Witchfinder General: A Pastoral Shaft?

Shouts to @SpaceWeather9 for bringing this to wider attention this afternoon — and brought to my attention specifically via a WhatsApp from Robin.

This is the epitome of what I had in mind when first thinking about the name “xenogothic” for this blog — although I’d have never admitted that at the time. I thought it was a funny name for a split aesthetic sensibility but it stuck because it was an empty enough signifier to fill with all sorts of other observations too. The founding inspiration, though, was never knowing how to externally express my equal love for goth aesthetics and funk and disco — other than DJing funk and soul nights in full corpsepaint. (Yet to do this but I’m gagging for the opportunity…)

The closest I got to finding the middle ground as a teenager was probably getting really into soundtracks for blaxploitation movies — urbanised horror with a big dollop of dark soul. (Anyone else remember that Superbad compilation? I wore all 3 discs of that down into oblivion.)

Aged 14, Curtis Mayfield was my xenogothic King. What is If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go if not a kind of Lovecraftian ode to a city of terrors? A sonic Hieronymus Bosch-esque depiction of the various circles of a concrete hell?

This track from Carl Douglas is devoid of any subtext, of course, and hits the nail directly on the head, making me ask the question: Is Witchfinder General a witch-ploitation movie? Is the General a pastoral Shaft? Douglas seems to think so…

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