‘The Beam’ is the latest release from Brighton’s The Simonsound and has been billed as ‘a fantastical Monorail journey in sound’. Urban Industry’s very own Warehouse Manager Grant contributed to the booklet artwork and has played me some of The Simonsound’s stuff in the shop here before. After a recent trip to Disneyworld Florida, Grant told me how this project was coming together and how the monorail there played a part in influencing the concept of this release. The finished product is available on 10” colour vinyl. The limited edition ‘Pilot Pack’ is pretty impressive and contains everything the budding monorail pilot could possibly need including a sew-on 'The Simonsound Transit Authority' Pilot patch, 1 of a kind 1/4 inch tape loop, mini booklet and that all-important Monorail ticket, all housed in a beautiful letter press printed sleeve.
Sound-wise this is a bit of departure from what I normally listen to. I’m really digging the retro-futuristic look and feel of this record. A lot of love and care has gone into the production of this 10” and it shows. The flourishes of Moog and tape manipulation give the recordings that analogue dusty feel and yet maintain an unmistakeable sci-fi sheen. The two tracks really do feel like you’re on a journey and flow quite nicely as a result. For some reason it really reminded me of the opening scene of that 1973 classic ‘Westworld’ where the two protagonists are hurtling along on a shuttle to their destination/inevitable Yul Brynner-induced doom. Anyway, enough of my questionable links; I’ll let the press release fill you in on the thought behind this record:
“This latest release from The Simonsound is a radiophonic ride aboard the imaginary 'SS Mk I Monorail', taking in five out of this world destinations along the way. Board the Monorail and be whisked to Outer Space World, Underwater World, Inner Space, Robot World and The Land of Myths and Beasts. Like a souvenir record from a mid-century World’s Fair, ‘The Beam’ follows in the footsteps of early electronic composers such as Raymond Scott, Tristram Cary and Tom Dissevelt. The release comes with a two sided map showing the route of the monorail journey with a description of each world and a brief history of the Monorail. Exploring the more experimental aspects of previous work, 'The Beam' is a carefully crafted electronic collage mixing Buchla, Moog and EMS synthesisers, with tape manipulated percussion and acoustic sources. The B-side, 'In the Shadow of the Skylon' is an oscillating ode to a long lost London landmark and futuristic structure created for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Hovering over the South Bank like a UFO, the Skylon pointed into space like a sign post for what was to come. Sadly the Skylon never got to see the future it aimed to represent as it was torn down at the end of the Festival by a petty Conservative government. ‘In the Shadow of the Skylon’ celebrates its short optimistic life”.