adversary back to the table...negotiation is now taking place between the urban and the rural..and consequently, the human and the non-human (in terms on consciousness, in terms of agency). Here we can venture and linger. Here, the danger is older and purer...but it is a place of communion.
Lonelady expressed this comunion by cementing her art into the landscape. This, the very definition of intrinsic meaning...where there is nothing, one creates. And yet, as I re-traced Julie's footsteps, I became yet more convinced, that there was an extrinsic meaning here...and that solitary, now dead transmission, represented the terms of dialogue with an environment, that was at once newly born, and threatened with inevitable extinction."
If you've been following this blog, some of this will already be striking notes of familiarity. My feelings on the matter remain unchanged. Julie is not fond of the term 'psycho-geography', used as a lazy shorthand by journalists attempting to grab and tame her muse. Yet, the impact upon my own consciousness, ushered by this hyper weird plague walk, cannot be over-emphasised. I feel perhaps even more radically inclined to place my cards upon the table and say that----yes, there is an entire ecology of information happening between our perceptions and apparently non living objects, things, places and ideas. Like as to the wind that sways the grasses on the wasteland, the throb between the bodies upon the dance floor or the courage of the poet to mythologise their place, bearing out a love that, quite frankly, might be described by those from fairer climes, as positively deluded.
At any rate, I'm waxing right up my own arse. The Peer Hat asked for people to send us whatever they were doing during their period of isolation. So of course, I leapt at the chance to get some words down for the blog. And sure enough they came, or at least I assume they are about to come...(EDITORS NOTE: they came)
Here were my instructions. Reasonably simple, but since I began my journey in Audenshaw (which, in a synchronistic aside, is from whence Julie hails), I had at least 4 good miles to cover. I resolved to make those miles as revealing as possible and representative, not just of my experience, or even of Julie's intent as an artist, but of the shades that have passed, akin to holograms through and over this land. Furthermore, to capture a sense of belonging that would not feel out of place within the walls of The Peer Hat as it is now, a dream. Hopefully there is something of the universal in this transcript.
Steps to the top of Delta Hill. You can see a remarkable amount of Pennine beauty from up here
As a child, Delta Hill was something like notorious. Nearby, what was known as the Paddy Walk, passing by a coal yard and some allotments. Those allotments are the source of a hazy summer memory, spent with my friend Ben, somebody whom I have since lost touch with. But that coal yard was thought to be the haunt of an evil killer, Jimmy Greenteeth. I have memories of something like a nightmare, (or was it the tale told to me by another childhood friend?)...being pursued by the malevolent Greenteeth, frenzied, door to door. Interestingly, I later became aware of a Tameside faerie by the name of Nan Greenteeth, a kind of bog or pond spirit, naturally fond of the taste of child flesh. Could there have been a connection? Delta Hill itself, I convinced myself was sometimes in alignment with Delta Cephei and that the vague, almost certainly artificial mound, was in fact an ancient hillock, sacred to the early Britons. Regardless, beyond the mirage of childhood convictions, I have never been able to find a satisfactory reason for it's existence.
The Paddy Walk. I didn't name it.
A den of sorts.
Door to childhood.
Red Hall Chapel
A little further along the route and I'm forced to trade the intriguing back-ways of Audenshaw for the dull, vaguely pleasing sameness of Audenshaw road. There's still a long way to tread.
Orange Country Encounter
What grieving there must have been when the Chapel was drowned beneath the reservoir, lamentations for an age in passing. Were there graves beneath the calm, cold surface? Were there places that people loved? Places once thought of as valuable, something to be fought over? When the chapel, built in 1783 was demolished, Audenshaw was thought of as a pleasant rural hamlet... but it would soon be changed forever by sweeping industrialisation. Pseudo-Tectonic transformations, saw the place rise a little, before stumbling into the decrepitude of British ignominy. More history, a little further below now:
"Red Hall and the Red Hall Methodist Chapel were among those buildings drowned by the reservoirs. Red Hall was built in 1672. The estate, which included a large part of the hamlet of Audenshaw, had been given to Captain Ralph Stopford, a captain in Cromwell's army, by Cromwell himself. The Hall passed into the Hobson family. Edward Hobson started a day school in 1740 and, until recently, his charities were used for educational purposes. After his death in 1764, Red Hall passed into the possession of Robert Thornley who built a small factory on the side for furriers and skin dressers. The Thornley brothers were strongly interested in the Methodist revival, and were involved in the building of Red Hall Chapel which was opened on April 21, 1783, near the Hall. It was part of the Stockport Weslyan Circuit, and on April 6, 1786, John Wesley took services at Red Hall when he was 83."
So this place had born witness to Wesley's preaching, now calmly drowned. Lest it be forgotten, Wesley made a journey to the Americas in an effort to convert the 'poor savages' that were native to the place. However:
'It was on the voyage to the colonies that the Wesleys first came into contact with Moravian settlers. Wesley was influenced by their deep faith and spirituality rooted in pietism. At one point in the voyage a storm came up and broke the mast off the ship. While the English panicked, the Moravians calmly sang hymns and prayed. This experience led Wesley to believe that the Moravians possessed an inner strength which he lacked. The deeply personal religion that the Moravian pietists practised heavily influenced Wesley's theology of Methodism'
Curiously, there exists a Moravian settlement not 10 minutes walk from the Red Hall Stone. It seems that something of Wesley had brushed off on the place...now a vague memory long since banished by the waters I sometimes swam in as a child. I cast myself back to then, imagining the vertiginous years beneath my kicking feet, watched by ghosts that see the sun forever from a distance, a rippling white host.
The Blue Pig, also built in the 1700s. Abandoned since 2013, put to death by the motorway.
Fairfield Train Station
Here comes the train.
I stopped here for a piss and also to mark the boundary, where Audenshaw would give over to a different kind of wasteland. We sat for a while, my partner and I, watching the empty trains rumble past. When I was a child, I imagined there was a mythical Fairfield, that was exactly what it said on the tin. A Summerland of sorts, or a Happy Hunting Ground. Like Flowery Fields two stations away, it was a case of false advertising. Later, I would become aware of Fairfield Girls School, which as an adolescent, provided the fuel for further fantasies. Such is youth.
Carrying bio-matter. Time to move on.
The Passage To Mancunia.
Glorious artery connecting me to the promised land, a superb highway filed with sights, experience and horror. I cherish the thought of the Loop, how it runs without prejudice between Audenshaw and Chorlton. It feels arbitrary and I like it that way...I am honoured that my home sits close to it's humble beginning. In fact, so humble as to be almost invisible. A housing estate attempts to nullify the entrance and very nearly succeeds...I suppose it must come as a surprise to all that discover it for the first time. Follow the passage way and one emerges into another world, Manchester's shirt ripped from it's back , or a car bonnet flung open and the workings of the engine made apparent.
It's easy to think of the Loop as a holdover from an earlier epoch. And yet...until 1990, it was merely a freight line, certainly not the strange pathway we've come to know today. It's birth, remains a testament to the fact, that we're still very much capable of creating magic and fully capable of rolling out 'ruins to order'. In some senses, the Loop recalls the Project for the Rational Improvement of Paris (1955), the section in question:
"The rooftops of Paris should be opened to pedestrian traffic by means of modifications to fire escape ladders and construction of catwalks where necessary."
Realities are there to be created, repurposed and rethought. There is the flash of Solar Punk to this programme and latterly, of the clandestine, the secret and furtive....something all too rare in our society, but exponentially occurring at this radical plague instance. What measures of rebellion can we fathom within apparently consensual authoritarianism? When conspiracy with peers in refuge bars and music venues is deemed a crime, to whom or what must we look for guidance? The answer relies upon rejecting the perceptual prejudice of a materialist, rationalist society: for it is to the landscape that we must turn and whisper and listen.
We at The Peer Hat are enthused by the Loop, it acts as a means of fast, non road travel and communication between variously connected individuals. I admit that we had this in mind when considering The Peer Hat Post, certainly as one arm of it's potentially psycho-geographical (sorry Julie) meanderings. To me, it feels like a secret passage. There are crossroads a plenty along the way and in this sense, it is fair to say that it belongs to the Devil. Traversing it at night, is not something I can recommend: there are stories I can tell which would have you hurriedly agreeing.
There is much more to be said about the Loop, it deserves mythologising, it's place has not yet set (to my knowledge), by the bards of Manchester. My route this day meant that I would stay on it (Her? Him? Them?) not for very long, but I will say this: sometimes we need to take the Devil's road.
Irritatingly, there's a diversion; something is being hidden. Also, this sign was pointing the wrong way.
Abbey Hey & Gorton
A bullethole, blood and memory.
After leaving behind The Fallowfield Loop, we emerge blinking into Abbey Hey, residential Gorton and another town pulsating with a kind of low key strangeness that belies initial impressions. There are many poppies around, perhaps leftovers from the recently passed and supra-spectral 75th VE Day. They watch, bloody eyes, windows to infinite battlefields and symbols that have over time, gathered more meaning than perhaps was intended. There is an obstinance to their arrangement that is not easily shaken. They are exit wounds on a landscape that can at times, appear cadaverous.
A ruin, the fence is the greater eyesore.
Gorton, some say it gained it's name from a battle fought long ago between the Saxons and the Danes. I imagine the night before the conflict, there would have been fires burning that one could have seen from Delta Hill, where soothsayers and poets picked out the victors from the array of celestial bodies. That the battle was bloody, there can be no doubt, the fields drenched red with the life blood of the fallen, the ground now a mountain range in miniature, though these slopes are viscera and bone, plucked at finally by crows that had waited patient for the ring of iron to cease it's echo. Naturally, historians, in their closeted manner, declared that such a battle was mere fancy. In fact Gorton meant 'dirty farmstead' and that the brook that courses through it, was perhaps the source, discoloured as it was. And yet the signs are here...the blood still marked on walls and in windows.
This is a battle fought at this very moment within the dream chambers of sleeping Gorton. Woe to the historian that dismisses myth as the distorted message of a surmounted past, or even as mere religious instruction. Be surprised instead to learn, that myths are yet another super-imposition upon what we consider reality... they never happened. They are happening.
Silence here, was total.
Plague screeds, unseen, untended, the post office a sepulchre.
There are a great many cages in Gorton, as there are a great many ruins. To keep the good folk from an untimely end, must surely be their stated purpose, and their instalment, surely seen as temporary. Instead, they remain a fixture, and have the effect of inducing an unpleasant sensation of imprisonment. Or rather we are in a zoo, but in the place of animals, we observe shards of condemned structures, a broken past that we are forbidden to touch.
Caged angel, adjacent to The Angel Pub.
All windows sealed
The picture is the same, it repeats.
The Buzz was an exclusion unit, a place for permanently expelled children. It was located in the Peacock Centre, which, despite the grandiose sign, exists no longer, The sign seems like a vain testament to a fallen Utopia..and yet, in an amusing turn of aesthetic, seems to now indicate a place where the brilliant hued bird might be seen by passing pilgrims such as myself. My partner, comments, that it seems as though something is waiting to happen. This is her childhood turf and to her, it is as if somebody pressed PAUSE. I can see it as I'm sure you will be able to also.
The white sign is brilliantly scrubbed.
The steel works and associated tavern presents itself soon enough. Another childhood friend's father worked here for many years. I remember him returning home wearing an eyepatch after a shard of metal nearly took his sight. He recovered fully. The memory for me, however, remains fresh. My friend's father wad called Tom and, once upon a time, there was a bakery on my street (unimaginable now). He worked there and I thought it the most glamorous job a man could turn his hand to...I was always delighted whenever I saw him leave work, head to toe, covered in flour. When I thought of the black machines and the molten metal screeching through voids of invaded space...it always seemed a terrible shame that the old bakery had shut and that he was forced to endure labour within the bowels of hell. At any rate, it was not hell, it was Gorton. And he was not my father.
I sometimes wonder what the tavern is like just after the factory closes.
The Monastery, is the undoubted jewel of Gorton, the Franciscan's efforts tunnelling through history to the present. The red brick monk's gate, is the segment that attracts my attentions on this particular day. You might accuse me of churlishness, ignoring the beautiful building to which it provides egress. But as we pass by, I can see trails of cassocked friars, enduring the drizzle of a Monday morning, to enter via this modest aperture. To me, it seems like the holiest place of all and, unabashedly Mancunian. I feel a little sorry for the monks; what a hard life it must have been..and consider that they built the place with their own hands!.And yet, unlike Red Hall Chapel, this place endures and it's ghosts are free to continue in their obediences.
Once past the Monastery, I knew that we were on the final stretch. Considering how close we were to the city and the ever present roar of Ashton-Old-Road, the atmosphere was quite still. There were people around to be sure, but they seemed to move within bubbles. We would pass and occasionally smile or whisper "hello", just like they did in the countryside. As we pass by a very DIY home stead, I experience a vision of this place as it once was, not so very long ago. I can hear the river.
Rural Gorton Shack
Soon were are the only people we could see. Gorton Road calcifies into still humming machinery. This might be the only place left in Manchester, where the Industrial Revolution is still happening, my a partner remarked. But these aren't cotton mills, or churning engines that power the Empire. Everything, is in fact, re-purposed, smaller, making less noise, employing less people. A sense of emptiness settled over me, as if I'd stumbled through gossamer. I walk and I feel as if I am at meditation.
A Church 2020
Beneath a tunnel, lichen crawls up the benighted walls, forming brilliant patterns. It's an incongruity. I find it difficult to believe that unsentimental council directives, would allow for life like this to flourish in such abundance. That is unless, it has forgotten. Yes, there is a sense that this long stretch of industrial development, has fallen from the consciousness of the city.
Spread over the walls of the tunnel, the lichen strives to feed itself.
I know we are quite close now. I feel a vibration of deja vu, recalling my first appointment with Lonelady's Scrub Transmission. We pass by a section of fenced off waste ground. Though there is the possibility for egress, the stalwart explorer would be forced to navigate a small hillock of rubbish, For a moment, I consider wading through the filth and nastiness to access the tantalisingly grassy area beyond, but something holds me back. Perhaps it is superstition, but there is something decidedly unnerving about the geography of this moment, as it struggles to fit into place within my mind. We pass on, choosing not to linger. Nevertheless, I find myself silently thrilled by this brush with the irrational.
Here Be Monsters
The sun has made no decisions today, but Helios shows it's face long enough for me to commemorate our imminent arrival. It's strange how the the line of history flattens out, throughout the rest of my journey, there had been a gaggle of voices, shapes... depth. But here, it is as if the waveform has stilled. It occurs to me that we are the ghosts now and in some odd sense, we are carrying the weight of all history, a hidden yet significant action taking place upon a backdrop of heat-death.
There's a certain sadness in the air as I arrive but only in the sense that my adventure is coming to it's conclusion. I wonder who wrote this word and why. Was the artist a seer, an oracle? Did they forsee Julie's secretive mission and, if you'll indulge me a moment longer, a true act of free masonry? I don't remember seeing it before. Briefly I consider whether or not Lonelady herself carefully drew the letters, defining her territory. I decide not, and settle finally on this: DEMON is a honeytrap, it draws the eye of those that know and of those that want to know. Just a little way from Ashton Old Road, yet still hidden by that strange sense of obscure nothingness I mentioned on the approach. I spend a little time searching for the input jack and, sure enough, I find it. However, before I plug in, I peer into the space beyond, a fracture above my discovery. All I see, is the bare stone of a building that has seen no material purpose for years. A ruin then. A haunted place. Meticulously chosen.
Finally I turn my attention to the input. My partner plugs in headphones, listens and then finally hands them over to me. I place them over my ears and hear Julie's voice. And I close my eyes.
Other Things We Know, We Haven't Forgotten
So turning our eye back upon the worthy works of the weary warriors, this week we have:
Elyssa Iona, my good friend and bridge between The Peer Hat and the mighty Islington Mill, has been extremely hard at work during this almost interminable period of teeth grinding. A dabbler in all things analogue, her vapourised aesthetic, it's worn magnificence and crumbling splendour can be seen on many a Peer Hat design, from posters, to fonts to artworks and photographs. Did I mention she does drone also (I think one does drone, don't quote me on the verb)? This however, is something else again. From the website...
"DIYD is an artist-led darkroom with a real emphasis on community and experimentation.
The facilities are available for hire to the general public, with rates including an on-call supervisor and discounts for Islington Mill studio holders, students and the unwaged.
In addition to this there will also be tutored sessions available for beginners or users in need of additional guidance & a range of affordable process/scan/capture services available if you would rather have a technician do it for you!"
Islington Mill keeps surprising, maintaining it's commitment to DIY culture. And that's down to the hard work of people like Elyssa, who keep finding ways to make things happen. Website link is above beneath the picture and if you fancy checking out Elyssa's other work, I suggest you go HERE.
What is Ian doing now?
Come June 5, Four Candles will be releasing their song, Doughnuts. All proceeds will go to The Peer Hat, which is a truly kind gesture from one of our scene's most active members. Naturally, the new EP, called Alternative Golf will be available on bandcamp and on German Shepherd Records. Check out the video below! We think it's a really slick sounding record from the band...there's really nobody else like them around.
Six days late, but not a moment too soon, comes our coverage of Not Bad For A Girl Collective's first birthday! Hannah from Psychopomp provides the tunes for you all to get with, and in case you're unfamiliar with NBFAG, here's what they have to say about themselves:
Not Bad For A Girl is a home-grown ethically-sourced collective of women who just want to have fun. Born from a shared love of music/events and hatred of gender inequality, we’re all about equal opportunity, equal pay and equal parts spirit and mixer.
With 8 different DJ’s playing everything from jungle to northern soul we’ve covered alllll the bases. Look out for the signature pink balaclava + catch us on lineups across the UK.
Get your tracks out love x
WHO WE ARE TO US:
Bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org. We do CLUB NIGHTS/FREE PARTIES/RAVES/HOUSE PARTIES/HEN DOS/NORMAL TUESDAY EVENINGS. House party package: £100 for speakers, lights, decorations, lineup, bouncers + damage control for the council (boo).
ThtGrl - ThtGrl has a solid collection of genres mastered under her belt when it comes to DJing. From DnB to Disco and Acid to House, she’s played in venues such as Ministry Of Sound and around the country in most major cities. She’s supported the likes of My Nu Leng and Darkzy and has been booked all over Europe. Whatever vibe you’re after, you can have no doubt you’ll be hit with a style of mixing that’ll have you hooked. https://soundcloud.com/tht_grl
Kiana - Iranian-born Manchester-based DJ with a wide taste in music ranging from techno,breaks and bass to ambient and experimental. She has performed at venues such as Soup Kitchen, Partisan collective, Cotton, and Stage and Radio as well as festivals such as Westival and The Folk Forest. A familiar name on airwaves, Kiana has her own show on NTS Radio, Tehran Amplified, where she showcases contemporary sounds from underground Iran. She co-hosts a weekly vinyl only show on Fuse FM and appears regulary on Limbo Radio. Her other radio appearanes include Reform Radio, Melodic Distraction and MCR Live. As well as DJing, Kiana is currently combining her passion for electronic sounds and engineering by exploring the psycho-acoustic effects of audio signal processing academically at University of Manchester's Electrical and Electronic Engineering department. https://www.mixcloud.com/SoodxKiana/
DaiSu - New to the scene but still a queen, DaiSu specialises in house, disco and a lil bit of tech. Catch her sipping VKs behind the decks. https://soundcloud.com/dai-su
Maracuya - Currently smashing the scene, Maracuya wows crowds at events all the way from B.L.O.O.M. residents parties to illegal raves. Her free party-influenced frenetic sets always get the crowd pumping, with anything from breaksy electro to 170bpm old school Jungle. https://www.mixcloud.com/maracuyasoundsystem/
Velmz - Fresh off sets from brands like Hit&Run and Fuse Presents, Warrington born DJ Velmz is killing the Manchester DnB scene. Velmz serves selections from minimal to liquid that prove there's nothing wrong with a bit of 'girly' DnB. https://soundcloud.com/velmz
Moll - You can count on Moll to bring the bouncy bassline to get the room hyper. Expect wubs and wobbles and everything inbetween, including garage stompers even your nan would get down to. She’s a resident on Vandelay Radio and has made her way from bonny Burnley into Manchester for events like Fuse Presents and MisogynyIsHate. Old school bangers every time. https://soundcloud.com/mollycronshaw
Egg On Toast - Fresh off the Tokyo track, Egg On Toast brings mind scrambling tunes. Expect disco, house, afro, techno, electro, poached, fried, over easy - all that nasty jazz. https://soundcloud.com/eggontoast1
(Applications closed for now x)
FEMALE CREATIVES HIT US UP WE LOVE AND NEED YOU
Yep, sounds pretty cool. Here's Psychopomp to see you out. Hope you enjoyed reading this one.
Haunt Magazines great piece on Lonelady's Scrub Transmissions 3, can be found here...
Finally, a little song that mentions both Chortlon and Gorton (as Openshaw). We believe it to be unique....