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CASTLES IN SPACE

Polypores

Azure

    • British synthesist, Stephen James Buckley returns to Castle in Space for the release of a brand new Polypores record.
    • Azure is a beautiful new age symphony of blissed out water music.
    • It’s his first full length LP since the release of last year’s “Flora”, which is also reissued in a stunning new two coloured ”earthtones” edition.
    • Flora was included in several end of year best of charts last year including Electronic Sound and Norman Records best of 2019.

    Stephen explains the genesis of Azure:
    “As with a lot of my music at the moment, the original inspiration from Azure started out with the music itself, rather than an initial concept. That is, it came through playing. I noticed that a lot of what I was writing seemed to lend itself to water imagery. It was flowing, fluid, bubbling. The album was written late 2019, when it seemed to be perpetually raining, so that might have been a factor.

    I was also listening to a lot of new-age music at the time. Whilst I didn’t purposely set out to do a "new-age" album as such, I think a lot of that crept in there - but with it's own Polypores-esque twist. Rather than working in a specific genre, I much prefer to take elements and signifiers from a genre, and warp them into my own vision.

    Once I'd decided to go down this route the writing became more focussed, and I was also able to immerse myself in various books, films, and documentaries related to the ocean, particularly the mythology and lore surrounding it. I imagined this to be the music that the sunken stone heads from Easter Island would have on their record players. A relaxation tape for dolphins.

    The album was created with a modular synthesizer, which was still fairly new to me at the time. As with most of my music, it was a fairly quick process, as I tend to record live rather than overdubbing/multi-tracking. I find this way of writing more immediate, it gives me a more direct link to my creativity, without too much thought or analysis getting in the way. I used a lot of New-Age type sounds, and one of the tracks uses a Gamelan scale. I made heavy use of granular synthesis on the human voice, to create the choir sounds.
    I think I did subconsciously want to create something similar to Flora. Not sonically (as it's a very different sound palette) but more the idea of it being an exaggerated, almost fantastical response to an environment. So whilst Flora takes place in the forest, Azure takes place in the ocean, but both focus on the fantasy elements, as opposed to the mundane or harsh reality. I wasn't going to do an album about overfishing or something. It's a form of escapism I suppose.

    Some interesting facts about the album are:
    - One of the tracks has a short sample from the soundtrack to a well known 1990s point-and-click adventure game, set deep in the Caribbean,
    - I was listening to Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Iron Maiden a lot around the time of writing.”
    Castles in Space presents ”Azure” in a deluxe azure blue vinyl pressing in a full gloss varnished sleeve and foldback tabs. The LP includes a beautiful art print designed by the sleeve designer, Nick Taylor. French comic book legend Moebius was an inspiration for Nick along with taking direction from the luxurious flow of the music.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Another beautiful suite of aquatic bubbling synthesis from Stephen Buckley here, trading out the desktop synths for the endless patchable joy of the eurorack. Brittle arpeggios, swooning heavenly echoes and life-affirming ambience.

    Polypores

    Flora

      Polypores (AKA Stephen James Buckley) new work, “Flora" was written and recorded in the long, hot summer of 2018. Says Stephen “I didn't intend to write a record with a specific theme or sound, but, as is often the case, something eventually presented itself once I started playing around with my machines. I spent a lot of time walking in the woods and exploring some of the beautiful countryside around the North West of the UK. Whilst doing this I got a collection of field recordings, which ended up forming the compost from which the album grew. I'd have the recording playing in the background whilst writing, or running through loop pedals. I found that if I blended the field recordings in with my initial synth pieces, it added a whole new texture and depth to what was already there.

      "It created a place in which the music lived. And that place was most definitely a forest. As I got deeper into the writing process a vague narrative formed. Entering a strange forest, where everything was unnaturally huge. Towering flowers and fungus. Both frightening and overwhelmingly beautiful. Then, emerging at the end through the canopy of trees into bright daylight. The last track, Sky Man, represents this I think. Like I say, it's a very loose narrative. I don't even feel like I wrote it myself - more that I channelled it from that strange ether out of which music comes.”

      “Flora" is an astounding record. Electronic Sound Magazine reviewed the LP in issue 54, declaring that “Flora” '…is just as good as you would expect from this superb analogue synthesist. From the eerie grittiness of the title track to the bleepy, sombre wobbles of “Golden Mould”, “Flora” has a touch of science fiction enveloping it for a record "about flowers”. “Giants" could soundtrack the exploration of a distant, long abandoned alien planet, all ambient whines and echoing, stargazing synthesis…There’s a lot to enjoy here.' 

      Keith Seatman

      Time To Dream But Never Seen

        Time To Dream But Never Seen” is the 6th album by Keith Seatman and his his first release for Castles in Space. Keith Seatman’s music is an anachronistically repurposed assemblage of sounds, melodies and technologies plundered from different time zones. 'Time To Dream But Never Seen', however, is far from being a haphazard and spontaneous collage. Keith’s busy and dense soundworld is composed through a very deliberate and painstaking process. Unlikely musical and sonic juxtapositions artfully evoke a sense of place and narrative. This latest excursion into bad-trip psychedelia is shot through with wistful and whimsical melodies and occasional haunted voices. On 'Last One In', for example, what could be a chirpy and exciting theme tune to a 1970s kid’s adventure series is modulated into a minor key by a sinister synth bass line and menaced by a stomping bovver-boy rhythm. In the opening track, 'On to the Pier & Down to the Sea', the amusement arcade din is submerged in a watery digital swirl during. Likewise, on 'Tippy Toe Tippy Toe' the tiddly-om-pom-pom of the pier is heard from the point of view some approaching aquatic creature or perhaps by a drowning man.

        The closing section of the album shifts focus from the seafront to its rustic precursor, the mayday fair. Something weird comes to the village in 'Waiting by the Window', sounding as if late period Radiophonic Workshop (when they got hold of expensive synths) had popped back 15 years to work with their boffinish tape wielding forbears. It summons an atmosphere like a Nigel Kneale drama or one of those folk-horror inspired episodes of Dr.Who. Finally, the album’s closing title track seems to offer a chance of escape to a more rustic idyll with melancholy mellotron flute and mumbled nursery rhymes. But as the album closes it feels like a relentlessly inescapable holiday-special steam train drags us back On to the Pier & Down to the Sea. Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly, Ghostbox Records)

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.


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