This week I've been getting on my soap box Derbyshire because 'Retrophonica' is now bleeping and blooping out in the world - you can listen to the full release below.
BLACK ARROW is a new EP from Roberta Fidora, set for release 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.
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, Craig Price, 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.
Expected release: June 27, 2020
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.
Why June 27th for a release date?
This corresponds with the first flight of the rocket in 1969 from Woomera, Australia and to allow for vinyl manufacturing times. Also, the release is 21:10, or 20 minutes and 70s seconds, for reasons which will become clear if you're a satellite nerd.
What's unique about the vinyl?
The vinyl edition is clear and limited to 300 copies. Please note also that the picture shown is a mockup and the finished product may have very subtle differences (and look even better)!
Will this be available from Bandcamp?
Yes, you can order it from here if you prefer to use Bandcamp. Shipping is still worldwide.
Can I support this without buying a record?
Yes, you can subscribe. This is set up via Bandcamp, it works out at about £1.67 a month and you get a free subscriber-only cassette when you join, a link to a secret section of this site, 20% off certain items of merchandise and a digital treasure trove of everything I've ever released, including music not on Bandcamp. Alternatively, you can make a small one-off donation to further the project's development which would help me to license archive footage and record a follow-up release (which is already written).
This release is 100% DIY and I really appreciate any support you are able to provide. If you can't afford to support the project, but think it's a cool idea, please tell your space-loving friends about it and help it lift off!
Do existing subscribers get a discount?
Yes, you get 20% off and you'll be able to see a more extensive collection of photographs and research from the project.
How can I get in touch with you?
If you have a press-related question, want to report a website issue or you've noticed something I haven't covered above, you can contact me here.