Colourful abstractions for “Mattachin” (1968)

Delia Derbyshire’s light and effervescent track Mattachin (from the 1968 album BBC Radiophonic Music) can be heard on the YouTube channel of PlanetNamedDesire, accompanied by a colourful sequence of abstract animations. The BBC Radiophonic Music album is available to purchase on Amazon’s UK website at the following link.

The patterns in the above video blend so well with Delia’s music that I initially thought she might have composed the track to accompany them. But PlanetNamedDesire explains (in a comment below the video) that he adapted the visuals from another source: the archives of the American filmmaker Harry Smith, whose early abstract animations have been published on DVD (more details are available at the Harry Smith Archives). The pulsing colours and translucent effects of his experimental work are a perfect match to the rhythms of Mattachin.

Delia spoke briefly about Mattachin in her interview with John Cavanagh for BBC Radio Scotland’s Original Masters programme (broadcast in October 1997). She was delighted to hear the track for the first time since 1968 but typically self-deprecating about its origins, explaining that she had assembled it over a lunchtime from what she called objets trouvées, “bits cut out of other things after editing.” Some of these sonic components derive from “Talk Out”, a signature tune that Delia had composed in 1964 for a BBC radio discussion programme (the track is available on the Radiophonic Workshop compilation 21, reissued by Silva Screen in 2016).

If you enjoyed the Mattachin animation, I would highly recommend also checking out the work of motion designer Peter Northcott. In particular, his circular graphic “Dots and Loops – 0015” really evokes the visual style of the early Radiophonic days, whilst echoing the warm, atmospheric quality conveyed by Harry Smith’s animations.


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