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Astra - The Weirding CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.89 | 297 ratings

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4 stars ASTRA are a new promising San Diego/California situated band deriving from a psych/space basis - although they are not exclusively reduced on this and implement heavy rocking and symphonic impressions. The songs evolve in a quite varied and interesting manner and you will detect some nice references to bands which must have influenced the ASTRA crew. My preference is the lush mellotron and organ appearance which makes out the most significant aspect for me to say that this sounds retro ... everything but a negative tag to make it clear.

Now they have their debut out in May 2009 on a UK label, containing 8 songs with a total length of nearly 80 minutes. This is alternating between relatively short and extended pieces which are clearly crossing the ten minute mark. Worked out like a concept album 'the main themes are death, introspection and contemplating what lies beyond' (Richard Vaughan). The instrumental opener The Rising Of The Black Sun offers intense spacey impressions first and then changes to a rocking guitar dominated behaviour - just to prepare for The Weirding as the first album highlight. The title song is showing all the band's qualities at once: sensitive guitar work - melancholy and melody ... and you're even invited for singing along, Pink Floyd inspired here and offering Black Sabbath impressions there reflecting a heavy rocking attitude - this is all directed by the mellotron and later followed by a wonderful floating spacey jam. Great one!

Afterwards the band navigate through gentle territories with Silent Sleep - flute contributions included by drummer David Hurley by the way - before the next highlight Ouroboros takes off. The album's longest track - instrumental once again - comes up like a symphonic suite so to say. Well thought out for the skeleton - however improvised at most I assume, obviously reflecting a joy of playing. The ethereal Broken Glass shows another facet - acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies are expressing a slight folksy pop-appeal. The closing Beyond To Slight The Maze is another example for combining psychedelic and symphonic elements with floydy leanings where I first of all like this tension-filled repetitive keyboard dominated interlude which reminds me of the german band Eloy.

I wished they would have included their song 'Cosmic Wind' too ... like it very much because of the intriguing spacey behaviour. Now it's planned to release a 7'' though what I know containing their early demo songs. 'The Weirding' is a convincing effort. As for the stylistical relations ASTRA don't define something totally new - quite impossible and therefore unfair to require this from every newcomer which appears on the scene I would say. The only weak point is that the sound quality is somewhat flat as for my sentience ... at least applying to my promo. Anyhow - the band have produced a consistent album which is really enjoyable and will not fade from my memory so fast. I can only recommend to check this out.

Rivertree | 4/5 |


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