The Wire


Listen: The Unofficial Countryside tracks

January 2015

Listen to three tracks from the Wist Rec box set compilation

Sukhdev Sandhu writes in The Wire 372: "Richard Mabey’s 1973 book has a great title: The Unofficial Countryside. For conservative politicians and historians, the countryside is a place of safety, community, continuity; it’s morally superior to the miscegenation and excesses of the city, a spiritual centre rather than an anarchistic fringe. Mabey, by contrast, made it sound samizdat, furtive, vaguely subversive. He explored the interzone between city and country, that messy edgeland of pylons, gravel pits, sewage farms, industrial parks. Some call them edgelands, others wastescapes... The Unofficial Countryside just got a little less unofficial with a box set of seven 3" CDs from Wist Rec, a label best known for its Book Report series in which Penguin Classics titles by the likes of MR James and Malcolm Lowry have CDs of uncommissioned soundtracks inserted in them. Now it has asked various musicians and producers to create 20 minute treatments of Mabey’s work, whose sleeves display Pierre-Emmanuel Tendero’s moody photographs, all encased in a wooden box that reproduces, in hand-burned fashion, the pylons on the cover of the book’s most recent edition."

The Unofficial Countryside is out on Wist Rec

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