[Here is the seventh of Paddy's articles for the KBC Newsletter. It appeared in issue number twelve (spring/summer 1982).]
Somewhere in a fashionable recording studio I sit in a large sound-proof overdub booth. I am wearing headphones and am surrounded by big fat microphones supported by greasy metal dinosaur-type stands, thin long pencil-mikes in shock-proof mounts suspended in Gaffa. There's a couple of flat, square pressure-zone mikes stuck on a piece of glass between me and the control-room. I've just finished whirling a ruler on a piece of string round and round my head. I have been whirling for over an hour, and have a blister...please save your sympathy for the following overdub.
Through this microphonic garden I can see two or three weirdos. They are sat in the control-room, and the prettiest is in control. They are wearing silly hats--there are corks dangling from their brims. I see a finger on the talk-back button: "Next overdub please." The tape-op, our equivalent of Spock of Starship Enterprise, enters the booth and reposts a few microflowers to a new position. I'm putting on my white gloves and just a couple of items of everday overdub protective clothing. "You ready yet?" squeaks a voice from a set of headphones on the floor. There are at least forty-five pairs of cans heaped in a pile. One of them squeaked, "Are you ready?" I've forgotten which are mine...
Later, the red warning light is turned on. This is an indication that all systems are go. Spock energises. Noise reduction is go, foldback is go. Our controller is counting down in multiples of four. Multitrack is go, gulp thump-thump thump-thump. "Stand by, studio" echoes through the hull of the entire ship.
The headset that was lost and found is now an integral extension of my cerebral function, cosmically one with the system. The sky forms its lips into a kiss and blows down a very long tube. I can hear a car. Its brakes are screeching... I open the cage door and grab the nearest kangaroo by the ruff and hurtle it some 14 1/2 feet into a slightly dented 200-gallon water cistern... blang!
Suddenly it goes quiet. Then a voice says "Yeah...but could you make it go more like dang?"
"Yeah, you know, dang, like kangaroo only with a 'd' instead of a 'k' and forget the 'aroo'."
"You could try holding the next one by the tail."
"Yeah. Oh, we thought we'd like to change the mikes for this one, so take your cans off...Don't put them there!"
Tube, tyres, 1-2-3-4, dang... I'm awake. I'd dropped off to sleep in the heat of the studio lights. I'm buried in sand. It's warm and smelly. They've painted it to make it look good. We're making a video. A voice is saying, "Now what exactly do you want the camera to see in this shot, Kate?"
"Well..d's going to be a rock, and the rock's going to speak, OK?"
A voice by my ear says, "We're just going to bury your head, mate, all right?"
Sounds of a shovel. They bury my head. It goes very quiet. I can just about hear Kate and the director saying things like, "We could start at his feet and work up towards his head, or...we could pan from this rather pretty little scene here, or how about..." etc., etc.
It's even warmer now. They seem to be having lots of ideas about this scene. That's nice.
"...on the other hand, we could do a cross-fade and just zoom in..."
Oh, well, today I'm a rock, and a speaking rock at that. I suppose I could say something like "Excuse me, old chap, but do you realise I'm buried?" but I'm sure it would spoil the effect.
"OK, everybody, we'll go for a take. You asleep, Pad?"
Beneath the sands of the Bathurst Islands I lay waiting for the third orchestral beat that cues this rock to speak at the end of The Dreaming. The first comes with a dijeridu hoot, the second comes with birds, and on the third I speak. I'm buried. The cameras roll. The Dreaming begins.
I'm a soldier in an English forest. Sunlight mingles with smoke. Shafts as bright as supertroupers illuminate an army of musicians asleep on a film set...The next time they would be holding their breath waiting for their cue beneath a lake. They were supposed to be totally submerged, but they kept bobbing up and down. Never mind, put them in minotaur costumes with rings through their noses and they can beat on the ground with sticks...Oh, and can you make a sound like a mule? You know, "hee-haw", only deeper...
One--There's a hoot.
Two--I can hear birds.
Three--Two...Three...Four and a half...The rock speaks.
©1990 Andy Marvick