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Andydan - The Eight Thousands

rec

In my youth, I learned that there were some albums that you listened to, and some that you LISTENED to. This is the latter. The occasional piece of work tells a story, or has such detail in the composition that it's not just background music, but music with depth and thought.

Andydan calls it "a documentary album which concepts mountains and the difficulties of climbing them.". He's from South Wales, and I'm not sure he's ever seen mountains bigger than those in the Brecon Beacons, but wow, the imagery is there.

I can hear influences of Mike Oldfield and Jean-Michel Jarre in here. 'Ascent' builds the atmosphere and comes in with a dramatic bass rhythm. Stereo spacing is done to great effect.

'Gasherbrum' really is a homage to Jarre with sustained synth sounds. 'Black Pyramid' is straight out of the scary bits of a horror movie.

"No mention of ukulele?" I hear you ask. Well, this is performed using a ukulele, but you would never realise. Andy uses a strange instrument with a hexaphonic pickup, an array of pedals and probably a few miles of cable. I've seen it up close, I'm an electronic engineer by training, but I still didn't really understand. He plucks one string and all hell lets loose. But, he controls it and makes this amazing music.

'The Death Zone' takes you through asphyxiation. Seriously, listen to it carefully, and probably not just before you retire to bed, again the imagery takes your breath away...

It gets more positive as we reach the summit. 'The Hillary Step' carries you there. You feel some achievement along with the people who have climbed the mountain.

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The fancy tin and accessories

I got a copy in the pre-order tin, a fancy frost-proof tin with badges, stickers and stuff (my name's even on the CD itself as one of the first people to buy and support the album). There might be a couple left to buy at festivals, but it's stillclearly worth getting even if you get it now in standard CD packaging.

Listen to this on a well-set up stereo system, or at least with headphones. The production standards here are first class. I listened with high-end speakers, and the production filled the capability of the speakers admirably. I must admit to getting a little surprised some way into 'The Fallen Guide Our Way', having turned up the volume for the atmospherics and the informative narration. Beware!

Honestly? With a bigger audience (this has much wider appeal than just the ukulele community) and some promotion, this could become a classic album in its own right. You could imagine the BBC commissioning works from Andydan for documentaries.

For taking me back to the 80s with echoes of the greats of synthesiser and well constructed music, this album gets a Cool Cat Ukes Recommended Album Award.

Andydan's website will have links to the album, released in May 2018.

7 tracks, 33 minutes.

1. Ascent
2. Gasherbrum
3. The Fallen Guide Our Way
4. Black Pyramid
5. Death Zone
6. The Hillary Step
7. Climb Down A Requiem For The Fallen

Review - Simon Taylor, 27th April 2018


Simon's been listening to this wearing gloves and an anorak.