THE LIVING PLANET: A PORTRAIT OF THE EARTH (1984)

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

Silva Screen’s continuing series of reissues from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop has absolutely delighted and amazed us, and the music from the BBC television series The Living Planet continues that trend. This LP is a bit of a departure from the past compilation releases, focusing entirely on the music of Elizabeth Parker for the 1984 documentary series.

Jungle deals in swells of sound, combined with something akin to the tone of a pan flute, evoking the majestic climbing trees and flitting birds in a way which makes one wonder why anyone’s ever tried to top its brilliance. It’s attempted again on Seas of Grass, but doesn’t work quite as well - it seems as though Parker’s attempting a through-line which doesn’t quite connect.

Additionally, it’s one of a few tracks whose high notes were too much for even my hi-fi system, causing quite a bit of red-lining, and leading to a less-than-pleasant listening experience. The blown out nature of these tracks -- which almost, but not quite happens on the likes of The Baking Deserts, as well - removes some of the laconic bliss which the listener would otherwise derive from these Vangelis-like pieces.

Minor pressing issues aside, The Living Planet is very much the sort of album one needs in their home. Elizabeth Parker manages to evoke worldwide landscapes with very simple instrumentation, and her work definitely earns the ‘enthralling’ moniker with which they’ve affixed it on the back cover blurb.

The vinyl comes on arctic white, which looks as it were taken from a slab of ice in the middle of a snowstorm. It looks great, and while the high tones could definitely stand a bit of come-down in the mix, The Living Planet otherwise sounds astounding. The opening and closing themes, despite being composed on different instrumentation, sound just as good as the rest of the music, and maybe even benefit from being a little different than the rest. That story is related in Parker’s newly written sleeve notes for Silva Screen’s reissue, which also includes the original release’s write-up.

THE LIVING PLANET: A PORTRAIT OF THE EARTH (1984) / COMPOSER: ELIZABETH PARKER / LABEL: SILVA SCREEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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