Sunday, April 12, 2009

I can't stop listening to Seed Ships from the end of the new Belbury Poly album, (From an Ancient Star).

Outrageously lovely and packed with echoes and references : the "oceanic waves" at the end blatantly mimicking the fade-out of Jean-Michel Jarre's haunting Oxygene 6; the key-changing, reverbed arpeggios recalling The Black Dog's permagasmic Chesh; the melody patch which sounds like it's stolen from Plone.

And then when the big tune gets going, it keeps reminding me (although, I know it's neither the same melody or rhythm), of Momus's Flame into Being. Or maybe that's just me.

Infinitely familiar and strange at the same time, and utterly gripping.

Apart from that, I have mixed feelings about the album. There's no doubt that he has refined and sophisticated the Belbury sound. The compositions are more complex and developed. But what I miss, are the outliers; the tracks that don't conform to the standard library-synth pattern but which made "The Owl's Map" more varied and therefore more unexpected. The rocky Scarlet Ceremony and atmospheric Music, Movement & Meaning.

And it's lost some of the overtly folky bits too. Ratlers Hay and Wetland were subtle and sympathetic hybrids. On the new album, only From an Ancient Star seems interested in the same trick, and here the folk seems bolted on, more like one of Momus's clumsier "folktronicas". I guess there's something Steeleye Spanish about Widdershins too. But frankly I don't feel I'm in anywhere like as spookily pagan a place this time. It's all rather comfortable and cosy.

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