Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Remember the future?

The Telstar satelite was launched in July 1962 and relayed the first telephone calls and television signals through space. Six weeks later the Tornados released their single Telstar, produced by Joe  Meek, one of the early pioneers of experimental electronica. It's weird distorted retro-futuristic sound was created in Meek's flat, on Holloway Road above a shoe shop, where he lived, worked, and died. He was one of the first people to treat the studio like an instrument, instead of trying to record sounds faithfully he would compress them, or layer them with echo or reverb until he got the effect he wanted.

I hadn't heard of Joe Meek or this song until last week when a friend played it for me. There's something strangely sad about it, perhaps just in retrospect. It was Meek's biggest hit, afterwards his success diminished and his paranoid grew - aggravated by his obsession with the occult, a fondness for amphetamines, and the pressure of keeping his homosexuality a secret. In February 1967 he killed his landlady with a shotgun, before turning it on himself. 

According to Wikipedia(and I'm not sure whether to believe this because it sounds too good to be true) a Scottish group called the Knits recorded a song called Passivism in the 80's which overlays passages from Marx' 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte onto samples from Telstar. It sounds mental and I desperately want to hear it!

The Tornados - Telstar

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