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Astra - The Weirding CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.90 | 304 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars A million miles away from the atypical modern-prog sound of, say, The Flower Kings or Spock's Beard, this is a wonderfully retro combination of bombastic prog and spacey, psychedelic rock, featuring organs, moogs and synthesizers galore. The group is five-strong, with each member a confident, eclectic player capable of excelling on multiple instruments. Richard Vaughan(vocals, guitar, synth, mellotron), the group's leader is augmented by Conor Riley(vocals, guitar, synth, organ, mellotron), Brian Ellis(guitar, moog), Stuart Sclater(bass) and David Hurley(drums, flute), with the group signed to Lee Dorrian's metal-dominated Rise Above Records. Hailing from San Diego, USA, 'The Weirding' is Astra's debut release and already a candidate for one of the most authentic and brilliant modern progressive rock releases of recent times, such is the breadth and scope of songs on offer. The powerful mixture of Hawkwind-esque guitars, Pink Floyd-style instrumentation and epic themes simply destroys the competition; not since 'The Light', Spock's Beards debut album from 1991, has there been such an authentic-sounding musical statement from a band working in the modern prog-rock idiom. The fact that it's a double album showcases the group's full, epic sound, allowing the musicians time and space to fully-expand upon their stunning pallette of musical ideas, which range from the slow-burning instrumental prologue 'The Rising Of The Black Sun', to the cosmic, synth-and-moog dominated rocker 'Silent Sleep' and, eventually, to the album's swansong, the beautifully-wrought - and oddly-named - 'Beyond To Slight The Maze'. Some may say that Astra's brand of full-on psychedelic prog-rock is slightly humourless, or even over-obsessed by ideas of tolkien-esque fantasy and space myths, and therefore ripe for parody, but that's just the point. The group have eschewed any genuine commercial aspirations in favour of producing a beautifully-crafted homage to the music they love, in the process laying down a marker for any other burgeoning young groups out there attempting to enter the world of prog. Simply put, 'The Weirding' is the 21st century's entry into the classic canon of classic prog. For every decade there has been at least one stand-out masterwork by a prog-rock band, and Astra's superb debut can now proudly rub shoulders with King Crimson's masterly 1969 debut, Pink Floyd's 1972 commercial leviathan 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and IQ's neo-prog classic 'Tales From The Lush Attic' from 1983. We await Astra's next move with baited breath. On this evidence, it'll be well worth the wait. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
stefro | 5/5 |


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