Ashtray Navigations
Before You Play This
Blue Tapes And X-Ray Records
LP (clear vinyl)
x-ray six
Screenprinted PVC sleeve
Incl. VAT plus shipping / Orders from outside the EU are exempt from VAT
1The Thin Cat
2The Tactic
3The Blizzard
4The Foot
5The Spectrum
6The Feather
7The Panic
8The Case
9The Ink Circle
10After You Play This

"We were always too rock for the art crowd and too artsy for the rock & roll crowd,” Phil Todd - the musician behind Yorkshire kosmische institution Ashtray Navigations for the past 30 years – explained to The Quietus in a recent career-examining feature. “I've always been a big fan of playfulness. I take great pleasure in the unexpected and illogical aspects of recording music."

The music of ‘Ash Nav’, as the project is known to its devoted admirers, has traversed the fields of drone, noise, krautrock, lo-fi, psychedelia and ambient across 180 or so releases since 1994. But as Phil indicates, one of the determining characteristics of this project is a sharply-honed sense of playfulness.

These sonic explorations might be dedicated to exploring the weirdest of unnamed feelings and perverse half-thoughts scuttling around the back of our minds, but it is never not joyful. And Ash Nav’s new LP, Before You Play This, might well be the most joyful of the lot.

Before You Play This is such an unashamedly pleasure-embracing album that it’s hard not to think of it as a kind of psychedelic pop music. Its textures are bright and shiny, its structures – for a band sometimes mistakenly thought of as creating formless, abstract splurges of sound – are concise, catchy, and, on tracks like The Case at least, almost danceable.

Sure, it still feels like your eyeballs are melting and your brain is fizzing, but in a happy way?

Thanks to 2020’s universally acclaimed Greatest Imaginary Hits retrospective, compiled by long-time celebrity fans including Henry Rollins, a new generation of music fans are discovering Ashtray Navigations for the very first time. Before You Play This proves that Ash Nav continues to confound, surprise, and innovate – that this is modern, forward-looking music, forever pointing out possible new futures for sound.