Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review of The Black Chord by Astra

1. Cocoon
2. The Black Chord
3. Quake Meat
4. Drift
5. Bull Torpis
6. Barefoot in the Head

“Born in San Diego but bred in the mists of Avalon, Astra have fast-become a synonym for the ethereal, the sublime, and indeed the genuinely progressive. Ever since 2009’s The Weirding put these analog-inflected San Diego visionaries on the map alongside the likes of co-conspirators Earthless, Diagonal and Dungen, who – like some lost tribe of prog faithful - have brought this unwieldly and much maligned form of music out of the dark ages and in front of a new generation of Mellotron-loving cognoscenti. But if this was merely a case of exhibitionism, or some demonstration of holier-than-thou musical knowledge then perhaps Astra would not be discussed in such hushed, reverential tones. But it’s the very humility of their beginnings and the grace of what they’ve created that’s given them the respect of starry-eyed peers, fans, and indeed critics alike who in unison seem to have embraced both the band’s sound and the undeniable integrity of their aspirations.”

The first track off The Black Chord, Cocoon, is a good instrumental that is a great introduction to what progressive sound Astra will bring to you throughout the whole album. The self-titled track, The Black Chord, was a little long and repetitive to me and I lost interest half way in. The next track, Quake Meat, which is quite a weird name, reminded me of Blood Ceremony with the flute done by David Hurley. One of my favourite tracks off this album is Drift. Its mellow and is a very good listen. Its followed by Bull Torpis, a short instrumental showing off the guitar skills of Brian Ellis and Richard Vaughan with solo and leads into my other favourite Barefoot in the Head. This song is definitely my favourite off the album with its mood changing tempos, which keeps this song interesting.

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