A BRIEF HISTORY OF BASIL KIRCHIN 1927 - 2005
I think he was born in 1927. He first started playing the drums in December 1941 at the Paramount, Tottenham Court Road, where his fathers Big Band held residency. A gruelling schedule of wartime drumming had begun.
Consumed with music, by 1946 he joined a new band (one of the first British Big Bands) - Harry Roy and his 1946 Orchestra. Roy had a contract at the time to broadcast every fortnight for the Beeb. In his fast period with Roy, Basil developed a broad knowledge of musical styles. By the end of the 40s, Basil was with the Ted Heath Band, the finest big band in Europe. Several celebrity filled European tours followed.
Post Heath, and by the early 50s, the Kirchin Band had arrived - led and directed by Basil and his father Ivor. The countrywide work and broadcasts kept coming in, including a long series of live broadcast with the legendary vocalist Ruby Murray.
In 1954 Ivor was involved in a serious car accident, and told Basil to take over the band. Not with a head for business, Basil soon realised his place was performing and composing music, not organising and running a band. With his fathers return to fitness Basil could get to what he could do best. Ivors return to heath also brought about the New Kirchin Band - a new brassier, percussive sound was developed which proved remarkably popular. So much so that the band cut 4 singles and an EP for Decca, and two further singles for Parlaphone under the supervision of a young George Martin.
At the time, The Kirchin Band was the only band to play live with it's own PA system. Not only did this ensure a stable sound quality but also meant Basil could record all their performances.
The band developed a wild, spontaneous sound never heard before, and Basil had it all on tape. However Basil felt a little too restricted in his big band environment, and eventually broke up his original creation. Fleeing from a difficult break up, Basil went travelling - India, America, Europe, and Australia were all on his itinery.
His precious tapes were with him on board ship as it docked at Sidney Harbour. Tragically, as the tapes were being hauled off the ship onto the dockside, the cargo net broke and the tapes fell into the water. Everything was ruined. A life's work gone for good.
By 1961 Basil was back in England, and had begun writing music for "imaginary films" with the help of Keith Herd, a local friend and electronics expert. Basil took these recordings to London, looking for work, and eventually it started to dribble in. From then on Basil was responsible for producing some of the most unique unique and quite beautiful music for film, TV and libraries. Some notable film scores from the period include The Shuttered Room, Assignment K and Dr Phibes.
He'd also begun work on his Worlds Within Worlds concepts - a whole new language and sound in music he had discovered. But it was only until 1967 when the swiss manufacturers "Nagra" perfected a recording machine advanced enough for Basil that he could actually even consider beginning work.
With the financial assistance of the Arts Council Basil managed to get himself a "Nagra" and by 1971 the first Worlds recording was released, and in theory a new musical language was born. Basil had discovered a new sound within sound, that no one had heard before. Needless to say, the LP sunk without a trace. Two years later, the next part of his Worlds opus was released, this time on Island records. In Basil's opinion, both releases are botched attempts at his true ideal - ruined, muddied and diluted by too much record company interference. Basil moved to Switzerland and continued work on his new musical language, paid for by his occasional film and TV work.
By the late 70s Basil returned to the North of England.
Since then Basil has been working and composing most of the time, but with no single musical release.
If we now ride to 2003 we have a new situation developing. Kirchin whispers are starting. The prescient industrial movement have already praised the great man as a major influence on their music and theories - you will find Basil Kirchin on the famous "Nurse With Wound" List. His two LPs have become almost mythical in influence and status, with musicians such as Eno citing him as an influence. Library collectors search out his odd and now rare jazz 10" releases. To brave listeners everywhere Basil Kirchin is the composer you find when you heard everything else. His music will consume you, entertain you, thrill you and scare the living daylight out of you.
2003 also marks the release of the first Kirchin recording for 30 years on Trunk Records. It is the start of a new Kirchin programme, releasing his great unreleased recordings. Quantum was the first release, and is the recording Basil always wanted - his greatest experiment in sound. And you can buy it and hear it now.
By now, all new Kirchin fans will have stumbled across the pastoral jazz and odd elegance of the very latest Trunk / Kirchin release 'Abstractions of the Industrial North'. It is a tragic, and quite wonderful work, and many people and I don't normally say this kind of thing but yes, many people believe it is the best Trunk release to date. And today, Wednesday 22nd, I have been informed by Basil's trusted companion that the great man has passed away after a long, long battle against cancer. He died on Saturday 18th, and it has been desperately sad news for anyone close to him. His last words in the media, in the latest interview by Bob Stanley in Mojo, he was quoted as saying that although he was very ill, he was still "roaring". And indeed he was. He never gave up. The world is a far quieter place without him.