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Daphne Oram - The Oram Tapes Volume One (2012)

Perhaps the only bright side to the passing of one of the most ambitious but relatively unsung figures in early electronic music, is that the archives of hundreds of reels of unreleased recordings of sound experiments, tape compositions, field recordings, cinematic sound effects and Musique Concrete are just starting to be released to a wider audience. Young Americans did a stellar job with the first Daphne Oram vinyl overview, Oramics, which was a retrospective of her long and varied career from her time as a wartime radio technician to becoming an electronic instrument pioneer and founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Now that her invention, The "Oramics" machine (the first electronic musical instrument designed and built by a woman), has gone on display at the Science Museum in London, Daphne Oram's legacy is finally moving into its rightful place. This deluxe compilation is the first in a planned series of releases that dig deep into Oram's vast recording archive. Painstakingly compiled and restored from over 400 tapes and mastered at Dubplates & Mastering, The Oram Tapes Volume One features 37 previously unheard recordings (a bit less than what was on the vinyl version). While most of the pieces are short, they show a darker and more layered compositional style than what one may be used to from the bigger names of The Radiophonic Workshop. While the typical Workshop compositional bloops and bleeps were often steeped in a science fiction futurity, Oram was more often concerned with the mystery and science of sound composition, and the place where the sounds of machines and nature overlapped. That is probably why her effects reel for the film 2001 sounds more like haunted insects and cathedral-like atmospherics rather than say, robotic whirrs and laser-like phasing. There is a thoughtful and cerebral consideration in her compositions that allows us to imagine and nearly inhabit the world she is building in sound. Quite stunning! (aquariusrecords)

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