Viewing: BLACK ARROW - View all posts

Murray's Theme on NTS 

Fractal Meat on a Spongy Bone anyone? That's where you can feast on Murray's Theme, plus a whole host of other sonic treats on NTS Radio. Graham Dunning, of modified turntable and Mammoth Beat Organ fame, hosts the show and the tracklist is as follows:

Ikue Mori - Conflict
Amy Sterly - I Found The Note
Jean VOGUET - Pièces et Miniatures pour UNE GUITARE ÉLECTRIQUE SEULE N°3
Shit & Shine - Joy_12
Iran Sanadzadeh - Oblique Moons
Viola Yip - Viola Yip at Music/Fun April 24, 2020
Max Eastley - Centriphone, Amplified And Filtered
He Can Jog - Spark (Will Long Remix)
abstract poem - where the bird finds solace in memories etched into its feathers (grief is a paper bird flying through a burning forest – part 1)
Jean Tinguely - Sculpture at The Tate (4)
Garden Path - Get Her Mummy
Antez & Seijiro Murayama - Antez & Seiji 01
David Birchall / Andrew Cheetham / Colin Webster / Otto Willberg - Ask A Clown Or The First Face You See That Day
Lamina - Sous la terre
DeForrest Brown, Jr. & James Hoff - Project for Revolution in New York
Anna Xambo - mnnw (extract)
Dusepo - Dashti Karevan
Harry Partch - Castor & Pollux: A Dance for the Twin Rhythms of Gemini: From Plectra & Percussion Dances
Hell on Hearth - one hundred and seventeen.
Roberta Fidora - Murray's Theme

Listen on or hit the play button below.


Additionally, several of my releases are now available through and Mirlo (as well as Bandcamp and here on the website). I may add the CURXES releases later on as well, but if you have any strong opinions either way, you can send a message through the contact door or over on Mastodon.

X-3, 2, 1...Blast Off! 

Replica console from BLACK ARROW rocket testing facility at The Needles, Isle of Wight, UK.
I hope the year is treating you well a few days in. Today is sponsored by the letter 'X' and the numbers 1971 and 2023.

X-3 was another name given to the Prospero satellite, launched by the BLACK ARROW rocket in 1971 (a technical overview can be found on the Wight Aviation Museum website) and X-1 is shorthand for a radio show on Satsuma Radio and Mixcloud that plays all manner of electronic oddities, including some highlights from BLACK ARROW, which concluded the most recent show.

Apparently there was a radio show in the 50s with the same name too which featured science fiction writers (Asimov was on there, who happened to write a book called 'X' Stands for Unknown and one we borrowed the title of). Anyway, enough rambling connections around the letter X and space. Have a listen to X Minus One below. 🚀

Season's Greetings! 

Maybe it should be renamed Dark Krampus instead of Dark Compass given the time of year, but it's always nice to see songs getting a play on the radio, in this case, the song is In Your Neighbourhood

On that vague song theme, this year's festive Neighbourbood card has now been posted and there is a new collection of things over there which provides a backdrop to my previous seasonal efforts (and a whole lot of hoarding). Last year's festive episode of your favourite puppet adventures is also available to watch too, pending the next instalment.

Speaking of festive and puppets, I knew buying this tiny deckchair would be a great investment. Merry Christmas. 🐻🎄
Bear wooden finger puppet sat in chair wearing a Christmas hat, with a bottle of Blue Nun.P. S. As always, suitably wintery versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and I Believe in Father Christmas are available to download for free by clicking on the song titles or over on Bandcamp. Thanks to Rob at Synth City for playing the Greg Lake cover.

Inspector Horse and Other Communications 

I was fully intending to make some equus puns, but it's even too hot for horse jokes. Instead, I will just share this new horse-themed album from Glass Grave, which I recently contributed to (Neighbourhood folks, check your emails/Bandcamp for a download code). 

Also, for anyone that owns a BLACK ARROW record, you might recognise the release imprint BLACK ARROW COMMUNICATIONS and the "BAC" logo, which is part-broadcasting icon and part retro airline graphic. What started as just a riff on the rocket and satellite theme has now gotten slightly bigger and, as a collective label effort, now encompasses a new project from Dom Deane, which I'm sure a lot of you will love if your heart is where the arp is. We have a makeshift website and newsletter, but have successfully avoided a podcast thus far (nobody wants to hear awkward mumbling on the radio, I'm sure).

If you can't stay cool in the sun, at least you can be cool checking out the stuff above. 😎

TGIBF (Thank God It's Bandcamp Friday)! 

They're back! Bandcamp will be resuming Bandcamp Fridays in 2022. They'll be on February 4th, March 4th, April 1st, and May 6th.

As a small token of appreciation, every order (at least until we run out) placed on Bandcamp Friday will get a shiny new "Fidoratone" sticker, inspired by a long, meandering thread on synth logos and locally, lovingly made by our friends over the water at Sticker Freak (they're fellow fans of retro design and everything hauntology and horror-adjacent, so have a virtual wander over there). Now you can say you've heard the word about the bird and all that.

Start the countdown!

Thank You! 

Just a quick post to say thanks to everybody who picked up a copy of the recent cassette release of BLACK ARROW and ETHER/ORBIT from The Dark Outside. It was amazing to see 100 tapes sell out in under 24 hours and even more incredible that the obi edition was sold out by 18:01 (having gone up at 18:00)!

Appreciate all the folks who enthusiastically shared updates about it too and look forward to seeing those tapes in their new homes! If you do fancy sharing a pic, tag both @DarkOutside and @RobertaFidora (hey, that's me) on Twitter and I will DM you your corresponding Bandcamp codes - there will be one for each side as they're on Bandcamp as two separate releases. Any problems or questions about codes, you can contact me here.

Satellites of love to all. ❤️🛰️

Space Spools 

What's that, you say? The splendid Dark Outside label is releasing BLACK ARROW and ETHER/ORBIT together on a special dual colour cassette?

BLACK ARROW & ETHER/ORBIT announced by The Dark Outside on Twitter.
That's right! Tapes will be limited to 100 copies, so make sure you set your alarm for launch and bookmark on Bandcamp ready for blast off tomorrow, Friday 14th January, at 6pm (Greenwich/Galloway Mean Time). You can also get an additional nudge via the mailing list, which is a good idea, as they often sell out quickly.

I've been sending demos and oddities to The Dark Outside broadcasts for a number of years now and I always look forward to listening and taking part, so this is a really wonderful way to commemorate that. A little bird (possibly near a transmitter) told me that The Dark Outside celebrates its 10th birthday this year as well, so if you're partial to generating or absorbing noise, field recordings and music of a dreamlike nature, then keep a look out for a possible broadcast later in the year.

Speaking of commemorating things, BLACK ARROW made an appearance on this list of Stewart Lee's Cultural Year, commemorating a year of things listened to on a music-specific physical device. Good stuff. Keeping the turntable warm.

Well, back to it. These synth won't play themselves! Or will they? MIDI is a magical thing.

P. S. The thumbnail image of Angela Lansbury holding a cassette was found via the very enjoyable Museum Of Portable Sound page.

Patch Bay 

As it turns out, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of my own space junk (some of which you can see in the video for The Stars, Like Dust) and whilst you can find Apollo moon landing commemorative plates, NASA mission patches and everything from Sputnik t-shirts to Cosmonaut Christmas decorations, there really isn’t much beyond a first day cover for BLACK ARROW or Prospero (and I only know that because Marlene, who I interviewed for BLACK ARROW, told me about having this lone souvenir at home - with a copy archived at Wight Aviation Museum), so I designed a few things that I thought might keep it in people’s memory a little longer, based on wayback space graphics and the kind of things I used to collect as a kid. Go here for ace new patches on Bandcamp, here for them on the main site or let lots of bright colours orbit your eyes over at Teemill. There may even be some tapes to follow shortly, but that deserves its own post.

P. S. If you email or tweet me a picture of you wearing either the Prospero print or any of the puppet designs from Teemill land, I’ll send you the corresponding Bandcamp code for either In Your Neighbourhood or ETHER/ORBIT. Seems only fair, right?


Lost to the atmosphere or coming down to Earth? That's the question often asked in relation to the Prospero satellite, which is still floating around in low orbit, since being successfully launched by the BLACK ARROW rocket on the 28th October, 1971. 

To mark this anniversary, I will be releasing a companion piece to BLACK ARROW called ETHER/ORBIT and it will be available as a digital download from Thursday here on the website and via Bandcamp.

For those who prefer their satellite sounds with a side of tangible objects though, I hope to have some rocket-related goodies available soon, so keep checking back over the coming weeks. Additionally, BLACK ARROW will be played alongside the unveiling of the replica rocket at Wight Aviation Museum during their anniversary event. The museum is currently building a full-size Prospero satellite model which you can read about here.


Today marks a year since BLACK ARROW was released. This article from Mark Brown was something I read early on when researching more about it, which gives a good overview of the kinds of topics covered in the conversation with Marlene and probably best describes many of the ideas I wanted to explore further around this small chapter in the history of space and satellites. It talks about unrealised futures, the relief from several people who worked on it at pivoting to space-focused projects from missiles and the idea of quiet work instead of aggressive mythology building.

Worth mentioning perhaps that it's in a quiet time that I've written a companion piece to BLACK ARROW (this time focusing on Prospero) that I hope to be able to share soon before moving onto album pastures new. Additionally, working on music that's a bit different to normal has provided me with some really excellent samples to meddle with (thanks and sorry to Glass Grave whose guitar parts for those releases are being rinsed across the forthcoming synthier ouvre at the moment too) so expect to hear more noise in with future electronics!

There's still a free extract of BLACK ARROW up here if you missed it the first time around too, so grab it while you can.

P. S. The photograph is courtesy of the folks at The Needles Old Battery, who were kind enough to show me their High Down archives and files.

P. P. S. If, for whatever reason, you've always wondered what BLACK ARROW would sound like as test card music in a big band style, you'll want to see the latest goings on here.

Invisible Waves and Seasonal Joints 

When everything has felt firmly glued to the spot (and the sofa at certain points), I'd like to say thank you to everyone who joined me for a trip into space, with a special nod to Wavegirl, Simon and The Joint radio show (already well into 2021) for their kind end-of-year words and airplay. It's been really lovely and encouraging to read.

I'll conclude by saying that this year has been akin to digital mudlarking; trying to find little curiosities or pieces of treasure buried within something that looks pretty grim. Here are two such treasures I've enjoyed reading this year. One from the beacon that is The Creative Independent and the other from Huck Magazine, interviewing Ian MacKaye. Wishing you a Happy/Better New Year.

The Da-Dark Outside 

Set your radios to hum, because it's time for another instalment of The Dark Outside (the broadcast where you could hear anything from an acid banger to a particularly beautiful washing machine), this time as part of Aerial Festival. Join in here and listen out for something about top secret rocket documents or that sounds like wind whistling through island deckchairs. You can also follow along on Twitter as you listen.

Photo shared by Pete Warren.

Further Into Luna 

Continuing the cosmos theme from BLACK ARROW (and the eagle-eyed may have already spotted it here, hence the post title), you can find my remix of Luna Still, a song from the forthcoming isvisible isinvisible album Moon-White Water. The remix combines the original synth textures and bloops with a vocal sample from something I haven't released yet, just to be incredibly mysterious. You can listen to all of the album remixes and bag yourself a very nice-looking cassette below.

Sunday Seance 

I was listening to the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack yesterday whilst swimming through the internet of opinions and ended up feeling several inches shorter. What I should have been doing instead, was summoning up some space sounds with Simon Heartfield below, on his Secret Self show on Seance Radio.

Enjoy this most excellent mix. ✨

BLACK ARROW is available here or via Bandcamp.

Listen to Simon's new release Mythologies on Bandcamp.

Blast Off! 

BLACK ARROW is out today! Thanks to everyone who's taken the trip with me and to everyone who sent me a picture of their record too - I've enjoyed seeing a little piece of space on synths (thanks to Simon Pott for the main picture), sound setups and beyond (with the Take Hart music looped in my head)!

It's also been nice to be able to chat to people about the release and hear it played elsewhere, so a big thank you to The Dark Inside, SonOfMarketing, SoundGym and We Buy Records podcast for providing a place for space despite the heaviness of everything right now. With that in mind, I've collected together a few things I've been reading and they will be travelling through space and time shortly via my mailing list, so get involved if you'd like something to read that will briefly let you orbit the Earth. See you in the digital ether!

Rocketronica and Retrophonica 


I hope you've been enjoying hearing a little piece of space history this last week (don't forget you can download it free here or via Bandcamp here). I've been compiling footage and photos the last few days of the original testing site here on the Isle of Wight from a few trips there last year and it's been nice to visit it again via my computer whilst the real thing is currently out of bounds. If you'd like to visit the digital outdoors too, there's a couple of videos below.

Short trailer:

Longer video:

Thanks to everyone who has preordered the release too. I got to log into Bandcamp and see this, which was very nice! From 'Haunted Gold' to hauntology...

A big thank you also to Simon Heartfield at Seance Radio and to Stuart at The Dark Outside for their respective broadcasts supporting so many electronic musicians (myself included). Additionally, I know I'm not alone in saying that I really hope we see another Da-Dark Inside event soon, complete with relaxing sheep and nature graphics. It's great to see experimental music so richly represented and hats off to both for providing a listening lifeline to folks. 

Speaking of experimental music, if the cold futuristic dystopian atmosphere of the local Moloko Plus seems appealing right now (as opposed to generalised dystopia, I guess), then you can now get your ears around a brand new release called Retrophonica, which includes a Wendy Carlos-inspired composition I made called 'Like Clockwork' amongst all this electronic excellence.

The compilation has been curated by Sound Effects Of Death And Horror as a tribute to early electronic pioneers and is being released digitally and on CD through Wormhole World, with proceeds going to Delia Derbyshire Day. It has also had a rather nice writeup on Louder Than War already with info on the lead track from Elizabeth Joan Kelly. Have a read.

On a final note, if you're either stuck indoors or, hanging in there at work but trying to find something less terrible to read in the down time, the official Wendy Carlos website is probably one of the most soothing places on the internet.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself. 🌍

P. S. Check out this LEGO model of BLACK ARROW built by Andy Phillips and his daughter. Possibly one of the coolest things I've ever seen!

Rocket Fuels On Rocket Fuels 

Last year (or what feels like another 50 years ago), we celebrated the moon landing anniversary, an event that has inspired countless retellings and re-imaginings through television, film, design and song. A historic occasion that gave people the opportunity to imagine little pieces of the universe for themselves, to ponder what else might exist beyond our planet and where we imagined belonging to another, better future than the one we have now. 

So imagine my surprise when, in 2018, I stumbled across a rocket casing shell at a tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight, just across the island from where I live.

Even moreso when this discovery then led to a hangar just outside of the large village of Lake (with Wikipedia page highlights that include two funeral parlours and a branch of KFC) that just happens to house a replica of a BLACK ARROW rocket being built by enthusiastic volunteers and retired engineers from a local Men in Sheds project. This is the place of sand bottles, wax nightmares, coastal erosion and Donald McGill postcards, apparently, and yet, it has a rich space history that hardly anyone knows about. It turns out that I no longer have to imagine my own piece of space; it's on my doorstep (or rather, a short number 3 bus ride away). 

In the aforementioned retellings of our space history too, what I've mostly noticed, are the archival voices of American astronauts, the distinct "Mid-Atlantic English" of bygone announcers or men in white coats and many top down accounts of history that I'm already familiar with. It's unusual to hear the voice of someone who, say, worked on the project as a seventeen year old rocket engineer and her contribution to an important space project like BLACK ARROW, but that's exactly what I want to hear, given that at the same age, I wasn't doing much outside of my embarrassing Robert Smith cosplay, let alone achieving something extraordinary like getting a satellite into orbit. I wish I'd seen more encouraging stories like this and known about the south coast's proximity to the cosmos much earlier.

Which brings me to BLACK ARROW as an EP. Whatever is going on in the world, it's important to document your culture and to find interesting stories which might not get told outside of mainstream channels and amplify them in whatever way you can*. I interviewed Marlene Irving in the second half of last year where we talked about her experiences working on the project and the legacy of BLACK ARROW, which is personally one of the most exciting things I've ever been able to do. The development and launch of BLACK ARROW, from an small island at the bottom of the UK, to the other side of the world in Woomera, Australia, is an achievement that I think deserves to be recognised all these years later and I feel fortunate to have a part in continuing the story and documenting an incredibly unique perspective on it.

I hope even in the midst of chaos, you'll listen in and celebrate one of many unsung voices of our space and engineering history.

Blasting off for now.

*Emma Warren's 'Make Some Space' is a great read on this subject. I highly recommend it!

The Stars, Like Calbourne 

Turns out that I only live a few minutes away from a real-life version of The Stars, Like Dust. There’s an extensive article here about the Isle of Wight’s role in the space race, which is amazing and kind of weird.

Worth a read/view too, is this incredible project by Katayoun Dowlatshahi, which was based on the above discovery about rocket testing on the island. 

Thanks to Joe from Horseflies for the link!

I also saw a 1940s robot made from part of an RAF Bomber radio set, among other things.

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    In Your Neighbourhood

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