The name comes from a peculiar type of subterranean structure only found in Cornwall in the extreme southwest of the United Kingdom. Theories differ as to their original usage, but it seems most likely they were intended for ritual or rite of passage use. Ian McNeil Cooke’s book, Mother & Sun: The Cornish Fogou (Men-an-Tol Studio, Newbridge, 1993) is the bible for the fogou obsessive, if you can find a copy.
When we settled on the name, we opted for the alternative spelling as found in the works of British archaeologist and psychic researcher, T.C. Lethbridge, and first seen in his Herdsmen and Hermits: Celtic Seafarers in the Northern Seas (Bowes & Bowes, Cambridge, 1950). It would only be fair to acknowledge that Lethbridge is one of our strongest influences.
Last weekend, Matt and I ventured down to the West Penwith peninsula of Cornwall, to visit the fogou at Boleigh and various other sites. The fogou is extraordinary, like nowhere I’ve ever visited before. Recording inside it, in the dark, to an audience of spiders and who knows what else, was an experience I won’t forget in a long time. And recording with Matt for the first time in person made the whole experience all the more memorable. It was an inspirational visit, not just for the fogou itself, but for the joy of friendship and new discoveries together, shared obsessions and shared fears (arachnaphobia and vertigo being just two!), and the magic of the Cornish landscape.
Our first album, Reversed Dreams of this Nature, has just been released on Finnish label Ikuisuus Records. The music reflects, we think, the unusual and unknown aspects of the idea of the fogou itself, with dense textural electronics, certain acoustic instruments, vocals and field recordings taken at particularly appropriate sites. The sleeve features a beautiful cover painting by Matt (above). A second album is currently being edited. At least some of the recordings we made in the fogou at Boleigh should feature on a “live” Fougou album, The Boleigh Working. And finally, for now anyway, Sonic Oyster Records, the label run by the inestimable Andrew Paine, is also to release a 3″ disc, Atlantis (for John Michell) at some point over the next few months. There’s plenty coming up and we’ll continue to record as long as the spirit of Fougou moves us. I suspect that will be for some time to come.