Stone Tapes: ‘Children of the Stones’ Original Soundtrack

❉ Happy day! Sidney Sager’s soundtrack to HTV’s 1977 cult classic has been released by Trunk Records. The Bowling Green’s Micko Westmoreland explores what lies beneath…

Adults of a certain age and subject to a certain disposition will no doubt have recollections of HTV’s seven-part curio Children of the Stones broadcast in January and February 1977, if not from the time then certainly as a result of subsequent repeats and home video releases. I was about seven at the time and was probably informed of its interest by my ten-year-old brother. You generally assume that they know what’s going on because you don’t. The script has many complexities and is viewed as esoteric fare for kids, which is why it’s so memorable – that and its distinctive soundtrack.

Coming from another time, another place, the score – composed by Sidney Sager – made a significant contribution to Children of the Stones’ mysteries and the series’ haunting atmosphere of supernatural unease, using organic, pagan, ritualistic techniques and textures characterised notably by the Ambrosian Singers, a vocal choir whose recurring, wordless wails chant in accordance with the megalithic rituals referred to in the story.

The voices often yelp in discord, bringing with them an unsettling eeriness, as if an otherworldly agency only content with chaos and carnage had penned the score. A mystical yet isolationist feel dominates throughout. A life force with intelligence, yet with a completely different index, rings from the speakers.

Supernatural, occult, sinister and other such phrases spring to mind as the harmony constantly challenges the ear, dissonance follows unstable chord progressions as the soundtrack wrestles with itself constantly. Timpani rolls, build tension throughout and the recurring muted trumpet states intention; this however is contrasted by harmonic disruption, little more than a few seconds of relief and release in the form of a single, gentle, feminine vocal before incongruous bellowing wails bubble from the bottom of the pot.

There’s occasional use of consecutive fifths and the devil’s interval of the tritone, traditionally de trop in Western classical orthodoxy, but the myriad of polyphonic harmonies is what’s really note-worthy and provides the soundtrack with an expansive quality, as nature’s organic processes pierce the surface and can only hint at what lies beyond…

There are flavours of reassuring religiosity, that something in the voices will restore and remain true for us. But not for long, as any security is laced with a disquieting texture. The music has the power to lobotomise manipulated minds content within their own “happy day” reality.

Jonny Trunk and Alan Gubby (The Delaware Road) have restored and transported this stone tape through time to present it to you here. Removed from its visuals, the soundtrack protrudes from its own root. Rhizome-embedded, organic sounds blossom, as what lies beneath the surface can only mirror the limits of our own imaginations and fears. With commentary notes by Stewart Lee who we journey with through adolescence and beyond, what’s not to like is the operative question…

❉ Sidney Sager And The Ambrosian Singers – ‘Children Of The Stones (Original TV Soundtrack)’ special one-sided 12″ vinyl album limited edition only available via Trunk Records, RRP £21.99:

❉ Micko Westmoreland is a musician, actor and director, who has been producing music for over twenty-five years, most recently with his band The Mellotronics.

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