There have been murmurings about this for a while now and it’s finally here: Mark Fisher and Justin Barton’s On Vanishing Land is getting an official release next month on the new Hyberdub sub-label, Flatlines.
It’s really great that this is finally coming out. Previously, much like londonunderlondon, the audio-essay has only been played infrequently in public in order to encourage the practice of collective listening. In that context, I think I’ve heard it half a dozen times since Mark’s death in January 2017 — Corsica Studios and the one we organised for The Fisher-Function being particularly memorable — and I’ve played a clip of Mark reading out a passage from J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World at two of the For K-Punk nights since then. All this is to say that I’ve come to associate it more with Mark’s legacy than anything else.
Hearing his voice is always a strange experience these days but for some reason that’s especially true in a club…
This is worth mentioning because I think On Vanishing Land performs the psychedelic collectivity Mark wanted to encourage with his work far more than any other posthumous document of his activities and, in being a sort of collaborative audio-collage, it retains so many of the important links to Mark’s communal thinking that the post-humous lionisation of his work has inevitably diminished. (Both in terms of its content and, now, in being put out by Steve Goodman.)
Justin has spoken about this forthcoming release on a couple of occasions, in private and in public, and each time he has noted just how fitting this release is. Unlike it’s counterpart, londonunderlondon, originally made for radio, OVL was constructed in two distinct parts and so the vinyl treatment actually makes sense. We might even say this was how it was always intended to be experienced… So long as each spin occasions a drowned world listening party.
This is not to be missed.
Hyperdub launch new sub-label, Flatlines, for the vinyl and digital release of On Vanishing Land, an audio-essay by Justin Barton and the late Mark Fisher. OVL evokes a walk along the Suffolk coastline in 2006, from Felixstowe container port (“a nerve ganglion of capitalism”) to the Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Sutton Hoo. A walk under immense skies, through zones of deep time and within sunlit, liminal terrains, into the eerie.
Everywhere there are charged atmospheres, shadowy incursions, enigmatic departures. A derelict radar base, coastal heathland, drifting thistledown, towers of overgrown shipping containers – music haunted by wider levels of reality, narrations about rarely visited zones and potentials, voices of dreams and stories. Newly composed tracks by John Foxx, Gazelle Twin, Baron Mordant, Raime, Pete Wiseman, Farmers of Vega, Skjolbrot, Eerie Anglia, Ekoplekz and Dolly Dolly; and, alongside these, views toward M.R. James’s Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad (1904), Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967), and Brian Eno’s On Land (1982). Beyond the surface of the day something becomes visible, a way forward, an escape-path from capitalist reality. On Vanishing Land is about following the lines of terrains and dreams. It is about a micropolitics of escape, of disappearance. A micropolitics of waking the faculties.
“It is April, but it feels like summer. They turn left onto the seafront […]”
On Vanishing Land was initially part of an exhibition commissioned by The Otolith Collective and The Showroom in London, and after londonunderlondon (2005) it was the second audio-work collaboration by Justin Barton and Mark Fisher. The LP cover features photos taken by Mark Fisher and a short essay by Justin Barton.