ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Sarm West: action around the clock

WHILE MOST of Sarm West continues to look as though a very chic and expensive bomb has hit it, during the ambitious rebuilding programme for what was Islands Basing Street Studios, the basement Studio Two is complete — and has been booked round the clock since mid-July.

MD Jill Sinclair promises that the same will be the case when Studio One opens this month. “Therell be no down time here,” she says, “because whenever its not booked it will be used by Trevor or by ZTT… though thats likely to be at some ungodly hour like 3 am”.

“Trevor” is of course Trevor Horn, co-director of Sarm West, and ZTT is his label, licensed to Island.

The remaking of Basing Street has included, among other major works, replacement of the entire air conditioning system. There are now three separate new systems in each studio one each for the studio, control and machine rooms.

These machine rooms are spacious alcoves beside, but not part of, the control rooms. They house the SSL computers and the tape machines. When their glass doors are closed they are acoustically isolated.

Sarm West has gone for SSLs in both main studios (a considerable favour by Blackwell enabling them to jump the queue and get a short delivery time on the second, having originally only ordered one).

Studio Two has a 4000E, and in anticipation of a spread of work which will involve vision as well as sound, Studio One has been equipped with a 6000E. Studio One has been totally transformed; the old control room has been walled off to create a new, small studio for Horns electronic keyboards, Fairlight computer etc. Ideal for a solo artist or a group of two or three to work in. It will have good budget priced desk; it will be available for hire with or without the use of the instruments. It will obviously be a very good room in which Horn can demo, and ZTT projects such as the Theory of Noises album on which he and Fairlight programmer J.J. will collaborate — can be worked on.

The other side of the new wall Sean Davis entirely new acoustic design has been executed, and the wood cladding and fabric covered panels will be the special shade of “Sarm blue” which has been used everywhere in the building.

The control room is now at the opposite end of the room, totally isolated in a box-with-a-box construction.

The ceiling remains the original very high one (the building was previously a church, so there were generous vertical dimensions) but a lighting system by Concord will have overhead lights in tracks at only about a metre above control room window level.

The ceiling will be acoustically obscured by dark blue mushrooms which should be barely visible, and a variable will be introduced by using electrically operated curtains.