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MUSIC OF THE FUTURE - Desmond Leslie

Yes, hello and welcome to the Des Les Page. And what an eccentric, what a chancer, what an all round groovy man. He made some very peculiar music, of a musique concrete nature, by tape looping, with car engines and breaking pianos. And then issued it all on his own odd little hand made acetate. And gave it away to friends. Later on, when he decided to make no more music, he was spotted running out of the audience and punching Bernard Levin on a live episode of “That was The Week That Was”, only because Mr Levin was slagging off Mrs Des Les and her recent play. And it doesn't stop there for our Des. He also wrote the very first book on Flying Saucers with famous Sci Fi writer Adamski (who later went on to write the seminal “Inside The Flying Saucers” but not with Des). Des also lived in a Castle, Castle Leslie in fact, and if you look it up on the internet you can go and stay there, or, like Paul McCartney, go and get married there.

This is the first time this recording has ever been released. We are all very lucky. The recordings date from 1955 - 1959, and were all made, we believe, at Castle Leslie. Some of the music was later issued by the Joseph Weinburger library for synchronisation - it's difficult to trace which cues may have been used over the years but talking to Weinburgers (or JW Media as they are now known), it seems that Des was on the nag all the time, trying to annoy, intimidate or just embarrass the company into getting his Musique Concrete used. Threats normally came in the form of World War Two style Spitfire pilot talk.

Anyway, here are some original liner notes from Music Of The Future by Des Les, which will give you a fine flavour of the man we are dealing with here. What a guy.

Here we go....

“Put this record on a good Hi-FI set. Twiddle the knobs till you find the levels you like. Tell the neighbours to go to hell (they'll probably only think it's the plumbing). Sit back and enjoy yourself.

My MUSIQUE CONCRETE is meant to be enjoyed”

SIDE ONE

Theme Music from the film: “THE DAY THE SKY FELL IN”.

1. “Play in”. (0:26)
2. “Destruction of the Flies”. ( 4:46 )
3. “Invention of the Weapon”. (0:45)
4. “The Stranger”. ( 1:40 )
5. “The Stranger's Quest”. ( 1:05 )
6. “Finale and Play-out”. ( 1:51 )

MUSIC OF THE VOIDS OF OUTERSPACE.

7. “Asteroid Belt”. ( 2:11 )
8. “Mercury, fleet messenger of the gods”. ( 1:05 )
9. “Comet in Aquarious”. ( 1:30 )
10. “The Warhorns of Mars”. ( 1:40 )
11. “Saturn-Chronos”. ( 4:13 )

SIDE TWO

SACRIFICE, B.C. 5,000.

1. “Dawn, Invocation”. (2.45)
2. “Gathering of the Elders”. (4.43)
3. “Coming of the Elementals, The Victim. (6.47)

DEATH OF SATAN

4. “Esoteric Tone Poem”. (6.34)

THEME MUSIC FROM THE FILM “THE DAY THE SKY FELL IN”
When producer Barry Shawzin brought me the cutting copy of this brilliant pithy filmed comment on the absurdity of super-weapons I felt that here was the perfect film on which to graft my sounds. I was right. It was a composers answer to prayer, and the finished film caused a near riot at the Venice Film Festival in 1959.

The film tells the story of a clever-clever scientist (played by Roger Delgado) who is working on a device that will undoubtedly be the “ultimate weapon”. Scientist has a grown up idiot son (Terence Knapp) who specialises in catching and dismembering flies for intellectual improvement. The play-in consists of three consecutive themes; 1. Destruction; 2, The Idiot; 3, Armed Might. This is followed by The Catching Of The Flies. Ending on a sound suggesting idiot laughter, this theme gives way to the solemn notes of The Scientist, followed by The Invention of the Weapon. The work is interrupted by The Stranger, who begs the scientist to desist. What he is doing is tantamount to putting a dangerous weapon in the hands of an idiot. Naturally the visitor gets nowhere fast, so on leaving he gives the idiot son a loaded revolver to play with. The scientist's footsteps ring out eerily as he goes to his son's room to read him “Chicken Licken”. Stopped, aghast in the doorway his eyes widen in horror and we zoom into a huge frightening close-up of the Idiot with a loaded gun in his mouth, his finger on the trigger. Musically, The Struggle follows, giving way to the theme of Anger. In fury the scientist telephones the police: “no one but a madman would put a dangerous weapon in the hands of an idiot!”. The film closes with an appropriate musical comment.

MUSIC FROM THE VOIDS OF OUTER SPACE

This is a fairly descriptive work. Opening with ASTEROIDS we appear to journey through, and leave behind, that ruined part of the Solar System, known as “The Asteroid Belt”. We are told musically of the loneliness and desolation of this great ring of cosmic debris and fractured bodies that lies between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars where, (according to Bode's law) there should be another planet. The belt is either the ruins of a world that got too smart and blew itself up or the embryo beginnings of a future globe. In any case it is not a pleasantly place; far high dark and wide.

MERCURY fleet messenger of the Gods is represented in his hurrying by the rhythmic interblending of a humming top (Harrods) and a motor horn (Morris Oxford 1951) and was completed in 1956. It is followed by a recent work originally called “Atoms of Heavy Hydrogen Seeking Fission”, but now renamed, “Comet in Aquarius”.

COMET IN AQUARIUS. Comets I believe are the pulsing spermatoza of space, darting on their eccentric orbits seeking new “world eggs” to fertilise. Immensely intangible and tenuous, they come and go, and perhaps one in a million finds its mate and brings forth new worlds as old suns fade and galaxies die. The uneven broken patterns suggest its uneven wanderings. This is a “watery comet” of the Aquarian Age. If it succeeds I should not mind being reborn with it.

THE WAR HORNS OF MARS. A study in cyclopean blocks of sound - dark red brazen bulges. It should be played with treble and bass lift in the middle passages. Repairs to the ceiling are easily effected with a “Do-it-yourself-Apres-Musique-Concrete-Kit”.

SATURN. The inscrutable blue planet. The great Pendulum of Chronos with its deep cosmic beat, the sudden intrusion of its many satellites. A vast ringed sphere gyrating through the ether, holding the balancing arms of Absolute Justice. A beautiful planet but a disturbing one.

SACRIFICE, B.C. 5,000 is designed to awaken primitive mental images of a time when the line between physical and etheric kingdoms was less rigid. As the mists disperse, worshippers are summoned to a rocky valley in whose centre lies a gigantic stone moved into its position by sound waves. Group by group the ritualists assemble. Suddenly a single stone-age reed sounds through the undergrowth, a piping satyr appears, followed by another, and by a thousand. The whole valley resounds to their piping. Then the priestly horns and drums on the rocky crags answer each other in a brazen evocation. Completed, silence descends, and the mortals await the coming of the immortals.

The air fills with a myriad radiant forms, the aerials and salamanders, nyads and dryads, gods of earth, fire, air and water manifest themselves. Meanwhile the hypnotic spell (an undulating bourden note) begins to lull the victim into the necessary state of ecstasy for sacrifice. The clumsy Centaurs complete their dance, a single pipe rings out - Sacrifice! - the spell fades and we are left with the drone of a hot summer morning - and the Victim!

DEATH OF SATAN was originally composed as background music for the A.B.C. Television performance of Ronald Duncan's satirical play “Death Of Satan”, produced by Phillip Savill. The play which also ran at The Royal Court Theatre might be described as a sequel to Shaw's “Don Juan in Hell”, which explains the presence of a sent-up version of the Strauss Don Juan theme as the opening passage, followed by a descent into hell by electric elevator while ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggidy beasties fill the lift-shaft with their own ideas of what is suitable to welcome a new arrival.

In this concert version, I have however, abandoned satire for James Stevens, and his mystical poem of the redemption of Satan where the Universe is rolled up and his terrible work is done. Thus the composition consists of Descent-Inferno-Danse- Dantesque-Death of Satan-Bells of Heaven. Inferno gives a graphic picture of a classical souterrain full of echoing movement, unearthly fire and the passage of things not good to look on. In the danse, the demons work themselves into an exalted state and plunge headlong into the Triple Pit of Oblivion, leaving only a few winged denizens alone with their dying master. The great bell of the “Dies Irae” booms out its chilling notes, proclaiming the end of the lower worlds. The old dark lord is left alone. We hear the whole unfolding of his evil, no longer resentful, but resigned. For through the dissolution a single faint voice can be heard, not more than a thread, nevertheless it is the voice redemption. The final knell brings deep peace, and from afar the bells of heaven ring out welcoming the return of “their ancient peer”.

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