ST-12309 The Flat Earth
Produced by Thomas Morgan Dolby Robertson
Released on February 1984
Find it at GEMM
ST-12309 cover
[high resolution photo]

T he single “Hyperactive!” set the tone for The Flat Earth, as Thomas Dolby sails off the edge with seven overcaffeinated creations. I had a friend who hated the song “Hyperactive!,” and I couldn’t blame him; this is polarizing stuff. Imagine the music of Howard Jones remixed and discombobulated by XTC’s Andy Partridge, and you’ll have an inkling into the spiky topography that awaits you. This is one of those albums that I respect but have difficulty warming up to, which is the same reaction I have to mixed-media artists like Art of Noise and Big Audio Dynamite. At the time, this seemed like the future of music, but we’ve since discovered that machines move our bodies and bounce harmlessly off our hearts. Little on The Flat Earth aims at the heart, heading straight for the brain with songs like “Dissidents” and “White City.” The warmest track on here is a cover of Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks’ “I Scare Myself,” a sort of cocktail oasis that sets the final trap. Unfortunately, Dolby didn’t release a proper followup for four years, focusing instead on soundtracks for films like Howard The Duck and Gothic. When he returned, the author of “She Blinded Me Wih Science” had been out of the public eye for too long to regain his previous popularity. When I read reviews of this album, the words “mature” and “downbeat” tend to pop up, as if songs about the rain forest and armageddon are the proper concerns of adulthood. And that may be the problem with this record: mature subject matter and immature arrangements. Mind you, I’ve warmed up to this album considerably over the years, but I haven’t had to work so hard since Oingo Boingo. If you’re convinced that Dolby is a musical visionary, you’ll have already set your sights on The Flat Earth. But if you’ve always thought he was too smart for his own good, there’s no reason on earth to own this.

ST-12309 back cover ST-12309 lyric sleeve
ST-12309 back cover ST-12309 lyric sleeve


  1. DISSIDENTS    (music by Thomas Dolby/Kevin Armstrong/Matthew Seligman, words by Thomas Dolby)    4:53
  2. THE FLAT EARTH    6:37
  3. SCREEN KISS    5:31
  4. WHITE CITY    5:20
  6. I SCARE MYSELF    (Dan Hicks)    5:37
  7. HYPERACTIVE!    5:00

    All songs written by Thomas Dolby unless noted


THOMAS DOLBY -- piano, effects, vocals
KEVIN ARMSTRONG -- guitar, backing vocals, trumpet
CLIFF BRIGDEN -- percussion, computer drums
Adele Bertei -- backing vocals
Lesley Fairbairn -- backing vocals
Justin Hildreth -- drum samples (7)
Robyn Hitchcock -- Keith
Kevin and Lu -- the analyst
Matthew Salt -- tins and thundersheet (7)
Peter Thoms -- trombone (6,7)
Bruce Woolley -- backing vocals (5)
Dan Lacksman -- engineer
Mike Shipley -- mixing
Alan Douglas -- mixing (7)
Richard Haughton -- photography
Assorted iMaGes -- graphics
Malcom, David and Thomas -- album design

UK February 1984 Parlophone Odeon LP PCS 2400341 lyric sleeve
UK 1984 Parlophone Odeon CD CDP 7 46082  
US/CAN February 1984 Capitol LP/CS ST/4XT-12309 lyric sleeve
JPN 1984 EMI LP EMS-81645 lyric insert
NET 1984 Parlophone Odeon LP 1A 064 2400341  
NZ 1984 Parlophone LP PCS 7220 lyric sleeve
YUG 1984 Jugoton LP LSPAR11057  
UK May 28, 2996 EMI Int'l CD/CS 46028  


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