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Electrifying voices from a lost hitch-hiker

Illustration for article titled Electrifying voices from a lost hitch-hiker

A feature on Gizmodo today put me in mind of a favourite album, namely SW1T DR1MZ by the late Tim Souster. It is an eccentric and elegant exercise in electronic music. And if memory serves this rendition of a Keats poem is the first time a synthetic voice had been heard - beating Ray Kurzweil and his reading machine by a few years.

Dare I suggest that the rest of the album lives up to the soundhouses Francis Bacon wrote about in New Atlantis. There’s also a jazz sense that would keep Pat Metheny happy.

If I had to pick two tracks it would be Arcane Artifacts (above) which I’m sure influenced Peter Howell and others at the Radiophonic Workshop and Afghan Amplitudes (below).

Souster studied music under Karlhienz Stockhausen and privately took composition lessons from Richard Rodney Bennett. During his college days he was part of an electronically orientated prog rock ensemble that included Andy Powell who would later produce The Kick Inside, the debut album from some upstart minx called Kate Bush.

Aged 22, Souster became a producer at BBC Radio 3, organising performances of contemporary composes such as Boulez, Berio, Barraqué, Cardew, Feldman, Henze and Stockhausen. He left to concentrate on songwriting and his own compositions. Inevitably, it is impossible to ignore his arrangement of The Eagles’ Journey of the Sorcerer which graced the opening of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


He was also a semi-finalist on MasterChef with a meal themed around fish and chips.

Tim Souster died in 1994 after an illness but leaves a body of work well worth exploring and covering a multitude of disciplines.


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