The Advisory Circle: As The Crow Flies
If my memory serves me right, just before School’s TV in the seventies and early eighties there was a countdown which consisted of a circle made up of dots that would gradually disappear as the time came closer for the programme to start. Given it was such a treat to be watching telly at school this used to fill me with excitement and such anticipation that it seemed that those little dots would never, ever disappear. The Advisory Circle’s As The Crow Flies manages to rekindle that sense of exhilaration and expectation (and more besides).
The Ghost Box records brand aesthetic is a tightly and seamlessly organised one built around library recordings, vintage synths and retro-futurism. This release from Advisory Circle (aka Jon Brooks – see also his amazing ‘Music For Thomas Carnacki’ here) further underscores the themes that Ghost Box have pretty much made their own.
In addition to the aforementioned School’s programmes, As The Crow Flies evokes Ladybird books, Tomorrow’s World, scuffed knees, grey flannelling, over-strong orange squash and sticky chops. Yet The Advisory Circle don’t just peddle a predictable nostalgia. Instead they manage to reawaken a sense of hope long since repressed. It’s an album that fills you with yearning for a past now changed (see Ronald Hutton’s sleeve notes), but a hopeful future still possible.
This past as newly evoked is mostly a rural and bucolic one. Yet just under the surface there is a sinister element to this pastoral vision that tells of such things as the dangers of swimming in reservoirs and beds of stinging nettles or, darker still, The Wicker Man’s horrific folk. Elsewhere, the melancholic atmosphere – especially on last track, ‘The Lonely Signalman’ – is so palpable it actually hurts.
As The Crow Flies is an achingly beautiful album. I can’t recommend it enough. Purchase.
And here’s a series of clips: