Hello boys and girls! Welcome to Children’s Hour on 1537! Well today, we’ve got a very special record for you all – can you guess what it is yet? well, it’s from 1977, it has 96 tracks, the longest of which is 1’17 and the shortest is 3 seconds long, no it’s not Napalm Death’s parents, it was made by the BBC, and was largely used in the late 1980’s by smart-assed metalheads to provide atmospheric scary bits between songs on mix tapes. Well done, it is BBC Sound effects Vol:13 Death & Horror – of course it is, well boys and girls just make sure you don’t listen to this after dark OR THE DARK LORD WILL CLAIM YOUR VERY SOUL ITSELF ….. sleep well.
My mate Alex Stacey had a cassette copy of this, no idea where he got it from and we used to spend, what in my hazy memory seems like, whole weeks listening to it when I was 17 and no metal mix tape from any of us was deemed complete without ‘Neck Twisted & Broken’ or ‘Heavy Breathing (female)’ being inserted before something borderline unlistenable by King Diamond. I still think that’s cool today.
The LP is split into 6 ‘Bands’:
- Execution & Torture
- Monsters & Animals
- Creaking Doors & Grave Digging
- Musical Effects & Footsteps
- Vocal Effects & Heartbeats
- Weather, Atmospheres & Bells
Need the sound of ‘Branding Iron on Flesh’ ? check. ‘Assorted Creepy Creaks’? check. ‘Wind Howling in Ship’s Rigging’? check and ‘Grave Digging (in Stoney Ground)’? double check. This is great because why should you have to settle for the sound of ‘Dagger Thrown into Wood’ when what you really wanted was ‘Arrows Fired Into Wood’ ? and why accept ‘One Woman Sobbing’ when what your mix tape really needed was ‘Three Men Screaming’ ? Any LP which closes with a fabulous 1-2 killer (literally) combo of ‘Chinese Water Torture’ and ‘Boiling Oil’ has a ready-made 17 year-old audience, regardless of its’ contents.
The sleevenotes* point out that the visuals on horror movies are rarely scary in isolation and it is the sound that really freaks you upside your head (I’m paraphrasing). It also tells how the more grisly sounds such as decapitations and stakes through the heart were made. Basically if you, or any of your friends and family are large white cabbages – please look away now. They stabbed them with a variety of knives, choppers and even burned them with red hot pokers, ‘the results were highly realistic^ and there was even some coleslaw left for dinner’. What a fabulous way to earn a living.
This is not my usual LP of choice for unwinding after a hard day’s work and listening to the whole thing in one go just now was a strange experience, particularly the ‘Execution & Torture’ bit, which mostly sounded like someone preparing a stir-fry (apart from ‘The Firing Squad’) and I had to turn the ‘Vocal Effects’ bit down in case I alarmed the neighbours, again. My own personal favourite was the last section, although I am still basically unclear what ‘The Electronic Swamp’ is, I am a sucker for creepy bells and ‘Church Bell Tolling in Wind’ ticks all the boxes for me.
I wonder what effects listening to this LP every single night before you went to sleep would be … hmm, I feel a 1537 experiment coming on.
*God I love sleevenotes!
^am I alone in wondering how they know this to be true?