Recording information: Anvil Studios.
It's difficult to imagine that the justifiably famed, 1979 documentary BBC television mini-series Life on Earth, written and presented by Sir David Attenborough and produced by John Sparks, never had a proper soundtrack release until the 21st century. Scored by composer Edward Williams, the music is every bit as quietly majestic as the 13-episode series was; amazingly, its only release until now was an LP that Williams had privately pressed in an edition of less than 100 copies purely for the purpose of giving away to members of the studio orchestra. Enter Jonny Trunk, madman record collector and visionary label owner who has made it his life's work to reissue the rarest recordings he can secure the rights to, and reproduce them with full original artwork and documentation. Trunk is a library music fanatic (he bought an entire collection of library recordings just to acquire this one), and this work, despite being an intricately composed score for chamber orchestra and electronic modifications -- by the composer -- is one of the truly grand library recordings of all time. The music is magical, gentle, and is very much like the sound of life itself unfolding; whether that life is the sound of comb jellyfish being caught in their natural habitat, birds migrating in free flight, the sounds of a pollinating fern, gallimaufry (a track is entitled as such and is perhaps the most magnificent thing here), or "The Big Mammals" with their dramatic postures, breeding, feeding, and predatory habits, Williams score captures them all. In addition, his mysterious music also engages and captures the sounds of landscapes from glaciers to Redwood forests to deserts and oceans. There is something so patient, observant, and unintrusive about this music, it will draw your attention -- no matter how low the volume, no matter the setting, it instills quiet reflection and a sense of tension all at once. What is even more beautiful for those who are interested in library and soundtrack music is that the entire score was recorded in mono because it was for a television soundtrack; therefore, the presence of the instruments, the analogue silences, and atmosphere of the recording studio are right up front for the listener so as to ensure maximum subtlety. This is ambient music that really goes somewhere; it travels through time, space, and history, as well as biology, to arrive in the mind -- and heart -- of the listener as something utterly pure and even mystical. ~ Thom Jurek
Clash (magazine) - "It's an eerily beautiful listen, lulling, yet full of violence and drama....This aural history is as vivid today as it was thirty years ago."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.96) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "Beautiful, poignant -- not only does this sound just like the birth, death and continual rebirth of the world's fauna and flora, it's a stunning modern classical listen..."
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Works DetailsWilliams, Edward : Life on Earth, television score
- Performers: Pat Halling (Violin); Edward Williams; Linda Hirst (Alto)
- Conductor: Marcus Dods
- Form: Film Score