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1981
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2044-3714
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3722

Abstract

This article will explore the particular sense of nostalgia evoked by the sound and music of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop for a utopian future that has been irrevocably lost; a future contextualized in Britain by the post-war consensus and its attendant narratives of public service broadcasting, state planning and benevolent social engineering. I examine the relationship between the workshop’s output and the contemporary cultural experience Mark Fisher defined as ‘hauntology’, before investigating the workshop’s influence on the hauntological music of contemporary artists who use radiophonic sounds to recover a sense of the future lost as a result of the political and economic transformation of Britain which followed the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, and which would eventually lead to the decommissioning of the workshop itself in March 1998. In addition, this article considers the workshop’s idiosyncratic output in relation to electronic dance music which, until recently, had been considered at the vanguard of musical futurism. However, in contrast to electronic dance music, ‘sonic hauntology’ looks to the past for its engagement with the ideas about the future; in particular, the technological optimism associated with the post-war modernization of Britain, such as the belief in a paternalistic, yet benevolent state and in the progressive application of technology. In these ways, hauntological musicians place considerable significance on the sounds, music and other cultural signifiers encountered through the workshop’s productions, such as the use of analogue media, public information films, and science fiction and horror programmes, from the period in which BBC broadcasting dominated the British media landscape.

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2018-12-01
2024-07-13
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