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Out Of This World: Atmospheric Sound And Effects From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop

01/05/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Out Of This World: Atmospheric Sound And Effects From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the USA - or Buy Out Of This World: Atmospheric Sound And Effects From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC Records & Tapes REC 225 Stereo. Orange vinyl album 56.5 minutes 58 tracks. Price: GBP price unavailable (UK).

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Now here’s a vinyl record out of the woodwork, so to speak. I think I’ve even got a 1976 copy of it in black vinyl in the attic although when I was asked to review ‘Out Of This World: Atmospheric Sound And Effects’ by The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, I thought I was going to get one of those new fangled CD things. After all, the ‘Doctor Who Special Effects’ album was re-released on CD earlier in the year. You could have tried to strike me down with a ray gun when the mail-lady arrived with this gem. Well, the noise of one from this album. Unlike the original, this baby is struck in orange vinyl so you can’t confuse the two editions.

On side one, you have a selection of ‘Outer Space’ effects and one of ‘Magic And Fantasy. On side two, ‘Suspense And The Supernatural’ and ‘The Elements’. The effects are attributed to eleven members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which obviously includes the names you most recognise of Delia Darbyshire, Brian Hodgson and Dick Mills if you know your ‘Doctor Who’ credits.

Although a lot of the sound effects are generic, there’s a minute devoted to a certain TARDIS taking off and landing and one noise effect that sounds like it came from ‘The War Games’ story.

If you’re into amateur theatre production, you are allowed to use these effects freely but for professional use, you still have to contact the BBC for permission.

For the sake of listening to this album while I was typing I hooked my record player to my computer and transferred a copy onto CD. Assuming you’re a novice at that, there are a selection of free software on the Net that can help you do this. I used LP Ripper which is rather simple to set up. We’ve come a long way since 1976 and cleaning the tracks you need for theatre use can be done through the likes of such software as Audacity and pick out the tracks you want to use. There was a little bit of needle grain from the recording at the start of side two but that can easily be sorted out and as I pointed out, there was a need to get the review written up so couldn’t dally with tidying it up.

In an odd way, you can actually listen to this album like it was a piece of music. A bit exotic perhaps and definitely very ethereal, especially if you raise the volume for the spooky stuff.

Sound effects for Science Fiction, horror and fantasy have an ageless quality and to listen to what the BBC Radiophonic Workshop people can do with their early equipment might even inspire those of you who are experimenting today and remembering they were there first.

GF Willmetts

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