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The West Uzbekistan Percussion Ensemble

Back in 1970 Mike Thorne worked as an assistant at the De Lane Lea Studio in London. One day his sound recording experiment with an air conditioner became a part of Deep Purple lore:

Several massively expensive tube mics (a Neumann U67 now fetches maybe $5000 on the used market) were placed strategically in the grubby AC closet: about five, I remember. With a little plate reverb, not to mention fastidious mic placing refined by control room checks, I created what to my beginner’s ears was a most enveloping stereo machine sound. Forget all that fancy Stockhausen electronic music, the cutting edge of the sixties I’d been listening to: this was mine, and it sounded glorious. I turned the machine on, waited a little after it had climaxed to appreciate the full roar of its sostenuto, then turned it off (generating a familiar massive electrical click on the tape, another De Lane Lea feature). The machine wound down in its own classic fashion. As it did, the celebratory church bells from next door wafting down the air shaft gradually faded up. God in His heaven was smiling and obviously approved. I faded the recording, edited out the click with a razor blade, and put the master in a box with credit to the singular performance of the West Uzbekistan Percussion Ensemble. (It was just after the sixties had closed, please humor me.) The master went into the tape store, where it languished forgotten until an innovative client request.

Read the rest of the story at stereosociety.com.

Thanks to Andrey Gusenkov for spotting this.

6 Comments to “The West Uzbekistan Percussion Ensemble”:

  1. 1
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Very cool! Thanks for also linking the page, this is what I call worthy reporting!

  2. 2
    Moreblack says:

    Histories like that,all those De Lane Lea and hotel corridors,Martin Birch,Kingsway Deep Purple,Deep Purple,etc,influenced me to became an engineer studio owner.
    Deep Purple is a life experience.

  3. 3
    Crimson Ghost says:

    I knew I might’ve seen this before, I see its been up since 2007. Might’ve even been posted here before? Now its saved, lol!

  4. 4
    T says:

    Re: #3

    This is a classic story and has been told before.

  5. 5
    Moreblack says:

    Intersting,purps allways claim they created that sound with Martin.Now truth surfaced.

  6. 6
    Crimson Ghost says:


    But I was thinking this was linked here before… knew it was an AC unit that made the sound, that’s been known pretty much all along, but the anecdote page with such details is only three years old.

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