A highly original album in terms of music and packaging. The factory-pressed CDR is packaged within a translucent metallic paper sleeve, which is in turn packaged within a gold-embossed sleeve held together by a wax seal, which is in turn packaged within an outer sleeve also containing metallic confetti. The CD also comes with a miniature handmade book, The Book of Celestina Part Three, written by multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Jackson Del Rey. It's a bizarre science fiction story about a robot who feels human emotions, and is closely related to the title of the album itself. A great deal of effort has gone into this hand-assembled packaging, showing this band really care about what they do.
17 Pygmies have four band members, each playing a number of instruments, and are also joined here by 7 guest artists adding further vocals and instrumentation including oboe, cello and viola. The music is an innovative mix of spacerock, prog (I'm talking actual progressive music, not the mere excuse for self-indulgence exemplified by some of the genre's most famous representatives), folk, classical, and film soundtrack-like sound effects. Despite its avant garde aspects, it tends towards the strongly melodic, and features vocal sections from the very talented singer Meg Maryatt.
Celestina XXV has a very lovely folky melody and a dreamlike, psychedelic atmosphere. Celestina XXVIIis an epic instrumental close to 10 minutes long, with much spacey electronic bleepery and odd sound effects, building up into a crescendo of dark, heavy spacerock, like a gothic version of Hawkwind. Celestina XXX sets a folk-tinged song to a mixture of ethereal drones and sophisticated orchestration. Celestina XXXI is a neoclassical piece with a waltz rhythm, based around classical guitar, cello, viola and glockenspiel. Celestina XXXIII.III is a fractured, deliberately lo-fi form of underground blues.
This is one of the most inventive albums I've heard for a while; taken as a whole it defies categorisation. The band are clearly doing their own thing outside of restrictive genre boundaries or the dictates of current fads, and this is something I really appreciate, especially when the music is this well-crafted. Available from www.trakwerx.com/label.htm