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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Astral Magic

Visions of Infinity

Review by Gary Hill

This album is nearly a one-person release. That musician is Santtu Laakso (of Dark Sun), who is responsible for all music and lyrics, all instruments, vocals and programming. The reason I said "nearly" is that Martin Weaver provides electric and acoustic guitars, Scott Heller (aka Dr. Space) provides additional synthesizer on one song and Samuli Sailo plays ukulele on that same song ("Winds of Time"). The music here is pretty purely space rock. Comparisons to Hawkwind are rampant (in a good way), but you might also hear things like Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd and even Yes here and there. All in all, this is a very strong album that should appeal to just about any fan of space rock.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Chrononaut
This comes in almost like we popped in the middle of a performance. It rises up and shifts out to some killer psychedelically tinged space rock. It wouldn't be a big stretch to think that this was a new Hawkwind song. It has a great energy, cool space rock vocals and it really works very well. The guitar soloing further down the road really reinforces that Hawkwind thing. This feels like it would have fit on the Levitation album in that section.
Visions of Infinity
We're back into Hawkwind territory on this driving space rocker. This really rocks out pretty darned well. Yet it still has plenty of space rock at play.
Ancient Mysteries
While this still has some of that Hawkwind thing at play, this seems more purely psychedelic. It makes me think of early Pink Floyd in some ways. This is another strong piece of space music. It is trippy stuff.
Rocking with the Aliens
This hard rocking screamer has some real soaring space rock at its heart. I love this song. In fact, it might be my favorite piece here. It is definitely another that's channeling Hawkwind.
Onboard the Spaceship
I dig the cool keyboard-driven space arrangement on this tune. This instrumental is a classy keyboard solo that lends a different flavor to the set, while also fitting quite well with the overall concept.
I Was Abducted
This definitely makes me think of the punky side of Hawkwind. This is a fun romp that has some old-time rock and roll and some real fun-loving spirit in it. It makes me think of Robert Calvert's solo work to some degree, too.
Creatures from Beyond
More of a trippy, dreamy psychedelic space rock is on the menu here. This is more understated and keyboard dominated.
Winds of Time
I dig the Hawk-like space rock of this number a lot. There are also some hints of things like Yes to be found on this track. There are some particularly dreamy soundscapes on this track at times.
Wizards
A keyboard introduction gives way to hard rocking space music. Of course, the Hawkwind comparisons are there, but really that band and Pink Floyd are probably the architects of the whole genre, so that makes sense. This turns towards Tangerine Dream zones in a keyboard dominated movement later.
 
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