The Advisory Circle - Mind How
You Go (Revised edition)
"The Advisory Circle -
helping you make the right decisions." With its
suggestions of a paternalistic organisation, The Advisory
Circle was always the perfect name for a Ghost Box act.
Julian House's designs for all the Ghost Box sleeves calls
to mind a culture in which, instead of being despoiled by
the semiotic pollution of advertising, public space is
ordered by a benevolent bureaucracy.
On Mind How You Go,
originally released in 2005, producer and vinyl archivist
jon Brooks produced a kind of Anglo-analogue pastoralism
that is as affecting as anything that the label has
releases. Brooks's analogue synthesizer doodles - all the
more powerful, somehow, for their unassuming slightness -
gently trigger drifts down (false) memory lanes, inducing
you to recall a mass mediated past which you never quite
experienced. Mind How You Go
frequently invokes that talisman of 1970s paternalism, the
Public Information Film, and it's perhaps no accident that
the rise of Ghost Box has coincided with the emergence of
YouTube, which has made Public Information Films and other
such street furniture of 1970s audio-visual experience
widely available again.
This release - the first of
a promised series of Ghost Box vinyl editions - sees
Mind How You Go
expanded from an EP to an LP, with the addition of four new
tracks, two by guest artists. The best of the new additions
is "Seasons", in which Brooks distils The Advisory Circle's
essence into two and a half minutes of plaintive bliss.
Seeland's extension / re-imagination of "Osprey", "Osprey's
Odyssey", seems at first hearing to be a little leaden, the
drum kit in particular threatening to overwhelm AC's spry
lightness; on subsequent listens, though, the track emerges
as a pleasingly seasick version of the original. Belbury
Poly return to Mind How You Go's
weirdest track, the
reverb-saturated nonsense nursery rhyme of "And the Cuckoo
Comes", reinventing it as a bizarre volkish stomp played by
a synthesizer tasked with imitating a tuba.
What Brooks poignantly
captures is the conflicted cluster of emotions involved in
nostalgic longing. "Mind How You Go" and "Nuclear
Substation" summon remembered sunlight from childhood
summers even as their doleful melodies are laced with a deep
sense of loss. Yet there's a very definite but subdued joy
here too, in the way that a track such as "Osprey"
achieves a kind of faltering soaring. It's not for nothing
that the word ache is often associated with nostalgia; and
The Advisory Circle's music positively aches with a sadness
that is simultaneously painful and enjoyable.