In Full Circle, the sixth studio album of The Advisory Circle, Cate Brooks conjures a sonic world of intrigue, optimism and, to my ears, a euphoric sense of freedom. This feeling of transcendence permeates The Advisory Circle’s impressive catalogue and is one of the many characteristics of Cate’s music that lures me in time and again.
The Advisory Circle are one of the most beloved acts of the Ghost Box collective and Cate Brooks’ ouevre has shaped the labels sound and aesthetic since its inception in 2005. With a self-proclaimed love of synth experimentation, library records, Public Information Films and weird, old British TV programs, The Advisory Circle is a definitive part of the Ghost Box canon, alongside label friends Belbury Poly and The Focus Group.
In Full Circle, Cate Brooks fashions a landscape that is equal parts idyllic, otherwordly and ephemeral. Yet, as I wander through this soundscape, floating along on currents of glimmering, pulsating sine waves, I encounter moments, such as on the track ‘Time Immemorial’, where I am profoundly aware of my humanity, and reminded of the corporeal nature of our existence. The track ‘Russian Doll’ is alien and charming, reminiscent of Zuckerzeit era Cluster. It’s entirely possible I’ve been watching too many Law and Order re-runs lately, but ‘Fit For Purpose’ is the perfect homage to eighties and nineties detective crime drama series. Listening to ‘The Architecture’ makes me feel like I’ve been cryogenically frozen and I’m in a glass cabinet suspended in fluid looking out at the world as centuries roll by. ‘Sky Court’, with its powerfully catchy lead synth melody is a heady mix of Vaporwave meets Vangelis’ Opera Sauvage.
With her innate ability to collage retro nostalgia, wistful melodies and futuristic tones and textures, the songs on Full Circle encapsulate the dualisms of human nature. These dualities push and pull against each other simultaneously in songs such as ‘Wait Hear Now’ and ‘Blueprint’, weaving threads of past and future, old and new, mind and body, human and machine, hope and despair into a cosy universe that exists in the space and time between.