This is the website for the audio-essay "On Vanishing Land" by Justin Barton and Mark Fisher. The essay will be based on a walk that the authors took four years ago through a striking area of Suffolk coastland, starting at Felixstowe container terminal and ending at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge.

The work will explore connections between the ghost stories of MR James (many of which were inspired by this area of Suffolk), and Brian Eno’s On Land, whose unsettled ambience is an expression of this terrain into music: Eno grew up in Woodbridge, and track titles such as “Lantern Marsh” and “Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills)” reference nearby places.

Monday, 7 February 2011

    A long stretch of shore--shingle edged by sand, and intersected at short intervals with black groynes running down to the water--a scene, in fact, so like that of his afternoon's walk that, in the absence of any landmark, it could not be distinguished therefrom. The light was obscure, conveying an impression of gathering storm, late winter evening, and slight cold rain. On this bleak stage at first no actor was visible. When, in the distance, a bobbing black object appeared; a moment more, and it was a man running, jumping, clambering over the groynes, and every few seconds looking eagerly back. The nearer he came the more obvious it was that he was not only anxious, but even terribly frightened [...]

    M. R. James, "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" (1904).

Saturday, 5 February 2011

    What qualified a piece for inclusion on the record was that it took me somewhere, but this might be somewhere that I'd never been before, or somewhere I'd only imagined going to. Lantern Marsh, for example, is a place only a few miles from where I grew up in East Anglia, but my experience of it derives not from having visited it (although I almost certainly did) but from having subsequently seen it on a map and imagining where and what it might be. We feel affinities not only with the past, but also with the futures that didn't materialize, and with the other variations of the present that we suspect run parallel to the one we have agreed to live in.

- Brian Eno, sleevenotes to On Land
    From "Another Green World" onwards I became interested in exaggerating and inventing rather than replicating spaces, experimenting in particular with various techniques of time distortion. This record represents one culmination of that development and in it the landscape has ceased to be a backdrop for something else to happen in front of; instead, everything that happens is a part of the landscape. There is no longer a sharp distinction between foreground and background.

    In using the term landscape I am thinking of places, times, climates and the moods that they evoke. And of expanded moments of memory too...

    Brian Eno, Sleevenotes to Ambient 4: On Land