This, the first album from Celestial 天上, was the introduction to Celestial's reflection of an east-west consciousness; an ethereal, trance-like soundtrack to a hip urban zen garden. First released by MCA (now Universal Music) in 1996, the album also reflects the pre-1997 cosmopolitan turmoil that was Hong Kong. It went gold in Singapore, 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 ultra modern digital synth architecture; a 1930's shanghai song segues into a Kathmandu raga; sampled voice bytes from today's 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, fade in and out of the ever present hypnotic, trance like rhythms...









Clockwise from right: Producer Peter Millward, Nepalese Trio "Sur Sudha", Singer Rita Tsang and 'Erhu' player Hsin Hsiao Hung.

Some words from celestial:

A "spirit house" is what everyone in Thailand has in the front garden - it's a home for the spirits to live in, those who were displaced from the land when the main house was built. Something always happens when cultures connect - in the food, the music, whatever - "spirit house" is music made by people who live in Asia - some born here, some who came and never left.

Celestial starts with rhythm - rhythmic music can affect the mind just as powerfully as so called cerebral music. There are so many different kinds of traditional music in Asia - and they all work in different ways. If you listen to an Indonesian Gamelan orchestra or an Indian raga with a western ear you can't make any sense of it at all - you have to try to think like the players and experience the subtleties before you can understand it. The rhythms are very hypnotic - you have to be open to that . . .

"Trans-Mongolian Express" is a musical journey from Hong Kong to Beijing, through Mongolia, to Moscow. "Cang Ding" is a favourite and was one of the first pieces recorded. Played on an Erhu (Chinese violin), it's a traditional melody and we just fell in love with it.

"When Will My Love Return" is a Chinese melody well known in Shanghai of the thirties - it's one of those timeless tunes.

"Nepal", is (somewhat obviously) from Nepal - it is an arrangement of a traditional Dawn Raga.

"Vietnam" features a recording of a singer and spoon player in a tiny village in Vietnam, made by a good friend.

This album features Hsin Hsiao Hung on Erhu (Chinese Violin) She is the principal player with the HK Chinese Orchestra - she tours sometimes doing duets with her sister - she's open to any style of music and is an exceptional player.

Sur Sudha are a trio of musicians from Nepal - they tour Europe and the States for a few months every year playing concerts of traditional pieces on Sitar, Flute and Tabla, but they can comfortably slip into any groove you throw at them.





Cang Ding


I Feel Strange

The Last Gong Before Sailing

Life's Greatest Tragedy


When Will My Love Return


An Bradán Feasa

Trans-Mongolian Express

I Can Feel It

Cang Ding (Telepathic Remix)

Trans-Mongolian Express (Black Dragon Remix)

Plum Crazy (Black Dragon Remix)

Composer/Producer : 
Peter Millward
Sun, 30 Jun 1996
Hsin Hsiao Hung 辛小紅- Erhu
Eugene Pao 包以正 - Guitar
Sur Sudha - Sitar, Tabla & Flute
Rita Tsang - Vocals
Choi Kit Yee 蔡潔儀 - Gu Zheng
Dave Packer - Piano/Harmonica