A new album featuring actress Maxine Peake (TV’s Shameless, Silk) to make the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials.

Exactly 400 years since the trials and execution of the 12 women now known as The Pendle Witches, on 20 August 1612 in Lancashire, England, a purpose assembled collective of artists, sound designers, experimental pop performers, writers, poets and one actress pay homage to the legendary Lancastrian sisterhood. The collective is The ERC, aka The Eccentronic Research Council, primarily comprising Adrian Flannagan, Dean Honer and the actress Maxine Peake.

One part political commentary and feminist manifesto and two parts theatrical fake-loric sound poem, the ‘1612 Underture’ is a sonic mass of multi-disciplined creative reactions, both rehearsed and improvised, built around a skeleton narrative of semi-fictional and symbolic events involving a modern day pilgrimage to Pendle Hill to explore what is now one of the most disastrous, prejudiced and oft mythologised miscarriages of justice in the history of the pre-industrialised north.

“Although the nucleus of the project is based on historical events, The Eccentronic Research Council identify an uncanny relevance to our current political and social climate – perhaps things haven’t changed so much in 400 years,’ say The ERC. “People are poor again and have to do bad things too eat, individuals who don’t fit in are still beaten down with bats, and there are hypothetical witch hunts all around us.”

To illustrate, this the album’s dialogue bounces between an unspecified contemporary time zone and the events leading up to August 1612, contrasting fictional/factional occurrences around various Pendle Witches whilst being routed by a modern day travelogue to Pendle as seen through the eyes of a Catholic nun and priest.

On our journey we encounter 1960s feminist poetry, mythical news stories, a synthesiser folk duet and the raising of a dead witch via an ouija board to curse all that is bad about the Jubilee Year.

Stylistically The ERC opt for a vast array of mechanical music machines and synthesised effects to create this conceptual non-populist pop using analogue and acoustic equipment alongside tape manipulation, vocalisations and spoken word, remaining faithful to a pre-digital and unpredictable era taking cues from Mort Garson, Suzanne Ciani, Sorel Hayes, Joe Meek, Daphne Oram, JP Massiera and Delia Derbyshire amongst others.

Conceived with the same ambitions and goals of an electronic Smithsonian Folkways record, the ‘1612 Underture’ is a concept album that aims to reevaluate and positively recontextualise an important historical and cultural feminine incident, but also hopes to encourage listeners to rethink how they process modern folk and popular music 400 years after the events in the eye of this project’s unique subject matter.

The Eccentronic Research Council – ‘1612 Underture’ – Album released 3rd September 2012 on Bird (Finders Keepers)