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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 is being released in 2004. "Celestial" was conceived by Peter Millward, a co-founder of Drum Music, Hong Kong's number one music production house. Originally 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 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", sold well across Asia, and resulted in a Gold Disc for sales in Singapore. 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.
"Spirit House" draws on many diverse influences - Chinese, Vietnamese and Nepalese folk melodies, the sounds of Asian Orchestras and the rhythms of metropolitan dance floors. Drawing on the talents of musicians such as Hsin Hsiao Hung, Hong Kong's #1 Erhu (Chinese violin) player, Nepalese classical trio Sur Sudha, and world renowned jazz guitarist Eugene Pao, to name but a few, the music is a collage of many different styles: a sampled `70's funk groove loops beneath a timeless Erhu folk melody underscored by modern digital synth architecture; a 1930's Shanghai song segues into a Kathmandu Raga; sampled voice bytes from news broadcasts compete with dialogue from 1940's movies and a floating jazz guitar, an Irish folk melody is played on a traditional Chinese Zheng, with `80's analog synths and dub echo effects bubbling underneath; sound effects of trains, helicopters, bicycles, people on the move, fade in and out of the ever present hypnotic, trance like rhythms...
The re-release also features three previously unreleased tracks; remixes of tracks from "Spirit House", and "Happy Valley", the second Celestial album.