Saturnia - The Glitter Odd (Cranium)
From the moment the needle hits the record (sic; this IS a CD only release!), we're in for something different from the Portugese duo, Saturnia on the sixth release from this New Zealand imprint. (Cranium head [pun intended], Richard Stockwell also runs an excellent mail order catalogue [www.cranium.co.nz] which specializes in the best of the current crop of psych, prog and krautrock releases.) That opener, "Chrysalis" is a wonderful, sitar-drenched effort that sets the stage for one of the finest "chill out" experiences since its inception nearly 20 years ago with The KLF classic that gave the genre its name.
"Still Life" makes good use of all the instruments at Saturnia's disposal, including several synths, e-mu vintage keys, castanets (!), metalophone and tons of fx. It's the perfect antidote to that long day in the office or sitting in endless commuter traffic. Pour something cold and relax out on the patio."A Trick of the Light" sounds like it was recorded in a bird sanctuary or
the local zoo's zombie birdhouse - put this on your walkman next time you visit your furry friends of flight. The theremin bed also adds a nice sci-fi/horror touch that compliments this atmospheric stroll in the rain forest.
The disk's centerpiece and strongest track is the ominous, 10-minute "Azimuth/Menadl". Propelled by a processional drumbeat and frightening organ loop accompanied by theremin, gongs and assorted fx, "Azimuth" could have been the perfect track for the infamous "masquerade ball" scene in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (although, admittedly, Jocelyn Pook's original still scares
the shit out of me). About halfway through, the track segues into "Menadel", which begins like Simon & Garfunkle's "Old Friends" and ends like a cross between Stereolab, Withc Hazel Sound and High Llamas. Beautiful!
By the time we reach the anti-climactic title track, which is more of an "atmosphere" than an actual "song", we've been treated to a myriad of theremins, organs, crybaby wah-wahs, steel guitars, synths, chimes, bells, gongs, whistling wind - a veritable De Wolfe library full of cinematic "beds" and sound fx, all adding up to a lounge lizard's dream soundtrack to woo that special someone on a coll autumnal evening.Hot on the heels of Lamp of the Universe's The Cosmic Union, Cranium has delivered two of the year's finest releases and is definitely a label whose releases we'll be looking forward to in the future.
The vinyl junkie 09/2001