Radium 88 - Escaping Tomorrow - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Radium 88 - Escaping Tomorrow

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2012-03-11

Escaping Tomorrow, the new album from Nottingham-based ambient adventurers Radium 88 is one of those records you can just sit and listen to while conjuring imaginary film images to accompany the music. It works well as a soundtrack to reading as well. Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily hold the attention so well in its own right.

For the most part, the duo has a template they stick to. Candy-floss synths rub against weeping strings and lonesome woodwind, while Jema Davies' choirboy vocals are strikingly unusual. Beats vary from unobtrusive to more upbeat 90s dance. There's definitely a dash of Eno and The Orb in their drifting soundscapes. However, tracks such as 'Leave No Stone Unturned', 'Lady of Perpetual Motion' and 'Nocturne 3' more readily bring to mind less cool reference points such as Enigma and William Orbit's collection of reworked classical pieces. Escaping Tomorrow, you'll gather, tends towards terribly tasteful end of the ambient spectrum.

That doesn't mean the music here isn't accomplished, beautiful and occasionally moving, if a little saccharine from time to time. 'A Short Ride in a Broken Machine', for example, is a captivatingly lovely work of drifting electronica, but does it really need the rather mawkish melody which emerges at the end? At times like this, it hard to stop the film in your head taking on the trappings of some overwrought, worthy piece of Hollywood Oscar-bait, perhaps starring Kate Winslet.

Overall, Escaping Tomorrow, for all its prettiness, is just a little too much on the bland side. At its best, as on 'The Unerring Certainty of Mechanism' with its twisting melody or 'The Angel of Final Warning's evocative trumpet solo, and largely thanks to Davies' vocals and the filmic strings elsewhere, the music recalls the surreal sci-fi balladry of Goldfrapp's excellent Felt Mountain, but it never gets close to delivering a tune as strong as 'Utopia'or 'Lovely Head'. This is by no means a bad album, but it is a fairly boring one and, at 14 tracks, overlong too. If you're listening to the whole thing in one sitting, make sure you have an absorbing book to hand.

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