Ashtray Navigations was formed in 1994 in Stoke On Trent, England, by Phil Todd, inspired by the UK’s underground tape music scene. Using the barest minimum of outdated equipment, Todd recorded and self-released dozens of limited edition cassettes (now much sought after by collectors), which presented his vision of homemade
psychedelic rock and avant-garde noise electronics. This led to vinyl and CD releases on labels such as Siltbreeze (USA), American Tapes (USA), Veglia/Kraak (Belgium) and Todd’s own Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers imprint, culminating in a tour of the USA in 1999 which was the first real incarnation of Ashtray Navigations as a live music project. The new millennium saw a move to Leeds in England, many more releases in multiple formats and more live performances, this time featuring Ashtray Navigations as a group project featuring Todd and various collaborators including Chloe Jarvis, Matt Robson (Random Number), Ben Reynolds and drummer extraordinaire Alex Neilson. Following the departure of half the band to Glasgow, Todd has recently been playing with Melanie Crowley (Ocelocelot, Sculkptress) and Phil Legard (Xenis Emputae Travelling Band), though the majority of the recordings released are performed by Todd alone. This trio line-up was one of the few UK acts to play at the Thurston Moore curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2006. Todd has also collaborated either in recordings or live performances with a whole variety of other artists, including Merzbow, Jandek, The New Blockaders, Paul Hession, MV & EE, Sunroof!, Nackt Insecten,The Vibracathedral Orchestra and Courtis.
“Sub-aquatic synth bubble, busted-up cassette-tape hiss and distorted electric guitar hover that sounds like a mythical god banished from the realm of light and trying desperately to clamber his/her way out of a dark bottomless void where time itself stands still.” James Blackshaw
“AN remain a puzzlingly underrated but integral part of the UK underground scene. ‘Exploding Blue Floor Martin Denny is the best British solo electric guitar record since, what, Ray Russell’s Secret Asylum?” David Keenan, The Wire March 2009
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