Reviews for “One From Then Another”

Dereck Higgins review


Ashtray Navigations are something of a nightmare to write about.

I’ve got a few albums of theirs and they’re all bangers and they’re in the realm of ‘bands you really should see’, despite the fact they don’t seem to play near me anywhere near as much as I’d like on account of my being nowhere near Leeds.

The problem is that their discography is too sprawling to really say much about how a record sits in their trajectory. Discogs has 109 albums listed and I’d be surprised if that was low-balling, given the nature of short-run releases and record-keeping in DIY scenes.

Perhaps you have an AshNav bingo card. If you do, you can cross out “sounds ’80s Miles Davis if he was a bit dirtier” and “I swear that was Tangerine Dream” with this release.

First track, “Drink The Moment Thin Fox Legs”, starts off all cowbell and funky asymmetrical shapes, but mutates relentlessly into all sorts of realms — spacey synth sounds and feedbacking drift, pretty wobbly keys, heroic spaghetti western by drugs binge. Last record of theirs I got was suffused with Funkadelic, so I’m wondering if the funk has actually been a part of AshNav for a while now.

For my money, they’re a funny proposition insofar as I could imagine the sort of thing that this record has being massively appealing to a certain sector of people — like I’m sure old weird funk and prog business is massive in some quarters and AshNav are not far away from “what if Funkadelic repeated Maggot Brain a few more times?” It’s a shame, in that context, that they’re most readily associated with noisy underground-y stuff, because I could well imagine this appealing to the £40+ weird ’70s funk re-issue brigade.

Everything AshNav does has a particular melted feel to it and that’s very much present here. Moments which are not massively dissimilar to something like Philip Jeck‘s uncanny loops. Dialogues about drug music are usually pretty stultified, but there’s a sense for me that AshNav lend themselves to being a band to take drugs to for the twenty-first century.

And if that’s not your vibe, there’s bits and bobs that’ll remind you of slinky shiny kraut-y vibes, Keith Rowe-ian tremelo, the sort of expansive wash of Acid Mothers Temple or basically a load of Freq-friendly fare. I was also reminded of Spiritualized which I appreciate not everyone’s up for, but I’m standing by Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space as one of the better kraut expositions in the 90s.

Second track is “Return Of The Sun Of Dr. Artur” and I appreciate the old-world grammaticism of Dr. with an uppercase D and a full stop. It’s all about the details, you see. It might be that this record is joined together by a theme of contracting and expanding between funky rhythmic sections and drifty wash. It’s a really effective thing — insofar as it gives an impression of structure (these may be fully composed or improvisations — difficult to tell and probably not important to draw the line).

So you get bits that sound like the Tomorrow’s World theme underwater, a plaintive cornet (?) section, angry refrigerator / frozen bee synths. Tempos shifting within the same song and different elements sliding in and out of the foreground and pulling the music in a load of directions. Some outrageous whammy usage.

The proposition of AshNav in 2023 is maybe difficult insofar as they do release a lot of records and if, like me, you’ve got completist problems, then it’s difficult to push this over another record. Which seems unfair, because this maintains the high quality of the last few AshNav releases I’ve heard. What I’ll say though, is that the AshNav records I’ve heard from the last few years have really been worth it insofar as they do seem to have developed this habit of being loads of genres at once.

It’s not necessarily apparent on the first pass, but the musicality of what used to be a kind of a lo-fi, noisy dronescapes band is massively laudable and perhaps there’s a biographer sticking this album in a pile marked “peak 2020s AshNav – 5*”.

Vital Weekly

Ah, Ashtray Navigations! I am sure I wrote something like this before, but there was a time when I couldn’t get enough of his music, and I got many of his releases, mainly on CDR and limited vinyl. But, as these things go, interests shift, or, instead, stuff also not arriving to review anymore, resulting in diminishing attention for Phil Todd’s music. Recently, I missed out on a few (I’m taking a look at Discogs) of his
releases, so it’s a bit difficult to comment on his development. At the same time, the music feels like a warm bath, a familiarity (and a longing to have more time than I have and dig out some of the older releases) that is his music. The guitar is Todd’s primary instrument, along with a long line of sound effects, but there are also keyboards, percussive bits and a trumpet. Whereas before, I would have lumped Ashtray Navigations in with the guitar noise terrorists, this new one sees a more psychedelic approach to music. There are two long pieces on this release. ‘Drink The Moment / Thin Fox Legs’ is about 28 minutes, and ‘The Return Of The Sun Of Dr. Artur’ is nearly 20 minutes. In both these pieces, Todd lets his guitar rip and shine. Not as noisy as before, but rather in jazzy, proggy and psychedelic rainbow colours. He knows how to play the six strings and has become quite virtuoso. Or, maybe, he was always the virtuoso, yet we never noticed? Whatever the case, Todd leaves in
enough weird sounds for us lovers of the experiment to enjoy. I do not mean the music is noisy but rougher around the edges. When the guitar isn’t on a solo routine but droning away, and there are loops of rattles and stabs on a synth, there is still that psych edge but edgier, and it works well in contrast with the rest of what the pieces offer. Also, in that respect, is the music a trip, and I mean the word trip in every sense of the word? I don’t know what Todd had while recording the music, but can I also have some? Yet, even without any intoxication (Tuesday 1:43 p.m., what would one use?), this is one hell of a ride. Where did I stash his older work? (Oh, wait, where do I find the time?)” – Frans De Waard

Cosmic Churn & Other Mulch

Order From Fourth Dimension

We should have copies for the UK in stock soon!

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Out Now! Ashtray Navigations ‘One From Then Another’ CD

Review in Outside Left:

Order from Fourth Dimension Records

We’ll hopefully have copies for sale here in a few weeks

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April reminders! Radio, CD and live…

Our April radio show coming up for you tomorrow on CAMP Radio, music from Wayne Shorter, Toni Basil, Michael Puig, Mdou Moctar and many more! 3PM GMT Thursday 9th March and repeated 23.00 EST

Also on Saturday 9th April we are playing in London as part of 10ish Years Of Blue Tapes at Ilklectik with Soft-Bodied Humans, Adrian Northover, Sue Lynch, Steve Beresford & Dave Tucker & Suren Seneviratne

And our new CD “One From Then Another” on Fourth Dimension Records is currently in production

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Pre-order and clips! New CD ‘One From Then Another’ on Fourth Dimension Records

“Phil Todd’s existence as Ashtray Navigations began in the mid-1990s. Since then, it has been everything from a fully fledged group to a solo endeavour that’s embraced ur-drone-orientated noise, sprawling psychedelia, crude electronics and the more lysergic realms of the avant-garde. Amongst many other things.

On ‘One From Then Another’, however, we are presented with two lengthy pieces (the first of which is broken into two sections and clocks up almost 30 minutes in total) that trawl through not only the most troubled and darkest psychedelic waters oozing from a subterranean space, but also the interstellar jazz-fusion of prime Herbie Hancock. To state that both pieces take the listener on a journey would make for a cliche best avoided, but this is precisely what they do.

Fourth Dimension Records is proud to see this addition to Phil Todd’s prolific output appear on a roster already heavily peppered with genuine misfits, outsiders and the kind of folk who defy lazy pigeonholing.

Released as a limited run (300 only) digipak in late April 2023. In production now.”



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New show on Camp Radio 9/10 March

We have a great new radio show coming up for you tomorrow on CAMP Radio, music from Duke of Iron, Television, Jeff Beck, Cerrone, The Coasters, Electric Eels, Herbie Hancock and many more! 3PM GMT Thursday 9th March and repeated 23.00 EST


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Lathe-cut and VaVaVoom LP pre-order

Got a miniscule quantity of the recent Doctor Artur Pills c/w Hyacinth Zero lathe-cut 7″ in stock at Ashtray HQ. Also copies of the new VHF LP for pre-order (can’t send these out until the release date 25 Nov).

The Apotheosis Of VaVaVoom

Doctor Artur Pills c​/​w Hyacinth Zero

If you don’t bandcamp, contact us ashtraynavigations (at) hotmail (dot) com

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The Apotheosis Of VaVaVoom…pre-order from VHF and a sneaky advance listen

We’ll have copies for sale here too, watch this space…

VHF Records pre-order

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The Apotheosis Of VaVaVoom…new LP soon on VHF Records

Coming soon – late Nov, watch this space (and others)

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Next gig – Captain’s Bar, Hanley, Stoke-On-Trent 22 Oct

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NEW vinyl LP/digital “Heavy Invertebrates” V. Limited!

Just about managed to get this out on bandcamp friday…a limited edition LP (only 99 copies).

Not a lathe-cut, a pressed LP (sounding great) in foxy A2 double sided colour poster sleeve packaged in a (not especially psychedelic) resealable plastic bag.

Available now – if you don’t do bandcamp, paypal £20 plus postage (£4 UK, £8 Europe, £12 rest) to usual – special price this weekend only.

9 (or 11 or 12) PUMPING NEW TRAX


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