Music

The Night Monitor – Spacemen Mystery Of The Terror Triangle – Album Review

The 1960s and 1970s seemed to be something of a purple patch for ufology, the paranormal and the unexplained. In 1968, Erich von Däniken‘s book Chariots Of The Gods was first published, voicing the theory that human culture had been influenced and guided by extraterrestrial visitations. The journal of strange phenomena, Fortean Times, had its first issue published in 1973 (under the name ‘The News’ – the magazine was retitled in 1976).

At the end of the decade, production started on Yorkshire Television’s series Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World, a programme which looked at inexplicable occurrences and events all around the globe, fronted by the famous science fiction writer. Perhaps the most significant example of this far higher public profile being given to such subjects came with Steven Spielberg’s 1977 feature Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, which certainly helped push the notion of alien contact firmly into the mainstream.

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In the same year that Close Encounters hit movie theatres around the world, there was a wave of UFO sightings in the Broad Haven area of Wales, with multiple reports of flying saucers, and silver-suited faceless humanoid creatures. It has come to be seen as one of the most significant events related to UFOs in British history, given how many people had been involved; even though a few hoaxers have come forward to say they were involved, it remains unexplained for the most part.

A number of books have been written about all the ‘Broad Haven Triangle’ encounters, with the moniker – named after the Bermuda Triangle – having come from a tabloid headline: “SPACEMAN MYSTERY OF THE TERROR TRIANGLE”. This sensationalist newspaper scarehead has now become the title of the latest release from the musician Neil Scrivin, going under the name of The Night Monitor; Scrivin is the man behind the Fonolith label, and produces music under different nom de plumes: Phono Ghosts, Meatbingo, and The Night Monitor.

Scrivin’s very first release as The Night Monitor was This House Is Haunted, based on the 1977 Enfield Poltergeist case, followed by Perception Report 1, which ventured in more of a ufological direction, as well as still linking to the paranormal. The Night Monitor is Scrivin’s hauntological creative outlet, and in Spacemen Mystery Of The Terror Triangle, Scrivin uses the ‘Dyfed Enigma’ incident as the basis for some 17 tracks, employing suitably authentically retro-sounding synths to take the listener on a voyage to both inner and outer space.

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In the ‘60s and ‘70s, musical artists like Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre helped bring electronica to a global audience, and some of the tracks on Spacemen Mystery Of The Terror Triangle do feel wonderfully evocative of their work from the era, both in terms of the synth sounds being used, and also the moods being created, with the audience going on an odyssey through Scrivin’s compositions. To an untrained ear, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a tape which had been recorded several decades ago, and had only recently been rediscovered.

Prior to Tangerine Dream and Jarre, however, the people of Britain were already familiar with electronic music, a long time before they even realised it. 1962’s hit record ‘Telstar’ by The Tornados helped pave the way, mixing the strange, unnatural electronic sounds with conventional rock and roll, thanks to producer Joe Meek, who helped pioneer this sort of experimental music. Audiences shortly after this would have been aware of similar aural explorations, thanks to the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop filling the nation’s sitting rooms each week, via Doctor Who.

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Artists and composers from the Radiophonic Workshop like Delia Derbyshire helped to influence those who came after, and Scrivin’s work feels as though it was ripped right out of that period, having a true ring of authenticity to it. A great amount of incidental music on shows like Doctor Who and ITV’s The Tomorrow People veered towards being chiefly tonal pieces, intended to build up atmosphere, instilling a requisite feeling of dread or suspense, though use of rather jarring or discordant alien-sounding instrumentation in its execution.

Through the prism of The Night Monitor, Scrivin manages to capture this perfectly, and generates a truly unsettling and disturbing vibe at times, with his uses of reverberation and modulation. The opening track – which shares its name with the album – is perhaps the most conventionally melodic out of the 17, and could have been the theme for a documentary of the era on UFOs or other mysterious phenomena, carrying as it does such great verisimilitude; indeed, this track stands out strongly as a piece of music which not only warrants but also fully deserves repeated relistening.

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In fact, the entire album is perhaps best listened to as if this were the soundtrack to a factual piece about these real-life events, as the track titles lead you through the entire story, from ‘Figures In The Night’, to ‘The Silver Giant’, going via ‘The Gates Of Uforia’, encountering ‘Faceless Figures At The Fall-Out Shelter’, and taking us to ‘Ripperston Farm’, as well as ‘Beneath RAF Brawdy’. The whole album invites you to be party to these strange events through the medium of music, and entices you to want to learn more about what happened here.

If The X-Files was right, then the truth is out there; the only truth that you truly need to know about Spacemen Mystery Of The Terror Triangle is that this should form a part of your music collection, as well as following it up with a deep dive into Neil Scrivin’s other works as an encore. For anybody not lucky enough to snap up one of the limited specially-crafted cassettes – such a deliciously appropriate retro touch – then be sure to purchase and download a digital copy, so that you can have a close encounter of your own.

Spacemen Mystery Of The Terror Triangle is available now.

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