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Astra - The Weirding CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.89 | 290 ratings

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3 stars For their first album, The Weirding, by prog standards at least Astra have been receiving a fair amount of publicity and hype in certain music magazines with some high profile advertising and favourable reviews. The question is it well deserved immediately springs to mind? Well to a large extent yes.

From the excellent Roger Dean inspired sleeve this album screams prog. Don't be expecting anything like Yes or even Greenslade though to name 2 bands who Dean designed covers for though. What you get is late sixties/early seventies inspired psychedelic prog drenched in mellotron with plenty of extended instrumental jamming. Pink Floyd influences are apparent, particularly in the mellower moments which is often for the vocal parts on which they build from into lengthy and powerful guitar led excursions, underpinned by mellotron and building from quiet restrain into climatic highs. A perfect example would be title track The Weirding which showcases the band at their peak over its 15 minute length.

Although the band demonstrate some decent playing the music overall has a simple structure leaving it open to no doubt endless jamming in the live arena. As already mentioned they make good use of the Mellotron. In fact it would appear all the keyboards are pleasingly of the vintage variety ? Moog, Arp Odyssey and Organ for example.

The longer pieces tend to be the best giving the space for their instrumental workouts. As well as the title track I can highly recommend the completely instrumental 17 minute Ouroboros and keyboard dominated Silent Sleep, particularly the former. A keyboard rich intro gives way to some tastefully restrained spacey guitar backed by choral keyboards building to a frantic climax. After a lull 11 minutes in things continue at a more restrained pace for a while before a final bombastic finale.

There's still much to enjoy in their few shorter concise moments though. The Rising Of The Black Sun makes a great instrumental opener and sets the scene nicely and after the frantic Ouroboros Broken Glass makes a welcome acoustic guitar led melodic moment.

If I had to complain about anything it would be the rather lack lustre production, the drums in particular sounding very boxy and the album does drag on a bit, with its formulaic approach throughout I'd certainly had enough by the end. Nevertheless a very promising debut from this Californian band and I'll be interested to hear where they go next, hopefully with a better production next time. 3 stars.

Nightfly | 3/5 |


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