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Review of “New Music To Fall Asleep To…(Lullabies by Justin Ashworth)”

When new members join the merry band of Absinthe.com.au subscribers, occasionally one observes that the email with which they have subscribed deserves further investigation. It is with no small amount of pleasure that I have discovered that we have a broad church of libertarians under our humble canopy, from visual artists, poets, magicians, distillers, dancers, authors, actors, courtesans, journalists, the odd dominatrix or two, and importantly, musicians.

One such Australian musician, and dedicated absintheur, that I would like to bring to your attention is Melbourne based Justin Ashworth.  I have for many years been a devotee of the dark ambient and experimental soundscape genre, and certainly Australia has had no shortage of exponents of this particular craft over the decades.  The opportunity then to explore new work by a local artist over a glass of absinthe or two is a welcome one indeed.

Being armed with droning loops, acoustic neo-folk attitudes and unpredictable acts of psychadelia, he is actually a hard artist to buttonhole through comparison. A good thing I say. You can hear a track or two from the following reviewed album on Justin’s MySpace page – maybe pour yourself a glass before you click through.

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Tracks

(Prelude) daydream/nightmare

What is a bad dream parading in the waking hour? Is it a daymare?
White noise and glockenspiel (a word I don’t get to use nearly enough). A music box refrain, maybe a Pandora’s box masquerading as a music box. Do we lift the lid and peek? I think we shall.

A Little Breeze

I hear the ghost of a French Café musician playing accordian, or is it a harmonica? (No, it’s a melodica according to the sleeve notes). But he is underwater, underground, subterranean tonality, exhalation of vital breath. In this drowning space you hear your heartbeat, fast, irregular, responding to the anticipation of that which you cannot see, and cannot know for sure to be there.

Like Sunrise

Whispered voices promising an illuminatory dawn that can only be imagined, remembered, but not seen. Finger picked guitars moving forward, and then wave-bursts in reverse, regressing in time. Our golden dawn is another’s mauve tinged sunset.

Pavane for the Letter V

Blurred transitions between songs emphasise that dreaming sleep is a continuity, marked by rises and falls in morphean resonance and imagery, spoken through rising and falling drones. The Pavane is a stately dance of Renaissance Courts. Who in this unconscious realm is the King, the Queen? Who is the Fool? The Fool praises and insults in turn without care of consequence, shielded by his psychopompic immunity. What merry dance is he leading us on?

Taking photos of sunsets

The auditory soundscape seems to promise that, amongst the stillness, there is something bigger, more menacing, just over the horizon. Just waiting for the final light to fail. Our fears will make us look away suddenly. Looking behind us we hope of seeing the sun coming back the other way. But the unspoken fear is still there behind us, creeping closer. Our denial providing no shelter from the darkness that eventually envelops us in a stygian embrace.

More specifically, nothing happened today

A light amongst the darkness. Ambient groove, clarinets playing between electronic harmonica-like teases, close harmony vocals – jazzy yet wistful. If nothing happened today, then it is much ado about nothing. Not the isolated lonely nothing. There is stillness, as our final leg of the journey enters minimalist space, but there is movement, a low hum of life, womb like safety. Floating but not sinking. Orbiting in dreams. For eternity.

‘New Music To Fall Asleep To’ is available from Metropolis, and Missing Link .

Jonathan Jul 25th 2008 11:49 pm Art,Culture,Music,People,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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