Last week in my write-up about the astounding Khidja Dekmantel mix, I mentioned how the ninety-minute opus didn't feel like a selection of songs but one large composition, each track representing more of an organic extension of what came before than a clean break. However, one song stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Where I used to buy the various comps Music From Memory put out, over the past two years I've found their aesthetic diverging from mine enough to not really keep up with their new releases. I did give Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980 - 1991 a listen, but apparently not a very close one as I totally missed the second track on the album and its indisputable highlight, Tony Hymas's "Pictures of Departures."
A British composer whose earliest work found him composing for library music powerhouses KPM Music and Bruton Music, the track is taken from his bizarro 1991 album Flying Fortress, an album that unfortunately doesn't match the quality of "Pictures," although "Lullabye" is a nice jam. Comprised of an instrumental and vocal side that's more like spoken word, the deep baritone that punctures the hammering FM synths is nothing short of electrifying and goosebump-inducing. As mallet-like synth eighth notes rotate around an enchanting four-note procession, the composer intones about the banalities of travel, harmless observations that are transmuted into deeply philosophical musings once the lift-off of the chorus hits. A woman repeats an inscrutable chant while the composer constructs a truly oblique groove that feels both dubby and funky, but coated in a synthetic or plastic veneer, the hoary reverie of the narrator gone airborn, lifted by a phalanx of nine million balloons to a destination unknown. Truly one of the most enchanting pop songs I've ever heard.
Oh! And make sure you check out the rest of the Nato catalog, the French label that released Flying Fortress. The cover art is totally awesome.