Tim Souster’s quadraphonic tape work launches us on an extraterrestrial journey involving three orbits of the earth, interlaced with live instrumentals that represent the indigenous cultures below. The pre-digital electronic montage is fresh from the seventies, and this performance revives Intermodulation’s pioneering ventures of that era.

An ironic commentary on NASA’s early adventures in space.

TIM SOUSTER (1943 — 1994)

As an authority on the avant-garde and as a pioneering figure in his own right, Tim Souster was a significant figure in British music during his lifetime. A disciple of Stockhausen (whom he assisted between 1971 and 1973), he nevertheless followed his own path as a composer and performer, guided by an eclectic artistic personality that made his work a fascinating blend of popular and serious styles.

Known for his infamous introduction of The Soft Machine to the Proms in 1974 and his appearances on the BBC’s Masterchef programme, Tim was a unique character. From his arrangements for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to his work with Stockhausen Tim was one of the most versatile composers of his generation who finally burned himself out combining too many deadlines with a life at top gear.

"His garage studio at Windsor Road was to become one of those essential, unrepeatable places that ‘summarise it all’: the energy, experimentation, vitality, hard work, rebellious open mindedness - many of the characteristics of the now-derided 1960s. His clear thinking, rational (yet committed) defence of the contemporary in art and music were a formidable weapon in those years against the conservatives - perhaps even the conservative modernists! - within the music establishment… It is difficult to say how the 21st century will treat ‘pioneers’. Of course we should not perform works just because they are historically interesting: Tim’s work is much more than that." Simon Emmerson, Editor of Music, Electronic Media and Culture


World Music is a large scale composition for alternating sections of tape and instrumental music which converge at the end, the piece is based on the idea of writing several musical orbits of the earth, as if a satellite were encompassing the earth in 360 seconds (=360 degrees of a circle), its path over the various countries, seas, oceans, and islands suggesting (or rather determining) certain kinds of material, certain formal proportions.

Commissioned by West German Radio, the tape part for World Music was completed in 1974 although since the last performance in 1981 all copies of the tape part have decayed beyond salvation bar one — the original 1 inch master. This master was transferred at Abbey Road Studio’s, London from analogue to a digital format to enable the work to be performed. The first performance of the whole composition was given by Intermodulations in the Beethovenhalle, Bonn in December 1974 as part of the West German Radio’s series of public concerts ‘Musik der Zeit’. A new scoring for 8 players was completed in January 1980 and it is this version that will be performed in 2001. Peter Britton, a founding member of Intermodulation, will direct a new ensemble of professional musicians from the Cambridge area for the performance of this piece.

"The first stimulus to the composition of Zorna came from a BBC television documentary by Tom Mangold shown last summer [1974], on the global structure of drug trafficking and addiction. At about the same time as this film was shown I happened to make the acquaintance of the Turkish oboe (the zurna). Ever since then I knew I must write a piece in which these two stimuli would fuse in a single monochrome musical paroxysm. This eventually became Zorna. In composing my paroxysm (NB the German for anger is Zorn), I was concerned to achieve a form which is at the same time strictly unitary and constantly evolving." Tim Souster

Zorna was first performed by Intermodulation at a BBC Promenade Concert in 1974

Video documentation of tape transfer and ensemble rehearsal is available.


London’s Hoxton Hall will be the venue for a unique evening of music. Preceded by interviews and talks about British electroacoustic music of the 1970’s and more specifically about Tim himself, the concert will feature a performance by John Harle of the haunting, Zorna followed by the first performance since 1981 of World Music for electronics and 8 players.





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