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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Astralia

Osmosis

Review by Larry Toering

Italian prog rockers Astralia return after a decade-plus hiatus, and they're back with a bone to pick, to say the least. With their spacy sympho-psychedelic approach and no less alternative rock mixture along with a touch of electronic factors, they prove that they still have what the skill set to reach for what they set out to accomplish all those years ago. This comeback record is a one hundred percent effort by all involved, right down to the production, cool concept and great cover artwork. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Let Me Loose

A Bach style organ starts things off in a spooky sort of Phantom of the Opera fashion, and bang, this go right into an alternative rock  vibe that is simply cosmic perfection. It’s a great way to kick the mood off, but it then slows down for a second before building back up and proceeding to fly all over the galaxy with cosmic bits and piece of musical magic. This has a straight stoopifying effect on the senses.It sounds like everyone from the Toadies to Papa Roach, if you can picture that. Perhaps Deep Blue Something to Porcupine Tree is a better comparison.

Glove Box

 This is a lot more dreamy, as they go into full-on prog mode here. Still, there is an electronic vibe throughout the entire track, with added searing guitar work. No cosmic-slop here, it's pure artistic genius if you ask me. This is awesome!

Storm Cloudings

This is an exceptionally interesting little instrumental piece that is very quiet but also a very effective tiny gem.

Chatter Box

Coming out of nowhere after a rather subdued little set up, this goes back into alternative rock but has more of a mixture of that and prog. They pull it all off once again with yet another killer combination of cosmic semi-acoustic grooves and electro vibes.

The Flock

On this track there is an extended intro of the electronic variety before a voice with the same effect runs into a well sung chorus, and then goes back into an electronic voice. The mixture of the two vocal effects are wild, yet they also tone it down in places with a lovely piano and some other effects for what turns into a fantastic synth solo. So far this is the most complex and far out number on the disc. It’s simply unbelievable stuff.

Osmosis

A nice Spanish guitar motif sets the title track up with a clever touch. This is one of several instrumentals on the disc. The lovely guitar lasts for about half the length of the piece with some electronic bits added for effect. Then it goes into a satisfying fit of raging bombast. The Spanish guitar comes back to take things all the way out.

Mark One

This goes along with the former track very well, but is less hypnotic. For that reason, it seems that it would have worked better if the order of the two were reversed. It's another that is all over the place in terms of arrangement. Still, it’s quite effective with its absolute zany hooks and fills. Most of the album’s psychedelic leanings come out here.

After The Hypnosis

This, too, comes out of nowhere as an easy contender for the disc’s best song. By now there is no mistaking this band’s talents. It’s obvious why they decided to come back after a decade of absence.

Delado's Torment

One need not know what this is about to like it, as it's fantastic either way. But it's by far the darkest number on what is an otherwise very evenly shaded album. This tells a painful story worth looking more into. And the music is carried by a killer bass line and some awesome guitar work, as well as some sweet keyboard textures.

 
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