Louis Niebur, author of a book on the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, reveals how in the 1950s, the advent of electronic sounds allowed programme-makers to use sounds that frightened people because they didn’t know what made the noises.
20JFG has always quite enjoyed it when we didn’t know what made the noises. This may explain a lot.
For sheer, full blooded terror though, we turn the master of mental collapse in the face of primal fear Krzysztof Penderecki. Listening to most of Penderecki’s vast body of work it’s not too hard to imagine where the sounds are coming from, you can pretty much make out the orchestra and imagine the well tailored musicians — sitting, in a crescent, at the foot of their conductor — losing themselves in Penderecki’s evocations. But in this instance the air of refinement around the imagined performance simply amps up the fear. As Kubrick proved only too well, polite almost banal society engaged in the production of horror is, itself, utterly terrifying. No wonder then that he drew these themes together in The Shining.
From whose soundtrack this is from:
Pendrecki did not compose this music for film, it almost feels like films were made to anchor his music to something tangible, something that can be switched of, end, have catharsis. Bottled: from which the terror and implication of some of these sounds can no longer float around you like vengeful spectres.
There’s a great piece on Pendrecki’s relationship to cinema at Sound and Music here.
German Army return to the pages of this webzine — mainlining Post-Punk’s affair with Dub before shit got ‘angular’. A mesmeric loop of percussion; a horn bellowing out in the distance, in the darkness, a warning of some psychic catastrophe. These sounds are alien. No imagined concert hall, just a mist shrouded landscape, slow movement on water and a voice between the ears speaking instructions.
In Kenneth Anger’s long lost adaptation of Heart of Darkness, scenes of suburban calm are underpinned with muscular malevolence. The pain and horror of athleticism and ambition, arranged in a row along grey streets, bodies harshly illuminated by streetlights. The fresh roads: a river leading to the stone walled house of Kurtz. Kurtz here played by a video of Brando in The Wild One projected against a sheet, locked in a loop.
This sounds a bit like that.
Guinea Strongarm is taken from German Army’s tape Papua Mass on Night-People which you can pick up here.