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Review: 'Gagarin'
'Great North Wood'   

-  Label: 'Bandcamp'
-  Genre: 'Ambient' -  Release Date: '6.10.20.'

Our Rating:
This is the latest album by Gagarin who for some us is better known as Graham Dowdall or Dids who has been a legendary Percussionist and keyboards player for well over 40 years including playing with Ludus, Nico and Pere Ubu among many others. This is the next instalment of his series of ambient electronica albums based on site specific recordings that have then been manipulated re-worked and added too.

It opens with the wide-open spaces of South London Commons and it evokes the sounds and feelings of walking across Streatham Common or any of the other South London commons that would have been part of the great North Wood. It is textural noises that give way to a bleeping sound and deep bass sounds that could almost evoke the ghosts of the girls who used to patrol the edge of Streatham Common as the sounds pick up in pace.

Eskil is a stripped back sound like you are listening carefully for bird song and other animal noises and reminds me a bit of producer Mark Beazley’s band Low Bias in how the minimal percussion is used to flesh out the textural elements.

Enchanter's Nightshade is late night ruminations and noises that would disturb anyone trying to sleep in the woods, odd tonal sounds and a wind whipping through your speakers that remind me of a couple of tracks I have by Muuk.

Desire Paths has some deep bass notes rumbling along as the bleeps and other percussion sounds come in as if you are wandering through a dense wood along a path hoping to find some spiritual or other kind of enlightenment, the main keyboard pattern almost sounds like a slowed down police siren.

Tortina Toarmina almost feels like the soundtrack to sitting round the campfire with crackling sounds some birdsong and some weird tonal noises almost like you can hear the cicada's chirruping as if you are in Sicily rather than South london, as suddenly a Bass drum seems to be hit once every 20 seconds or so causing bright shards of sound to rain down.

Lakuz is named after a Swiss culture centre and has the feel of being in a Japanese Garden with a nodding bird dripping water as the strings help to relax you and make you lay back and stare at the sky through the branches of the Cherry Trees as a stream gently flows by and you attain a wondrous dream like state.

Panceat is of course the Anglo Saxon name for Penge in South London and gentle keyboards and whizzing noises work well against a deep bass sounds and skittery percussion that feels rather calming.

We dip down to the Surrey Hills for Hog's Back a tune that should be accompanied by a beer from the Hogs Back brewery. This is a chilled out tonal piece with a slow bass drum and what sounds like it might be a tambourine that then picks up into a sort of dynamic chill and bass piece.

The album closes with the elegiac Green Air that has strings set against the bass drum and textural sounds of the forest as you inhale the forest air deeply to help balance yourself as you listen out for the birdsong, this has a very cool sense of peaceful relaxation about it.

http://gagarin.org.uk/ https://gagarin.bandcamp.com/ https://www.facebook.com/GAGARIN-81533059428
  author: simonovitch

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