Saturnia - "Hydrophonic Gardening"
Hydrophonic Gardening is the third release to date by Portugal’s Saturnia. This album follows on from where the last one left off. It is drenched with Pink Floyd sounding ambience. It is littered with mellow movements, experimental in its methods as it fuses tabla rhythms with manic Nick Mason’esq rolls. It is a seven-track album lasting just over fifty minutes.
Luis Simoes again is at the helm of the project, and again the vibe is laid back. The contents never really offer change, as if the perfect formula has been found. Each track passes over similar territory to what their last album covered, each track flowing with a tranquil almost faultless scene of beauty. An ambient discovery that follows a pattern reaching over the sea of thought, to where Pink Floyd meets Portishead and Ravi Shanker meets Talvin Singh. It bridges the gap between Trip Hop and Chill Out room sounds and the vibe is set at a slow pace, one that it never retracts from.
The title suggests the exact substance required to be a part of the ride, moulded for headphonic assisted revelry. It is not what you would call lively although some could dance to it. I mean it is more background music, that which requires submergence to get into, rather than party music. I find this music enthralling and very creative, being the closest that you will find to the sound that early Pink Floyd had with gongs etc, but with new form. Although Saturnia have made this sound their own with the assistance of world beats and instrumentation, it is lodged deep in the influence of Pink Floyd.
‘Vimana’ explores the eastern beats with great clarity. It is driven with a hypnotic percussive nature, the synths working their magic over a repetitive backdrop. ‘Sunflower’ with its flute soloing over a Portishead style beat, making way for a vocal that drifts in & out of the mellowness.
Saturnia have found a style that suits them, and they do not divert from it, rather evolve it as if one long track. One that could possibly change on its course, hopefully showing other guises of itself. It is a repetitive music and may be too much so to some. It will definitely be of interest to those of us who have heard their other two albums, and it will be a revelation to those who are just becoming aware of their name. Their last album was released on Cranium Records from New Zealand and it became a building block for a wider distribution of their music. No longer with Cranium, Saturnia are still plying their trade to ears that want collaborations of old & new. This is what they do with such ease. I would be interested to see where they take it next, and hopefully it will have a difference to keep the fans happy. Read Jerry’s & my review in AI issue 17 to get more views on their work.
Aural Innovations #22 01/2003 Albert Pollard