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Astralasia

Volumes 1 & 2

Review by Gary Hill

This is a compilation of material from Astralasia, two tracks (the closers) of which had never been released until this came out. The CD is quite cool and combines a techno sort of texture with music more along the lines of Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. I like this one a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
And in a Few Moments
The sounds of a beach start things off here. Waves of sound that feel rather melodic join, but as they grow it turns more twisted. Spoken sound bites are placed over the top. This really reminds me a lot of something Pink Floyd would do. This stays fairly textural and atmospheric, yet there are bursts of sound that come up here and there throughout. There is a definite dream-like quality to this. That said, it isn’t a restive dream, but not a nightmare either.
Astral Australia
While in many ways this is quite similar to the last track, it has a different texture, too. I can hear more Hawkwind and Kraftwerk in the mix here. This is more melodic and has some intriguing musical directions. It is overall higher in energy, too.
Snake Charmer
At over eleven and a half minutes in length, this is the second longest track on the CD. I love the spacey, echoey, chiming element that dominates a lot of the early portions. this. Exceptionally atmospheric and moody, this is even better than the two that preceded it. It has a lot in common with early Pink Floyd. About two and a half minutes in they power this up and it begins to resemble the more electronic music of Hawkwind. Pink Floyd has not been fully excised from this arrangement, but the Hawk-leanings are dominant. Around the mid-section of this piece harder edged guitar sounds rise up. These feel rather like Hawkwind, but I also make out “space jam” Grateful Dead and even some Jimi Hendrix in this. Still further in I make out some sounds that are more similar to the first couple Hawkwind albums. They don’t really break any new ground after that, but rather just expand on the territory we’ve already discovered.
Set Me Free (Instrumental Mix)
Welcome to the club. This is a bouncy club jam that’s not really progressive rock at all – at least not overtly. It’s also not really instrumental because there are female vocals. They do turn it to weirdness late in the number.
Stratosphere
This has an almost Yesish feeling to it at times. That said the rhythmic structure finds us back in the club and we’re also treated to more Kraftwerk and Hawkwind here. This is frantic.
In Your Imagination
At less than a minute, this piece of weirdness is mainly based around a spoken voice loop. It covers similar ground to that explored in the first song, but with a far less involved and extensive visit.
Strange Celestial Dream
Over fourteen and a half minutes long, this is the longest piece on the CD. This comes in dramatic and rather neo-classical, reminding me a bit of Emerson Lake and Palmer, but also Tomita. It grows gradually and quite organically. Elements of early Pink Floyd can be heard on this. Intriguingly this track doesn’t really change or alter much, yet it avoids becoming boring despite its extensive length.
Midnight Hour
A house like rhythm section drives this, but this is far from house music. The female vocals are nearly spoken and rather slow in delivery. Many of the lyrics are from Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” This is moody and dark, but also incredibly cool. It’s my favorite track on the disc.
Blank Formatted Discette
This track is the most rocking one on the disc. It’s got a definite Kraftwerk feel to the rhythmic structures, but it’s also a rock song. It’s a cool one.

 
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