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I'm just as high in a rut looking up
as I was on a cloud looking down

The first album by White Noise, a collaboration of electronics graduate, musician and double bass player David Vorhaus, with Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. An Electric Storm was released by Island Records in 1968. It was re-released on CD in 1996, but the run did not last long. It is a rare find.

With its striking cover, a white lightning bolt and text on a plain black background, the album is just an acid trip¹ from start to finish. Originally, the white on the cover was to be screen-printed in luminous ink, but this was rejected by the record company when the vinyl version was released, and then again for the CD edition.

The majority of the music is created by tape loops, and frequency-shifting techniques; all performed on analogue tape machines with no synchronisation apart from the on/off switch on the mains socket. All editing was performed by painstakingly duplicating, cutting and taping together short lengths of tape.

All string parts (double bass, violas and violins) were created by Vorhaus playing the bass, and then speeding up the recording until the correct pitch was reached. In addition live and manipulated drums and vocals and early synthesizers appear.

  1. Love without Sound 2:57 (Derbyshire/Vorhaus)
  2. My Game of Loving 3:38 (Duncan/Vorhaus)
  3. Here Come the Fleas 2:31 (McDonald/Vorhaus)
  4. Firebird 2:43 (Derbyshire/Vorhaus)
  5. Your Hidden Dreams 4:25 (McDonald/Vorhaus)
  6. The Visitations 11:45 (McDonald/Vorhaus)
  7. The Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell c7:00 (White Noise)
Major highlights include My Game of Loving in which an orgy was created from various pieces of tape; but it just didn't sound right, so Vorhaus recorded a genuine orgy to mix with it.

Why d'you do (shut up) the things that
most peo(quit nagging)ple frown at?
You haven't washed yourself in weeks. (Go back to sleep)

A part of the bouncy and playful Here Come the Fleas was used by Kenny Everett's radio programme as a jingle, although not the part where a Jamaican neighbour bangs on the wall and asks them to turn it down, because he can't hear his steel band.

The Visitations was recorded over 3 months, and truly is the highlight of the album. A trip on a motorcycle; a fatal crash; and a ghostly visitation, filling nearly twelve minutes.

The Black Mass should be an anticlimax, since it was recorded in a single day to fill the remaining seven minutes of tape. However, the drum and voice jam created rounds off the album nicely.


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