Virginia Astley – From Gardens Where We Feel Secure

Avant-ambient landmark

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This record’s peacefulness went much against the general grain in 1983. Daughter of TV theme composer Edwin Astley and former member of chamber-pop ensemble The Ravishing Beauties, Virginia paints what seems to be a simple portrait of a summer’s day, with piano, woodwind, voices, field recordings and electronics. Yet titles like “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” suggest an unreality; and as the day wears on, the backward rhythm tracks and dissonance increase in intensity (“When The Fields Were On Fire”). Quietly influential on everyone from the KLF of Chill Out to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Astley seemed to be as back-to-basics as Billy Bragg (albeit in a different way), but in reality was as futuristic as the Art Of Noise.

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