I recorded these two unknown tracks on tape decades ago from a local college radio station, WCBN-FM, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve saved them this whole time, never figuring out who or when these were originally made. They both consist of well-arranged samples from different sources – old sci-fi movies, Janis Joplin screaming, an old radio or TV ad, opera music, etc… This is the kind of sampling I fell in love with early in my days of discovering non-mainstream music: No cheesy dance or hip hop beats, just pure dada-esque collage that keeps you hooked and wanting to listen to it again and again. If you can identify the artist or provide any information – please do!
(How has Dinosaur Gardens managed to avoid all references to the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop until this post? Surprising…)
So much has been written and said already about the infamous and influential BBC Radiophonic Workshop that I start this post at a loss. I mean, they deserve the praise — their legendary status is well-deserved — but with so many articles, a great documentary, and other dissections of their career and influence, I think I’ll take the easy way out and stick to a short obituary of their accomplishments.
If you know only one thing of their work, it would be the theme to Doctor Who, the venerable BBC sci-fi television series. They also did the sound effects. And incidental music. In fact, they were a BBC department that produced all manners of strange noises and sound effects (and theme songs) for over 200 other BBC shows. In doing so, they paved a superhighway of innovation that led electronic music growth for decades, from studio engineering to electronic composition to sound collage to synthesizer technology.
I came across this album in a dilapidated Leeds (UK) record shop for just a couple quid and have held onto it for dear life — BBC Radiophonic Workshop on vinyl doesn’t sell cheap. The standout track for me is easily Vespucci, a funky saunter with a very sampleable cool synth melody. The abstract cover from this 1973 release looks quite a bit like a CD exploding, perhaps another ahead-of-their-time move from these old-timers. And finally, this great closing line from the liner notes:
“The specially created stereo is not an attempt at realism, but is used as a sound object in its own right.”
- Scene & Heard
- Just Love
- Fourth Dimension
- Colour Radio
- Take Another Look
- The Space Between