Thursday, 22 November 2012


"Magnetic recording is the backbone of the electronics revolution. Learn how this analog technology lets you store and erase data!"

The Compact Cassette, also called audio cassette, cassette tape, cassette, or simply tape, is a magnetic tape sound recording format. It was designed originally for dictation, but improvements in fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the Stereo 8-track cartridge and reel-to-reel tape recording in most non-professional applications. Its uses ranged from portable audio to home recording to data storage for early microcomputers. Between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, the cassette was one of the two most common formats for prerecorded music, first alongside the LP record and later the Compact Disc. Compact Cassettes consist of two miniature spools, between which a magnetically coated plastic tape is passed and wound. These spools and their attendant parts are held inside a protective plastic shell. Two stereo pairs of tracks (four total) or two monaural analog audio tracks are available on the tape; one stereo pair or one monophonic track is played or recorded when the tape is moving in one direction and the second pair when moving in the other direction.

Cassette culture, or the cassette underground, refers to the practices surrounding amateur production and distribution of recorded music that emerged in the late 1970s via home-made audio cassettes. It is characterized by the adoption of home-recording by independent artists, and involvement in ad-hoc self-distribution and promotion networks - primarily conducted through mail (though there were a few retail outlets, such as Rough Trade and Falling A in the UK) and fanzines. The culture was in part an offshoot of the mail art movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and participants engaged in tape trading in addition to traditional sales. The culture is related to the DIY ethic of punk, and encouraged musical eclecticism and diversity.

"In the age of the incredibly shrinking, high-capacity mp3 player and numerous online music stores, independent artists are flocking to an unthinkable medium to get their music to the masses: the cassette tape. These labels serve as curators by catering to audiences and artists alike with eye-catching visuals and high production values that can only be rivaled by the original preferred format, vinyl, but at a fraction of the cost..."

Folklore Tapes

"Folklore Tapes is an ongoing research and musical heritage project covering and soundtracking the folklore of the UK in volumes of tapes housed in bespoke books, boxes and hand stamped envelopes. Exploring mysteries, myths, strange phenomena, nature and topography of the old counties"

Further information here, here & here.

Releases, thus far: Lancashire Folklore Tapes Vol.1 - 'Pendle, 1612' Cassette Box Set and Download/Lancashire Folklore Tapes Vol.1 'Pendle, 1612' - Deluxe Edition with Bag. Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 4 - Rituals & Practices (Regular Edition)/Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 4 - Rituals & Practices (Hardback Book Sleeve). Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 3 - Inland Water (Regular Edition)/Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 3 - Inland Water (Hardback Book Sleeve). Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 2 - Graves (Regular Edition)/Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 2 - Graves (Hardback Book Sleeve). Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 1 - Two Witches (Regular Edition)/Devon Folklore Tapes Vol. 1 - Two Witches (Hardback Book Sleeve).

Coming Soon... DFT005 - Ornithology (Featuring: Broadcast & The Focus Group/Mary Arches), Folklore Tapes (Physical) News Letter Issue 1 (Featuring: Folktales/Exclusive Mix/Up-Coming Editions/Tapeography/Film News...and more).

PICK 'N' MIX TAPE VOL. 1 - A-SIDE - Music for Children:

PICK 'N' MIX TAPE VOL. 1 - B-SIDE - Music for Children:

Blue Tapes

Who are you and what do you want?

We are Blue Tapes, a boutique tape label specialising in sound art and alternative process artwork. We release music from Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Why tapes? Isn’t it all a bit self-consciously retro?

No, tapes are not a dead format. They never went away. They’ve been the format of choice for distributing home-recorded or experimental music pretty much since the inception of that technology, and even the advent of peer-to-peer, cloud-based music services, and social networking hasn’t particularly eroded this - it’s only added more strings to our bow in terms of connecting with other human heads.

Tapes are a good format. Even audio purists like Autechre are insistent that - sonically - cassette tape is their favourite playback format. Even until recently, Autechre promos were issued on cassette tape rather than CD - wanting to sidestep lazy digital pirating was only one small part of the reason for this.

Further information here, here & here.

Releases, thus far: blue three: Cherry, blue two: Leedian, blue one: Matt Collins, Future Shuttle - Étude Study, Subscription.

"Sound art, Spoken word, Strange objects. Blue Tapes is a boutique cassette label specialising in handmade packaging, alternative process artwork, and curious audio"

The Tapeworm

"The Tapeworm is a cassette-only label. No barcodes. The cassette will never die! Long live the cassette! Click here to see all The Tapeworm’s tapes. The Wormhole is a format-free byproduct of The Tapeworm. A splendid home for splendid sounds in other splendid formats. The Bookworm is The Tapeworm’s publishing venture – an irregular series of perfect paperbacks"

Further information here, here & here.

Releases, thus far: TTW#47 - Gastón Arévalo - Classical Landscapes, TTW#46 - Chris Connelly - The Collapse of Ether, TTW#45 – Andrew Poppy – Infernal Furniture, TTW#44 – The Automatics Group featuring Amy Winedeath - Ammo A Mass A Mat, TTW#43 – Infinite Livez @ Glockenbachwerkstatt, TTW#42 - Steinbrüchel - Sinus, TTW#41 - drcarlsonalbion - Edward Kelley’s Blues, TTW#40 - Old Apparatus - 15:24-15:46, TTW#39 - Philip Corner - Piano Work’d, TTW#38 - Achim Mohné - And It Could Have Been Dead…, TTW#37 - Stephan Mathieu - Flags, TTW#36 - Lary Seven - Rotation, TTW#35 - Dr. Fleischbrittel - The 7th Synphonie of the Seven Swevens, TTW#34 - Burning Tree - Stinger, TTW#32 - Othon - Silky Hands of a Rough Piano Boy, TTW#31 - Fantom Auditory Operations / Michael Esposito - The Child Witch of Pilot’s Knob, TTW#30 - Francisco López & Zan Hoffman - Concert for 300 Magnetic Tapes, TTW#29 - Peter Hope-Evans - Cast-Offerings: Visitations, Fetches, Revenants, TTW#28 - Philip Marshall - Casse-tête, TTW#27 - Deceh - Fundamental Structure, TTW#26 - Goldmann vs Fennesz - Remiksz, TTW#25 - The Tapeworm Comes Alive!, TTW#24 - Randy Gibson - Analog Apparitions, TTW#23 - Zerocrop - On Tape, TTW#22 - Zachary James Watkins - Black Spirituals, TTW#21 - Cathi Unsworth - Johnny Remember Me, TTW#20 - Chugga - Memphistophelis, TTW#19 - Daniel Menche - Raw Fall, TTW#18 - Pita - Mesmer, TTW#17 - John Butcher - Trace, TTW#16 - Fennesz - Szampler, TTW#15 - Leslie Winer - & That Dead Horse, TTW#14 - Leif Elggren - All Animals Are Saints, TTW#13 - Autodigest - A Compressed History of Every Bootleg Ever Recorded, TTW#12 - Stefan Goldmann - Haven’t I Seen You Before, TTW#11 - Tongues of Mount Meru - The Delight of Assembly, TTW#10 - E-Man, TTW#09 - Baraclough - The Lampshade is not a Past Tense, TTW#08 - Meltaot - First and Second Rites, TTW#07 - Souls on Board, TTW#06 - Derek Jarman - In Conversation, 1979-80, TTW#05 - The Van Patterson Quartet - Live at F.W., TTW#04 - Simon Fisher Turner - De Dentro Hacia Afuera, TTW#03 - Stephen O'Malley - Petite Géante, TTW#02 - Jean Baudrillard - Le Xerox et l’Infini, TTW#01 - Philip Jeck - Spool.

Read more about the return of cassettes here, here & here.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Work of Nigel Kneale

Thomas Nigel Kneale was born in Barrow-in-Furness on 28 April 1922. The same year saw the formation of the BBC, with which he would be closely linked throughout his early career. In 1928 Kneale moved with his parents back to their native Isle of Man, where he spent the rest of his formative years.

After briefly considering a legal career, in 1946 he moved to London to study acting at RADA. But after winning the prestigious Somerset Maugham prize for 'Tomato Cain', his 1949 collection of macabre stories, he turned to writing full-time. Kneale's first original script was 'The Long Stairs' (1/3/1950), a radio play based on a true-life mining disaster on the Isle of Man. The following year he joined the emerging BBC Television service, initially working as an all-purpose staff writer.

Soon dissatisfied with the overly theatrical style demanded for most of his assignments, Kneale found an ideal collaborator in the ambitious wunderkind producer Rudolph Cartier, beginning a partnership that would continue throughout the 1950s. Their breakthrough success, produced quickly to fill an unexpected gap in the schedules, was The Quatermass Experiment (BBC 1953), the first of four densely layered, vividly imagined tales about the eponymous rocket scientist that remain among Kneale's best-known work. A groundbreaking serial combining intellectual science fiction and visceral horror in a (more or less) contemporary setting, it proved enormously influential. It also gave the first real indication of Kneale's great acuity in depicting alienated and lonely people, displaced in place or time. Such characters recur in works as different as The Creature (BBC 30/1/1955), in which the Yeti turns out to be a telepathic, separately evolved form of humanity awaiting its time to inherit the earth; The Stone Tape (BBC 25/12/1972), in which the abandoned heroine dies after being psychically drawn to an ancient past; and even in Kneale's final script, 'Ancient History' (ITV, Kavanagh QC, 17/1/1997), in which the apparently smiling face of a concentration survivor proves to be the frozen rictus of a lonely and terrified woman who was murdered and brought back to life over and over again in the name of Nazi science.

The peaks of Cartier and Kneale's partnership include a brooding Wuthering Heights (BBC 6/12/1953) and their extraordinarily ambitious Nineteen Eighty-Four (BBC 12/12/1954), from George Orwell's celebrated dystopian, anti-totalitarian novel. The controversial broadcast, with its powerful rendition of Winston Smith's torture in Room 101, was an even greater success than Quatermass, which was by then being turned into the low-budget feature The Quatermass Xperiment (d. Val Guest, 1955) by Hammer Studios. It was a box office hit, though Kneale disliked the changes writer-director Guest made to the serial. As a result, when Hammer optioned the rights to the sequel, Quatermass II (BBC 22/10-26/11/1955), Kneale himself provided the screenplay, which neatly streamlined the original's topical mixture of anxiety over 'New Town' developments and nuclear testing into a story about a secret alien invasion of Earth.

Quatermass and the Pit (BBC 1958-59), the most ambitious and probably the finest of Kneale's science fiction serials, was a fitting end to his work with Cartier. This time the alien invasion has occurred some five million years in the past, allowing Kneale to explore, with dazzling imaginative force, his favourite territory - the intersection of science, superstition and human frailty.

Increasingly dissatisfied with his BBC contract, Kneale left to pursue a career writing screenplays for the cinema, starting with Tony Richardson's Look Back in Anger (1959) and The Entertainer (1960), both intelligently 'opened out' adaptations of John Osborne's plays. He then worked on the more conventional if well upholstered costume epic H.M.S. Defiant (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1962), starring Alec Guinness and Dirk Bogarde and First Men in the Moon (d. Nathan Juran, 1964), a lightweight but enjoyable adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel that served mainly as a showcase for Ray Harryhausen's marvellous optical effects. Kneale returned to Hammer for The Witches (d. Cyril Frankel, 1966), a straightforward horror story about a contemporary coven of devil worshippers, and the belated Quatermass and the Pit (d. Roy Ward Baker, 1967), easily the best film adaptation of his television work thanks to his own script and a decent budget. During this time the BBC produced Kneale's 'The Road' (First Night, BBC 29/9/1963), an ingenious story about 18th century villagers haunted by a future nuclear holocaust; sadly no recording of it is known to survive.

Kneale returned to the BBC with 'The Year of the Sex Olympics' (Theatre 625, BBC, 29/7/1968), a prophetic and trenchant satire on the increasing power of mass media that anticipated such television phenomena as Big Brother (Channel 4, 2000- ) and Celebrity Love Island (ITV, 2005-). Although this was Kneale's first television work in colour, only a black and white copy survives. The Stone Tape, a brilliantly executed scientific ghost story, ranks amongst his very finest achievements, but was almost his final work for the BBC. After the last-minute cancellation of a new Quatermass serial and The Big, Big Giggle, about a teenage suicide cult, Kneale left the Corporation for good. Under the auspices of production executive Ted Childs, he would pen all his remaining television scripts for ITV.

Kneale's work for ITV shows an increasing shift towards a more character-based and less conceptual approach, as evidenced by the somewhat variable six-part anthology Beasts (ITV, 1976), best known for the chilling 'During Barty's Party' (23/10/1976), and 'Ladies Night', (Unnatural Causes, ITV 6/12/1986), a satire on misogyny. Its director, Herbert Wise, later worked with Kneale on the excellent period ghost story The Woman in Black (ITV 24/12/1989), taken from Susan Hill's novel. Childs finally produced the long-delayed Quatermass serial at Euston Films, not only as a four-part serial but also in a movie version (retitled The Quatermass Conclusion); Kneale also used the story as the basis for 'Quatermass', his only novel. Although lavishly produced, Quatermass (ITV, 1979) met with a somewhat muted response, perhaps because its gloomy tale of a future society in disarray was perceived as being unduly misanthropic, an accusation also levelled at Kinvig (ITV, 1981), Kneale's only sitcom, and seemingly his greatest departure.

After a disappointing Hollywood sojourn that only generated Halloween III: Season of the Witch (US, 1983), from which he had his name removed, Kneale returned to work with Ted Childs on a variety of assignments including a feature-length episode of the Napoleonic Wars swashbuckler Sharpe (ITV, 1993-97; 2006) and a four-part adaptation of Kingsley Amis's difficult late novel Stanley and the Women (ITV, 1991) that was largely successful in toning down the original's pronounced anti-feminism.

In 2005 the broadcast of a new adaptation of The Quatermass Experiment (BBC 6/4/2005) performed as a rare experiment in live TV drama served as an effective reminder of Kneale's fertility of invention and his seminal role in the development of British television.

Sergio Angelini.

Television credits: ARROW TO THE HEART-BBC 20/7/1952-additional dialogue-MYSTERY STORY-BBC 17/8/1952-adaptation-THE CATHEDRAL-BBC 26/10/1952-adaptation-THE LAKE-BBC 29/3/1953-adaptation (uncredited)-THE AFFAIR AT ASSINO-BBC 1/1/1953-adaptation-THE COMMONPLACE HEART-BBC 13/1/1953-adaptation-WEDNESDAY THEATRE: Curtain Down-BBC 21/1/1953-script-NUMBER THREE-BBC 1/2/1953-adaptation-THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT-BBC 18/7-22/8/1953 (6 pts)-script-GOLDEN RAIN-BBC 2/8/1953-adaptation-WUTHERING HEIGHTS-BBC 6/12/1953-adaptation-NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR-BBC 12/12/1954-adapted for television by-THE CREATURE-BBC 30/1/1955-script-THE MOMENT OF TRUTH-BBC 10/3/1955-adaptation-QUATERMASS II-BBC 22/4-26/6/1955 (6 pts)-script-SUNDAY-NIGHT THEATRE: ARROW TO THE HEART-BBC 1956-additional dialogue-MRS WICKENS IN THE FALL-BBC 8/8/1957-script-QUATERMASS AND THE PIT-BBC 22/12-26/1/1959 (6 pts)-screenplay-PANORAMA-BBC 26/1/1959-on-screen participant-WUTHERING HEIGHTS-BBC 11/5/1962-screenplay-FIRST NIGHT: The Road-BBC 29/9/1963-script-STUDIO 64: The Crunch-ITV 19/1/1964-script-LATE NIGHT LINE-UP-BBC2 27/11/1965-on-screen participant-THEATRE 625: The World of George Orwell: 1984-BBC2 28/11/1965-script-THEATRE 625: The Year of the Sex Olympics-BBC2 29/7/1968-script-THE WEDNESDAY PLAY: Bam! Pow! Zap!-BBC1 5/3/1969-script-THE WEDNESDAY PLAY: The Wine of India-BBC 15/4/1970-script-OUT OF THE UNKNOWN: The Chopper-BBC2 16/6/1971-script-THE STONE TAPE-BBC2 25/12/1972-script-BEDTIME STORIES: Jack and the Beanstalk-BBC2 24/3/1974-script-AGAINST THE CROWD: Murrain-ITV 27/7/1975-script-BEASTS-ITV 16/10-20/11/1976 (6 edns)-script-THE BOOK PROGRAMME: Tales of Horror-BBC2 16/12/1976-interviewee-LATE NIGHT STORY: The Photograph-BBC2 24/12/1978-script-QUATERMASS-ITV 24/10-14/11/1979 (4 pts)-screenplay-KINVIG-ITV 4/9-16/10/1981 (7 eps)-script-UNNATURAL CAUSES: Ladies' Night-ITV 6/12/1986-script-THE ITV PLAY: Gentry-BBC 31/7/1988-script-THE WOMAN IN BLACK-BBC 24/12/1989-screenplay-STANLEY AND THE WOMEN-BBC 28/11-19/12/1991 (4 pts)-script-THE LATE SHOW: Rudolph Cartier: Television Pioneer-BBC2 1/7/1994-interviewee-SHARPE: Sharpe's Gold-ITV 12/4/1995-adaptation-KAVANAGH Q.C.: Ancient History-ITV 17/3/1997-script-SF:UK: When Aliens Attack-Channel 4 1/4/2001-on-screen participant-SF:UK: Big Brother Goes Hardcore-Channel 4 1/4/2001-on-screen participant-TIMESHIFT: Watching You-BBC Four 22/5/2003-on-screen participant-THE KNEALE TAPES-BBC Four 15/10/2003-interviewee-TIMESHIFT: Fantasy 60s-BBC Four 26/6/2004-interviewee-THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT-BBC Four 2/4/2005-original script-TIMESHIFT: Live on the Night-BBC Four 2/4/2005-interviewee.


Radio credits: STORIES BY NORTHERN AUTHORS: Tomato Cain-1946-writer/reader-THE LONG STAIRS-1/3/1950-script-THE QUATERMASS MEMOIRS-1996-script.

Further information regarding transmissions can be found at BBC Genome.

Bibliography: TOMATO CAIN AND OTHER STORIES-1949-writer-THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT-1956-writer-QUATERMASS II-1960-writer-QUATERMASS AND THE PIT-1960-writer-THE FONTANA BOOK OF GREAT HORROR STORIES (Editor by Bernard Christine)-1966-writer (The Pond)-GHOSTLY EXPERIENCES (Chosen by Susan Dickinson)-1972-writer (Minuke)-THE YEAR OF THE SEX OLYMPICS AND OTHER TV PLAYS-1976-writer-QUATERMASS-1979-writer-UNNATURAL CAUSES-1986-writer.

Further information here, here & here. Video content here, here & here.

The Innocents — A film by Jack Clayton

"We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow. But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree. Singing "Oh willow waly" by the tree that weeps with me. Singing "Oh willow waly" till my lover return to me. We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow. A broken heart have I. Oh willow I die, oh willow I die"

An overly imaginative young woman takes a job as a governess, caring for two precocious children in a vast and shadowy mansion...

Long established as one of the greatest of all ghost stories, Henry James' 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw has been filmed many times, but by universal consent the definitive version is this 1961 film by Jack Clayton, his second feature after the groundbreaking Room at the Top (1958).

Deborah Kerr gives a virtuoso performance as Miss Giddens, the emotionally repressed vicar's daughter who takes up a job as governess at a vast country mansion but finds herself comprehensively outmanoeuvred by her precocious charges Miles and Flora. Confiding in the housekeeper Mrs Grose (Megs Jenkins), she discovers certain things about her predecessor that she hadn't been told at the time of her appointment, notably the circumstances in which she met her mysterious death. It therefore comes as little surprise that Miss Giddens starts seeing things out of the corner of her eye - or does she?

As with all great ghost stories, we are never sure, which gives her ultimate resolution to confront "the evil" head-on an element of genuine tragedy. (Thankfully, Clayton and his writers - who include Truman Capote and John Mortimer - preserve James's famously unresolved ending). Who are the innocents? The sly, giggling, unnervingly knowing children (Miles in particular has an unmistakably sexual hold over Miss Giddens, in scenes that are arguably more disturbing now than they were in 1961) or their naïve, suggestible governess and the doggedly loyal Mrs Grose? Or is everything filtered through Miss Giddens' hyperactive imagination and we cannot therefore trust the evidence of our own eyes?

Throughout the film, Clayton demonstrates an encyclopaedic understanding of the nature of supernaturally-charged fear. The Innocents is too elegant and subtle to be labelled a mere horror film, but too genuinely marrow-chilling to fit any other pigeonhole, with cinematographer Freddie Francis giving a masterclass in the use of black-and-white CinemaScope to convey the full panoply of night-time scares and lurking (his use of candlelight is particularly effective).

But many of the most disturbing visual coups take place in broad daylight - an evil-looking cherub disgorging a fat black beetle, the hazy male figure on the top of the tower, above all the black-clad image of the former governess Miss Jessell standing in the reeds by the lake. Despite its origins on the page, The Innocents is one of the most cinematically literate of all British horror films, and still packs a powerful punch four decades on.

Michael Brooke.

"What shall I sing to my lord from my window? What shall I sing for my lord will not stay? What shall I sing for my lord will not listen? Where shall I go when my lord is away? Whom shall I love when the moon is arisen? Gone is my lord and the grave is his prison. What shall I say when my lord comes a calling? What shall I say when he knocks on my door? What shall I say when his feet enter softly? Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor. Enter my lord. Come from your prison. Come from your grave, for the moon is a risen. Welcome, my lord"

35mm, black and white, CinemaScope, 99 mins, 1961. Director Jack Clayton. Production Company Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. Producer: Jack Clayton. Photography: Freddie Francis. Music: Georges Auric. Screenplay: William Archibald & Truman Capote. Additional dialogue: John Mortimer. Based on William Archibald's play of the same name, itself based on Henry James' novella The Turn of the Screw.

Cast: Deborah Kerr (Miss Giddens); Peter Wyngarde (Peter Quint); Megs Jenkins (Mrs Grose); Michael Redgrave (The Uncle); Martin Stephens (Miles); Pamela Franklin (Flora).

Further information here, here & here.