Radiophonic Workshop, The – “Possum” – [Room 13]
Beautiful and melancholy score to a surreal film that employs sound as an intrinsic element of plot development, has more suspense stuffed in its creepy leather bag than story that is able to be followed, and a direct link to an important pioneer of electronic sound production, one Delia Derbyshire.
Both minimal and lush, meandering and terse, conventional and nonconventional instrumentation, there are several aspects of this soundtrack that exist in stark contrast but all of them contribute to an experience that is eerie and unsettling, perhaps most notably is the incredible variation in volume. Long quiet passages that pulls the listener/viewer in, so hauntingly austere that one might soften their breath to catch the delicate nuance before a subsonic rumble begins, synthesizers swell briefly and culminate in a piercing stab of feedback or (if you’re lucky) a brief snippet of reversed (possibly antique) analog tape potentially soaked in fox blood. Keep your eye on VU and finger on the fader. It’s going to get hairy for dj’s with sensitive proclivities. Or just let ‘er rip, but know this, if it sounds good and is just peaking into the red… it is very likely about to clip severely, with malice aforethought, potentially harming your unsuspecting fragile (especially in headphones ) tympanic membranes. Our listeners will be fine, but you my dear, are perched precariously on the precipice of aural trauma. Proceed with caution. For the record, this is even more true for the film whose protagonist mumbles quietly just below coherency… unless he is whimpering in pain which sadly, is not represented on this bizarre double LP.
What is represented are sounds donated from the Delia Derbyshire Archive to The Radiophonic Workshop for manipulation and inclusion on the soundtrack of this extremely strange and slightly challenging film. Derbyshire is best known for her work with The BBC Radiophonic Workshop on Dr. Who and more specifically credited with the creation of (though she did not compose) the highly recognizable and light-years ahead of its time theme song. Which is, perhaps intentionally, though to a lesser degree, true for Possum; playing either A1 – “Verse 1 And Main Title” or D9 “Opening Titles (Early Mix)” will result in a simple yet hauntingly familiar sounding theme akin to Goblin or Fabio Frizzi.
Also of note is the unnerving insert containing a nursery rhyme from the film that was, for this miserable volunteer, perhaps more disturbing than the film itself. Imaginations being what they are…
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