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Belbury Poly: From an Ancient Star (2009) February 3, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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From an Ancient Star

Belbury Poly: From an Ancient Star

There was a time when electronic music seemed like the sound of the future, so it’s ironic how dated some early electronic music sounds. This album, for instance, sounds like it could have soundtracked some early ’70s educational TV program, or a special about the history of astronomy, but the odd thing is that this is new.

Over the last few years, there’s been something of a cult of early electronica, overlapping with a cult of library music. If you’re making a new movie or TV series but can’t afford having someone compose and produce new music for it, library music is the way to go. Want something quirky and jazzy, or something funky, or something spooky, to support a scene? Someone’s already done it for you. Even Doctor Who sometimes used library music, in addition to the work done by the Radiophonic Workshop and others.

Anyway, there are a lot of blogs out there now devoted to sharing old library music; most of the ones I’ve seen focus on the 1960s and 1970s, and some specialize in a certain genre. I can’t help but think there’s a lot of overlap between library music fans and Belbury Poly fans. And, no doubt, Belbury Poly themselves. This doesn’t sound like a 21st century album. It sounds like pieces from a variety of early 1970s educational TV programs, documentaries, and SF movies. To add to the corporate demo reel feel, the album starts with a very brief track called “Belbury Poly Logotone.”

There’s actually a lot of musical variety here, though it all shares the retro/nostalgia feel. There’s a lot of old-fashioned electronic music, but there are also significant elements of psychedelia, progressive rock, folk, and children’s music. A few tracks have vocals, some spoken.

What this reminds me of a bit is Logan’s Sanctuary, the fake soundtrack for a sequel to Logan’s Run that never existed (a topic for another day). But this is a stronger and far less cheesy affair.

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