Here Is Your Robot Music: Near Mint’s Non-Restrictive Fantasy Play Special

Near Mint rides again this week, with the second part of it’s Back To School Special, produced to mark the coming of a new term at Resonance FM and a new academic year in the wider world. Following the previous edition’s attempt to cheer up any younger listeners despairing at the prospect of another stretch in kiddie-prison, through funk-filled lessons on numeracy, the alphabet and grammar; this week we’re slipping on our plimsolls and heading into the school hall to have our creative expressions facilitated.


The show features extracts from a series of British and American LPs from the 60s and 70s, all designed to have children using their minds and their bodies to express themselves, both in song, dance and ‘fantasy play’, as the sleevenotes would have it. There’s Girl Guides, Radiophonics, The legendary Bruce Haack providing insight into how robots dance, while the less renown, but equally ernest Edna Doll gives instruction on how to bend like a tree in a hurricane, which is thankfully less terrifying than it sounds. There are also at least two quite large ‘shocks’ to be found, but it’s alright because then we have some easy-listening to calm everyone back down again.


I vaguely remember having to take part in such shenanigans during my own school days and hating every single shame-inducing minute of it, but that was probably more to do with the fact that Mrs. Hand once forced me to do it in my pants. In my experience nothing makes you wish the ground would swallow you up harder than having to stand there in mustard-coloured smalls pretending to be a chicken. Mind you, everyone else seemed to enjoy it and I think I was probably quite a pale child.


Some listeners might be surprised that I didn’t feature anything from perhaps the most famous release of whole ‘Kidiophonics’ scene (my own expression – aren’t I clever?!), the BBC’s classic 1969 LP Movement Mime and Music. And trust me, nobody loves that record more than I do – except perhaps Julian House. But in this programme I wanted to concentrate on some of the lesser-known examples of the genre – comparatively-speaking, at least. John Baker’s ‘Structures’ remains one of my all-time favourite pieces of music, but I’m guessing many regular visitors to these pages will already know it backwards! I’ll wager than far fewer of you are familiar with Steve Wienecke’s beautiful ‘Whispering Winds’, which closes the programme. In fact, I reckon it might be about time for further investigation into the work of the mysterious Mr.Wienecke – anyone whose career can include an album entitled ‘Parachute Activity For Senior Adults’ is surely due a reappraisal. In fact, that might be a useful theme for a future programme if I can get hold of a copy of the LP. Anyone care to point me in the right direction?



Author: Robin The Fog

Sound Artist, Radio Producer, DJ, founder and chief strategist of tape-loop proejct Howlround. Devout Catalyst.

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