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Review: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Vinyl Set [Demon Records]

Demon Records have been solidly devoting recent years to impressively cultivating a wide range of vinyl releases, across the genres of music and radio plays, with the latter seeing cult favourites in the shape of Doctor Who and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy added to their repertoire. While last year they released the boxset of Philip Pullman’s excellent His Dark Materials series, recorded and mastered for vinyl from the original BBC broadcasts, this week sees the records released individually, meaning you can pick your favourite adaptation up as you go along!

Dramatised by Lavinia Murray, with music composed by Billy Cowie, Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass all look absolutely stunning in their physical form. Pullman’s novels already uncover a wealth of fantasy and world-building, and these vinyl releases really capture that essence and it’s clear that a lot of specific, creative work and thought has gone into their production.  Produced and directed by David Hunter and Janet Whitaker, the series features the talents of Lulu Popplewell, Daniel Anthony, Emma Fielding, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Cranham, Bill Paterson, Tracy-Ann Overman, Richard Firth, Peter Marinker and Jasmine Hyde, to name just a selection.

In a visual sense, it’s no understatement that every record ‘set’ is astonishingly smart, and this is definitely for every individual title. I want to initially focus on the literal records themselves, in which you’ll get 3 vinyl for each book. The vinyl design is described as a ‘Daemonic Dustburst Splatter’ and, of course, they’re all 180g, which is thankfully becoming the standard in music and radio play releases these days, because it means they’re a lot sturdier than the older, thin variety.

Of course, and very importantly, how do the original BBC Radio 4 recordings sound? Let me answer quickly: Superb! As this is a Demon Records/BBC Studios release, the sound quality is exactly what you’d hope for and expect from a top-quality radio play. Originally broadcast from 4-18th January 2003, there’s absolutely no issue in transfer and the needle crackle (on mine anyway) really gives it an authentic, immersive vibe. When you’re adding in the beautiful designs on each individual sleeve, cover and vinyl as well, these work well as single sets, or as an entire set.

To really give you the best of what each record looks like, it’s got to be visual, so here’s a rundown of how smart they look but I also promise you one thing, they’re even more impressive ‘in the flesh’, with the colour bursting into life, and the designs really complementing the stories, here you go:

The truth is, if you love the books and the TV series, or just one or the other, this is a fine extension to your collection with some fine escapism and drama. While last year this release was an exciting boxset, with a signed Pullman artwork print no less, it’s great that you can now pick-up an individual title, and you won’t regret any of the ones you’re after – depending on your budget, of course!  

Also, don’t forget to read our very own His Dark Materials blog by Pete Messum, as he watched and reviewed Seasons 1 and 2 of the BBC series, it’s insightful and another celebration of these timeless books! And now, fancy picking up one of this fine records? Here’s your individual links:

Northern Lights: https://amzn.to/3reFcGe

The Subtle Knife: https://amzn.to/3ajEnoy

The Amber Spyglass: https://amzn.to/2NVwI8u

Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (180g Daemonic Dustburst Splatter Vinyl) – Amazon Exclusive Signed Edition, RRP at £134.99:  https://amzn.to/2YB2bPe

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