Sunday, 8 April 2012

Discoveries Underwater - Howard J. Davidson (1988)

Everybody loves underwater soundtracks. This obscure, but well-loved genre has become very popular amongst record collectors, culminating in the veneration of records like Sven Libaek's Inner Space which was reissued in 2008. This album is from a different era from most of the popular underwater soundtracks, but it's an interesting and atmospheric listen nonetheless. The soundtrack is scored for an eighties documentary series on underwater archaeology, so ambient synths and slowly layered soundscapes are the natural choice for the subject matter. Where this sort of approach could so easily turn into a snooze-fest of glacial synthesiser, Davidson's material seems to more aligned with the Vangelis school of awesome synth soundtracks. Many of the themes are written in unconventional time signatures, but the composer's ability to make electronic music sound organic means that the listener barely perceives this deviation to the norm. Davidson is also able to incorporate live instruments into his electronic soundscapes to great effect such as cello in 'Aqua Sub Aqua' and guitar in 'Atocha'. The subtlety and depth that Davidson achieves with only synthesisers allows the live instruments to join in without jarring or sounding out of place. Overall, this album feels to me more like an ambient concept album than a television soundtrack and it is a piece that I find myself listening to a lot.

Label: BBC Records
Released: 1988
Players: Howard J. Davidson - synthesisers etc.
Hugh McDowell - cello
Phil Palmer - guitar


  1. I don't see how I could have missed this, but I did! Thanks for keeping your links updated, Rohan!

  2. Yep, it's so great. Still listening to it consistently three years later.