Title: Strange Constellations 2
Label: Disco Gecko Recordings
Released: 19th Oct 2018
The second release in this series, which places the focus on downtempo grooves, atmospheric soundscapes and ambient moods, mixing field recordings, classical instruments and electronics. Combining artists from the Disco Gecko label, associates of Toby Marks and a few which came as a result of asking a wider audience to send in their tracks for consideration. While the artwork chosen to complement the music once again fell to Zoe Heath (possibly the wife or a relative of Andrew?)
The album begins with Simon Power a games and film soundtrack producer who has created soundscapes for none other than Doctor Who! This piece entitled ‘Immerse’ layers classical piano over spacey atmospherics and while relatively short is a wonderful intro to the album. This is suitably followed by Banco de Gaia’s ‘Pavlov’s Children’ which delivers an eerie sense of descent as the atmospheric synths transports you into a chasm of monks chants and intangible spoken samples. Next on the agenda is Halcyon Daze’s ‘Orbiting a Distant Star’ which is a more string infused piece of electronica with Clanger’esque sound fx, that never cause any disharmony to the gentle beauty of the piece.
The atmospheric mood re-emerges with Experiments in Silence ‘Cerulaen’ a side project from Spatalize (Neil Butler) I would draw comparison with Banco de Gaia, with some of the synth sounds floating alongside heavenly choral voices and chimes which blend seamlessly into the sound fx utilised, this really is an exceptional piece of work. I could be wide of the mark assuming the next track is one of the submitted pieces but I can’t say I am familiar with Project Transmission. However, I can say ‘At Dusk’ the track in question, sounds like a field recording of walking through a sodden marsh accompanied by an eerie electronic drone, while the sound of pipes entice you to follow and escape to freedom. The mood lightens somewhat and you almost sense you are stepping out of the marsh, with what I guess is the second of the submitted pieces ‘Beast from the East’ by Peter Toll. Where gentle delayed organ sounds are suitably counter-balanced with natural field recordings.
Label boss Toby Marks drops the Banco de Gaia moniker on this production ‘Sleep, Boy and Dream’ quite possibly, as it is far removed from his more groove guided world dance or ambient dub productions. Switching from gentle field recordings and spooky sound fx to electronic drones which at times times build a foreboding sense of terror. Another unfamiliar name to myself, Glenn Marshall restores the calm with a suitably ambient piece of electronica entitled ‘Spring Shade’. This is followed by a collaboration by Toby Marks and Andrew Heath, a short piece of field recordings, electronica and Andrew’s trademark piano.
The apples not falling far from the tree with the next piece ‘Falls’, again by an artist I’m personally not familiar with Phonsonic. A slow burning piece of electronica, where indistinct voices wash over the atmospheric backbone alongside the deeper bass notes. The strings employed by yet again another name I’m unfamiliar with Simon McCorry, initially provide a Celtic folk feel to ‘Anima Mechanica’, which transcends into far more of a classical piece throughout. The compilation comes to a close with ‘In the Presence of Angels’ where an aptly gentle piano and lovely guitar strings nestle in amongst the synth voices, a combination that embodies everything I love about Andrew Heath’s productions.
To summarise I don’t think this album has as much variation as it’s predecessor and in some cases may not appeal to those looking for an album of ambient dub or world music infused chill out. However, if when the mood takes me, then this is an album that appeals to me, it’s an immersive, experimental journey which I found to be very thought provoking and at times simply beautiful.
Reviewed by Woodzee.