The Delaware Road currently exists in several forms; an actual road in London where the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop was originally situated, a compilation released in 2015 by the Buried Treasure label and a multi-faceted performance piece based around a story created by the label’s founder, Alan Gubby and David Yates aka Dolly Dolly. The Radiophonic connection is no coincidence, being that the piece that ties the music contained on the album and play together is loosely based on two key figures working at the BBC Workshop at the height of its powers. Gubby describes it as, “…a work of fiction based on actual events & some unusual anecdotes gathered whilst researching for archived electronic tape music albums released in recent years”.
The story is situated in London, the possibilities of technology and tape are being stretched by inquiring minds and the swinging sixties are upon us. “Two pioneering musicians compose electronic themes for television & radio. They discover a recording that leads to a startling revelation about their employer. Fascinated by the occult nature of the tape they conduct a studio ritual that will alter their lives forever.” Add in dashes of psychedelics, orgies, spirits summoned via stone tape theories and the relentless march of progress and you have the ingredients for a wild ride through the middle of 20th century London, from analogue to digital as the 80s approach and new ways replace old.
The live staged version of the concept album is narrated by the incredible Dolly Dolly, sitting stage right at his desk throughout the performance, suit and tie in place, illuminated by a single anglepoise lamp. His earnest delivery ties the acts together that sonically illustrate the different chapters in the piece, his speeches becoming more animated as the story progresses, enhanced by oil and video projections. The first performance was held at the South Street Arts Centre in Reading and featured a host of acts using tape manipulation, analogue synths, ancient percussion and home-made electronic devices, each in roughly chronological order as the years played out. There was even some jazz on the menu and the whole thing was book-ended by Jonny Trunk and Pete Wiggs playing suitably-themed tunes for the occasion, I covered the night for Shindig! magazine at the time and you can read my review here.
The album suffered distribution problems upon initial release, as did other Buried Treasure output, but a new deal should mean greater availability and a re-release is planned, there’s even talk of some kind of illustrated version too with various artists being commissioned to bring scenes to life. I can’t recommend the record enough as it perfectly soundtracks the piece put together to showcase it and there’s nary a bad tune in its 20 tracks. Listen to it and buy via Bandcamp.
Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this now as a second performance will be taking place on July 28th, this time at the Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker site in Essex. Tickets are on sale now but places are limited, there’s even a chance to book a place on a double-decker bus that will take you to the venue from the nearby Brentwood station and discounts for groups of four people. I’m also delighted to reveal that I will be opening and closing the event in a DJ capacity too! I’ll be bringing visuals and delving into my collection for a suitable selection to mark the occasion.
Follow the event and the bands playing it on Facebook, this is going to be a very special evening.
The line up so far is: DOLLY DOLLY, HOWLROUND, TELEPLASMISTE (Mark O Pilkington & Michael J York), RADIONICS RADIO, IAN HELLIWELL, GLITCH, SAUNDERS & HILL, CONCRETISM, SIMON JAMES (The Simonsound), THE TWELVE HOUR FOUNDATION, LOOSE CAPACITOR, DJ FOOD.