Friday, March 16, 2012

Are these yours, sir?

More record reviews. Brace yourselves.

Belbury Poly
From an Ancient Star (2009)
The Focus Group
Sketches and Spells (2005)

And what have we here? Why, it is a veritable Ghost Box corner. For these are two records released on that popular label, acquired by as part of the insane festival of rampant consumerism that occurs in the run up to Christmas. For those of you who are not as cool as me, Ghost Box are that label who do music that has acquired that "hauntology" genre name from those people who like to invent genres.

These two records are a bit different. The Belbury Poly chap is mostly synthy music, sounding like they are trying to recreate the instrumental interludes on a late 1970s schools and colleges programme, only obviously with pieces that go on for more than 30 seconds. As has of course been noted elsewhere, Mr Poly is recreating the sound of analogue synthesisers on a digital computer programme – oh the irony. One slight disappointment with this is that despite the cover (atmospheric shot of a star shining through a stone circle, Children of the Stones style) and the title, the record is not particularly spooky. People call this music hauntological (don't they?), and while it is haunted by the past, the haunting is not very threatening.

The Focus Group record, meanwhile, would in broad outline not surprise anyone who has heard the record they did with Broadcast, excepting of course that it does not feature Trish Keenan vocals. For the rest of you I can reveal that it features lots of fragmentary music that sounds strangely evocative of the lost world of the past, sometimes drifting off into vaguely Wicker Man territory and so on.

Both of these records are enjoyable and I can see myself getting much pleasure from listening to them again, but I think maybe my affair with this record label is coming to an end. Fascinating as these records are, I reckon I get the idea with both of these artists now and would derive very limited marginal utility from additional records by them. So that might be it for me and Ghost Box.

Panda Poly

An inuit panda production

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