Back in 2016 Inkubus Sukkubus released the first of a trio of acoustic albums – Barrow Wake, together with the subsequent releases of Belas Knap and Sabrina- Goddess Of The Severn, collectively known as Tales Of Witchcraft And Wonder, saw the band explore the folklore, myths and magic of their native Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and beyond.
The band’s songwriting duo Candia and Tony McKormack, have a long standing interest in history, witchcraft, folklore and the gods, which has often been explored prior to the Witchcraft And Wonder series and has, I suspect, sent a number of their supporters (me, included) scouring the internet in a bid to discover the source of a song. But with the Witchcraft series the duo decided to dig deep and explore the local stories in forensic detail, delivering a compelling compendium of tales and myths from the Gloucestershire undergrowth.
The Tales Of Witchcraft & Wonder album’s all proved to be enchanting affairs. The stripped back nature of the series and deft musicality compliment Candia’s bewitching lead, compelling and inviting the listener to explore the song’s origins.
Realising the intrigue sparked by the ‘Witchcraft prose, folkloric co-conspirators, Candia and Tony McKormack, have delved further into a selection of the featured tracks, exploring the tales and theories behind them and bringing the local stories to life in a fascinating book.
The first story in the book, The Witch O Berkeley (a small Gloucestershire town on the banks of the Severn) speaks of a wealthy, well fed woman who sold her soul to devil for a life of hedonism and parties, only for her pet raven to inform her of the death of her son and forecast ruin for the rest of her family. On hearing the news the woman fell ill and called for her surviving son and daughter to help her escape the clutches of the devil on her death, only for hordes of demons and eventually the devil himself to appear and claim the woman’s body, dragging her off for an eternity of suffering. The short yarn grips the reader from the off, encouraging them to read on and discover more local myths and folklore.
Reading on we encounter a modern day mermaid, a mysterious body discovered in the trunk of a tree (and the subsequent graffiti), an orphaned ape that’s raised as a child, tales of treachery and gibbeting and the infamous seductive power of the Datura plant. Each of the beguiling fables hold the attention as Candia & Tony deliver them with the same sense of drama that they deliver in their song, often offering their own explanations or alternative theories.
It goes without saying that the Tales Of Witchcraft & Wonder book will appeal to fans of Inkubus Sukkubus and the album trilogy, but beyond the obvious demographic, the book should find favour with anyone with a passing interest in local (Gloucestershire) folklore and myth, introducing the band to a wider audience (particularly as the book is accompanied by a thirteen track compilation lifted from the album series, soundtracking each tale). Much like the discs, I look forward to Candia & Tony returning to the written word and exploring more of these fascinating tales further down the line.
By: Will Munn