The Advisory Circle – Ways of Seeing (Ghost Box)


The Advisory Circle mine melancholy electrics of the late 70’s and early 80’s, educational films, and electronic library music, music that more often than not that was designed as incidental music for children. You have to wonder how much this music has subconsciously shaped us in subsequent years. Each time The Advisory Circle makes an album it feels he reaches back into his own childhood memories and experiences and consciously re-appropriating it, making it his own, or reproducing and reforming it into his own image. Perhaps that’s why his music is nostalgia wrapped up in a gentle, subtle sadness. In some ways it emphasises the distance from who we were back in those times, where innocence and playfulness has been subsumed by adulthood and all the responsibility it entails.

The Advisory Circle is UK artist Jon Brooks. Under this guise he has released five albums and four collaborative singles, though he also works as The Belbury Circle with Ghost Box founder Jim Jupp, and alongside Ed Macfarlane and Edd Gibson of Friendly Fires (both of whom appear on this album) as The Pattern Forms.

His music manages to escape any kind of kitsch connotations, as it possesses the same kind of hauntological feel consistent to most Ghost Box releases. It’s rich, melodic, with jarringly 80’s synth sounds, yet musically it’s not jarring at all – quite the contrary. There is nothing difficult or even vaguely uneasy, there is no darkness underlying the earnestness of this music. It’s tightly controlled, carefully structured, everything is perfectly in place. Yet somehow despite this kind of exacting composition it manages to imbue these deep emotional responses. And when it comes, you experience the same kind of difficulty as with the Boards of Canada, where you question your emotions, unable to separate them from nostalgia or even work out if its your own nostalgia you’re experiencing.

Ghost Box packaging is always great, but this album is next level, designed like an 80’s camera brochure, complete with colour chart, and exotic photos. I guess each of the tracks are aural photographs, and the album a photo album, where Brooks immerses you in his unique nostalgic futurism for a few minutes, allowing you to fall headlong into the deep hues and rich palette, before moving on to the next. It’s a beautiful and affecting way to see the world.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.