Odd Event Reviews... The Generic Sci-Fi Quarry

Published 9th April 2002

Well, what can I say? It was superb.

With a score by Mark Ayres, Brian Hogdson, Peter Howell and Paddy Kingsland it really was never in doubt.

The idea behind this was to try to evoke memories of British sci fi shows, from Dr. Who and Blake's Seven to Hitchhikers using sound and rather clever visuals.

The visuals were projected on to two walls of the quarry - fore and aft. They told the story of a journey through space and time. Then, a suspiciously shaped, rotating box landed on a planet. We left the TARD..er, the ship and journeyed across the alien landscape. This was a very clever effect. Projected on to the front wall, it really appeared three d. Suddenly, a small army of "generic sci fi robot men" appeared, marching across the wall, and, as the sound panned around to follow them, they circumnavigated the quarry to reappear on the aft wall. For those that remember "The Old Grey Whistle Test", the robot men were made up of points of light. Then, a huge humanoid creature walked from behind us, jumped over us then carried on his way.

After that, we appeared to rise up out of the quarry onto a bleak heathland. We entered a city and traversed a long avenue bordered by arches. Then onto film and into a series of corridors - and if I lived in the estate where that was filmed then I'd apply for a transfer off it as soon as I could. What a place! There was a chase and gunfire, then we were back to the ship and taking off.

All this was achieved by different types of animation and film and it was incredibly effective.

Then there was the soundtrack.


It covered the years, that much I can say! It started with a Musique Concrete piece, at least, I think that's what it was, which at times bordered on the score for "Forbidden Planet".

Now, being "generic", the score was new though I did spot the odd referance to some of the composers' other work. There were hints of "The Curse Of Fenric" and "Mawdryn Undead". Also, I spotted a certain, four note, chord sequence that has appeared in several Paddy Kingsland scores. Try watching the bit in Hitchhiker's on Magrathea when Zaphod and co are exploring the tunnel. Then they cut to Arthur on the surface and you'll see what I mean. Logopolis and Castrovalva are two other scores with that sequence in. Actually, when that bit started playing I apparently was standing with a very, VERY happy smile on my face. Don't ask me, I was lost in the moment.

Oh, and yes, I have a feeling that Dudley Simpson WAS represented in the score. Well, love him or loath him, it wouldn't have been a true "evocation" without him. The only thing missing was the theme to Doctor Who, which, as the event was a tribute to Delia Derbyshire, I feel could have been played at the very end, after the credits, with a howlaround sequence projected on the wall. Maybe the new, stereo mix? However, as this was supposed to be "generic", it seems that it simply wouldn't have fitted - too specific, I expect. Shame, but understandable. Mind you, the ship landing was accompanied by a sound effect that, if you listened carefully, had a very familiar, if slowed down and fiddled with "wheezing, groaning" sound buried deep within.

Oh, ignore me. I'm just a silly post sad-fandomist.

It was actually very interesting to hear new scores by these composer's and to try to guess which bit was done by which composer. What is interesting is that, with all the new, digital and computerised equipment around, they still ended up resorting to hitting objects with small hammers! Lovely! Authenticity at its best..lol

The performance was incredibly enjoyable. Everything came together beautifully.

I can only hope that TV Swansong gets together with the boys from the Radiophonic Massive to produce a sequel.

Nice one guys. Delia would have been proud.

Tony (Wanting more, please!)