Frankly, this is a collection of compositions which highlight the rich promise of the producer, which I am assuming is Dan Astles. Production wise, it is about evocative risk taking to convey the intensity of the songs. But, isn’t this what the art of musical production is about? That magical ingredient, the nuanced insight that elevates the composition to the listener?
Astles, to these ears – its always subjective until you yourself are in a position to hearing the art for yourself – has an imaginative grasp on the art of producing which, thankfully, is eclectic. And all the better for it. I recently saw Dan Astles perform Tip Toes with Thom Morecroft, and was mightily impressed with his voice. But now my admiration has gone up many, many notches.
I mention “eclectic”. I Was Just Getting There is reminiscent of Thom Yorke in the vocal delivery, the quite calm before the full intensity, eking out the core of emotionality. Nights Strange deploys an eighties intro, drum machine, and Astles isn’t afraid to isolate the vocals before the track lifts off and bursts to life. Brave, and the right decision. You Are (Full Of Wonder) is pure sonic beauty, reminiscent of Engineers.
But Death Is Love is the jewel in the crown. A fantastic arrangement, with a nod to Pink Floyd and – is this cool? – King Crimson? Was Astles in a late night conversation with Robert Fripp? I don’t care if King Crimson ain’t seen as a cool. Check them out. They are cool, because they created intelligent music. Like Astles. And again, this is where the production ethos pushes well beyond an eleven. And his vocal. Yes – totally delivers.
We finish with Don’t Turn The Light On. Like a lullaby, a beautiful piano refrain and exquisite saxophone. “Don’t turn the light on when you go”…who hasn’t thought or uttered those words?. Again to the emotional centre. To the very heart of the sunrise.
Astles’ Full Of Wonder is something very special and challenging. Here are a set of songs that you have to consciously engage with to get the best out of. And Astles’ mature and thought-through production really facilitates this. Within it, he manages to sonically capture the emotional kernel of the composition. It’s challenging. But very worthwhile. A very rich talent indeed.
Listen to Full of Wonder: