Tuesday, October 27, 2009

'Carl Sagan Are We Doomed?' Windmill's "Epcot Starfields"

This second album by Windmill is a suite of ten songs about dust particles, space, Carl Sagan and planetary doom. All inspired by a childhood visit to the Epcot space center in Florida.

I hope you haven't stopped reading because this is an astonishingly beautiful record: a 41 minute treatise on loneliness, love, death and the end of our planet, touchingly realised and quite moving. I've been playing this since its release last month and it is definitely nudging its way into that end-of-year album top ten chart.

Windmill’s debut "Puddle City Racing Lights" created tender, sweeping electronic orch-pop. On this his second album, Matthew Thomas Dillon’s starting point is to strip the arrangements back to mainly piano and voice with additional, sparing use of strings, electronic washes and echo. His voice is a quavering helium-squeak that will not be to everyone’s taste but here it becomes an asset - either a poignant, solitary warble or double and treble-tracked, and overlaid with choral harmonies. It creates a luscious swoon that brings to mind Jonathan Donahue at his most wide-eyed and astral-gazing. In fact a comparison with the flighty and quieter moments of Mercury Rev is a good one for the whole album.

Before watching this video to accompany 'Big Boom', I'd make a plea. Just close your eyes and listen to the song first (or just go straight to 'Photo Hemispheres' probably the key track on the record). Although I like this endearingly lofi video with its cheap space-suits, summer fetes and marching bands, it doesn't convey the child-like wonder - and fearful sadness - at the enormity of the universe as well as the music alone. The video is just a bit too earthbound.

"Epcot Starfields" is an evocative and engaging journey, like sitting in a planetarium in awe at the beauty and wonder of the universe but also feeling small, insignificant and vulnerable. And like those feelings, the mood this album creates stays with you long after it has finished.

The record is available to buy direct in numerous formats including MP3, FLAC, vinyl and CD with a T-shirt option too if you want. Sadly no space-suit option. A missed opportunity.

Epcot Starfields [BUY]

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