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Memoirs Of An Aesthete

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The cover of the latest CD-r from blog faves Ashtray Navigations (this time being Phil Todd solo) sports a noteworthy boast: aside from false starts with the percussion everything else therein is a first take. It is an interesting prospect. Despite being an accomplished improviser, Phils recorded output tends to be the result of much deliberation, overdubbing and editing. The guy puts the hours in and the result is a consistency unique amongst those similarly prolific. The slapdash should take note: no that wont do, be more like Phil instead.Anyway, in keeping with the vibe of the project I decided to review it in one take too. During a lunch break I found an unused basement teaching room in the university where I work, spread my kit across a table -¢‚Ǩ‚Äú food, pencil, three sheets of A4 paper, mp3 player -¢‚Ǩ‚Äú pushed the buds deep into my long-suffering ear canals, pressed play and wrote the following. Aside from some false starts on the punctuation, and some reconstruction following the disintegration of my sandwich and resultant beetroot stains, this is also a first take.

bubba omeiser: chimes, bells, calling the fairies to a gathering? A wedding? Getting heavier, maybe a mushroom vision of the forest, maybe the soundtrack to a 1970s documentary about jellyfish. Hang on -¢‚Ǩ‚Äú here come the space bongos (obviously this release does contain overdubs -¢‚Ǩ‚Äú presumably Phil means each element was recorded in one take. Some assembly was required)! Now there is an epic swishing hiss -¢‚Ǩ‚Äú reptiles in sunglasses are eating the wedding party! the awful backlash: ah, the guitar. A super-cool rhythmic shimmer underscores a sky-scraping psyche-rock wig-out. Phils ornithopter flaps lazily over the dunes (at this point I stared at the wall for a minute, lost in the solo. Nearby building work was making the floor vibrate nicely). This is Phil at his most free and, ironically, perhaps at his most accessible. I can imagine anyone whose tastes are guitar-led being won over by this to the shining path of AshNav, Fun ending as one of the hip lizards from earlier croaks along to the dying seconds. spray: Business! Initial bobbling sounds like an interlude in a modernist composition symbolising the rush of urban existence. Picture ballet dancers artfully avoiding each other as they hail cabs, meet their dates, go about a stylised version of city life. Im expecting this to resolve, to clarify but the layers continue to slide over each other, breathless. OK, now percussion is stapling it together and a low end is packing it away. Second movement, change of scene. Now the electrobibble seems like the chittering of nocturnal creatures, the wob-wob of the synth giving the impression of a tropical night that just wont cool. Act three sees the return our reptile friends. As the engine of their super-yacht idles in the background, ready to depart, they enjoy a quayside performance of Miles Davis style vibraphonic space jazz then, ha!, that is it. Blimey, for a 20 minute track that sure passed quickly. - Memoirs Of An Aesthete.
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