Ether pt 2

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Boffins on Parade: More boy scientist heroes

By Marc Baines

Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan
Electronic Movements, 1959
Everybody knows the Dutch company Philips for their pioneering, quality electronic products. Their distinctive shield logo a guarantee of the functionality and good looks of their radios and toasters. In parallel their Phonograph division has a proud history of developing the talents of electronic music innovators from Pierre Henry to Kraftwerk, and beyond. Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan are home-grown talents who somehow got forgotten along the way. Dissevelt was a composer and conductor, the Kid a circuitboard whiz. And in 1959 they got together and cooked up a record of Electronic Movements. A more sophisticated but still gritty approximation of what the Silver Apples would be doodling with five years later, minus the pseudo-mystical flim-flam. ‘Vibrations’ is the killer cut. as described in the sleevenotes it ‘begins with an accompaniment which mingles elements of a steam laundry with those of a science laboratory given over to destructive experiments with acids. This presently dissolves into twanging sounds, as of taut wires being cut, and into gurgling sounds, as of bottles being emptied.’ And that’s not the half ot it. It’s really impressive how these mini-orchestral works are built up and arranged. The endings to all the pieces are particularly intricate and well-developed where lesser talents would have exited with a simple repeat and fade.

Vittorio Gelmetti
Deserto Rosso score
Gelmetti constructed an incredible electronics score for Michaelangelo Antonioni’s film. The first scene is an extreme close-up of a factory chimney belching flames and a synthetic roar synchronised to each spurt of fire. For the next 15 minutes, while the action is centred round different parts of the factory, every scene change is accompanied by a change in texture of the sound, different configurations of hums and rumblings and overtones, hatched in a subtler and more menacing way than the bleep-bloops of Mon Oncle or The Man in the White Suit. Electronic themes reappear later on, to point up Monica Vitti’s increasing alienation and mental instability.

Bernard Estardy
Electronics Volume 52
One in a series of 80-odd discs of sound effects / incidental music issued in 1975 for radio and TV record where can i buy kamagra oral jelly libraries. Estardy’s tracks alternate with Alan Feanch’s electric piano mood sketches, using moog, organ and percussion to create his very own ‘Ring Cycle’: ‘Pop Ring’, ‘Bingo Ring’, TicTac Ring’, Implacable Ring’, and ‘Pussy Ring’. The last a funky bongo-slapping groover that suggests Bernard was well acquainted with genital piercing way before the current fashion. It wouldn’t sound out of place of London’s hep Blow-Up club among the Hammond workouts and mod rarities.

Louis and Bebe Barron
Forbidden Planet soundtrack
Crescendo (reissued on Small Planet PR-D-001)
The Brady and Hindley of noise manipulation. Responsible for premeditated acts of violence against electronic components – distressing circuits until they’d scream out, monitoring their squirming and bleeding as they’d settle back to an even keel. Some say Louis and Bebe would leave those big tape spools running while they’d head out in their fancy low-slung sportscar to paint the town red, obliviously knocking back glass after glass of champagne and bragging to friends about their little ‘experiments’. Like Charles Manson’s Lie, Love and Terror Cult LP the Barrons’ 1956 Forbidden Planet soundtrack remains in print. Read more about them in Incredibly Strange Music Vol 2.

Delia Derbyshire
The original recording of the Dr Who theme has an unsettling impresciseness unwrinkled by later updates – a grinding, sucking vortex of mystery composed by Ron Grainer, but generated, shaped and realised in the labs of the BBC Radiophonics Workshop. 1962 it was recorded and that’s the year Delia Derbyshire joined the workshop, straight from her maths and music course at Cambridge. A 1971 commercial release of BBC Radiophonics music has several Derbyshire tracks. Her maths background evident on the Playschool-ish progress of ‘Mattachin’ and on ‘Door to Door’, a frivolous collage of doorbell rings and buzzes and the chapping of knockers. ‘Blue Veils and Golden Sands’ hangs and drips and wanders its own way, bearing out her favoured work method in ‘attaching more importance to the musical quality of the individual sounds than to the musical argument’. ‘Ziwzih Ziwzih Oo-Oo-Oo’ is a Kurt Schwitters-y piece with vocoder and a warped harpsichord melody that could be (and has been) mistaken for an early Residents recording.
MARC BAINES