Saturday, April 26, 2008


BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, pioneers of electronic music & sound effects, would have been 50 years old this month if the Beeb hadn't dismantled it ten years ago. No matter - celebrations are afoot, such as plans for a boxed cd set, and:

this great article and video
revealing how, among other things, a lampshade became an integral part
of electronic music history.

The bad news: the recent death of the
Radiophonic Workshop's Tristram Cary: "...credited by some as the father of tape music, originating tape music techniques in World War II. He’s notorious to the general public and sci fi fans as the composer of the music for the Daleks (pictured above, with pug) in Doctor Who (along with other music) — like an evil counterpart to Delia Derbyshire, who built the studio Cary would later use."

Tristram Cary "Trios" (excerpt) - from 1971; performers rolled dice to determine what parts they would play.

Bebe Barron,
another pre-Moog great, also died recently. "The 1956 sci-fi thriller Forbidden Planet was the first major motion picture to feature an all-electronic film score — a soundtrack that predated synthesizers and samplers. It was like nothing the audience had seen — or heard. The composers were two little-known and little-appreciated pioneers in the field of electronic music, Louis and Bebe Barron." From the score to Forbidden Planet:

Love at the Swimming Hole - a romantic ballad

Battle With The Invisible Monster

I've always been a fan of the "Forbidden Planet" soundtrack (I taped it off the tv years ago) but have never seen any other recordings by them. Are there any? Supposedly they scored some short avant-garde films, but I couldn't find them on the YouTubes. However, you can see:

Sukho L
ee of one of my fave local (Los Angeles) bands Seksu Roba, performing a boss tribute to "Forbidden Planet" to mark it's 50th anniversary on his tricked-out theremin.

And, right on time, Boston's dj BC has just released a dandy on-line remix/mashup tribute to the pioneers of electronic music called

"Art Raps"

which actua
lly tames these notoriously abstract sounds by looping them into something approaching head-nodding accessibility, such as this take on Hugh Le Caine's 1955 piece:

djBC: Dripsody (remix)

Terry Riley, Jon Hassel, and others also get the treatment.


Rob said...

There is a soundtrack for forbidden planet available.
There is even a new release on cd, but I recommend you order the vinyl version :)

great post.

Rob said...

Oops, I misread... any OTHER recordings... :)
oh well..
still a great post.

Quisp-Quake said...

Yup, sad thing about Bebe Barron...she was involved with quite a few projects actually...She did an album with Anais Nin which I would KILL to hear. Also, she & hubby did the sounds to Louise Huebner's INCREDIBLE "Seduction Through Witchcraft" album (I actually have the LP, and bring it out to weird out the friends now and then). If you want an MP3 rip of the album, email me at Thanks for an always awesome blog!!!

Mr Fab said...

An Anais Nin album?! I read that she was one of their short film collaborators. Didn't know about the album, bet that's worth a fortune.

Ah, yes, "Seduction Through Witchcraft". Don't have a copy myself, but I think there's a track from it on the "Ghouls With Attitude" comp that I downloaded from Oddio Overplay. Just checked - looks like it's off-line now...