Sunday, December 10, 2006

Focus On Phase 4 Stereo

As the back cover of the album says, this record has 14 sound spectaculars. This sampler, put together to demonstrate the phase four sound, is big in scope, big in sound and big in spectacle.
In 1961 London Records introduced Phase 4 Stereo, with promises to break "the sonic barrier."

The webzine "The Endless Groove" defines Phase 4 thus:

Phase one was the concept of stereo. Phase two was using stereo as a gimmick (my language), such as having a Ping-Pong ball bouncing from left to right speaker, etc. Phase three was when engineers discovered how to electronically "move" sounds. Individual instruments, voices and effects could be moved left and right and back and forward in the stereo spread. And then, here's the label's explanation of Phase 4 Stereo: "New Scoring Concepts Incorporating True Musical Use of Separation and Movement. In this phase, arrangers and orchestrators re-score the music to place the instruments where they are musically most desired at any particular moment and make use of direction and movement to punctuate the musicality of sounds. The effect is more sound -- more interest -- more entertainment -- more participation -- more listening pleasure: PHASE 4 STEREO is not background music." (Tony Maygarden - Endless Groove issue 4). For the full article, click here.

You will recognise a few favourite names in this compilation; Edmundo Ros, Frank Chacksfield, Ronnie Aldritch all contribute, but the standout tracks for me are Roland Shaw's "The Avengers" with trombone pedal-notes which would have endagered a few sub-woofers in their time, and the zany version of "The Skater's Waltz" by Will Glahe, with ping-pong stereo effects, whistles, boings and a host of musical theatrics.

And notice the retro price on the cover...

Focus on Phase 4 Stereo

Focus on Phase 4 Stereo

Mr Snookles