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The Celestial Story
"Celestial" is a Hong Kong based collective who have produced a series of albums, the first of which, "Spirit House", was released in 1996, the second "Happy Valley" in 2001, and the third album is "Hong Kong Dub Station" which will be released in 2004. "Celestial" was conceived by Peter Millward, a co-founder of Drum Music, Hong Kong's number one music production house. A year or two after arriving in Hong Kong in 1990, Peter was asked to contribute some tracks for a compilation album then being produced for one of Hong Kong's best-known fashion boutiques. Peter completed three tracks for that album, which came out in 1992, and their unique fusion of Asian sounds with the modern production techniques, that Peter brought from London, was very well received -and, although it pre-dated the concept of "chill-out music" by several years, the idea for "Celestial" was born.
The first album from Celestial, "Spirit House", resulted in a Gold Disc for sales in Singapore, and tracks from that and from the second album "Happy Valley, have been included on several well known compilations, including Café Del Mar Volumen Ocho (S. E. Asian Release).
On "Spirit House" the music reflected an East-West consciousness; an ethereal, trance-like soundtrack to a hip urban Zen Garden. First released in 1996, the album also reflects the pre-1997 cosmopolitan turmoil that was Hong Kong, and has now been re-released with a new sleeve design.
The second album from Celestial, "Happy Valley" is all about love, life, death, madness, mixing up cultures and time signatures, the passing of time, pollution, weather, trains, planes and automatons. It's not about a place - "Happy Valley" is a state of mind. The album reflects the mix that is Celestial; a song from 1930's Shanghai is backed by distorted drums and scratching, a traditional Irish tune is translated into Thai and backed by a Nepalese Trio, a Chinese melody from Taiwan is played on Japanese traditional instruments and given a laid back drum and bass backing. Interspersed by the ever-present sounds of modern life - traffic, clocks, and weather; the album is tied together by the ever-present sounds of modern music; samples, synthesizers and breakbeats.
"Happy Valley" was recorded at the studios of Drum Music Limited, the company which Peter founded with Eddie Chung, and which is now Hong Kong's best-known commercial music production company. One of the tracks from the album, "Plum Crazy (Version)", was selected to feature on "Café Del Mar: Volumen Ocho", SE Asian Version. The track was loosely inspired by a Chinese traditional tune called "Plum Blossom", and features Shakuhachi over a reggae backing. The album also features: LiYa (a GuangZhou TV presenter) on mandarin vocals; Rita Tsang on English vocals; Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) master Sunny Yeung; Koto (Japanese harp) expert Emiko Hisada; Erhu (Chinese Violin) soloist Hsin Hsiao Hung; Nepalese Trio Sur Sudha; internationally renowned Jazz Guitarist Eugene Pao; DJ Bodhi on decks, Welsh Rapper John Griffiths (of Llwybr Llaethog fame), Johnny Kember (Drum's Architect) on Congas, to name but just a few.
The third in the series of albums from Celestial, "Hong Kong Dub Station" once again invokes a pan-Asian dubscape of hypnotic rhythms and deep space textures. Another tectonic phase shift from Celestial merges the sounds of 70's Jamaican b-sides with top Asian instrumentalists and digital tech-know-how. Rhythms and sounds from dub plates, collide with melodies and textures through zen temple gates... Trip the light dubtastic in the dancehall of the mind...
With the completion of "Hong Kong Dub Station" some of Hong Kong's outstanding video artistes have created two new videos for tracks from the album - bringing to four the number of Celestial videos now completed. These can be seen at www.hongkongdubstation.com along with all the sleeve artwork, with hi-res downloadable versions, and some other images.
With Eddie Chung, Pete founded Drum Music Limited in 1997 in Hong Kong - for more info please go to: www.drummusic.net