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Soundtrack Review

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Fourth Dimension
And Other Synthesiser Music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop


Composer: Paddy Kingsland
Performed by: The BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILED1543 (download)
Release Date: 09 April 2021

Silva Screen Records presents Fourth Dimension, by Paddy Kingsland of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. First released in 1973 by BBC Records, these fifteen tracks showcase the signature tunes and incidental music created for BBC Radio and Television using a Rock-style backing and synthesisers including the VCS 3 and ‘Delaware’ Synthi 100. The track 'Reg' was also released as the B-side to the 1973 single release of the Doctor Who theme. Paddy Kingsland was the first Radiophonic composer to have a solo release of his work. He worked at the pioneering Workshop for 21 years, up until 1981. During his tenure he composed music for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the aforementioned Doctor Who, The Changes, and others. The sleeve design for Fourth Dimension was by Andrew Prewett...

The Tracklist is: 'Scene & Heard', 'Just Love', 'Vespucci', 'Reg', 'Tamariu', 'One Eighty-One', 'Fourth Dimension', 'Colour Radio', 'Take Another Look', 'Kaleidoscope', 'The Space Between', 'Flashback', 'Rugby Special', 'The Administrative Machine' and 'The Ramsbottom File'.

Synthesisers and a guitar sound kicks us off with a straightforward melody. This is very much the order of the day. The music presented here is very much a product of its time. This was the then latest technology, even if at times it does come across as quaint and a little tinny now. The simpleness of the tracks is bolstered by the inclusion of additional background noises, and on some of the better examples with underlying bass which offers more substance to the somewhat trebly tunes. Some of these work much better than others, although most is catchy product. The drawback is that many of the tracks utilise the same tricks, with often-repeated lines.

All of these could be TV themes in their own right from the Seventies and Eighties, the majority being quirky or at least jaunty offerings. The moderate or slower-paced ones prove more effective. 'Tamariu' is perhaps the best of the bunch, carrying a melancholy feel. Flashback is more meaty and upbeat than most, and 'The Ramsbottom File' has an experimental middle section which elevates it from average fair. The other outstanding instrumental on the album is 'The Administrative Machine', which incorporates a typewriter main beat and nice bass sounds which happily make you ignore the occasional touches of high-pitch synth.

This would have been ground-breaking stuff at the time, but I’m not certain it has the same effect now. For the sake of nostalgia though, it’s a welcome release.


Ty Power

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