(Words and images by Chris Sharp)
I had known Kevin Oyston, through connecting on SoundCloud, for while, when he got in touch and told me about the Black Meadow project. We agreed that I'd be suited to master the double-CD album, as we share a similar aesthetic, and so my exposure to this mysterious world began.
What's unique about Lambert and Oyston's Black Meadow universe is that it inhabits an odd hinterland somewhere between real and unreal. The folk tales feel vaguely familiar, as if learnt in another life, and their cautionary messages warn against immorality. Did the events in the stories actually happen? Most folk tales are rooted in truth, so despite some probable embellishment over the generations, they no-doubt tell of actual happenings.
The remarkable part is that these events all occurred within a few miles of each other, so there is a direct link between the land and the tales. But why? I'll leave the scientific speculation to the academics, while steering clear of other theories such as alien contact and alternate universe portals.
Among the artefacts we have now, in addition to the stories so painstakingly collected by Chris Lambert, is the Radio Four documentary. As an audio person, I'm full of admiration for Kev Oyston and his work in not only tracking down the master tapes for this programme, but also finding the isolated music cues. They make eerie listening, but I'm glad these pieces have finally been collected for CD release, as the composer's writing is mellifluous and technically accomplished. This wonderful music can now entertain a new generation (including me), who would never have heard the original programme.
I'm grateful to be part of the Black Meadow project, and the friendships I have made with Chris Lambert and Kev Oyston in the process. Fascinating, and at times unsettling, it has been quite a journey. But one nagging thing remains. I can't shake the curious thought from the back of mind that I didn't choose The Black Meadow. It chose me.