Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Disco Gecko's 'Strange-Eyed Constellations' Compilation Review

Artist: Various

Title: Strange-Eyed 


Label: Disco Gecko

Released: 4th Sept

Compiled by Toby Marks (Banco De Gaia) with a title inspired by a Tom Hardy poem and as tribute to Mike Barnett the founder of Beyond Records who featured some of Toby's earlier works on their Ambient Dub series.

The album begins with 'Dum Spiro, Spéro' by Astropilot, whose space style synth work I've always admired but the four by four beats he often employs can become repetitive. There's no such problem here with this beat less number which hooked me immediately with it's sheer aural elegance. This is followed by 'Sirens of Lorelei' by Dr Trippy as I've never heard him before. Admittedly, there's an ethnic element to the track which increases in the middle but either side throws a sheet of angelic voices and flutes over a snail pace beat. The theme of mixing angelic voices and tribal chants continues with 'The Inuit Snow Song' by 100th Monkey a superbly chilled psychedelic dub and by this point I'm tipping my hat at Toby's fabulous selections.

The looped sequences that kick off 'The Future's Bright the Future's Incandescent' by Radium88 immediately brought Fluke and Underworld to mind (albeit with the brakes on) upon which an ethereal vocal leads to a more eastern flavour and you'd be hard pressed to find a more chilled vocal than this. The mood turns slightly darker with a combination of eerie atmospherics and tribal beats with 'Floating World' by Spatialize but the light shines through the darkness with some lovely strings. This theme of light and dark continues with a Far East drone fusion with the Shanghai 8am mix of 'Falling Tides' by the man himself and surprisingly not under his Banco De Gaia moniker.

I'm not sure you can go much slower than the dreamy tribal dub 'Festival of Lights' by Oombata Key. Whilst the tempo is taken up a notch with 'Dimensions' by Temple Hedz this piece initially layered with guru monologue and complemented further with a lovely eastern vocal is still more than suitably chilled. Moving towards a more experimental direction with 'Project Transmissions' by The Heavenly Hundred combines soft gentle piano with fuzzy atmospherics and distorted orchestral tweaks.

Back under his Banco De Gaia pseudonym 'To the Nth Degree' threatens to bring an uplifting surge with it's opening tribal chorus but soon dips down into soothing ambience with field recordings and piano. 'It's Beautiful Mike, It Really Is' by James Eller is a wonderful combination of NASA transmissions, spacey fx and piano. Although, he may not be the first to utilise this theme with the samples it works superbly well. 'Penates' by Sam Salem drifts back to the eerie atmospheric tribal drones of some of the previous tracks and leads us to the climax 'Epiphany' by Andrew Heath where once again the piano takes centre stage in a beautifully gentle melodic piece.

To summarise as with many compilations some tracks appeal more than others. However, there are some really strong tracks on here for me and I can't say I particularly dislike any of them. The years not over yet but for me this has to be a contender for ambient album of 2015. Full marks to Mr Marks so to speak and hopefully this isn't the last we hear of his selections.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


No comments: