On the strength of Astronomical Twilight’s previous album, Unheard, new music coming from this artist is something I already look forward too and so a new full album of sounds landing on my review pile really made my day. As expected, as an overall vibe, Zoetrope is a continuation of where we left off last time, which is perfectly fine. It isn’t that it is repetitious particularly, it is just that this is music that deals in moods and atmospheres, emotions and meditations and even if it were what is wrong with an artist realising what they are good at and just revelling in the beauty of what they do. And doing it far better than the competition too. Nothing, that’s what.
And this is an album to which the word beauty doesn’t feel in any way hyperbole. Most music stops far short of such terms, it might be fun, functional, energetic, euphoric even but Zoetrope, and Astronomical Twilight in general, creates soundtracks for the universe itself. The creative minimalism of what is being built here is so understated yet so majestic that it feels as if it is either the sound score, or possibly even the sound itself, to all of existence, the natural song of the universe just with all of the man-made white noise filtered out.
A Star in The Sky, for example, is just a drifting moodscape that initially conjures images as big, as distant, as dramatic as the title suggests, Restored is a blend of ambient pulses that trails off into its own world of distant radio noise and A Quiet Search For Joy is the perfect by-line for the music being made here.
Zoetrope is less beat driven than its predecessor, though that was hardly a dance record, but rather it is the drifting and meditative side which is the main concern this time around. If it proves one thing it is this. You can create powerful, elegant and eloquent music from so very little but of course the art is knowing exactly which “very little” to use and how position it on the musical canvas so effectively. Until someone else in the music community works that out, Astronomical Twilight will remain in a field of its own.
A wise man once said that we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. What he failed to add is that some of those stargazers are writing their very own musical suite to describe what they see and feel too.