White Noise came into being when David Vorhaus, an American electronics student with a passion for experimental sound and classical music attended a lecture by Delia Derbyshire, a sound scientist at the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop whose claim to fame was writing the original Doctor Who theme tune. With the help of fellow Radiophonic Workshop composer Brian Hodgeson, Vorhaus and Derbyshire hunkered down at Kaleidophon Studios in Camden to pen an album that reconciled pop music with the experimental avant-garde. The result is a set of eerie, delightful songs that, for all their surface simplicity, shimmer with vestigial synthesiser swells, strange echoes, disembodied voices, and distant music-box trills.
Outside of a few equally adventurous '60s releases - the debut album from US psychedelic pioneers The United States Of America, for instance - this is pretty much uncharted territory, particularly for a major label release. On ''My Game Of Loving'', a dozen multi-tracked voices built to a panting orgasm, while the closing ''Black Mass An Electric Storm In Hell'' ushers the record to a freeform close in a clatter of freeform drums, cavernous echo and chilling, animalistic screams. Perhaps unsurprisingly, An Electric Storm would struggle to find an audience on its release, and in the following years, great leaps in synthesiser technology somewhat diminished White Noise's experimental achievements. One thing that would remain timeless, however, were the songs themselves. An Electric Storm would later become a key inspiration on bands like Add (N) To X and Broadcast, synthesiser explorers who picked through these primitive, vestigial sound experiments, took careful notes, and eventually, set out to craft their own futuristic pop lullabies. --Louis Pattison
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It's a very unique album that often falters at the songwriting, but the main attraction is the soundscape that has been created in exceptional circumstances. Each track took an eternity to create, and in the end they had so little material for an album that they recorded one track ('An Electric Storm in Hell') live with a drummer.
The first side (of the original vinyl version) is an eye opener for sure! It covers a wide variety of moods, subjects and styles. The second side is the real gem here though...
'The Visitation' is a track about a road accident that leads to an out of body experience. It's one of the most fightening tracks that you can ever listen to, coming second only to 'A Black Mass in Hell' which follows it. Someone that I worked with a few years back told a story of when him and his friends used to take large quantities of LSD and one by one sit in his wardrobe with the stereo speakers playing 'The Visitation' and 'A Black Mass in Hell' at full volume. He said that very few of them got to the end before bursting out of the wardrobe screaming...
This really is a must for anyone that is interested in the roots of electronica though.
On the one hand, it's possible to hear kinship with Joe Meek's 1960 LP "I Hear A New World" and 50's musique concrete, but also to hear prototypes of some of the more electronic bands of the 70's and 80's, such as Can and Amon Duul II and even, suprisingly, a little 90's dance stuff.
And of course, when this record was made in 1968, the experimental mind-set of psychedelia was still exerting an obvious if waning, influence.
A strong album generally, but the best (and trippiest) tracks are The Visitation and the last track, An Electric Storm In Hell. Both very Pink Floyd influenced and using a multitude of primtive elecectronic effects. Here Come The Fleas is possibly the weakest track on the CD, but even that ain't bad once you get past it's novelty comedy value.
A unique & unclassifiable record, then. If you consider yourself to be a bit of a fan of electronica, then this CD is a must. And I'll bet my left leg that it's already beeen sampled to hell by those with only a tiny fraction of the imagination & technique.
And to think it was all done with the aid of nasty, old-fashioned tape, physically edited, processed, filtered and with not a piece of digital gear or editing software in sight...
RIP, Delia Derbyshire. A true pioneer.
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