what it tastes like: new(ish) from ashtray navigations

February 15, 2015 at 9:34 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Ashtray Navigations – Aero Infinite (tape, Tape Drift, TD69, edition of 50 or download)

ashnav - aero

It’s a question that has occurred to all of us at some time or other:

If this music was transformed into a physical substance, could I eat it?

My little joke, of course, and I don’t claim to be synaesthetic, but when writing about music sometimes reaching across the senses for a metaphor helps clarify my response.  For instance, I have recently been trying to digest a handful of releases that could loosely be described as ‘computer noise’.  There is much to admire: a weird sound palette, an attention to detail, a carefully sustained atmosphere of enveloping uneasiness – all evidence of the craft and purpose that usually goes down a bomb ’round here but… it isn’t a sub-genre that sits easy with me.  It was only when I took my thinking to the kitchen that I figured out why: it doesn’t taste right.  Imagine an aspic of hagfish slime, flavoured by being smoked over a burning tyre, with blackened splinters of deep-fried Haribo Starmix hung within it.  Impressive, sure, but not something I’d pick off the specials board.

In contrast, the music of Ashtray Navigations, oft stated to be my favourite band, is a feast.

Think of the spread: joints of exotic, gamey meat, cooked rare – deep purple, marinated in unplaceable spices and stuffed with dried apricots plumped with the cooking juices. Pastoral dioramas sculpted from delicately steamed vegetables, every figure and feature edible. Ceramic barrels of rose scented kulfi kept cool within a swirling cloud bath of dry ice. Scale models of the world’s greatest temples constructed from baklava – honey and nuts binding uncountable layers of filo pastry. Microscopic seeds, each a pinpoint of exquisite pleasure, teased from the flesh of an otherwise toxic fruit with golden tweezers – a terrifying delicacy that kills some who attempt it. The food is laid out on a table of Pentelic marble, dressed with silk cloth. The banqueting hall is hung with jeweled tapestries depicting scenes from the life and adventures of the Interstellar Buddha (familiar to long-term readers from previous reviews)…

…and yet no-one is eating…

…because Ashtray Navigations are playing. Phil and Mel, having spiked the punch and cheekily eaten their fill whilst soundchecking in the afternoon, are now tearing the sky into little pieces. All mouths hang open. This is delicious.


Tape Drift

Ashtray Navigations Bandcamp

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