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. Rather than punchy compositions created to fulfil a remit, as was their stock in trade back in the day, this album consists of five suites, which rise, fall, breathe, sigh and undulate with a touching humanity.
That said, it's not particularly easy to get your teeth into and, given the Radiophonic's fascinating and pioneering history, it's questionable as to why they've returned after so long with something that adds little to their legacy. As a musique concrète or experimental electronica album, 'Burials In Several Earths' is an above average attempt that contains myriad intricacies and points of interest. As something to carry on a peerless lineage, however, it feels like an unnecessary move.
Words: Joe Rivers
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