Pandora's Box – Magic Carpet Ride [Brooker / Reid]

M & M ... & M [UK]

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From Pandora's Box – Variations on a song by Procol Harum (work in progress).

Clyde Matthews: words spoken, whispered 'dare you unlock ...', evil laugh; Rudy Matthews: chorus words whispered
Alan Matthews
: sound manipulation (click illustrations to see them in full)

The Evil Sound Manipulator locked inside The Box

Clyde and Rudy run through Purple Harlem’s back catalogue

AM: For some reason Pandora's Box has always been an obsessive curiosity to me. It's not one of my absolute favourite Procol tracks but I do love everything about it, particularly its chord progression.

Having said that, I decided to radically alter the harmonic structure of the riff/verse section on Magic Carpet Ride. What's the song about? Who knows? But there are some evocative elements in there, which seemed ripe for the picking. I approached the idea of recording the song as a sonic journey of fantasy as experienced by a young child. Hence, after protracted negotiation, allied with accusations of blackmail, the employment of my two nephews!

Sound-effects feature prominently on the track. These were obtained from several sources. Handel's horn was cribbed from a CD, and then warped slightly. The galloping horsemen were sampled from a couple of cowboy videos. The countryside noises were recorded on a beautiful summer afternoon on Dartmoor; the thunder and rain, during a local storm. The recording of the gentle lapping of waves along Torquay seafront was easy to capture but the required 'lifeguard's brave' giant wave proved a problem. After a number of hopeful visits, a consistently becalmed sea meant 

that to obtain the required effect synthesised white noise was used in the end. The chilling wind was sampled from a Sound FX CD.

The vocal sessions consisted of one initial major effort and two subsequent 're-do' mini-sessions skilfully negotiated by the sound recordist between important PlayStation duels. The total omission of giggling ('Cop Robin' and 'Purging bats as warm as mink' being memorable mistakes), audible sighs of boredom and general disorder on the final mix is a credit to the editing skills of the track's Sound Manipulator in Chief!

Memorable vocal session queries: 'Does this mean we'll be on Top of the Pops?'; 'Can we play on something better now?'; 'Who are Purple Harlem, anyway?'; and more recently ... 'Do you know when the Porkell Harmell record that we made up is going on that web site?'

This cover version will, with a number of other contrasting arrangements, hopefully form a sort of Pandora's Box Suite, highlighting the strength and adaptability of the song. Other versions already in progress include Latin American, funk, jazz, film noir, and orchestral treatments.

Roland D-50 used solely as MIDI master keyboard
Kenton Control Freak MIDI controller
Reason 3.0 Virtual Sound Studio software
WaveLab lite sample editing software
Sony MZ-NH1 Mini Disc recorder with Sony stereo mic


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