Thursday, 4 June 2020

BBC Radiophonic Workshop ‎– "Fourth Dimension" (BBC Records ‎– RED 93 S) 1973

Delia Derbyshire left the workshop in 1973,and a lot of the reason why is contained on this BBC album of local radio theme tunes and Testcard music.
The arrival of a couple of EMS synthesizers made it all too easy to create something musical,with a catchy tune.Just what der management would have wanted.No more weird noises made from tape loops and lamp shades.Horrific was replaced with 'Jolly'.....which is,for me probably even weirder than actual 'weird'.
The music is the stuff that filled up the empty spaces in the 1970's TV schedule.Incredibly,there was nothing on in the afternoon or morning.Briefly the news and childrens TV appeared at lunchtime,and increasingly programmes for schools filled the morning schedule,with creepy classics like "Picture Box",whose Theme Tune was one of the most sinister of the lot.....but that was on ITV,so it don't count!
The Testcard filled most of our days when bunking off school....we used to dance to this stuff,and howl with laughter at the more cheesier tunes. This was UK youths version of Martin Denny and Esquivel.This is why we are weird.
Now, if The Sex Pistols did a testcard style version of Never Mind The Bollocks for their second album,including "Belsen Was A Gas" as arranged by the producer of "Fourth Dimension" (Paddy Kingsland),they would have served us all up thee ultimate 'Punk' record,and hopefully saved us from the hoardes of 'Punx' who haunt us to this very day.
Why won't they fuck off mummy?

Now I've finished with my silly nostalgic opinions and analysis,I'll let the BBC explain it in their special no-nonsense terms from the Sleeve notes....I especially like how they explain away their rare use of Stereo on a BBC records release:

"Music heard on radio and Television (including Test Card Transmissions)....

One aspect of the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is the composition and realisation of signature tunes and incidental music for BBC Radio and Television programmes. Programme producers come to the Workshop with varying requests - it must be 'bright', 'catchy', 'sinister', 'modest', 'supernatural', 'funny', and so on but, most important, it must be unique in terms of sound qualities.
The composer then sets to work to create the tune using natural sounds, which have been manipulated in some way and cut together on tape, or electronic sources, such as the voltage controlled synthesiser.
Several such signature tunes are included on this record, composed by Paddy Kingsland, who joined the creative staff of the Workshop in 1970. Before this, he worked as a tape editor, then studio manager, chiefly for Radio One. He is a firm believer that instrumental sound combined with electronic and treated sound is essential for this type of work. The tracks on this record include compositions for Radio 1, 3, 4, Local Radio and Television programmes.
The synthesisers used on this disc are both British, and both made by E.M.S. of London. They are the VCS3, an amazingly versatile miniature synthesiser, and its big brother, the Synthi '100', known within the Radiophonic Workshop as 'The Delaware', after the address of the Workshop. This machine incorporates a digital memory that can be programmed via a conventional keyboard, and can store 256 events on 3 layers in any one 'run'. In combination with the multi-track tape recorder, it provides all the facilities of an electronic music studio, its range being limited only by the imagination of the person using it.
The specially created stereo is not an attempt at realism, but is used as a sound object in its own right."


1.Scene & Heard (Radio 1)
2.Just Love (BBC TV)
4.Reg (BBC African Service)
5.Tamariu (BBC TV)
6.One-Eighty-One (Radio 4)
7.Fourth Dimension (Radio 4)
8.Colour Radio (BBC Radio Leeds)
9.Take Another Look (Radio 4)
10.Kaleidoscope (Radio 4)
11.The Space Between (Radio 3)


Fernfrequency said...

Whether or not Derbyshire's decision to exit the BBC workshop was a beginning of the end of its serious creative days many of us like me are suckers for anything done on the very rare EMS Synthy 100! Thank you for aiding and abetting our sanity during corona marshal law!

Jonny Zchivago said...

Indeed....there was more EMS Synthi stuff in at least one earlier post,during the minimalist thread....i forgot who.
But the good news is, we got some Synthi 100 stuff coming up from EMS head honcho, Peter Zinovieff (spelling?)...after a bit of Test Card music...please let me indulge myself. And some Tristam Cary on the same machine.

Fernfrequency said...

Peter Zinovieff the brain behind EMS also had a group I believe named Zorch record some really excellent electronic music in his studio in the early 1970s. Ill enjoy the soothing music balm while I watch vidies of parts of America burn to to ashes...jesus what times where living in!