Oxfordshire Folklore Tapes Vol I
Michael Pan & The Sandford Lasher
The Green Funz & Jody Sydney Smith
30x Hard Back Cassette Books & 60x Envelope Edition
The death of Michael Llewelyn Davies on May 19th 1921 was officially recorded by a coroner, and that he drowned in the weir pool just below the infamous Sandford lasher is incontrovertible fact. But at some point amidst the swirling eddies and the foam and spray, in the lambent liquid green air of early summer trembling above the river’s surface, these facts have become obscured, have sent out shoots of fictions, tendrils of speculation, and have accumulated speckles of mystery and a cloak of folklore like the hull of an abandoned barge collects oysters: eventually the silt rises to meet it, bulrushes surround it, the shy moor hen builds her nest and children and passersby come to find a host of murky stories in the rot.
Through very brief investigation one might discover that Michael was one of five brothers who were adopted by J.M Barrie after their parents Arthur Llewelyn Davies and Sylvia Du Maurier died in 1907 and 1910 respectively, that George, the eldest brother, was killed in Flanders fields in 1915, and that the boys were immortalised, idolised and mythologised by Barrie, who wrote of their real and fictional adventures (“to die will be an awfully big adventure”), who adored them, saw them as existing somewhere outside of reality (oh wild things!), who perhaps harboured an unhealthy obsession, who wrote them into the folkloric worlds of a million children’s dream interiors, made of them lost boys and tragic idols and eventually gave them their Neverlands.
The guts of ‘The Lasher’ was recorded on a broken down old cassette dictaphone at various points along the Thames in Oxfordshire over the long, hot days and nights of the summer of 2014. The operators of the dictaphone employed a number of techniques, both mechanical and arcane, in an attempt to imbue the tape itself with the spirit of Michael Pan during his last days, and of a side of the Thames and its surroundings that lurk beneath the mundane. These recordings, reports, ravings, visions, babblings and tinkerings were then transported, job lot, up to the remote Isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland where over the course of several days they were painstakingly pulled apart, puzzled over and pieced back together to form the four ‘movements’ that make up the finished piece. Further music and sounds were woven into the fabric of ‘The Lasher’ at this time, created and recorded more with feeling than deliberation as befit the spirit of the project. And so Michael Pan and the Sandford Lasher was born.