Reach for the stars. A synth-driven tribute to aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Out now on CD and 10” vinyl.
We hear a lot of talk these days about society “dumbing down”. I'm not sure if that's truly the case – all the young people I meet these days seem impressively well-informed and give me much to be optimistic about. And while recent events have highlighted the dangerous combination of low-information voters and lower-information politicians, it's reassuring to find that the musicians the planet over continue to embrace the cerebral. One recent release that educates as well as entertains is this here disc from Willie Gibson. It's inspired by Wind Sand And Stars, a book by aviator and author Antoine de Saint Exupéry, who's perhaps best known for writing children's book The Little Prince.
Saint-Ex is a self-penned eighteen minute instrumental journey broken down in five distinct sections. As on Gibson's previous work, Vivaldi:Seasons Change, modular-synths are used throughout though there are additional live drums and the occasional vocal lines from Deerful's Emma Winston. The overall effect is meditative and calming with the modular synths lending a mid '70s feel – think Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk's Autobahn or side two of David Bowie's Low. It's fair to say however that these artists would not be at the forefront of Gibson's mind when composing or recording these works, this being a tribute to Saint-Exupéry.
Each of the five distinct sections is a musical representation of an aspect of Saint-Exupéry's life or work. There's the propulsive opening section titled 'Wind, Sand And Stars' where one man's conquering of the elements is rendered in musical form, followed by more tranquil sections recalling childhood memories and joy-filled flights. Sadly Saint-Exupéry went missing over the Mediterranean on a routine reconnaissance flight in July 1944, with neither the aircraft or his body ever recovered. The final section 'July '44' closes the album in a suitably climactic way, filled with both drama and celebration.
I have to admit to not being very familiar with the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, my knowledge extends only to having watched the recent film version of The Little Prince. Thankfully there are musicians and composers around like Willie Gibson who continue to broaden our horizons where others would have them shut down.
Click here for Willie Gibson on Bandcamp
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Click here for the Gare Du Nord Records website.