Virginia Astley

From Gardens Where We Feel Secure (Rough Trade 1983)

http://www.mediafire.com/?2ja28xn7tmd

I’ve always been a sucker for the classical/ambient hybrids of Roger Eno, Kate St. John, Michael Nyman and Roedelius. Nyman definitely veers more towards the neo-classical end of the pool, but the others have devoted themselves to this utterly pleasant, bucolic music that challenges noone, but remains in your consciousness long after you turn the stereo off for the night. My obsession with these sounds stem from my college years listening to the Orb, Pete Namlook, the Fax label and Penguin Cafe Orchestra and discovering beauty in things that weren’t layered in reverb and psychedelic effects.

I always found From gardens Where we Feel Secure to be a bit of an oddity in the context of the Rough Trade label, but I guess it isn’t so surprising since they embraced all ends of the musical spectrum. However, Virginia Astley did play piano on some of Siouxsie and the Banshees early works and some of this wouldn’t sound out of place on an 80s 4ad album.  As a side note, she is Pete Townsend’s sister-in-law, but that lame tidbit provides little insight into these soothing sounds.

There is something subtly challenging lying beneath the surface of the rural ambience of the album. In fact, certain tracks gel due to the combo of uplifting bliss and dissonant undertones that veer into its happy-go-lucky path. Although I assume her aim was to assume the relaxed charm of the countryside, I always associated it with time spent stoned in Western Pa or driving along the Georgia coast. There is nothing particularily southern or Pennsyltuckian about it, but it reminds me of quiet moments far away from all who may vex you or drag you into drama not of your making. Ultimately, it is just goddamn pretty and soothing on those days when the heart rate needs to crawl and distractions need to slowly fade into the background of a hectic existence.