The Radiophonic Workshop
Burials In Several Earths
Deluxe 4 x 10” vinyl boxset + 2CD
Available as a deluxe 4 x 10” boxset or 2CD edition.
Room 13 records
Burials In Several Earths is a brand new work by the legendary Radiophonic Workshop – hugely influential early proponents of electronic music and soundtrack architects behind classic British TV music including Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
An evocative suite of synth improvisations, Burials In Several Earths evokes the haunting qualities of their classic work whilst exploring fresh new vistas of sound. This is the first new music by the Workshop to see a commercial release since 1985, and is set for release on 19 May 2017 on the Workshop’s own imprint, Room 13.
Burials In Several Earths Features guest appearances from Martyn Ware (The Human League/Heaven 17) and Steve ‘Dub’ Jones (Grammy-award winning mixing engineer for The Chemical Brothers, UNKLE, and New Order).
The Radiophonic Workshop on Burials In Several Earths:
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. As we listened back it became obvious that some sections had evolved naturally as “dark” themes, others “watery”, another felt like a journey and so on. We started looking for titles that might reflect these improvised movements and moods. The titles for each piece here are taken from Francis Bacon’s incomplete New Atlantis novel/poem. Bacon portrays a future vision of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspirations for humankind, a utopian vision of a perfect and highly functioning technological future. The book depicts a land where “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit” are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants. Strangely relevant in our post-digital age many of the predictions are startling in the way they map against current ideologies and technologies. You can read more about the novel here
While the poem itself was not the influence nor starting point for the improvisations that make up the body of the Burials In Several Earths the ideas in the novel seemed to fit the work as well as provide an obvious link to the history of the Radiophonic Workshop itself and the infamous Room 13 where the workshop began its work at BBC Maida Vale.
In 1957 Daphne Oram, one of the founders of the workshop, took a section of the novel and framed it as a sort of manifesto for the workshop and its role as an avant garde and experimental electronic space for BBC radio and television productions. Manipulating sound was a relatively new practice then and our use of early electronics and tape effects was seen as futuristic and somewhat challenging. The section on the wall of room 13 was there to remind us that when producers complained or people wrote to the Radio Times saying the music was unlistenable that we were trying to design future sounds – it was an experimental space. The section was chosen to be morale booster you might say.
“We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds, and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter-sounds, and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have, together with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet…” It was something we returned to again and again during our existence at Maida vale as it seemed to present a rationale for what we did and for some of the work itself. See the text here.
The remaining titles for the release are taken from a section of the novel where one of the characters describes the benefits of the land and the kind of society and cultures they have set up on the island.
About The Radiophonic Workshop:
Founded in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was home to a maverick group of experimental composers, sound engineers and musical innovators. In a series of small studios within the labyrinthine corridors of the BBC Maida Vale complex, the Workshop set about exploring new ways of using – and abusing – technology to create new sounds.
Drawing on the principles of musique concréte, found sounds, early electronics, oscillators, handmade synths and tape loops the Workshop created the other-worldly soundtrack to some of BBC television and radio’s most iconic programs: The Body in Question, Horizon, Quatermass, Newsround, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chronicle and the iconic Doctor Who Theme – still the high water mark for British electronic music nearly 50 years after it was recorded.
The influence of the Radiophonic Workshop on popular music has been profound. From The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Prince and Pink Floyd through to some of the most innovative contemporary electronic artists and DJs such as Aphex Twin, Four Tet and The Orb (who have all ensured the RWS albums are amongst the world’s most sampled recorded works) – the Workshop’s legacy continues to grow as new generations of musicians discover their catalogue of extraordinary recordings.
Now, nearly two decades after the Workshop was decommissioned, original members Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Dr Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland and long-time associate composer Mark Ayres are back working together. Variously described by the music press as the “electronic Buena Vista Social Club” (The Observer) and “The British Kraftwerk” (NME), the Radiophonic Workshop are currently enjoying a well deserved renaissance. Their pioneering work regarded as a key influence not only on the history and development of rock, pop, electronica and dance music but on a whole new generation of DJs, electronic artists, sound designers and film composers. Whether it’s the soundtrack to Stranger Things or the score and sound design for Gravity, the influence of these pioneers of sound remains very much alive.
With their impressive back catalogue being comprehensively reissued on vinyl and CD, the release of new work – and a new live show featuring state-of-the-art projection mapping and archive footage from film and TV spanning their extraordinary 55-year career, the rebirth of this pioneering group of British musicians continues into the post-digital age.
Vinyl Tracklist (RWSLP001)
A1. Burials in Several Earths Part 1
B1. Burials in Several Earths Part 2
C1. Things Buried in Water Part 1
D1. Things Buried in Water Part 2
E1. Some Hope of Land Part 1
F1.. Some Hope of Land Part 2
G1. Some Hope of Land Part 3 (Room 13 Mix)
G2. Not Come to Light
H1. The Strangers’ House
01. Burials in Several Earths (19’01”)
02. Things Buried in Water (22’01”)
01. Some Hope of Land (25’14”)
02. Not Come to Light (3’55”)
03. The Strangers’ House (11’23”)
Digital edition RWSDL001 replicates CD tracklisting but one file sequenced tracks 1 – 5.