What is BLACK ARROW?

ETHER/ORBIT is a companion release to 2020’s BLACK ARROW, released on October 28th 2021, 50 years after the launch of the Prospero satellite.

 

BLACK ARROW is an EP from Roberta Fidora, released on June 27th 2020. It tells the story of one woman's contribution to the space race via her work on the BLACK ARROW rocket, at a formerly secret cliff top location overlooking The Needles, Isle of Wight, UK.

ETHER/ORBIT

Roberta Fidora

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Written and performed by Roberta Fidora, with Mike James on guitar and Matt Horn on drums. Additional guitar and effects by Andrew E. Wright. Recorded and mixed at Old Blacksmiths Studios by Neil Elliott, Portsmouth, UK. Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal, CA. Artwork concept by Roberta Fidora. Archival photograph of the ground station at R.A.E. Lasham licensed from The Royal Society of London.

With thanks and gratitude to Andy Mayo, Autumn Matthews, Dave Fletcher, David Bowie, Duane Mayhew, Elion Caplan, Graham Box, Ian Murphy, Jacob Hiles, Paul Humphreys, Phil Thomas, Rachel Shewen and Simon Pott for their support in enabling me to continue making and releasing new music.

© Roberta Fidora and B.A.C. (Black Arrow Communications) 2021.

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BLACK ARROW

Roberta Fidora

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BLACK ARROW

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Written and performed by Roberta Fidora, with Mike James on guitar and Matt Horn on drums. Recorded and mixed at Old Blacksmiths Studios by Neil Elliott, Portsmouth, UK. High Down field recording setup onsite by Brian Curtis from Wight Aviation Museum, Sandown, UK. Additional interview editing by Andrew E. Wright. Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal, CA. Artwork layout and concept by Roberta Fidora. Archival photographs used by kind permission of Sue Neale, John Neale and David Metcalfe at The National Trust Isle of Wight branch.

This record has been made possible with the exceptionally kind support of Wight Aviation Museum at Sandown Airport and The National Trust staff at the original site at High Down. Extra special thanks also to Andrew Chantler, Andy Mayo, Autumn Matthews, Dave Fletcher, David Bowie, Duane Mayhew, Ian Murphy, Jacob Hiles, Paul Humphreys, Phil Thomas, Rachel Shewen and Simon Pott for helping to fund this release. Special thanks also to Joe Watson and Jinx.

© Roberta Fidora and B.A.C. (Black Arrow Communications) 2020.

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ETHER/ORBIT Prospero Retro-Style Woven Patch
  • ETHER/ORBIT Prospero Retro-Style Woven Patch
  • ETHER/ORBIT Prospero Retro-Style Woven Patch
  • ETHER/ORBIT Prospero Retro-Style Woven Patch

ETHER/ORBIT Prospero Retro-Style Woven Patch

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ETHER/ORBIT Prospero Retro-Style Woven Patch

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A vintage-look woven space patch with iron-on backing (approx. 8cm across) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Prospero satellite, depicting the year it was successfully launched. Designed by Roberta Fidora.

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BLACK ARROW Retro-Style Woven Patch
  • BLACK ARROW Retro-Style Woven Patch
  • BLACK ARROW Retro-Style Woven Patch
  • BLACK ARROW Retro-Style Woven Patch

BLACK ARROW Retro-Style Woven Patch

Your price

BLACK ARROW Retro-Style Woven Patch

Please choose a price: £ GBP (£7.00 or more)

Please pay at least £7.00

or close
£7.00

A vintage-look woven space patch with iron-on backing (approx. 8cm across) to celebrate the BLACK ARROW rocket, depicting the years in which the rockets were launched, the testing site on the Isle of Wight and the rocket itself. Designed by Roberta Fidora.

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About Ether/Orbit

A forgotten satellite deteriorates in low orbit. Lost to the atmosphere or ready to come back to Earth? 

ETHER/ORBIT, a companion release to 2020’s BLACK ARROW, sets a more funereal tone than its predecessor, soundtracking the Prospero satellite’s slow decay in low orbit and the final attempts to contact it. Without human intervention, it is estimated that it will eventually break up by 2070, almost 100 years after being launched, survived only by a few faint, uncertain transmissions on 137.560 MHz; signals that can be heard in the ghostly sonic ether by those who choose to listen carefully to them. 

A contemplation on quiet disintegration and the conflicting allures of distance and connection, using the satellite as a skyward centre-point; ETHER/ORBIT considers the romanticism of the space age versus the reality and how we’re always listening for something in the darkness.

About BLACK ARROW

BLACK ARROW is an EP documenting the true story of one woman’s work in the British Space Programme of the 1960s, as a seventeen-year-old rocket engineer. BLACK ARROW was also a rocket developed in the 1960s on the Isle of Wight, UK (where I live), at a test facility overlooking The Needles. The project helped launch the British satellite Prospero in 1971. This release is a soundtrack inspired by BLACK ARROW; intended to serve as an audio documentation of British space endeavours, specifically highlighting women’s work in the field, using an interview with one of the few female rocket engineers working in such a role at the time, interwoven with experimental sonics and field recordings from what is left of the concrete rocket testing facility amongst nature's resplendent reclamation of the site. It has been made possible with the exceptionally kind support of Wight Aviation Museum and The National Trust staff at the original site at High Down. I've also been lucky enough to have Matt Horn and Mike James of the Portsmouth punk band Horseflies playing on the record, providing encouragement and sonic rocket fuel. 

According to Marlene Irving, whose interview is at the centre of this release, many people on the island still don't know about the rocket testing at High Down, because of the secretive and previously classified nature of the work. In recent times, there has been an excellent art exhibition by Katayoun Dowlatshahi (in 2011) and also a detailed documentary by Joe Myerscough dedicated to BLACK ARROW and, now, there is an audio artefact which provides a record of women's contributions to the programme. I hope this release builds on what has gone before and gives people another way of discovering or remembering the ghosts of the British Space Programme. I also hope it inspires women in STEM and in music to pursue the work they want to do and to align with the stars that we all strive to reach.

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