Virginia Astley

Astley is more widely known for the people she's played with than her own records. A classically trained British pianist and flutist who also happens to be Pete Townshend's sister-in-law, she contributed piano to Townshend's "Slit Skirts," and has played sessions for Siouxsie & the Banshees. Her late-'70s band, the Ravishing Beauties, also included future Dream Academy singer Kate St. John and Nicky Holland, who would work with Tears for Fears and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Astley's sparse body of work combines ambient, even experimental textures and song structures with her pretty soprano vocals. Producing three albums (only the last of which was released in the U.S.) and a handful of single and EP tracks, she remains virtually unknown to American audiences. Her records are recommended to listeners looking for intriguing ambient British pop who find the Cocteau Twins and the 4AD stable too wimpy and pretentious.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

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