Two of the head honchos of Ghost Box hauntological music meet together here for their first full-length collaboration! The Advisory Circle and Belbury Poly have become The Belbury Circle… The resulting album is a beautiful nostalgic trip through the future as imagined in 1981, with all the right elements working in all the right ways. LP, CD and tape editions on Ghost Box.
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The past was really comfortable wasn't it? Tomorrow's World on a Thursday night followed by Top of the Pops. Ted Rogers and 3-2-1 on a Saturday night. Maybe this is why we are all looking back to these safe squishy times rather than address what is happening right now? I tell you another thing that is comfortable - synths. They are big billowy squashes of sound - like nostalgia-pillows that cuddle us and make us feel safe. Such is the constant vogue for anything that reminds us of the future we thought we were going to have.
This collaboration between Jon Brooks (the Advisory Circle) and Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) is almost perfect for such needs. On 'Forgotten Town' they even draft in sonic auteur and original Ultravox vocalist John Foxx to add authentic of-the-era vocals to the synth playground. The addition of vocals gives a focus to what is otherwise an album of early day synth festish. 'Cloudburst Five' has safe as houses big synths curdled alongside Kraftwerk style pulsing synths and beats. Nothing new but expertly crafted.
The main musical development of Ghost Box over the years is its slight shift in focus from stark 70's children's educational TV soundtracks to a more 80's led fetishism. This reaches an unbelievable peak/nadir (depending on your viewpoint) on 'Departures Int'. Try as I might I can't find evidence of the Le Bon, Taylor, Taylor, Taylor, Rhodes songwriting credits that surely must be included as this is almost hilariously in debt to 'Save a Prayer'. Except Duran Duran didn't spew a rubbish guitar solo over.
The best bits of the album come when John Foxx is dragged in, culminating in 'Trees' which is a lovely melange of soft synths, pulsing sub bass and a beautiful heartfelt vocal. It's genuine and gorgeous and totally lacking in the knowing nods that pepper some of the other bits. But if you like synths, particularly 80s ones crafted by people who understand then this is another for the collection.
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