ESL 104 / THE TOMORROW PEOPLE


With Delia's legacy secured at the University Of Manchester, I thought it was high time I shuffled back through the CD collection to review the Trunk Records release of the library album ESL 104. Now, those of you who've been popping in here will be familiar with the reviews of Electrosonic and White Noise. That review covers the work of Delia and Brian Hodgson in collaboration with Don Harper, on Electrosonic, and with David Vorhaus on White Noise.

All clearly understood how sounds worked subliminally in conjunction with vision and were empathetic to certain sounds that created specific psychological effects in the viewer. Theirs is sound and music that has a function and a purpose not only as incidental music but it is also about feeding into mental states such as anxiety and suspense. Sustained notes and rhythms created through unorthodox methods of production ensure that the earliest use of music and sound on Doctor Who earmark it as one of the most unusual sounding television programmes ever made in the 1960s and 1970s.

They were highly experimental composers, with no access to synthesisers, using a very creative Heath Robinson approach to composition and scoring with physical manipulation of tape loops, cut up recordings and oscillators as well as traditional instrumentation. Their organic methodology was so successful that the differences between their sound effects and their incidental music become blurred and indistinct. On many occasions, and in Doctor Who particularly, it is hard to tell where the music begins and the sound effects end and they are often interchangeable. The, by now, familiar creation of the TARDIS' dematerialisation sound using a key and piano string is, of course, part and parcel of the origins of the programme but, musically, it was also conventionally scored even if its final treatment and manipulation is far from the orthodox way in which music is put together.

...the work of Delia and Brian, could be said to be a precursor to today's ubiquitous use of samplers
In 1963, these applications were so technically advanced for their time that Delia was able to construct the legendary Doctor Who theme through filtered oscillation, cutting, speeding up, and assemblage note- by-note, in a two week period. Again, no synthesisers were used. The heightened, unearthly sound of Doctor Who was born. Delia was able to take the forms of musique concrète, originally developed by by Pierre Schaeffer, with the use of microphones and magnetic tape recorders, and organically bring the truly experimental and the popular together and present it in the context of family viewing at Saturday tea times. Schaeffer certainly began the playful exploration of mixing traditional instruments with found sounds and his work and, later the work of Delia and Brian, could be said to be a precursor to today's ubiquitous use of samplers.

With Trunk Records release of The Tomorrow People we now have all of the Standard Music Library album ESL 104 on CD bar nine tracks, all variations of 'Oranges And Lemons'. Standard Music Library was established in 1969 as suppliers of specialist production music for film, television, radio and commercials. The styles range from orchestral, jazz, dance and a variety of world music, to avant-garde composers such as Brian Eno. ESL 104 was one of their first releases, and the original record was used to provide incidental music to several 1970s Doctor Who stories, episodes of ATV's Timeslip and Thames' The Tomorrow People. Delia and Brian recorded the majority of the tracks on ESL 104 under their Nikki St George and Li De La Russe composing hats, with David Vorhaus, an avant garde American composer who formed Camden Town's Kaleidophon studio with Derbyshire and Hodgson, composing the remaining tracks.
...it is a perfect mesh of strong performances, story and direction but above all else it is the sound of Doctor Who in its most elevated state.
The Tomorrow People / ESL 104 probably contains some of the most influential and fondly remembered compositions from Delia and Brian. Recorded in the late 1960s, many of the compositions on this album are the quintessential sound of one particular Doctor Who story: Inferno. It is one of the most intense Doctor Who stories produced for the series and remains highly regarded by fans. For me, it is a perfect mesh of strong performances, story and direction but above all else it is the sound of Doctor Who in its most elevated state. Director Douglas Camfield eschewed the normal route of asking Dudley Simpson to compose the incidental music and instead selected a number of stock library tracks. The majority of the tracks originate from ESL 104 and two other tracks, the legendary 'Delian Mode' and 'Blue Veils And Golden Sands' originated from the BBC Radiophonic Music album that had been released in 1968. 'Blue Veils' was originally composed for a World About Us documentary about the Tuareg tribes of the Sahara. This Delia composition was composed and constructed using filtered electronic oscillators to give the "shimmering heat haze" atmosphere to accompany the footage. It also uses manipulations of Delia's voice and the ringing of a now infamous green lamp shade. It seems quite fitting that Camfield should use such an atmospheric piece to underscore the fiery destruction of the world in Inferno and her 'Blue Veils and Golden Sands' emphasises Stahlman's complete obsession and madness. Her 'Lure Of the Space Goddess', a kind of swirling electronic woodwind effect, also surfaces from ESL 104 to provide further mood and an uneasy underscore to the environs of Project inferno.

Brian Hodgson also makes significant contributions, beyond his brilliant mixing and montaging, with 'Souls In Space', all ethereal wind noises, originally composed for The Wheel in Space, but dropped in tone and highlighting the freakish nature of the Primords. Other Hodgson library tracks used on Inferno include 'Attack of the Alien Minds', a shrill, vibrating, tropical bird like whistling, 'Homeric Theme', a pulsing, deep, throbbing vibration. But Hodgson's major contribution to Inferno has to be 'Battle Theme' which gradually intensifies over the course of the story with its constant looping of crashing metallic noise signifying an unseen riot of industrial chaos and disaster just beyond the doors of Project Inferno. Combined with the histrionic performances of the actors in the story, it really does provide a palpably disturbing atmosphere. David Vorhaus contributes 'Build Up To' which is a low key, warbling and dithering sound that again provides an appropriate unearthliness to the Doctor slipping sideways into time. Much of these tracks would later end up also underscoring episodes of Timeslip and The Tomorrow People. Hence the reason for Trunk Records to reissue ESL 104 as The Tomorrow People album.

The other composer featured on The Tomorrow People is the legendary Dudley Simpson. His theme for The Tomorrow People is all present and correct on this album along with the tracks from ESL 104 by Delia, Brian and David.Dudley's work is so under-represented on CD that this is a lovely bonus. What's disappointing is that we don't get a complete suite of his music specifically composed for the series. There are a number of tracks featured in the series that aren't here. I do recall a much slower version of the theme being used abundantly. The theme for the series, set against those iconic opening titles, is yet another slice of Simpson magic that puts him at least on a par with Delia and Brian, and certainly as a stablemate of Ron Grainer and the ubiquitous Ronnie Hazelhurst. Simpson was equally prolific and wrote major series themes, such as Blake's 7, Target and music for many of the BBC Shakespeare productions, and the incidental music to 310 episodes of Doctor Who. Some of the music for Who stories such as City Of Death, Pyramids Of Mars, Brain Of Morbius, Ambassadors Of Death deserve a fuller release and wider appraisal.

The CD sleeve notes, whilst providing biographies of all four composers, doesn't pin down the exact use of tracks on specific episodes in The Tomorrow People which is a shame. But kudos to Trunk for getting this out there in a reasonable state. All Trunk need to do now is get the Dudley catalogue out. This may be difficult as apparently very little remains of the original tapes. To get a true representation of his ouvre it's probably going to need a orchestra contracted to recreate the compositions afresh from the original sheet music. Expensive.

It's a limited edition CD so it may take a little time to track it down now but it is well worth it. Highly recommended.
The Tomorrow People - Original Television Music: Delia Derbyshire, Dudley Simpson and Others. (Trunk Records CD JBH017CD Released 17th April 2006)

Opening/closing titles The Tomorrow People:



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Comments
2 Responses to “ESL 104 / THE TOMORROW PEOPLE”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Great review - so much detail and considered opinion. Thanks very much.

  2. FRANK says:

    Thank you for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed that review. One day we might get some Dudley Simpson music out there on CD. Who knows!

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