Barry Bermange is an artist, playwright, poet and actor. Fond of experimentation and Kafka, in 1964/5 Bermange created a series of audio collages he called ‘Inventions For Radio’ for the BBC Third Programme (now Radio 3).
The ’Inventions’ took the form of a number of recorded interviews with individuals on a given subject (Dreams, God, Dying, The Afterlife), which were then chopped up into soundbites and then woven together to form a narrative.
The human voices were further augmented by some filters and effects and by an electronic background and sound effects from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the form of our very own Miss Delia Derbyshire.
‘Inventions for Radio One: Within Dreams’ is split into five parts, each covering a specific type of dream experience: Running, Falling, Land, Sea and Colour. Delia’s eerie musique concrete is, unsurprisingly, excellent, but overall the piece is rather repetitive and the similarity of so many of the stories underlines how commonplace and generic most people’s ‘really weird’ dreams actually are (I may be somewhat prejudiced here: I HATE listening to people describe their dreams). My apologies for the slightly murky quality of the audio here: it was taped off the radio.
‘Inventions for Radio Two: Amor Dei’ is about people’s belief in God and is a fascinating and rather moving experience, even for an irreligious heathen like me. Without dogma or finger pointing, the interviewees speak simply and poignantly about faith. Here, God is not a fact of life; rather it is a factor in their lives, albeit one that defines them as individuals.
Bermange asked Delia to come up with ‘a gothic altarpiece of sound’ to accompany the narrative and she does just that, providing an electronic soundtrack that mixes elements of church music, plain song and the baroque to create a suitably mysterious and spiritual atmospheric setting. Here is the first section, 'Conceptions Of God'.
Please let me know if you have recordings of the other two ‘Inventions for Radio’ (‘3: The Evenings of Certain Lives’ and ‘4: The After-Life’) as I’ve never heard them and I would very much like to.