Sunday 4 January 2009

Belbury Poly release ‘From An Ancient Star’

Things that come from ancient stars aren’t ever going to leave the world the way they found it: just think of the birth of Jesus – or Superman, for that matter. Either way, the Perry Como and Arthur Lyman Christmas albums were put aside for the holidays this year in favour of an advance copy of From An Ancient Star: the latest release from those incredibly deep traffickers in ideas, images and sounds, Ghost Box. A new project from Belbury Poly is always a pleasure at the start of any year; and this one comes as a particularly timely reminder of just how fantastic the effect can be when music, text and design all come together to form one narrative package.

Due out officially at the end of January, From An Ancient Star is the perfect Christmas album for any pagan in their right mind, which is why I don’t mind recommending it at a time when the twin-faced Janus still holds sway over our lives. To say this one shimmers and scintillates is to also emphasize that in the twinkling of a star, darkness and light can be found alternating wildly with each other. There’s always going to be something creepy about the notion of an ancient star, no matter how much the sound of it sets you dancing: listening to what Belbury Poly does with the concept is a little like trying to read a John Wyndham novel by the light of a spinning glitter ball. The Tomorrow People just got a makeover courtesy of Carl Sagan and Nigel Kneale – and we’re all better people for it.

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