Boomkat Product Review:
One of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's secret weapons, Elizabeth Parker might not be a household name like Delia Derbyshire or Daphne Oram, but this first anthology identifies her forward-thinking methodology, splicing gurgling, industrial ambience with sci-fi synthwork and concrète experiments.
Parker joined the Radiophonic Workshop in 1978, shortly after she'd become the first person to graduate from a Masters program in electronic music at the University of East Anglia. She worked at there until 1996, when technological advances and budget cuts forced its closure, and over that time contributed sound to hundreds of productions, including 'Blake's 7', 'Doctor Who', the BBC dramatisation of 'The Lord of the Rings' and David Attenborough's beloved 'The Living Planet'. After she left the Beeb, she established her own studio and continued to score for film and television, gaining credits on 'The Human Body' and the re-release of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. Somehow though, despite the interest in the Workshop's output, her work has remained relatively obscure. There was an LP release of Parker's 'Living Planet' score released in 1984, and her cues have appeared on various Radiophonic Workshop compilations over the years, but 'Future Perfect' stands as the first proper retrospective of her immense body of work.
At 22 tracks, it's a bumper set, but according to Trunk it's only scratching the surface. We're not sure exactly where they've been sourced from, but from the sound of the material it spans her career. We've got the eerily familiar sci-fi electronix of 'Space Drift' to boot us off, the dizzying vocal experiment 'Siren Call' and psychedelic synth workouts 'Harmonisers of the Spheres' and 'Telepathy Beyond Time' in just a few brief minutes. Parker's use of technology is immediately inspiring; she doesn't sound exactly like her peers and forebears in the Radiophonic Workshop, instead seemingly drawn to ideas being deconstructed on the fringes of new age, classical minimalism and musique concrète. On the title track, she bruises baroque and jazz motifs with grotesque jump cuts and percussive noise, and on 'Into the Depths she Calls', nauseating dark ambient drones are interrupted by mangled piano stabs and timbale crashes.
The longest, most humid piece is 'Lazy Summer Afternoon', and it sounds surprisingly contemporary. Oddly pitched synths are splayed over mutant electro-acoustic wails, teased into seven minutes of crepuscular sound that climaxes with weightless chorals. And if you're looking for more vociferous gear, 'Fish Don't Cry' is an '80s industrial cassette-style slop of squealing feedback, distorted guitar and skittering foley. There's so much here to chew on, it'll just about tide you over until the next Trunk archival discovery.