Showing posts with label Virginia Astley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virginia Astley. Show all posts

January 10, 2014

Virginia Astley & Friends at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith 8th October 1985

This live recording of Mindless Days is wonderful! I love all the ambient sounds at the beginning and Virginia talking! She sounds so young and bashful - which, I suppose is in character, but I always thought she must be secretly very confident since she went out there and played the sort of music she did. But now I just don't know. She's such a mystery! I've also never seen this picture of her before. It's a pretty great picture and goes well with the song. 

Also, this video was just posted three days ago. I've noticed that new Virginia stuff keeps appearing online, slowly by surely.  Some small hope... 

April 24, 2013

Oh, Virginia!

I must be getting old; I've really been enjoying my mornings. Today it was with Virginia Astley. She's the only new (well, new to me) artist that I've fallen in love with in the past five years. She really does exactly what she wants, doesn't she? How inspiring! It would seem such a simple concept to make music that sounds just as one thinks it should. Why are we so inhibited? I'm listening to her album 'Had I the Heavens'. It was hard for me to get past the perfection of 'Hope in a Darkened Heart', but I'm starting to think 'Heavens' is some of her best work. It's a little more understated than '...Darkened Heart'. And while I do miss Ryuichi Sakamoto's production, it's also nice to hear Virginia more in her own world. 

I've been hoping the cold weather would last, it's my favorite time of year. But it's hard not to enjoy the drops of golden sun today. I've got all the windows open and can hear a lawn mower off in the distance. It's so nice not living so deep in the city anymore. When I was a kid I used to think it would be strange to live so close to a cemetery. Now that I do, I rather enjoy it. It's very peaceful... especially with a hot cup of chai tea with honey and fresh ground cinnamon. Too much information, I'm sure.

Anyway, the point is: I love Virginia Astley. I think she's perfect in every way. And I'm glad that I'm me and I'm glad that you're you. We're all exactly who we're meant to be. The more we can accept that fact about ourselves and others the more we can live harmonious, happy, simple lives. We do have the heavens!

August 28, 2012

# 3 Virginia Astley - Hope In A Darkened Heart

It's so strange to be a new fan of something. Most of the music I enjoy I've been listening to for years (or even decades!). Virginia came out of nowhere and I was shocked to find that there were still things in the world to be discovered in my old age. There is still a shadowy mystery around her for me, but it's slowly starting to come unraveled. This album, Hope In A Darkened Heart, is her greatest effort in my opinion. It was produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto of the Japanese, synthesizer pioneering band Yellow Magic Orchestra at the now closed Wool Hall Studios in the countryside ten miles south of Bath, England. Here are a couple photos from the recording session:

It is such an amazing album. She really had such a concrete idea of what she wanted to do musically, despite all the post punk / new wave going on around her... she had no problem writing sweet songs and singing like a little girl or a gramma.

I've often wondered what Synthesizers or other electronic instruments where used on this record. Since it was made in 1986, it would have been more digital and thus outside my area of expertise (ie: nothing I could pick out by listening). I also wonder how involved Virginia was with the synthesizer side of things. Orchestral instruments were her forte but she did play synthesizer for Victims of Pleasure from 80-81. And she played some sort of Sequential Circuits Prophet synthesizer on her first release (A Bao A Qu).

Bellow is a picture of Ryuichi Sakamoto working on the record, it looks like he's using an E-mu Emulator II. There's also a Fairlight in the picture that seems to be up and running. There's Roland SBX-80 sync box bellow and I have seen a picture from these sessions that I believe showed a Roland MC-4 (which Sakamoto would have been very familiar with from YMO).

Virginia was quite successful in Japan (may or may not have had anything to do with her choice of producer). Here's an ad for Ana (a Japanese airline I believe) in 1987 featuring A Father from Hope In A Darkened Heart

April 10, 2012

Virginia Astley: Tree Top Club + Bambi

Whoever thought it was a good idea to put these two things together was a genius.

The Ravishing Beauties

The Ravishing Beauties were Virginia Astely's band before she went solo. They toured with The Teardrop Explodes and recorded a few demos and did a couple of sessions. Here is my favorite of their demos. I love the tiny little Roland drum sounds that go throughout but are completely overshadowed on the choruses by the huge timpani drums.

March 13, 2012

Darkest Dreaming by David Sylvian

I don't know if this is the official video for this song, but I hope it is. It's Wonderful! Have you ever found yourself in this setting? Walking alone too late at night or too early in the morning?


David Sylvian sang a wonderful duet with Virginia Astley on the song Some Small Hope. Small world.

March 2, 2012

Virginia Astley -- A Subtle Enchantress

Virginia is my current obsession. I don't know if it will last but it's been a long time since I've found an artist I've been so excited about. She embodies all the sobering feelings that I've been looking for in music lately. She's using synthesizers but not to grab your attention just to create the atmosphere she's seeking. Anyway, it's fun to have a body of work to explore again for the first time.

I'm going to go through her whole catalog and report back to you with my findings. I've already unearthed some lovely gems. I can't believe how forgotten she is, but I guess with today's flashy musical climate it's to be expected. I believe she was most appreciated in Japan. Bless her and bless Japan.

Thanks to Sean for exposing me to this ravishing beauty.