Thursday, 14 March 2013

Joe Meek - I Hear a New World

Robert George "Joe" Meek (5 April 1929  – 3 February 1967) was a pioneering English record producer and songwriter.

Meek's 1959 concept album I Hear a New World is regarded as a watershed in modern music for its innovative use of electronic sounds.

The album was Meek's pet project. He was fascinated by the space programme, and believed that life existed elsewhere in the solar system. This album was his attempt "to create a picture in music of what could be up there in outer space", he explained. "At first I was going to record it with music that was completely out of this world but realized that it would have very little entertainment value so I kept the construction of the music down to earth". He achieved this as a sound engineer by blending the Blue Men's skiffle/rock-and-roll style with a range of sound effects created by such kitchen-sink methods as blowing bubbles in water with a straw, draining water out of a sink, shorting out an electrical circuit and banging partly filled milk bottles with spoons; however, one must listen carefully to detect these prosaic origins in the finished product. Another feature of the recordings is the early use of stereophonic sound.

Joe set up his own independent label, Triumph. It was for this label, in 1960, that he recorded his most way-out work, the first-ever concept album I Hear A New World. The world was obsessed with space travel: Satellites and rockets, science-fiction and men from Mars. Tracks on Joe's record include 'Entry Of The Globbots' and 'March Of The Dribcots', and it sounds like a trip through cold, dark space and into the future. He layered sound effects including bubbling water, toilets flushing, radio interference and speeded-up voices over weirdly distorted Hawaiian guitar and layered, shifting spookiness. The record is now regarded as a pioneering work that stands alongside Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin in electronica's history. At the time it just sounded alien. Only 20 copies of the full album were pressed, for promo purposes.
Kate Hodges

“I hear a new world/Calling me/So strange and so real/Haunting me”
These poignant phrases of exploratory thought became eerie prophecies of a life headed strange-ward into the void. As David Toop once noted, Joe Meek — like Brian Wilson, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Phil Spector — is one of those rare sound scientists that wrestled on the fringes of sanity in order to conjure music from some “not-yet-existent” other place. The risk of course, in attempting to tap into such depths, is total disillusionment — a sudden detachment from reality. Wilson’s LSD-addled mind was lost somewhere in his sandbox, Perry flooded, then burned his cherished Black Ark studio to the ground, and in 1967, Meek murdered his landlady before turning the shotgun on himself.

Meek is now rightly regarded as one of the most influential engineers of all time, a pioneer of the studio-as-instrument (and producer-as-artist) recording approach. In 1959, Joe Meek, alongside Rod Freeman and The West Five, fleshed out the spectacular, space-themed visions ghosting his brain. The result was I Hear a New World, a collection of dreamy pop vignettes, adorned with dubby echoes and tape-warped sonic tendrils. These pop experiments, originally released in abbreviated form, were all but ignored at the time. It seems that music made for and about the future must wait for the future to arrive before it can be sufficiently understood and appreciated.
Jonathan Patrick

A profound influence on artists as diverse as Steven Stapleton and Saint Etienne, Joe Meek's magnum opus was destined to languish in obscurity for several decades. Aside from a couple of highly collectable EPs of the material, and a few white label copies, it didn't get an official release in Meek's lifetime. Having developed an obsession with transmundane sounds when working as a radar operator during his National Service, Meek had his passion further inflamed by the Russian and American satellite programmes Consequently, he resolved to create a record which would explore life on the Moon. Aware that this was going to be "a strange record", Meek brought his entire gamut of unorthodox recording techniques to the fore. Speeded-up tapes, rattling washers, combs dragged across ashtrays, etc, were thrown into the mix, along with the clavioline and all manner of home-built effects. The results are at times an adumbration of techniques used in later electronic music; at other times the record is undeniably quirky with its risible speeded-up voices. But undoubtedly, it was a significant work, suffused with exquisitely simple melodies and genuinely strange intros that still sound way ahead of their time.
John Everall


Blogger said...

Play Now: Sprinter - Moroz 148 (Dark Trance)

Blogger said...

BlueHost is the best hosting provider with plans for any hosting requirements.