Jon Brooks’ compositions as the Advisory Circle immaculately turn around one another, irrespective of the varying moods that beset him during recording. He moves from the outdoorsy pine of his 2011 record As the Crow Flies to the more inward facing From Out Here, carefully trailing links to make it sound recognizably him. It’s there in the perfectly interlaced synth lines, the air of Cold War nostalgia, the overriding sense that utopian thought has become a past construct. Brooks works quietly, releasing music under varying guises, never looking for attention. It fits with his fondness for barely heralded musicians—synth pioneers who never got their dues, whose work now fuels a small part of the reissues industry. This is music that’s longing to be lost just as much as it is to be found, made with a knowledge of how the process of falling out of view can end up coloring works with a unique texture.
Brooks finds a broad sound palette to explore on From Out Here, even more so than on his other works under this name. The best tracks often have a non-musical component, such as the ticking clock that keeps rhythm on the upwardly twirling synth patterns of “Winter Hours”, or the crackly spoken word transmission of the title track, which bears the cadence of a lost World War II-era recording. There’s even a concept driving it all, based around the arcadian English countryside being an artificial conceit generated by a computer program, making it sound like the bastard offspring of technology-run-amok thrillers like the 1977 feature Demon Seed. It’s often hard to square that idea with the reality of From Out Here, which is all tightly controlled passages of sound, ranging from short minimal synth apparitions (“Verberatim”) to expansive tracts of folky wanderings (“Upon Oakston”).
Brooks’ inspirations are often musicians who could be classed as people hiding in plain sight—artists such as Suzanne Ciani and Brian Bennett, who both feature on this mixtape to accompany From Out Here, or the library music he and the Ghost Box label hold so dear. None are household names, but all have worked in the commercial sphere, either through advertising or by penning TV or film themes. The sense of build in Advisory Circle tracks such as “Escape Lane” and “The Walk Home” would fit perfectly in that sphere, scrolling over B-movie end credits or zipping across a sepia tinted vacuum cleaner commercial. Somehow, this music, and arguably the entire Ghost Box aesthetic, makes those worlds seem closer than many people may have realized. It’s also what prevents these darker Advisory Circle tracks from encroaching too close to the gloom—there’s always a key sense of play at work.
The most satisfying part of From Out Here is how much wider Brooks casts his net than before. Sure, there are hints of small releases, such as that mysterious Jürgen Müller record from a few years back on the beautiful “Jessica Finds the Beach”. But it’s not hard to see the spectre of Kraftwerk’s power station fear surface on “The Blue Energy Programme”, and it’s easy to trace a path from the sparse passages of “Experiment!” to the melancholy side of Spacemen 3’s Playing With Fire. At those moments the Advisory Circle vibrates with possibility, drawing in endless strands of music’s past, with Brooks steadying the tiller to make sure everything maintains the correct trajectory. For a notionally darker work this album ends up being more enjoyable than some of his prior records, mainly because the sense of exploration is heightened with each turn taken. Brooks and Ghost Box are often talked about in narrow planes of sound, but here the future feels persuasively wide open.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1DSgmNP