Saturday, 23 March 2013

A neofolk library

Lord Bassington-Bassington is rather fond of books, and has a tendency to collect small topical libraries. And as His Lordship likes neofolk music, it was only logical that the bookshelves here at Bassington Manor should contain a few books about, and related to, the genre.

So the following is simply a catalogue of His Lordship's small collection of neofolk books, with potted reviews of each title.

Looking for Europe: Neofolk und Hintergründe
By Andreas Diesel and Dieter Gerten
(Index/Promedia, 2007)

This huge tome (530 pages) is nothing less than the definite work on neofolk. Written by two fans, it gives an in-depth treatment of the music and the ideas that float around in it. Indispensable for anyone interested in the genre.

Best bits: All of it, really. This is the ABC of neofolk.
Worst bits: A tendency to shy away from problematic political issues.

Death in June: Verborgen unter Runen
By Aldo Chimenti
(Plöttner Verlag, 2012)

This big volume is the German edition of a book that was originally in Italian, and thus unreadable for Lord Bassington-Bassington, who lacks the most basic competence in Latin languages. This is surely the definitive work on neofolk pioneers Death in June, and contains a wealth of material about related projects.

Best bits: Fabulous design and wealth of pictorial material.
Worst bits: Overly florid writing (look who's talking...)

The Matter of Britain
By Keith and Matt Howden
(Post Romantic Empire, 2009)

Violinist Matt Howden, usually operating under the name Sieben, should be a familiar name to neofolk aficionados. What might be less widely know is that his father, Keith, is a poet. The Matter of Britain is a beautiful little book which contains a cycle of Howden the elder's poetry, dealing with Arthurian themes, and a CD of Howden the younger's music.

Best bits: Howden jr's recollection of his father finding him, age 15, dead drunk in a shopping cart.
Worst bits: The introduction is perhaps a bit academic in places.

Ästhetische Mobilmachung: Dark-Wave, Neofolk und Industrial im Spannungsfeld rechter Ideologien
By Andreas Speit (ed.)
(Unrast Verlag, 2006)

An anthology highly critical of neofolk, mostly from a leftist perspective. Published in 2006, it is of course quite outdated at this point, which. Case in point: One of the most criticised groups, martial industrialists Der Blutharsch, has since morphed into a psychedelic hippie band.

Best bits: An interesting attempt at an ideological critique of the neofolk environment...
Worst bits: ...which sadly suffers from leftist lopsidedness.

Above us the Sun
By Tony Wakeford
(Tursa, 1994)

Above us the Sun is simply a collection of lyrics by Tony Wakeford, the mastermind behind Sol Invictus and Twa Corgies. The book is housed in a nice little slipcase and comes with a 3-track CD. A true cult object.

Best bits: Wonderfully self-deprecating introduction by Mr. Wakeford himself.
Worst bits: Wonderfully stupid introduction by writer Stewart Home (who has since tried to dismiss his contribution as some sort of joke).

Death in June: Misery and Purity
By Robert Forbes
(Jara Press, 1995)

This account of Death in June is intensely personal and intensely speculative, which can become a bit tiresome and should therefore be enjoyed in small doses. But it's a very nice little book and the approach should be recognizable to any slightly obsessive genre fan.

Best bits: Lots of photo sections and news clippings.
Worst bits: The author's endless exegesis of Douglas P's lyrics.

Blood Axis: Day of Blood
By Max Ribaric
(Occidental Congress, 2008)

A work solely devoted to the (in)famous neofolk outfit Blood Axis. A must for any obsessive neofolk fan. And is there any other kind?

Best bits: Lots of pictures.
Worst bits: Text in Italian, which Lord Bassington-Bassington can't understand a word of.

Sadly missing from the collection is David Keenan's excellent England's Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground. The combination of being out of print for a decade and appealing to slightly – there's that word again – obsessive people has led to it changing hands for ridiculous prices on eBay and Amazon. Luckily, a reprint is planned and Lord Bassington-Bassington has it on pre-order.

But we advise you to not crack jokes about His Lordship's own obsessive tendencies. For anyone intimating that the bookshelves here at Bassington Manor have a few too many tomes of Lovecraftiana or titles about style might end up getting a taste of Lord Bassington-Bassington's jaws.


  1. Thank you, Your Lordship

  2. Thou art truly a nerd, your Lordship. As we all know, nerdiness is next to godliness, so blessed art thou.

  3. Thank you for the kind words. I spent the morning reorganizing my Lovecraft collection, so it seems like the nerdiness isn't exactly on the wane...

  4. I own the two volumes of "Looking for Europe" wich are indeed a treasure of knowledge about this topic, unfortunately it isn't up to date concerning the new neofolk generation (Rome, King Dude etc...), it could be a good thing to be done! I am looking forward to read "Day of Blood" as well.
    A good book about DIJ is "Le Livre Brun" (The Brown Book) written by JL Vaxelaire, but I don't know if it is available in english.
    Your Manor looks full of delightful stuff!

  5. I've been looking for the book by Vaxelaire, but couldn't find it. I guess it's only available in French.

    Well, the bookshelves here tend to be filled to overflowing, even if we recently had a bit of a purge.

  6. I assume you might be the right person to ask as I found on these pages a suggestion of Neofolk und Hintergründe being translated into english and am wondering if the project is still on? Otherwise I just received Battlenoise! which treats on Martial Industrial but might be close enough to raise an interest.

  7. Frankly, I have no idea about what is going on with Looking for Europe. But I would be very happy for an English edition.

    I know about Battlenoise but, to be serious for a moment, I lost most of my taste for martial industrial stuff after July 22nd 2011. I considered getting hold of it, but ended up just skipping it.

  8. Inside information, just in:

    "The good news is that as far as we know both the English edition as well as the third German edition are FINALLY at the printers and should come out very soon! Fingers crossed, that is..."

  9. Splendid news! Regarding the martial nutcases I enjoy the music and after all prefer to see them running with keyboards and synthesisers than getting any weird ideas.

  10. I see your point, I just don't appreciate most of the music. There are some bands I like a lot, like Karjalan Sissit and early Der Blutharsch and Derniere Volonte, but I find most of it to be Dogawful.