I am on a bit of a Berlin School tip at the moment, taking great pleasure in the work of Tangerine Dream & Klaus Schulze in particular. I say this because their ambitious, improvised & increasingly energetic soundscapes come to mind as I consume “somewhere the music had been playing” by Astrowind on the mighty Fluttery Records.
“Somewhere the music had been playing” is a collection of synth-orientated tracks that are big on atmosphere with a non-linear nature that feels improvised in an exciting, seat-of-your-pants kind of way.
I acknowledge that the apparently improvised nature of these tracks may not be to everyone’s taste but I find them fascinating.
Maybe it’s the massive sound of the church organ on ‘wind playing far’ or the immersive backing of ‘straight before the rain’ with it’s field recordings & droning synths … I don’t know … but what I do know is that I find this kind of non-linear sound really engaging. I listen closely because I don’t know what comes next – I don’t have a groove to rest in and, as such, need to keep active and attentive … just like the classic Berlin School musicians of the 70s.
What the music with “somewhere the music had been playing” doesn’t have, compared to 70s Berlin School, is an emphasis on percussion or sequenced percussive synths. With only ‘echopark’ and ‘park walk’ having anything remotely like percussion, I personally don’t think the album is lacking as a result of this lack of emphasis. What you have instead is a more contextually ambient expression … like “Moondawn” before the drums kick in or “Rubycon” before the sequencers.
The stand out tracks for me include the ones mentioned above – ‘wind playing far’, ‘straight before the rain’ and ‘echopark’ as well as the futuristic ‘in the park’ with it’s atmospheric soundscape with plenty of sustain and the abstract “park walk” with it’s multiple layers of texture.
All in, I found “somewhere the music had been playing” by Astrowind to be a fascinating journey. It is not for everyone and may even frustrate long-term Fluttery fans, but for folks like me who have a love for 70s Berlin School atmospherics and are grounded in the ambient movement, this is a compelling experience … one that I can recommend to likeminded people.