22. Psychosonic

May 19th, 2011 | spirit tracks

The ghost box is also a symbol of hauntology.  Ghost Box is the name of one of the pre-eminent music labels associated with sonic hauntology: a music that traffics in the ghostly, in the peculiarly unsettling early electronic music of the Sixties and Seventies, in the strange common culture of 70s British television, in the ejecta of the collision of the rural and folkloric and the electronic and modern.

One touchstone is the children’s tv series THE CHANGES, where a return to primitive non-technological life (or perhaps Terence McKenna’s much-discussed notion of an Archaic Revival) is triggered by the emitting of psychosonics from those great rusting pylons.  The sound makes people want to smash technology, and, after everything has been smashed, the pylons are so repulsive to people that they’re driven (down old tracks?) into the countryside.

(I like to think of Jack Schulze cowering under one, yelling “No!  Fuckers!”)

The music for this series was created by Paddy Kingsland, of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.  He joined the Workshop in 1970.  Delia Derbyshire was still there, not having yet flown off to become, among other things, a radio operator.  Not quite having closed her first career in music, but getting there.  She’d been a catalysing point for electronic sound in the Sixties.  She’d talked to Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Stones, and apparently had an orgy with Yoko Ono and other persons unknown on her own living room floor.

“I was always very generous in telling people everything I knew,” she said.

And when everyone knew everything she knew, it seems that it was decided that there was no great use left for her.  And so she left, to become a ghost of electronic sound for some twenty years.


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis