Friday, 2 May 2014

'From Gardens Where We Feel Secure'

Music, like landscape, is an endless treasury, with new discoveries patiently awaiting happenstance. One of the blogs that I most look forward to viewing or reading, though I struggle to keep up with its prolific output, is A Year In The Country, which is a particularly rich source of new musical pathways.

Currently on my turntable (how archaic does that phrase now sound), following a recommendation in a post on the aforementioned blog, is From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, a beguiling piece of classical ambient English pastoral by Virigina Astley. As a newcomer to the album, I will not attempt to add to this lovingly crafted description of a "welcome old friend" or the brief mention in the definitive Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music, in which Rob Young remarks on the "timeless, hovering sensation" of the music contained within it.

In fact, the track-listing and sleeve notes alone, reproduced below, deftly prefigure the sounds and ambiance that the record harvests; bringing to mind the elegiac yet beatific Just Another Diamond Day by Vashti Bunyan or John Martyn's Small Hours, the perfect accompaniment to a dreamy summer's day gloaming.

From Gardens Where We Feel Secure

With My Eyes Wide Open In Dreaming
A Summer Long Since Past
From Gardens Where We Feel Secure
Hiding in the Ha-Ha

Birds at dawn 5.30 am Sunday 25th April Moulsford Oxfordshire
Churchbells 9.45am Sunday May 2nd South Stoke Oxfordshire
Churchbells and children Sunday morning May 2nd Moulsford
'Lilac' Tuesday morning May 25th Moulsford

Out On The Lawn I Lie In Bed
Too Bright For Peacocks
Summer Of Their Dreams
When The Fields Were On Fire
Its Too Hot To Sleep

Swing gate 2.30pm Sunday 25th April South Stoke
Lambs Sunday afteroon 25th Moulsford Downs
Rowing on the river Sunday afternoon 25th April The Thames Moulsford
Churchbells, children, birds singing late afternoon Sunday 6th June Moulsford
Owl, clock, night noises, Sunday night 16th May Moulsford.



  1. Oddly enough, have been listening to this the last couple of weeks – originally got hold of it after reading Michael Bracewell’s ‘England is Mine’ in the 1990s. Enjoyed the atmosphere and sense of place but never really engaged because I felt trapped in Jane Austen’s needlework basket by the end of it. But been listening to Ramona Lisa’s ‘Arcadia’ album and she mentioned in an interview that Gardens Where We Feel Secure (a fantastic album title) was a big influence – so went back to it and getting something really different from it, sounds much more earthy than I remember. And titles like ‘Too bright for Peacocks’ or ‘Out on the lawn I lie in bed’ are just too good to not make anything transcend the everyday…

    1. Yes, there is something of the parallel contradictions of Englishness in the record: at once twee and melancholic, conventional and otherworldly. It also helps to dispel my irrational contempt for any cultural artefact from the mid-80's - the legacy of feeling out of time during my teenage years in that decade; in retrospect I can now view Fitzcarraldo, The Draughtman's Contract and Talk Talk through the same nostalgic filter that I apply to the (remembered) bucolic 70's of my earlier childhood.

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