The Nightjar Orchestra et al.The Nightjar Orchestra et al.
Album: Synaesthesia
Label: ECC100
Tracks: 16

Remember the series of four Lush Hand-made Music CDs which came out four years back? They were the product of an imaginative collaboration between leading experimental musician Simon Emmerson (of Imagined Village and Afro-Celt Sound System) and Lush's co-founder Mark Constantine: a project which, characteristically innovatively, pushed the boundaries of folk tradition and ambient music and took the listener on a journey (ostensibly with the aim of allowing you to re-create the relaxing, tranquil atmosphere of the spa in his/her own home). To achieve this, folk and mood music was interspersed with natural sounds – primarily birdsong, specially recorded for the project by Mark's company The Sound Approach,

Synaesthesia is actually, as far as I can tell, a repackaging of one of the four discs from the set, arguably the least "folky" and the most impressionistic/ambient. The Nightjar Orchestra would appear to consist of Richard Evans, Simon Emmerson, Barney Morse-Brown, John Metcalfe, Ben Murray, Angie Pollock, Andy Gangadeen and "Mass". Basically what we get for our 78 minutes is 7 or 8 tracks of authentic, admirably unadulterated birdsong-scapes alternating with a similar number of music tracks. These range from evocative, quasi-orchestral tone-poems like Last Light and The Great Western to gentle, improvisatory meanderings, with a sitar-soaked rendition of Scarborough Fair (with Martin Carthy on vocal, taken from the Imagined Village's 2010 CD Empire And Love) inexplicably tacked on at the end (to bring the whole to a meditative close?).

I said repackaging, and this is indeed lavish: it comes as a double-disc vinyl edition, with inserted USB card-stick containing all 16 audio tracks and a video.

David Kidman