Who says you need an army of television producers breathing down your neck in order to produce culturally resonant synthesizer music? The creative position of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop certainly started off that way in 1958, as the music and sound effects division within the BBC would spend the next few decades liberally harnessing their admitted non-knowledge for shows like the original Doctor Who and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Despite all that magic, though, the influential outfit was eventually decommissioned, consequential to a network-wide penny-pinching starting in around 1992.
Then, 15 years after the Workshop’s official dissolution in 1998, remaining erstwhile contributors such as Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram collaborated for a series of live reunions, sans BBC. Now, in an increased effort to allow fans to appreciate the sounds without the TARDIS images (necessarily), Radiophonic Workshop have just announced Burials In Several Earths, their first “proper release” since 1985 and an album that has zero relationship to any sound effects previously meant to accompany a sword being unsheathed.
Original Workshoppers Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Dr. Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland, and associate composer Mark Ayes created something entirely new for this new album. Each track title is a reference to the unfinished New Atlantis work by Sir Francis Bacon; and, as that novel allegedly explores discovery and knowledge from an idealistic perspective, Burials In Several Earths was incidentally recorded using hopeful and “blind” improvisation.
The improvisation was done blind - with no preconceptions nor any real start point. We wanted to see what happened if we allowed people to react together with their machines in a very unplanned and spontaneous way. The computers and sequencers were switched off and it led to a very human interaction between all of us. It is important that we maintained this feeling of spontaneity on the final discs - so minimal editing has taken place. What you hear is what happened in the moment. It was liberating to work in such a formless, freeing and immediate way.
The results of all this liberating, formless, freeing immediacy can he heard in all their BBC-disassociated glory on May 19, when they’re released on the collective’s own Room 13 imprint. In the meantime, though, you can pre-order those results here and here, and sample several clips below (good luck not picturing Dr. Who, anyway, though).
Burials In Several Earths tracklisting:
01. Burials in Several Earths
02. Things Buried in Water
03. Some Hope of Land
04. Not Come to Light
05. The Strangers’ House