Caught by the River

The Wizard's Will – Alderley Edge (Magic & Topography)

8th February 2015

Embarking on a new project, Folklore Tapes have corralled together the mythological world created by Alan Garner, re-told and spirited through the people of Alderley Edge, amid the aura of sound recordings taken from the area.


The Wizard’s Will is the inaugral release of the Cheshire Folklore Tapes series, following on from the county series editions Devon and Lancashire. The project set alight on discovering the writer Alan Garner’s interviews about Alderley Edge, his book The Voice That Thunders (1997) and his early novels set in the area, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963). Garner, widely regarded as one of the finest writers of children’s fantasy in the post war period, grew up around Alderley Edge and his family’s lineage dates back centuries. In his work ancient mythological figures and legends are reawakened to play out their archetypal conflicts once more and Alderley Edge is regularly returned to as a source of inspiration.

The ‘researchers’ Carl Turney, Brian Campbell (from the Liverpudlian group Clinic) and David Chatton Barker (Co-founder and con-vener of Folklore Tapes) took two field trips out to The Edge during the summer of 2014, armed with sonic instruments and recording devices. Harnessing the act of ritual introduction, by way of entering into the different myths they have forensically collected and record- ed the landscape along with its natural intervention and resonant magic. Divinatory approaches were taken as recordings of jaw harps, music boxes, percussion and zithers were made in caves capturing natural reverb and ambience. Water was collected from the sacred Wizard’s Well and used to make a glass harmonica. Photograms of well water were created in a dark room. At Stormy Point musical notes were cut up and left to the wind to determine which ones would be played and in which order. For the visual aspect to the project the location was allowed to take hold through chance based approaches. Sandstone pigments were made and used to draw maps and scripture. 35mm photographs were taken with the film itself left submerged in the Wizard’s Well for a month and then collected and printed, the resulting prints showing an indelible mark left by the Edge itself. Moonwort flowers and ancient fungi were collected then pressed, appearing throughout the booklet as motifs and textures.

Drawing from a bounty of personal experiences, lore from books and Alan Garner’s own stories, text was written and then narrated by locals from the area. The resulting recordings have been woven into a tapestry of short incidental pieces derived from the will of the wiz- ard…taking the listener on a unique sonic pilgrimage into the spirit of the Edge, its topography and its magic, breathing life back into the old legends and bringing the Edge into peoples hermitages and hearts. Themes cover white horses, boundaries, beacons, hill-tops, caves, treasure, buried heroes, old women, cows, fertility wells, sacred trees, the devil, stone alignments, elves, the sun, the moon and covens.

Vinyl record and bespoke 18-page booklet are available in limited numbers at Folklore Tapes