This latest full-length effort from the highly prolific Mr. Phil Todd goes to show that when it comes to making interesting drone and strangely spiritual murk-fests, those folks from Leeds are ahead of their game. Split-released by Greek label Absurd and the consistently pleasing Goldsoundz, ‘To Your Fucking Feather’d Wings’ consists of two short pieces and the monstrous 45-minute long track at the end from which the disc has been titled.
Phil tells me this was originally supposed to be his “Ashtray Navigations goes rock!” album with another guitarist and a drummer lined-up to enter into the fray. As things worked out, neither said guitarist nor drummer were available and instead we are treated to a fine solo outing of sub-aquatic synth bubble, busted-up cassette-tape hiss and distorted electric guitar hover that sounds like a mythical god banished from the realm of light and trying desperately to clamber his/her way out of a dark bottomless void where time itself stands still.
The two shorter pieces at the beginning almost encapsulate everything that’s good about Ashtray Navigations in a nutshell: ‘Fried Stars’ kicks things off with its translucent guitar tones buried beneath a layer of shimmering haze, fighting for air. A drone of microscopic proportions, it barely clocks in at over three minutes and there’s the vague feeling of some deeper sentiment being laid to rest here. Up next, ‘The Sweet Salamander’, consists of a beatific music-box style keyboard improvisation, the sounds of distant planes splitting the sky in two, ethereal swells and a crackling sandpit shuffle.
Finally, ‘To your Fucking Feather’d Wings’ is a sprawling mass of growling wah-wah guitar, echoic synthesized waves and temple bells that eschew the melodic undertones of the preceding tracks in favour of a ritualistic psyched-out ambience that seeps through your consciousness like water from a sponge.
This is yet another solid entry into the already sizeable Ashtray Navigations catalogue and, like most great minimal noise, listening to it will either leave you with a feeling of total transcendence or stranded in a place of total non-being… neither of which is no bad thing, right? 8/10 -- James Blackshaw (25 May, 2005)