Life On Earth: Music From The 1979 BBC TV Series


The groundbreaking natural history program Life On Earth hit UK TV screens 30 years ago, in 1979, and this is the first time the beautiful music composed for the series by Edward Williams has been commercially issued. It's quite extraordinary that something so utterly beautiful has remained unissued until now. Jonny Trunk: "The music reminded me very much of my first encounter with library music and the magical, twinkling ambient sounds of science, nature and music for jellyfish. Some frantic letter writing followed. Edward Williams had to be traced. Eventually I tracked him down and went to meet him at his home in Bristol. It was fascinating to learn that he had connections with other important musical characters that I was dealing with, like Tristram Cary. I also learned that Edward had invented the soundbeam, an incredible musical education tool. He also told me about his extraordinary 1970s VCS 3 touring band called Uncle Jambo's Pendular Vibrations. Edward also explained the genesis of the rare and elusive vinyl album. Basically, he'd had less than 100 copies privately-pressed for any members of the orchestra who had played on the recording and wanted one. And so in late 2009, 30 years on from the day it was created, we can all enjoy some of the most beautiful music made for some of the greatest TV ever produced." The sounds composed and created for the series are quite magical. It's the sound of science, of underwater life, of progress, flight, fight, death and courtship. There are swamps, petrified forests, snowscapes and coral reefs. And of course, music composed for a wide variety of birds, animals and sea-dwellers of all shapes and sizes. Influences include Erik Satie, British pastoral composition of the post-war period and pioneering UK electronics. What's extraordinary is that Edward Williams created a sound way ahead of his time; listen to track 2 or 3, and you will hear music that could easily be mistaken for the contemporary soundtrack work of Cliff Martinez or Clint Mansell. The music itself is hard to categorize -- of course it's soundtrack music, but it hints at classical, at library music, touches on the avant-garde, and has a strong ambient feel and an unusual timeless quality. It involves over 70 musicians, with the composer placing much of the played music through his vintage 1973 VCS 3 synthesizer.