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Ashtray Navigations

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Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom (1991 – present)

Ashtray Navigations is an English group centered upon Phil Todd, active since 1991.

Colloquially referred to as Ash Nav, the group operate out of Todd’s home in Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, from which he also ran the record labels Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers and, subsequently Memoirs of an Aesthete. The project has also released music through labels such as Siltbreeze, Jewelled Antler, American Tapes, Menlo Park, E.F. Tapes and Freedom From.

Whilst the music evades easy categorisation due to variations in sound, approach and personnel, it often incorporates extended droning and lengthy guitar pieces. James Blackshaw described the Ashtray Navigations sound as “sub-aquatic synth bubble, busted-up cassette-tape hiss and distorted electric guitar hover that sounds like a mythical god banished from the realm of light and trying desperately to clamber his/her way out of a dark bottomless void where time itself stands still”. The Wire’s David Keenan has described Phil Todd/Ashtray Navigations as “a trashcan antidote to La Monte Young”.

Reviewing Todd’s 36th album, The Love that Whirrs, critic Larry Dolman wrote “It’s a pretty mammoth piece of work - almost 80 minutes of music spread out over six heavy tracks. They tend to start as intense sun-blinding drone-fields, but if you hold on tight for a minute or two and adjust yourself to these new conditions, you’ll start to notice a wealth of detail, provided by a real band of ringers.

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