Lazy Sunday Afternoon – Old electronica, new folk

Continuing both the recent nonfuturist and general retroprogressive themes of this blog, this Sunday we have some early electronica and some recent folk music.

Louis & Bebe Barron were an avant-garde husand-and-wife team of what we are obliged by the laws of music journalism to call electronica ‘pioneers’. They used mathematical equations to build electronic circuits which, when overloaded, created weird tonal patterns. Each ‘soundscape’ was unique and they were never able to recreate them. Their soundtrack for Forbidden Planet (1956) is recognised as the first electronic film soundtrack. The album sleeve notes contain some terrific missives from the Barrons, such as “We design and construct electronic circuits which function electronically in a manner remarkably similar to the way that lower life-forms function psychologically” and “We were delighted to hear people tell us that the tonalities in Forbidden Planet remind them of what their dreams sound like.”

Margaret Thatcher turned 85 on Wednesday and, as some wag pointed out, it was nice that she could spend her birthday watching the celebrations of Scousers and miners. Telstar by The Tornados was reportedly her favourite pop song. Written and produced by Joe Meek (a paranoid depressive homosexual drug-addicted murderer and suicide), in 1962 it became the first single by a British band to reach number 1 in the US Billboard Hot 100. The futuristic keyboard sound is a clavioline – an early form of synthesizer…

The Fleet Foxes’ eponymous debut album from 2008 is a work of great and lasting beauty. And, as Nige once pointed out to me, it should really come as a 12″ vinyl LP, the jacket strewn with strands of rolling baccy and crumbs of resin…. There’s a bit of a mini movement in folky, baroque pop in recent years – the Seattle band are the best.

Laura Marling was born in Hampshire in, absurdly, 1990. She was the token folk entry in both the 2008 and 2010 Mercury Music Prize shortlists. I rather like her; the ghostly pallor and otherworldly aura remind me of Bowie.

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7 thoughts on “Lazy Sunday Afternoon – Old electronica, new folk

  1. Worm
    October 17, 2010 at 19:06

    very nice selection Brit! I really like fleet foxes. Another person who I associate with the whole ‘folktronica’ scene is Four Tet – although it can get a bit glitchy and weird at times

    October 17, 2010 at 20:01

    Especially Laura Marling, voice like Astrud Gilberto and the sixties revival, Goonhilly Down had its own Telstar Cafe, passed it on the road to Coverack. Here’s a did you know. Did you know that the entire Stevenage workforce, the ones working nightshift, downed tools and went up onto their factory roofs, watching Sputnik pass over. Sputnik was said to inspire Telstar.

    October 17, 2010 at 22:53

    Amusing comments about Margaret Thatcher’s birthday TV options. Just as well she wasn’t relying on her musical preferences to win votes.

    Gadjo Dilo
    October 18, 2010 at 06:12

    Telstar still presses all the right buttons, doesn’t it – an interesting and entirely commendable choice by Mrs T. I quite like the Ukrainian version too.

    Gadjo Dilo
    October 18, 2010 at 06:45

    p.s. I wasn’t being ironic – though I dare say that still liking Telstar puts me on a level of coolness with Alan “Fluff” Freeman and “Whispering” Bob Harris.

    October 18, 2010 at 11:31

    lovely trip around Russia’s ex breadbasket Gadjo, and not a roentgen in sight.

    November 2, 2010 at 00:04

    it’s nearly 50 years since the first trans-atlantic television pictures were transmitted via the Telstar Satellite and Antenna One at Goonhilly ( July 1962 )

    The ‘Telstar Cafe’ is still going strong, but very different inside these days compared to 50 years ago when it was built. It’s a Tea-room and Craft shop now, which my wife and daughter operate on a more seasonal basis.

    I run a Taxi business, and my ring tone on my mobile phone is the Tornadoes song, Telstar !

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