In 1962 Philips asked Tom Dissevelt to compose an entire LP of electronic music. This LP project (14 tracks) was originally called ‘Checkpoints’ and depicted a journey around the world. The tunes had titles like: Mexico, Africa, Pacific or Australia. With the success of Dick Raaijmakers ‘Song of the Second Moon‘ in mind, Philips wanted an album that would appeal to the current popular curiosity about outer space. Upon its release in 1964, the LP was renamed to ‘Fantasy In Orbit’.
We animated the 14 tracks based on the text written by a Philips copywriter or maybe Tom Dissevelt himself. We don’t know. But in the booklet number 5 (of the CD-Box Popular Electronics) page 19, 22 and 23 give descriptions of the ideas which were used to make the music. Or maybe the text was written later than the music. Anyway that would be our storyboard for the film. You can read the original texts under the screendumps below.
The master tapes of ‘Fantasy In Orbit’ is mono. Kees Tazelaar, together with the students of the Institute of Sonology, transformed the original tracks into Dolby Surround 5.0. All tracks had to be rebuild (re-sequenced) from scratch. Fantasy In Orbit will be released on DVD soon.
Three, two, one and zero. Countdown is over, the biggest - ever lift begun. Voices come from below - asking after fuel, oxygen and amps. All neccessary of course. They get the replies and answer ‘Roger’, Roger. Flight path is good: 69 degrees. Is someone playing an accordion? Impossible, there are no accordions within miles. And yet there's music - does it exist or is it just imagination? Roger. Cabin pressure holding at 6.1, okay. Graviation forces building to 6. What a view! Roger they say again. You're off: seven orbits. Surrender.
The bird is flying now, pitched in free flight, like a tossed stone. No engines, no trust - just Nature's forces. And Nature works without noise. No more vibrations and no wind - the atmosphere, the waves, lie below. A deep bleu veil covers the ocean, where ships sail and seagulls cry and fly. Up here, no waves - except those that bring in the talk of system checks. But these are smooth and gentle: no vibration.
As if switched off, the vague blue color disappears. It doesn't fade, it's simply replaced by a dampish green. Another slide into the viewer just that effect. If colors have a temperature these are HOT. Bright yellow flashes beat the scenery. A leaden sunshine weighs on the beaches and the woods, where natives dance.
And even where no people live, from jungles and from virgin land, the voices of this continent are overhead. The tom-tom of the insects joins the bird - calls: the chorus of life rises up. And in the background - is a crowd cheering?
Sometimes, a strange unwritten music sounds. Music never meanth, played on instruments never meanth to play. And yet, as a child, lying in your little attic room on summer nights, you knew such symphonies existed: composed by trains that talked together as they clattered to and from in farr - off goods yards. And at this very moment, poised high above the second sea, the old dialogue is faintly heard. A ship down there is working hard. And then harps and trumpets join to sing a Gloria from ship to ship, from sea to space.
Birds in red, green and blue swell the chorus; their cries pass over woods and waves. Meanwhile, the sunlight slips away behind – the days up here are short. And when nights falls, for just a while, the man on board feels lost in space. Where is Earth? A gleam of light is visible - there must be people now.
How strange they are, how far away - the god’s and ghosts they worship there with gongs and other exotic instruments! But which heaven do the god’s live in? Their dwelling – place is far below this orbit, closer to the earth. They are within call - human call from earth. They hear the strains with which these people accompany their dances. Here, a man in space, and there these deities that summon up the silhouettes of temples and dancers with their gentle movements. Wich is more real?
The blue turns to dark green - another continent. Two eras meet: the space age and prehistory. Up comes the cry of animals, that have not changed since time began - a strange, unseen fauna in woods where even the trees have shapes unknown in other lands.
And suddenly an organ seems to play. A name is in the air, a girl’s name, evokeing a familiair face. This is the end of an Old War and the beginning of a new. Electric lights are on - prehistory is over and a date - line is crossed. A day line, too. A faint glow lies ahead, for time goes fast in orbit.
A new fresh day - an endless plain of water. And never in one's life did a day break like this. Nor were one’s thoughts ever so light - are even thought’s weightless? But as the hour passes, things become heavier. Thoughts regain their weight, the water gets deeper, its color goes darker than a while ago...
The sun is gold now and the water fluid lead. What a tremendoes heat - the atmosphere below vibrates with energy. This was the scene when life emerged on earth, five billion years ago or more. A living cell -the first of myriads- was generated when the solar rays worked this chemistry on leaden waves like these. Thus live began - and life crept out of the water on to land.
Bassoons herald the appearance of another coast-line vaguely visible at first, but soon clearly seen. This is where life is now - birds sing, animals cry and people dance to their local instruments. An outburst of life, borne on ancient rhythms and drowned from time to time by cheers which mingle with the radio signals.
But beneath this colorfull surace, an antique grey face calls the observer to order. A deeper rhythm than the one hammered out by crazy drums is being measured out by gently clock’s which mark off time in accordance with age-old calendars. The seconds fly and fly, each stroke leading to a cadence: a prolonged, downward parabola.
A sudden outburst of acitvity, on the ground and up in space. The journey’s over, but there’s no time now for proud reflection - a job must be taken to the end. The heat-shield cleaves the atmosphere. Ships and helicopters beat off to the search, while drum-sticks rehearse the triumphant message soon to be radioed to the world. And the ship begins its long and fiery fall into the ocean.