Caught by the River

Our lands, Our lives and All

Richard King | 1st June 2019

Richard King’s latest book ‘The Lark Ascending’, published next week by Faber, is our Book of the Month for June. Here he introduces a mix made to accompany the book.

Much of the music I write about in The Lark Ascending features in this mix: Vaughan Williams, Boards of Canada, Stan Tracey, Kes and Polly Garter’s song from Under Milk Wood. I have included the fully-loaded original of Smokebelch II, the beatless mix has become a sound bed staple, but the beatful version has that first light energy; it’s mixed together with some local news reports about the build up to Castlemorton. The track ‘Nine’ by Autechre is from their masterpiece Amber, I’ve always thought there’s something of the Pennines and our national natural history in a great deal of early Autechre. I’ve paired ‘Nine’ with audio from unedited ITN footage of the Battle of the Beanfield that is freely available of Youtube, harrowing to watch and took over a decade to come to light. 

Elsewhere in the mix the voice of the great ornithologist Laurence Shove can be heard, taken from Shell’s 7” British Bird Series of the late 1960s. The remix of Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’ is from a white label bootleg. I know I paid £8 for it in the summer of 1995. It has ‘Clouds’ handwritten in marker pen on the centre and that’s all the information I have. 

One of the great things about The Lark Ascending is that it can still be bought for a pound in charity shops, particularly the Neville Mariner version of which I have about five copies. The only catch is all of them, including mine, tend to have some wear. It’s an encouraging thought to know they’ve been so well used, but means this very quiet piece of music is often accompanied by surface noise, as it is here. An excerpt from Richard Burton reading the famous soliloquy from Richard II, (Act 3 Scene 2) opens and closes the mix, including the line: ‘Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s’ and it can be argued that some of this is still the case today. 

Listen to the mix below:


Richard will join us to discuss ‘The Lark Ascending’ at this year’s Port Eliot Festival. You can see our full stage lineup here.