Release Date: May 19, 2017
Record label: Room 13
Groove is in the ARP for the earnest chaps in interesting jumpers responsible for the Doctor Who theme. After a 32-year gap they're (Pro)tooled up and ready to par-tay again - an interstellar, improvised synth par-tay, though, sections within Things Buried In Water 1 and The Stranger's House suggesting melody, the rest an offbeat, thrumming sound collage. .
It seems churlish to be picky, particularly given the ensemble nature of The Radiophonic Workshop, but it also feels incumbent upon us to point out that this assemblage of brains would be more accurately hailed as a Mk II line-up of the ground-breaking sonic adventurers who did so much to shape the future of music in the late 50s and 60s. Of the alumni who feature on Burials In Several Earths, only Dr Dick Mills can trace his time back to the Workshop's 1958 launch; the remainder (Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Paddy Kingsland) joined in the 70s, when, arguably, their most pioneering days were over. John Baker, Delia Derbyshire, David Cain and Daphne Oram were all gone by 1974, and this changing of the guard resulted in a no less productive but somewhat less boundary-pushing collective.
1984 and the leering face of a devil roars exultantly as it smashes through the wall of an old English church, drawing upon the mounting forces of turmoil and unrest fermenting in the strife-torn countryside in order to gain power and strength. 1975 and the British Isles have reverted to a de-industrialised fear-strewn land where outsiders and unbelievers are viewed with suspicion and hostility as self-proclaimed witchfinders seek out those who would question this return to a prelapsarian idyll. And there's 1972, the metal corridors of an offshore sea fort clanging discordantly to the scuffled, wheezing pursuit between dreaded ocean-borne intruders and island dwellers desperate to defend what they view as rightfully theirs.
Originally set up in 1958, The Radiophonic Workshop started life as the BBC's own soundtrack and sound effects house band. As well as composing everything from radio idents to the Doctor Who theme, their pioneering work with tape loops and analog synthesisers laid the foundations for the entire field of electronic music. 'Burials In Several Earths' is the collective's first album of new material since 1985 and, staggeringly, was recorded largely as-live, with editing kept to a minimum.