REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Radiophonic Workshop Gets the Vinyl Treatment

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Two long deleted Radiophonic Workshop albums get vinyl only re-issues from Music On Vinyl


Paddy Kingsland's Fourth Dimension (6/10) & Peter Howell's Through A Glass Darkly (8/10)
Released June 2nd 2014, Music on Vinyl There's a fine line between stupid and clever as Spinal Tap memorably reminded us and there's a similar line, walked more or less successfully by these two reissues between charm and cheese. The Radiophonic Workshop have taken on almost legendary status amongst fans of electronic music, from the pioneering work of Delia Derbyshire and her seminal treatment of the Doctor Who theme onwards. Although no longer extant as part of the BBC, they were closed down in 1998, some former members - including both Kingsland and Howell have recently toured and have a number of forthcoming dates including this months Glastonbury festival. The two albums reissued here on vinyl are very different propositions, Paddy Kingsland's 
Fourth Dimension released in 1973 is a collection of primarily incidental and background music for test card transmissions etc, which while appealing to fans of that sort of thing doesn't really stand up to broader scrutiny, what was undoubtedly ahead of it's time in 1973 sounds rather quaint 40 years hence. While pioneering electronic music from the era does have the capacity to remain ahead of the game, 
White Noise for example (another classic with Radiophonic Workshop involvement of sorts), Kingsland's work wasn't designed to break down barriers and it's 'music from Ceefax' roots are very much in evidence on what is a diverting but non-essential release for all but the biggest fans of this kind of music. Peter Howell's 
Through a Glass Darkly is a different proposition however, with a different brief, originally titled Kingdom of Colours, a title still preferred by the artist, side one is a single long track while five shorter and lighter pieces make up the second half. Released around the same time as Vangelis's 
Beauborg and Jean-Michel Jarre's 
Equinox, Howell's work has a wonderfully pastoral and quintessentially English feel to it which sets it apart from it's contemporaries. If the second side doesn't quite maintain the quality of the title track, it finishes with the wonderful 
Astronauts demonstrating Howell's keen ear for a tune and a lightness of touch in arrangement which suggests his work should have reached a wider audience than this album did on original release in 1978. If you've already heard and admired Kingsland and/or Howell you'll already own these two albums - they were bargain bin regulars until relatively recently and these reiusses while wonderfully presented don't improve sound wise on original pressings. However the recent and ongoing live activity, which is certainly bringing their work to a wider audience will hopefully see a new generation discovering the workshop's output, some of whom will have been only just born when the doors in Maida Vale were sadly closed in 1998. If that's you then start with Howell's album to see what all the fuss is about and work backwards from there. If that isn't you then pop along to one of their forthcoming festival appearances and find out what all the fuss is about.