The British Space Group
Eyes Turned Skyward
UK Quiet World Quiet World 51 CD-R (2015)
By the looks of the strong design of its sleeve, this disc could be an examination of all those sci-fi, weird (or wyrd) 1970s schools programmes on tv, or their soundtracks, and indeed the first track Remote Viewing is built around a recording of a man talking about déja vous in the kind of officious home-counties accent that tallies with my own recollection of Schools & Colleges programming of that time. Those expecting a Ghost Box–style, hauntological, period pop will be disappointed though; the music on Eyes Turned Skyward is actually contemporary-sounding drone ambient. As always, the production is clear and glassy, like peering at the reflection of misty landscapes through the panes of an open window at dawn.
Despite the album being credited to The British Space Group, (although no personnel is listed on the sleeve), I suspect this may be the work of the Quiet World label head Ian Holloway alone. If so, I admire his attempt to develop his own approach to ambient soundscape with today’s recording equipment, while somehow still simultaneously referencing the experimental sonics of past decades.
Haze Of Summer uses organ tones to steadily build up overflowing feelings of goodwill, while Slow Light, composed as it is of electronic chittering, lightly wah’ed bass and swirling keyboard effects steps up the feeling of being stranded on a star freighter light years from home.
Fourth track The Dust Between The Stars is particularly transporting, and strangely comforting, based around a circling figure played on an analogue electronic bass keyboard of unknown vintage.
The Work Of Fire features a distant mildly ring-modulated electric guitar sound somehow referencing spaghetti westerns and space movie soundtracks. Breath During Sleep is possibly the most kosmische-inspired piece on the album, reminding me of Amon Duul II’s quieter moments.
The final track; the magisterial The Last Of Time, is a beautiful piece of quiet ambience, where nothing seems to happen much, but in a very good way.
On the cover, a rocket orbits a concentric-circle planet while a lone spaceman is sucked into a graphic representation of a black hole. The spaceman device is nicely carried over from the vortex on the back cover into the blackness of the inside of the booklet. This title is limited to 50 physical units but is also available from the Quiet World bandcamp site.