- Silva Screen / SILLP1510
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Emmy-nominated in 1984, Silva Screen bring us Elizabeth Parker's super evocative soundtrack to the BBC television series 'The Living Planet'. Futuristic BBC Radiophonic Workshop synthesizers and super sound effects blend to perfectly accompany and conjure up stunning images of the Earth’s environments. On 'Arctic Pearl' vinyl LP in a gatefold sleeve! All very exciting! Limited to 500 copies.
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It’s now time to ask the all-important question: what music did the Radiophonic Workshop members not make? It seems we’re snowed in by the number of nostalgic sci-fi bleeps and surreal dream-scene vistas from Derbyshire, Hodgson & co, but they’ve still got new things to offer in abundance. This time round we have then-newly-joined member Elizabeth Parker, one of whose tasks was to compose and produce the entire score of The Living Planet, to accompany the voicings of a younger David Attenborough.
And quite the task it seems too, trying to sum up the blooming diversity of Earth with a room full of circuits and tape. But not only did she try, she also succeeded; The Living Planet reads as a synth orchestral suite, at one time being a sweeping, majestic sunbeam and 10 seconds later dripping dissonance like a damp cave. Of course it’s cheesy to modern ears. That goes without saying. But so is the entirety of New Age, and apparently that’s big. I think it was recorded slightly before the rise of pristine recording techniques of the mid-80s, so there’s still a vintage hissy tinge and warmth to it. Those flute sounds, though, are hilarious.
She’s an adept sound designer as well as having complete command of melody to evoke such places as ‘The Northern Forests’. I think there are a lot of forests in the North of the Earth, but ok. The weird musique concrete sounds of the 60s Radiophonic workshop are long gone by this point, but it’s clear that only those who know their way around the dials of late 70s / early 80s synths can find a place there. For fans of anything Ghost Box, J.D. Emmanuel, and Ariel Kalma.
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- The Living Planet by Elizabeth Parker at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
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