August: There has been some most strange speculations about me recently. Please to let me clear the matter up.
July: I had my first holiday in five years: three blissful, childcare-free weeks in the south of France doing wonderful stuff like this. Special thanks to MH, KB and SR.
June 2019: Unfortunately we have not been entered for the 2019 Mercury Prize because of a misunderstanding. Best of luck to everybody else though!
April 26th: REANIMATED & UNLEASHED. Experience the full horror of CORPSE 564 below:
April: The video for CORPSE 564 is scheduled for official release at 11am on Friday 26th April. The digital version of the song will be enhanced by remixed versions of the recent live session from Marc Riley's fabulous BBC6 show.
March 5th: Two singles are scheduled for release over the next few weeks, both to be enhanced by tracks from the Marc Riley radio session. Videos are currently been made for both releases. The first of these will hopefully be out for Easter. Eggsiting news, eh?
January 23rd: A reviewer at Luminous Dash kindly cites 'Edgar Bourchier' as the Best Album of 2018. That's our second 'Best Album of 2018'.
January: Feeling jaded and melancholy. Deactivated my Facebook account so that I can spend more time staring dejectedly out of windows, scrawling bleak new lyrics onto the icy cold glass with my silvering tears. Hopefully spring will arrive soon. In the meantime, Robert Smith captures my mood.
December 17th: It was wonderful playing live on Marc Riley's BBC6 show - you can listen again here. Many thanks to James Johnston (organ), Margit van der Zwan, Jote Osahn, Joseph Lenehan and Nia Bevan for their valuable contributions. It was also great fun being interviewed by Simone Marie on Soho Radio - who kindly played three of the five tunes I sing on the Edgar Bourchier album. (Yes, that's FIVE, Mr H...not THREE!) Our interview starts half way through.
November 29th: Last night top geezer Marc Riley played 'Poor, Poor Surgeon Tim' on his BBC6 radio show. I love singing this tune! Mick excelled himself with instrumentation, production and backing vocals. One of my very favourite songs on the album.
November 24th: A gentle reminder that on December 11th we will be playing a live session for Marc Riley on his fabulous BBC6 radio show with the uber-talented and ultra-cool James Johnston. The next day on the 12th we are being interviewed by Simone Marie during her stylish lunchtime show at Soho Radio.
We have had another favourable review, this one from Cryptic Rock.
"While each song features intense and powerful lyrical poetry, certain tracks are backed by such eerie and poignant music from Harvey that Bourchier’s story seems to come to life."
The review goes on to describe 'Corpse 564' as "much catchier than it has any right to be, closing out the album with a frenzy of guitars and keys as well as ending as abruptly as it began."
I have a personal soft spot for 'Corpse 564' - somehow Mick managed to make my bass playing sound half bearable - and it will be released in the New Year as a single. We are currently working on ideas for the video for this perky little tune.
November 8th: Growing up in provincial Brackley in Northamptonshire, I felt very distanced from exciting music in my youth - with one notable exception: Bauhaus. The post-punk goth legends hailed from just a few miles up the A43. Because I was too young to see them at the time, I am triply excited at the prospect of being able to see them play now - albeit a stripped-down version of Peter Murphy and David J. (Haskins) - in their home town on December 6th. Unfortunately that date is now sold-out but there are still tickets available for the extra date that has been added. Click here to purchase. Although Bauhaus composed some brilliant tunes - unique & eerie production through which was weaved very dark, often occult lyrics - they also excelled in both their choice and execution of cover songs i.e. John Cale, David Bowie, Brian Eno et al. My personal favourite is T. Rex's 'Telegram Sam'.
NB. Rumours that I may have attempted to weakly emulate Mr Murphy's style of deranged vocals in 'The Expressionist Tell #2' on the forthcoming Edgar Bourchier album may not be entirely without founda-a-a-a-a-tionnnnnnnnn.
November 6th: We have launched a website dedicated to our fictitious war poet Edgar Bourchier.
November 5th: We have had our first independent album review. Soundblab give The Fall & Rise Of Edgar Bourchier and the Horrors of War a score of 9/10. "Essential heavy listening."
October 30th: The single 'Further Down The Line' (aka 'The Haunted Yellow Hours') has been released by Mute. This is the first tune that Mick Harvey composed music for on the forthcoming album, "The Fall & Rise of Edgar Bourchier and the Horrors of War". Mick sings the lead vocal backed by J.P. Shilo in addition to playing organ and guitar. Lyrics by me. The last photograph features two of Mick's relatives, his grandfather and great-uncle. Mick lent the photograph to P.J. Harvey while she was working on her brilliant Mercury Award-winning album "Let England Shake". Mick's grandfather was badly wounded at Poiziers in 1916; had he not survived, Mick would not be here now.
October 17th: Mute have sent me advance copies of the CD and LP. At the risk of sounding like I'm hyping my own work, they are extremely impressive. You can pre-order copies from a variety of sources but I would of course recommend purchasing from the record label or a high street music store. View photos of my copies here.
October 13th: We will be playing a live session in Manchester for the Marc Riley BBC6 show on Tuesday 11th December. Mick Harvey and myself will be performing - other exciting band members to be announced.
October 10th: I am now listed as an artist on Spotify.
October 7th: We have been played as the opening track on a New York radio show, receiving a very kind name-check from host Jezz Harkin, who does indeed know his war poets!
October 1st: We have been booked to perform a live session for the BBC in early December. I will post a link nearer the time.
September 27th: We had another play on the BBC earlier this week, closing Marc Riley's excellent evening show. We might have some exciting news on the performance front in the next couple of weeks so watch this space!
September 10th: Mute Records have made another tune from the forthcoming album available, 'Softly Spoken Bill'. This one is sung wonderfully by Simon Breed who in previous incarnations has supported Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in addition to having worked with various other bands. Simon's vocals were recorded at Mute's own London studio. In fact while he was recording them, Mick Harvey was snapping open beer bottles on the side of Gary Numan's synth case ("Heresy!" I hear you cry) while explaining to me exactly how Rowland S. Howard came to choose to use the Bluebox MXR distortion pedal. "No Michael!" I entreated, "you can't risk incurring the wrath of the Synth Elders who guard this sacred record label realm with your Birthday Partyesque ribaldry! Hark, can you not now hear the distant rumble of the Electric Dark Ones as they stir angrily from their dronish futuristic slumber?" The dour Australian fixed me with what I can only describe as a furrowed and contemptuous eyebrow glare before hinting pithily that I might be theatrically exaggerating almost everything I ever said. Nevertheless, despite such Antipodean cynicism, the synth case vanished shortly afterwards in very, very mysterious circumstances....
(Tubeway Army plays: 'Dun, dun, DUUUUUHN!").
August 22nd: The day after Mute release 'The Lost Bastard Son Of War', Marc Riley plays it on his evening BBC6 radio show, kindly describing the song as "brilliant". It's the first time I've rubbed shoulders artistically with the likes of T. Rex, XTC and Echo & The Bunnymen, and if I'm completely honest with you, it was awesomely pleasant. Anyway, the whole show is definitely worth listening to - a highlight being a live session from Pram (who describe their music as 'soundtracks for unmade films') - but if you want to zip through to our tune (apologies to Simon Bates there) then it is circa 1hr 35 mins in.
You can access the show through this mystic portal.
August 21st: My music project with Mick Harvey - to be released on the legendary Mute music label - has been officially announced. You can even listen to the crazy battle juggernaut that is 'The Lost Bastard Son Of War'.
August: In the 1960s my late father was in a band called The Pale Lights. As the lead guitarist he composed the music for two songs and his band appeared on the TV show Jukebox Jury. Apparently they got to number 4 in Sweden. Anyway, here is one of those songs - appropriately called 'Trouble':
24th July: A lacquer master of our album was cut at Abbey Road Studios in London last week. (That's a sentence I quite like saying.) A lacquer master of our album was cut at Abbey Road Studios in London last week. I said, a lacquer master of our album was cut at Abbey Road....oh, you get the emotion. S U B L I M E J O Y.
JULY 2018: He's worked with Queens Of The Stone Age, Artic Monkeys, PJ Harvey, Dave Grohl , Mark Lanegan and a host of other brilliant artists - and now he's working with us. I of course refer to the acclaimed virtuoso Alain Johannes. A few weeks ago when Mick Harvey and I were talking about the late Nick Drake, Mick reminded me that I had written a lyrical fragment by way of loose homage to the doomed wordsmith Drake for another writing project, and suggested that if I could work it up into something half useful, then he would try to compose music for it. (The lines were lyrics for an imaginary musician who in turn borrows the words from our imaginary war poet, hence the strong connection to our current music project.) Anyway, I expanded this meagre fragment into a few short verses and a chorus, and Mick then duly had a stab at adding some music. What he produced sounded pretty accomplished to me but, unsatisfied with the result, Mick asked Alain if he would be interested in progressing the piece, in perhaps taking it to a whole new level. Fortunately Mr J was for he then turned it into something truly outstanding. The resulting track - 'Listen In The Twilight Breeze' - has therefore been added to the other 14 songs that will make up the finished album. And the name of that album is ---
(Boat-hook yanks speaker off stage.)
JULY 2018: Final mixes have been delivered to the record label. I will post a link as soon as an official announcement is made but it's looking like the album will be available in the Autumn on vinyl, CD and as a digital download, featuring at least FIVE outstanding vocalists (actually just the four if you discount me, which would definitely be sensible). The lyrics are mine while both the music & production has been provided by Mick Harvey - although we do hope to feature a late contribution from a very special third party. Obviously quite a few other people are involved and their contributions are at least as important as those of Mr H and I.
JUNE 2018: Update from the musical front. The Allied forces continue to make very promising progress, cutting decisive harmonic swathes through the bleak despoiled wastes of No Man's Land. It is hoped that key trenches will have been fortified and that all munitions will be in place by the end of June so that the offensive tentatively code-named 'Operation Darkling Fields' can begin in October.
MAY 2018: After a productive weekend at Monkey Puzzle House recording studio we now have rough mixes for several songs. Vocals are now in the process of being embedded within these sonic masterpieces. To quote my musical collaborator: "[Chris] is somewhere between a mad genius and just....well, mad." (I would personally stress the latter part of that statement.) Sincere thanks to Rupert Matthews at Monkey Puzzle. He is a very affable & pro-active person to work with, plus his studio is well equipped and very cosy. Furthermore, the self-catering accommodation is spacious and to a high standard, and the tranquil location provides for the perfect escape setting.
Anyway, there are some more vocals to be recorded in London later in the month and then hopefully we will be in a position to work on the final mixes (though by "we" I actually mean "he" because my input is pretty much limited to vague blags such as "Yes, I totally agree with you, but do you know what, I can personally hear something...purple, perhaps...in that version, where the other one is - oooh, I don't know - maybe just a touch more.....yellow?" and "To be honest I really don't have a strong preference, they both have very distinctive virtues; I think however that perhaps you should make the final call?" etc etc.) On a positive note, I now know what a saddening glissando string is: it's a line in a Bowie song. Damn, I mean it's a melancholic vocal glide!
All joking aside, I have only known a small handful of people in my life who work as hard as my musical collaborator. I stand in total awe of his ability, focus and work ethic. It is multi-tasking under considerable stress to the very highest level.
SPRING 2018: "It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen..." (Opening line to '1984' by George Orwell, as you probably knew.) April! In April we will be going into a studio to work on the forthcoming album. We have over a dozen very exciting demos in various different styles but all of them are of course thematically linked. I have never been so excited about a work project in my life! Why, it even nudges out the hilarious display cards I used to compose at Reading Job Centre back in the day (my how we would laugh, my teeth-gritting unemployed friends and I). Anyway, when we are just a little bit further down the line (in joke!), I will be able to at least impart the name of the album, along with perhaps a few teaser lyrics and a snippet of music. Life begins at organ transplant!
DEC 2017: After an exhausting house move to Sticksville, Norfolk, I am trying to catch up with things after my telecoms company left me without a phone, internet or mobile signal for a grueling three weeks. We are moving firmly forwards with the WW1 music project, ten demos in the bag and a couple more on the way. Next task: recording vocals. (That ghastly sound you can hear shrieking from the mist-wreathed Eastern Counties is me in the shower trying pathetically to follow Thom Yorke and Pete Murphy on the Hive speaker.)
NOV 2017: A supremely talented and well-known personage has lent his support to the forthcoming music project detailed below. Details to follow. (Chews fingers down to knuckles with ill-suppressed excitement.)
SEP 2017: PREPARE TO BE ASTOUNDED MY FINE-FEATHERED FRIENDS.....!
Hey, it might look like I've been wantonly lazy these last eleven months but the reality is I've been working very hard on various projects, in particular a very special music project that will be announced in the near future. The scale of the idea, the depth of the framing concept and the sheer musical quality of this venture will hopefully blow away your hungrily-receptive minds. There will be something for almost everybody, whether your preference be for music, literature or poetry. It is quite easily the most exciting artistic project I have ever worked on. Take a generous glug of Dylan Thomas and Wilfred Owen - swirl 'em up with some distilled Keith Moon, Syd Barrett and Leonard Cohen - then stir in an unhealthily generous dash of Cesare The Somnambulist together with the nightmare imagery of Otto Dix and Edvard Munch - and then give it an incomparable expert instrumental shake - and voila! - you will have (drops voice to melodramatic hush) the new standard for concept albums.
Yes, amigas and amigos, you heard me right: the new standard for concept albums. From that day forth - we shall give the date a suitably pretentious name nearer the time, don't you worry about that - from that day forth, the concept album shall transform into something subtler and more sophisticated, while my musical associate and I shall be heralded as the True Messiahs of a New Musical World, a world where no nation plots against nation, where no neighbour plots against neighbour, where there is no persecution or hunting down, where everybody gets a square deal and a sporting chance, and where people try to help and not to hinder. A world from which suspicion and cruelty and fear have been forever banished. That is the sort of world I want. Is that the sort of world you want? Fine! That's all I have to say - good night!
[ Boat hook creeps into shot and whisks delusional speaker from the virtual stage. ]
OK, I may have overdone the Richard Hannay speech, I can see that now. Suffice to say however - this project is frickin' SPECIAL! So stay tuned for more shock and roll.
In November my story 'Better Than Borley Rectory' (under the 'Jane Fox' alias) will feature in Egaeus Press's "Midwinter Entertainment", alongside the superlatively decadent work of Vincent O'Sullivan. As per the norm with Egaeus Press the book will be a handsome limited edition hardback that will no doubt quickly spiral in value.
The story 'Better Than Borley Rectory' describes the disturbing experiences of a contemporary television film crew that try to shoot a documentary about M.R. James, the famous author of ghost stories, at his former family home in Great Livermere. A few years ago I visited the house and met with the residents who told me about a haunting that had long been associated with the eerie, mist-riven mere which lies behind that secluded property. I was allowed to peek into rooms that had not been decorated since James' time. Being very susceptible to influence, I soaked it all up like hungry blotting paper, and went home with the vague notion of blending the various elements together. I eventually decided to have my characters discover the childhood diary of M.R. James in one of the bedrooms so that his youthful perspective could then inform the narrative. This epistolary device was of course pioneered by Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins and J. S. Le Fanu, and it is one I greatly admire. As I have carefully studied the work, life and times of M.R. James, I hope that the reader will not judge my pastiche to be entirely bereft of at least some slight dash of authenticity. As James was himself a notorious mimic, I further hope that - in whatever realm he may now inhabit - he will be not be overly displeased with the liberty I have taken.
'Better Than Borley Rectory' is ostensibly an homage to a particular type of format: the televised ghost story. Examples might include Nigel Kneale's cult series 'Beasts' or 'The Stone Tape' (this a link to the original film) together with more obvious productions such as Lawrence Gordon Clark's 'A Warning To The Curious' (another link to a film) and 'Lost Hearts' (a link to a clip) which featured in the excellent BBC 'Ghost Story For Christmas' series.
In the likely absence of a new BBC ghost story on our screens this winter, I hope that 'Better Than Borley Rectory' will help in some small way to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms that aficionados of supernatural horror like myself often suffer on a seasonal basis.
Last year, writing as 'Jane Fox', my story 'The Mine Field' won third prize in the British Fantasy Society's short story competition. I created the pseudonym of Jane Fox so that I could continue to write occasional pieces of supernatural horror under a different name from 'Christopher Richard Barker' (which is at least three of my real names) because I prefer to reserve 'CRB' for mainstream contemporary literature.
NB. I picked 'Jane Fox' because it was punchy and easy to remember; I opted for a female persona because I wanted to distance myself from the casual chauvinism that has in not-so-bygone times dominated the science-fiction, horror and fantasy genre.
On Friday May 6th I inflicted my poem 'In Every Parting, The Shadow Of Death' upon a captive audience at Waterstones in Nottingham where I had the great pleasure to meet (and hear read) David Sillitoe, Ruth Fainlight and Rosie Garland (among others). David was promoting 'More Raw Material', an eclectic anthology of work inspired by his father, Alan Sillitoe, who is perhaps best known for the novel 'Saturday Night & Sunday Morning' and the short story 'The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner'. Rosie is a particularly accomplished performer and vividly brought her darkly poignant poems to life.
My poem 'In Every Parting, The Shadow Of Death' appears on the latest Klanggalerie CD release "From Vienna With Love" with a new original soundtrack by the darkwave electronic band Attrition.To quote from Klanggalerie's website: " This compilation is an homage to Belgian label Les Disques du Crepuscule and their art of creating unique compilation albums." Having taken delivery of my contributor copies it is my opinion that the album is a very interesting and experimental piece which innovatively fuses a wide range of words, sounds and images from an eclectic mix of artists. Track seven is, of course, quite the best thing on the CD.
I have finished the first draft and revision of my 'Melancholy Haunting' novel. I am now sifting through a second revision but hope to be be able to inflict it upon potential publishers before the summer. It is 1,250 pages long - spread out into three sections (or even three separate novels) - and includes an original collection of poetry.
One of my 'horror' stories appeared in a leading genre magazine recently under a secret nom de plume. Actually, it was more of a dark tenebrous fantasy, but such are the limiting parameters of definition.
Still working on the below novel [which is now circa 1000 pages long.] In addition to the main body of the novel there will be a small number of appendices, all fictional, but purporting to be historical archives.
I am close to finishing an expanded, 800 page version of 'The Melancholy Haunting Of Nicholas Parkes'. This project has taken the best part of one year to complete. The novel features several new major characters and explores many dark & complex psychological issues. I have attempted to embed several stream-of-consciousness narratives within the conventional framing device of a novel. My narrator is, of course, unreliable, confused and somewhat disingenuous. I am optimistic about securing a contract with a leading mainstream publisher. More details to follow.
"Tenebrous Tales" is now available as an e-book.
In the unlikely event you have nothing better to do, feel free to check out my Blog.