Monday, August 26, 2013

Sorrel versus Doris

another lady with synths

via Its Full of Stars (itself via Toys and Techniques several years ago)

"This documentary traces the development and premiere performance of an avant-garde symphonic work by Southern composer Sorrel Doris Hays. Commissioned by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, Hays' piece is based on the sounds and rhythms of Southern speech and musical traditions. It is a journey into childhood memories via the melodies and rhythms of Southern dialect. Stoney combines analysis of her work with interviews in which Hays discusses her struggle with racism and paternalism of Southern culture."

apparently shortly after the doc was made she changed her name from Doris to Sorrel

not the only electronic lady called Doris, of course

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Derek Jarman short from the mid-Seventies

seem to remember seeing a whole bunch of these shorts in Oxford, probably at the Museum of Modern Art

the one that lodged in my memory took place in a squat

is this it? surely it is....

yet my memory of it is different, somehow more golden... like the film was made of gilt that was flaking off

i don't think it had the music overlaid on it when me and P. Oldfield saw it - the music (very good, by Simon Fisher Turner)  is interfering with my memory correlation efforts

this is it, i think

and in fact it must have had the music on it, because there's his name in the credits at the end  -- just "Simon Turner"

never thought I'd see this again

hooray for YouTube

and hooray for Toys and Techniques  who this is also via

Bruce Lacey stuff, via Toys and Techniques

Friday, August 16, 2013

turning Jam-anese

 "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors is by any measure a minor tune of its era. A huge hit  in the UK (Number 3 in 1980) ... something of a radio perennial in the States, on a certain kind of oldies station anyway...  partly from being a minor Billboard hit at the time (number 36) but also its popularity on MTV as a video several years after it came and went (just like the band's career) in the UK.

I liked it at the time, same as I liked things by the Rezillos or Blondie or The Cars or Martha & the Muffins ... even the odd thing by the Boomtown Rats... but I'd never have thought of buying it. 

Hearing "Japanese" it on the radio the other day I was struck by how fresh it sounded, still... and thought about how it was part of this giant wave of freshness at that time - i.e. the New Wave  .... the sense of an all-change that swept over the radio and the charts, that made the Old Wave sound old, and also worried some Old Wavers enough to try to young up their sound a bit

guitar-bass-drums - the standard rock line-up - but "Turning Japanese" doesn't sound like the Sixties or the pre-punk Seventies

the bass is prominent, loping... the guitar, not quite "angular" or "jagged" but definitely not based in blues-derived hard rock, a world away from contemporaries like AC/DC, who were aggressive and thrilling and stripped-down and irreverent and even had punkoid lyrics ("Problem Child", "TNT") but were very much an extension of the Old Wave....  That was how you differentiated New Wave (a break) from Heavy Metal  / Hard Rock (a continuation), i.e. the disappearance of raunch from the music,  the replacement of  "feel' and "swing" with a jumpy exuberance and choppiness.

At the time Vapors were regarded as imitators of The Jam, another group who eliminated
feel/swing/groove from their music (only to attempt disastrously to reinject it at a later stage - "Precious", ugh!)

And they shared the same producer - the disconcertingly named  Vic Coppersmith-Heaven

It's audible on much of New Clear Days the debut Vapors album but I don't hear Jam-iness at all on "Turning Japanese".... if anything I hear maybe just a tiny trace of "Hong Kong Garden" (another Polydor act)

But then The Jam sound itself -- at its prime, i.e. after the shaky start but before they got into direct pomo-referentiality and recycling with "Start"/"Town Called Malice"/"Absolute Beginners" -- is itself  a break from Sixties/pre-punk Seventies

the ideology and the look is mod, but the run of  great tunes from "Down in the Tube Stations At Midnight" via "Eton Rifles" and "Pretty Green" to "Funeral Pyre" -- rarely sound Sixties-evoking or even Sixties-invoking

What, in the actual 1960s, sounded anything like "Going Underground"?

What an odd tune it is, in its arrangement and production! Jerky, fussy (yet pared down), agitated, an epic flail

I don't know if I even like it...  at the time I never bought it (the only Jam record I actually bought was "Down in the Tube Station". I found, and find still, something resolutely non-magnetic about Weller as a character, on recordings and in real life).  I don't know what "Going Underground" is "about", never did ...  But I recognise its originality, its invention, its force on the radio.

Okay, The Who is in there, somewhere.... but the Who were explosive, the Jam implosive

Rock music (is it even really rock music? it's certainly got no 'n' roll to it... it's more like jacked-up-on-neurosis guitar-pop) at its most uptight, repressed.  Its most English, in fact.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

  more spooky kids telly i never saw at the time...

blurbs for Sky

  "Sky is a mystically-oriented children's science fantasy television serial made for ITV by HTV and broadcast in seven parts from April 7 to May 14, 1975.  The story of a mysterious youth and his attempts to rejoin his own time and dimension, and the three teenagers who discover him and set out to help.

 "A mysterious alien boy with strange solid blue eyes, the eponymous Sky (Marc Harrison), finds himself on Earth. He uses his psychic powers for achieve his goal of ensuring a way back home. Sky finds the very world soul of Earth in the form of nature, only to reject him the way an immune system might an infection. In his quest to return home, he joins his destiny with that of three human children. The serial was written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, also known for their scripts for Doctor Who and a fantasy television series for children, Into the Labyrinth."

Into The Labyrinth? Another one I missed.

There's this novel I read as a child, I recall neither the title nor the author, but it involved children who discover a whole underworld of tunnels and passageways beneath the fields near their home, inhabited by, I dunno, elf-people or malign beings of some sort or other. They have to thwart them or go to war with them in some way.  That's as much as I can remember. Think it was a pretty well-known, 'for older kids' type book at the time. Any idea? 

More Sky...



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I really should hand over my Hauntologist Credentials forthwith... for the shameful truth is that I have never seen The Stone Tape, or The Owl Service

Nor did I watch Sapphire and Steel (just reminded of this series by reading an advance of Mark Fisher's excellent collection Ghosts of My Life , forthcoming on Zero Books)

(And why, oh why, has nobody reissued the incidental music and "special sound" FX and underscores from Sapphire and Steel?)

Stone Tape and Owl Service can probably be explained by the fact that we didn't have a TV set for a good chunk of my early childhood (something like age 2 to 8). Not sure why (money? different parental priorities later reneged upon?), but that probably was the making of me in terms of getting the bug for reading and being a precocious reader (Lord of the Rings aged 7 etc).

As for Sapphire and Steel - not sure why I missed the earlier ones, but this can partly be explained by me being a student in the early Eighties. First and second years, the only one TV in proximity was in the student common room, which I would brave only for Top of the Pops. In the third year I was in student digs and didn't own a set. So I would watch the box only in the holidays, when I was back home, and not much then either. Missed many iconic TV series of the first half of the Eighties, e.g. Boys from the Blackstuff)

I do obviously remember vividly (see previous posts) both Children of the Stones and The Changes (although the latter doesn't seem quite so central in the hauntological canon of spooky telly as Stone Tape, Owl Service, Children of Stones, Sapphire)

I do also remember this series, which never gets mentioned as part of the canon, but certainly represents a ghost of my own life....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

why has the music for this not been reissued?

Jonny Trunk, get on the case!*

some nutter's put the entire Children of the Stones series on YouTube in one big bloc of vintage telly!

story of the CotS music via A Sound Awareness blog:

"The music was composed by Sidney Sager who used a combination of a cappella vocalizations of a single, repeated Icelandic word ("Hadave") to create a terrifying and dissonant score. The vocals were provided by the Ambrosian Singers who during their long career have provided choral work for both Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota. The series was filmed at Avebury, Wiltshire during Summer 1976, with interior scenes filmed at HTV's Bristol studio. "

* Trunk have been quietly releasing all kinds of mad stuff in in the last year or two - lots of musique concrete avant-electronic stuff -- Lasry Bachet, Structures Sonores ; 1st Panoramaof Musique Concrete LP; Tom Dissevelt, GRM's Musique experimentale II --  but also albums by Terry Thomas and Bernard Cribbins and Charlie Drake and Hayley Mills. Look out also for the forthcoming Classroom Projects, a collection of 'incredible music made by children in schools'

Children of the Stones in bite size portions...

Monday, August 5, 2013

turn to watch the strange The-The Changes

They showed this to children! Children that had just come home from school! Sitting on the carpet with their McVities and Jaffa Cakes and Penguins and their mugs of milk and cups of tea!

BBC advised it was "for older children" - but how do you prevent the little 'uns from watching? I was eleven when I saw it, my brothers were nine and six... 

youtube blurb: "The Changes, broadcast every Monday from 6th January to 10th March 1975, was one of the BBC's first post-apocalyptic TV programmes (barring Peter Watkins' The War Game (see below)). The children's TV series depicted the breakdown of society after people are compelled to reject and destroy technology of all kinds including the simplest machinery. This violent reaction and people's subsequent desertion of the country is triggered by a sound seemingly emitted by electricity pylons. schoolgirl Nicky Gore (played by Victoria Williams) is caught amidst the chaos and gets separated from her parents who are heading to France in the hope of finding safety. The series follows Nicky's journey to be reunited with her parents and seek an answer to the cause of The Changes. The series was an adaptation of The Devil's Children - the first of three novels in The Changes trilogy by author Peter Dickinson which also included Heartsease and The Weathermonger. Filming took place over the summer of 1973 and was shot in the West Country, namely Bristol, the Forest of Dean and Sharpness. Although playing a schoolgirl in her early teens, Victoria Williams celebrated her eighteenth birthday during filming."

Telly scholars discuss The Changes

 Robin Carmody on The Changes



and the final episode in bits