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Astralfish- Far Corners

Noh Poetry

Astralfish are Bridget Wishart and Don Falcone, who here create cosmic melodies with a whole host of special guests including Daevid Allen from Gong. With sixteen tracks across its shimmering disc we should venture forth into the beautiful beyond to tell you all what glories there are to behold.

The opening track “Far” includes Allen’s gliss guitars and has a other world feel similar to the Sacred Geometry releases and touching slightly on Eno’s Apollo soundtrack. “Lil Utburd” begins like an Indian raga but moves into some big Vaughn Williams-style chords that break down into a funky bass section which kicks in the drums. A lilting melody carries through the piece giving its busy beats an underlying feel of melancholy. “Pepper Sky” has glacial keyboards and rolling ethnic percussion similar to the works of Steve Roach in their ambient feel; then more forceful drums come in and the synth takes over the main theme again. “Riding the Seasons” has a lazy summer country afternoon feel, but one where there is something lurking in the woods and spies at you from between the leaves. Bridget’s wordless vocals start “Seven 8” and gives off a similar resonance as Sheila Chandra’s “Speaking in my Ancestors Voices.” The Mellotron adds a haunting quality, giving the piece an ethereal feel. “Summer Snake” drifts with its haunting trumpet and sax and yet more Mellotron, this touches on the sound of David Sylvian‘s Gone to Earth, album especially the almost Robert Fripp-sounding guitars.

“Song for a New Banana Day” is an odd piece of quirkiness – its electronic percussion and gamelan rhythm making it sound like Eno and The Residents had mixed each other’s music together, but it also feels like a prelude to “Pacifica.” Here percussion holds together languid guitar chords and a synth melody while the bass hits a rumbling rolling Colin Moulding style, and when the lead electric guitar hits in, it’s pure bliss. “The Otter” reminds me of Sylvian’s “Words With the Shaman” – its deep forest percussion and desert guitars drag up vistas in the mind of exotic places the way they are seen through a camera lens rather than in actuality. “Key Rings” starts with an Eat Static burbling bass line that builds into a steady rhythm as the drums kick in. Here the synth melody feels underplayed while the percussion crashes away in a sound reminiscent of Phil Collins‘ later Genesis drum fills and rather excellent work its is too from Shannon Taylor. “Seeds at Night in a Trickster’s Yard” starts with some powerful lead guitar which works into a driving rhythm and some carnivalesque organ before the track changes into a laid back guitar piece that sounds similar to Bill Nelson‘s expansive and atmospheric guitar fugues.

Ambient drones begin “Foray” while the guitar plays a sort of arabesque before the track drifts into segments of unease and then is jolted back into its earlier uplifting melody in a very Another Green World kind of way. “Cloud Gather” starts with a slight jazz piano before it punches into a straight ahead space rocker, all screaming guitars and thunderous bass and gurgling synths, at times reminding me of the Ozric Tentacles in its atmosphere. “A Short Thaw” is a minute and a half interlude that shimmers within its short running time and ends before you latch on to its melody proper. “Treepers” lulls you into a beatific state as its lush keyboards drift as if taking to the air, its sunset melody brings out the warmth of the end of a day. To end the album, “Near” relies on its steady rhythm while lark ascending violin creeps up the skyscaper over singing acoustic guitars.

The album is a mixture of what feel like film soundtrack sequences and sunlight drifting through chinks in a curtain ambience. Some of the pieces, I felt, could have hung around for longer so the listener could bathe in their atmosphere without being moved on to the next track too quickly, and its this that makes parts of the album seem like a soundtrack record. But this is only a small quibble up against all the wonderful ideas and music that hold the album together like an exotic tranquil afternoon. Search out this album, turn off the phone/computer etc. and wallow in its atmospheres.

-Gary Parsons-

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