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06 NOVEMBER 2008

The 50th anniversary of the Radiophonic Workshop

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Radiophonic Workshop, the BBC's experimental unit for electronic sound. It also marks the 10th anniversary of the workshop's death after a long period of decline. But almost as soon it was gone, it began to assume cult status. A Radiophonic ghost began to haunt the peripheries of pop culture, audible initially as an influence on 'retrofuturist' groups such as Boards of Canada, Broadcast and Add N to (X). In the past five years, there has been a steady flow of Radiophonic–related reissues from labels such as Mute, Rephlex, Glo–Spot and Trunk; a BBC4 documentary, Alchemists of Sound; and a South Bank symposium organised by Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley. There have been two plays about the workshop's Delia Derbyshire, and when Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, unfavourable comparisons were made between the Radiophonic team's original electronic music and the orchestrated flatus of Murray Gold's updated version. This summer, the Southbank Centre held a symposium on Daphne Oram, the workshop's co–founder, and there was news about the discovery of a huge cache of unreleased material by Derbyshire, the workshop's most brilliant composer. In November, Mute is set to issue a double CD compilation, 50th Anniversary Retrospective, including nuggets never before released."

(Simon Reynolds, 20 September 2008)

The Alchemists of Sound (TV 2003) [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0963155/].

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TAGS

195850th anniversary • Add N to (X) • audio engineering • avant-gardeavant-garde musicBBCBBC FourBBC Radiophonic Workshop • Boards of Canada • Bob Stanley • composerDaphne OramDelia Derbyshiredigital mediadigital pioneersDoctor Whoelectronic musicelectronic soundexperimental musicexperimental sound • Glo-Spot (publisher) • Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy • Murray Gold • musique concrete • Mute (publisher) • patch panelRadiophonic Workshopreel-to-reel • Rephlex (publisher) • retrofuturism • Saint Etienne (band) • Southbank Centretelevision documentary • The Alchemists of Sound (2003) • Trunk (publisher)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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