Cameron Macdonald, XLR8R Magazine
June/July 2008,
Profile of The Advisory Circle

On The Advisory Circle's debut EP, Mind How You Go, a disembodied voice echoes forth the slogan, "The Advisory Circle- helping you make the right decisions!' Innocent, promising words perhaps especially as a light bed of Moog synthesizer (straight out of '70s British TV adverts) hums below But it's the delivery-a cold, state-certified Big Sister voice-that belies something much more sinister, and its that lurking Orwellian tone thatís at the core of The Advisory Circle, the brainchild of Derbyshire, U.K.-based sound experimenter Jon Brooks. Brooks says The Advisory Circles music is about hidden coercion, both political and supernatural. "It's about the State which says, `We'll look after you, everything is going to be alright with a caring smile, whilst itís preparing to institutionalize you." he offers. "Its paranoia and psychosis. Its witchcraft and the occult. Folklore and tradition. Ritual."

A member of the UKís Ghost Box collective/record label, which includes artists The Focus Group, Belbury Poly, and Mount Vernon Arts Lab, Brooks and his labelmates share an affinity for haunted places, psychedelia, analog synth sounds, and library music from British childrenís programs and documentaries of the '60s and '70s. It might sound like an aesthetic already mastered by Boards of Canada, but Ghost Box ventures into darker and more abstract realms. "For me, the main appeal of '70s library music is that although its functional music, it can also be very experimental." Brooks says.

On his records, like the recent Other Channels, Brooks melds numerous instruments, including mouldy "steam-powered" synthesizers, with TV samples and field recordings. The result plays out like a soundtrack to the life of a British suburban housewife in the '70s. Sheís settled in a comfortable home, and she's absolutely bored to hell with all of it Brooks explains. A perfect example is the soap opera-themed "Mogadon Coffee Morning" which Brooks describes as the sound of "a housewife living in her bubble, pie-eyed on barbiturates trying to leave the straight life behind."

On top of this ennui is the Cold War paranoia that Soviet nuclear bombs could rain at any moment. That feeling dwells in the track "Civil Defence is Common Sense" where a grandfatherly voice announces the title before Brooks plays a hymnal, analog synth melody that resembles a gloomy patriotic call-to-arms.

"Everything's fine, but there is something not quite right about it" is one way that Brooks describes the atmosphere of The Advisory Circle. You might call it gallows humor, if you've given "Frozen Ponds PIF"- a PSA to keep kids off frozen ponds (complete with sounds simulating grave misfortune) - a spin. Other tracks aren't nearly as self-explanatory but Brooks maintains the mystery. "If I told you how Iíd envisioned all [the tracks], it would kill [it], so I won't." he says. I want every listener to get their cogs whirring and form their own interpretations.