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Music Review

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BBC Radiophonic Music (1968)
(2019 Reissue)


Artist: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILLP1541 (Vinyl), SILED1541 (download)
Release Date: 15 March 2019

Silva Screen Records reissue the 1968 BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s hugely influential 10th anniversary album, featuring remastered early electronic works of John Baker, David Cain and Delia Derbyshire...

There's niche albums and then there's Radiophonic Music. In the '80s I bought quite a lot of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop albums as, with a group of friends, we used to make our own amateur comedy audio productions. Listening to these tracks now brings back a lot of happy memories. For some this will be a trip down memory lane, for others an interesting insight into the origins of electronic music.

Widely regarded as a major influence on the development of electronic music worldwide, BBC Radiophonic Music is a compilation of short works, often composed as intros to various radio or television programs. Conceived in a time when analogue sampling meant hours of slicing tape with razor blades, BBC Radiophonic Music is brimming with zippy themes, unsettling atmospherics, riffs, loops, clicks and beeps.

Over the course of this album's 33 tracks (43 min, 59 sec) there are numerous oddities including 'Christmas Commercial' (which uses the sound of old cash registers to play 'O Come, All Ye Faithful'); an electronic version of 'Happy Birthday'; 'Festival Time' (which sounds like it was inspired by the Vince Guaraldi Trio's music to the '60s Peanuts animated TV specials; 'Autumn and Winter' (a bizarre track that sounds like electronic cats meowing. It's the sort of music that you can imagine being used for a YouTube cat video); 'Door to Door' (sampling of door knocks and doorbells over a catchy electronic tune); 'War of the Worlds' (an eerie, atmospheric track with electronic screams); and 'Air' (which takes Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, giving it an electronic make over).

This is an essential album for analogue and TV theme obsessives, and anyone with an interest in contemporary electronica; mysterious, eccentric and celestial. This is one release you'll totally love or completely not understand.

Track listing:

01. Radio Sheffield - David Cain
02. Radio Nottingham - John Baker
03. Boys and Girls - John Baker
04. Mattachin - Delia Derbyshire
05. Pot au Feu - Delia Derbyshire
06. Time and Tune - John Baker
07. Tomorrow’s World - John Baker
08. Reading Your Letters - John Baker
09. Blue Veils and Golden Sands - Delia Derbyshire
10. The Missing Jewel - John Baker
11. Artbeat - David Cain
12. Fresh Start - John Baker
13. Christmas Commercial - John Baker
14. Sea Sports - John Baker
15. The Delian Mode - Delia Derbyshire
16. Happy Birthday - Delia Derbyshire
17. The Frogs Wooing - John Baker
18. Milky Way - John Baker
19. Structures - John Baker
20. New Worlds - John Baker
21. Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO - Delia Derbyshire
22. Festival Time - John Baker
23. The Chase - John Baker
24. Towards Tomorrow - Delia Derbyshire
25. Quiz Time - John Baker
26. P.I.G.S. - John Baker
27. Autumn and Winter - David Cain
28. Door to Door - Delia Derbyshire
29. Factors - John Baker
30. War of the Worlds - David Cain
31. Crossbeat - David Cain
32. Air - Delia Derbyshire
33. Time to Go - Delia Derbyshire


Nick Smithson