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Amplifier The Astronaut Dismantles Hal album cover
3.88 | 65 ratings | 8 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Continuum (8:50)
2. Into the Space Age (4:58)
3. For Marcia (4:57)
4. The Brain Room (0:56)
5. Everyday Combat (5:32)
6. Live Human+hidden track (14:28)

Total Time: 38:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Sal Balamir / guitars, vocals
- Matt Brobin / drums
- Neil Mahony / bass

Releases information

CD SPV-Cat #99732 (2005)

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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Buy AMPLIFIER The Astronaut Dismantles Hal Music

AMPLIFIER The Astronaut Dismantles Hal ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(63%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

AMPLIFIER The Astronaut Dismantles Hal reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TheProgtologist
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The bold,adventurous and atmospheric new offering from Manchester,England's Amplifier,whose line-up consists of Sel Balamir(guitars and vocals),Neil Mahony(bass) and Matt Brobin(drums), is a six track EP titled The Astronaut Dismantles HAL and is clearly influenced by space voyage in more than just the title. The guitars and atmosphere in the songs also have a very spacey feel.The six songs on the EP stretch to almost 40 minutes with opening track "Continuum" taking up nearly nine minutes. With thundering drums, underpinned by a steadfast bass line, Sel Balamir's vocals stand confidently on top allowing his cinematic guitar playing to complete the mix and leave the listener with more of a visual interpretation of what they are trying to convey. "Into the Space Age" starts off with some synth and brings more heavy guitars to the fore as the song builds. That really is how the EP fleshes out. Songs begin with a little atmospheric riff and slowly gets heavier and heavier."For Marcia" follows and is a slow,mellow,gentle song that is highly evocative of early Porcupine Tree."The Brain Room" is a short,minute long instrumental track,featuring guitar distortion and feedback and a little cymbal ride."Everday Combat" kicks off with a military snare drum pattern,chugging Zeppelin-esque guitar riffs,and a snaking hypnotic melody that grows stronger as it repeats,topped off with Balamir's smooth vocals."Live Human" alternates between laconic,brooding passages and bursts of heaviness,propelled by great drumming from Brobin and topped off with Balamir's contemplative vocal,and after an extended silence a beautiful semi-acoustic secret track emerges.Combining elements and influences from bands like PorcupineTree,Oceansize,Pink Floyd,Black Sabbath and Tool,Amplifier are a great new band and one I am sure we will hear a lot more of in the future.An excellent addition to any prog music collection.4 stars.

Review by Tristan Mulders
4 stars Amplifier - The Astronaut dismantles HAL

Albeit it is no full-length album, Amplifier have outdone themselves with the release of the successor of their in 2004 released self titled debut album. With the release of this year's (2005) "The Astronaut dismantles HAL" EP, the Manchester based Amplifier have continued their sonic journey alongside the boundaries of conventional (hard) rock.

In contrast to their debut album, the songs on this EP give a more coherent first impression. They are lesser atmospheric and more easily accessible than the ones on their previous release. This does not necessarily mean that the songs are of lesser value based on their compositions. the songs have their own charms. because they are more straightforward this gives a more instant attraction to the music, but in the background there are lots of subtle things happening, mostly, as typical for this band, these are amplifiers used over Sal Balamir's guitar. Sounds of water and echoes of space travel are not unusual on this mini-album.

I experience this album as one dynamic trip through blurred spaces, at least, that is how I can visualize the soundscapes accompanying the lyrics. The instruments sometimes keep repeating the same patterns which causes them to create some kind of trance to listen to. The songs feature a natural progression if looked at the EP's title. The epic opening track Continuum starts of with what sounds like the launch of some kind of space traveling machine, whereas the closing song Live Human gives an impression of a space traveler longing back for his planet Earth and his disillusion of the emptiness of space.

As a last remark I'd like to say that the hidden track at the end of the disc shows Amplifier in a way never heard before, mostly acoustic guitars with omnipresent drums.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I was surprised to see this band is a trio with no keyboards or synths. Surprised because this is a Psychedelic / Spacerock band, and most bands of this genre use synths and keyboards to achieve that spacey and dreamy sound. Apparently the guitarist creates the spacey sound through his guitar, much like a Canadian band called Sianspheric does to splendid results.

"Continuum" is the almost 9 minute opener, it begins with experimental noise and then comes the spacey atmosphere that reminds me of some Post-Rock bands. It's building as heavy drums come in followed by vocals. Great sound ! It kicks in even heavier a minute later (hell ya !) as these contrasts continue. Just a killer track. "Into The Space Age" kicks in fairly quickly with a heavy rhythm as distorted vocals join in. Guitar starts to play over top. "For Marcia" is a laid back and dreary tune. Kind of dark actually. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. "The Brain Room" is basically some weird affects for less than a minute.

"Everyday Combat" has a line repeated through it "fighting the man" and brings to mind PORCUPINE TREE and also ANATHEMA. Again the drumming is fabulous in this heavy tune. "Live Human" is another great song. Spacey with some good riffs, quite heavy. Again ANATHEMA comes to mind. I like the contrasts throughout. There is a hidden track that doesn't even sound like the same band. It's a lot lighter, sounds cool. Highly recommended.

They thank Bruce Dickinson and Melissa Auf Der Maur in the liner notes among others. For a long time this was the only recording I could get of this band so I valued it highly and got to know it quite well.

Review by obiter
4 stars I'm green with envy ... over the last month Amplifier have been touring with Porcupine Tree in England.....

So Mr Grumpy sits down to review Amplifier's second (ish) album (40 mins would make a decent LP back when I wer't lad). Now I was effusive over the debut album which I found very apporachable and jsut great. However, I reckon this offering is not quite so easy to get to know. That's not a bad thing. When I went to university in engladn I found the English quite hard to get to know but if you persevered you were generally well rewarded by solid and complex if somewhat reticent chaps.So it is with this album.

Having been at the Hacienda in the late 80s and early 90s, this band is not only far better than the trendy and iconic Charlatans, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets but they've got some serious class about them.

I've decided its a mood thing. Stone cold and the vibe is OK, but a couple of friends round & a bottle of Esporao Reserva vinho tinto ... nothing short of marvellous. Continuum , I'm sorry Que sera sera ... what with Chelsea & Man U about to cross swords.

Into the Space Age requires a nice clean Chablis. Gorgeous. A disarming sound belies a deep rocky strength. Marica relaxes nah it should be prescribed as a harmless soporific ... mmmm nice. No side-effects but could be withdrawals symptoms. I love this.

Toni Iommi is back in ..The Brain Room... where's FX???

OK Everyday Combat just does not float my boat. Don't get it. Live Human is the culmination of the album but for me not one to write home about. THe wee acoustic number at the end is eye opening. So why is it not on the album. Why so sneaky?

UP to the last two tracks this was a definite 5 but it sort of slid away so it's a 4 for me, although For Marcia almost deserves a 5 on its own..

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars Amplifier - 'The Astronaut Dismantles Hal' 3 stars

A step in the right direction.

I was very angsty about the debut for not really being anything different from a typical grunge/alternative album. This album protests my statement a little bit. Amplifier seems to have a better sound, but really doesn't break the mold of the genre they are in. The space rock tag is a little more appealing on this EP then the debut album, but it really doesn't have the atmosphere and trippy feel or any of the like.

The Black Sabbath and Toolish riffs are just as abundant, the vocals are a bit more tolerable and recognizable. None of the songs really stand out from each other which is a bit of a bugger, the exception would ironically be the hidden track of the end of the album. Not much else to describe about this band or its music. Proceed with caution.

Review by The Crow
4 stars With a length of almost 40 minutes, I consider that The Astronaut Dismantles Hal really is the second Amplifier album, placed between the astonishing self-titled debut and the second full length Insider.

And what can we found here? One of the most psychedelic and interesting works of this criminally underrated band, traveling through passages of pure space rock (For Marcia) to more alternative ones (Continuum) and some very stimulating experiments like the acoustic Scarecrows and the robotic and syncopated Into the Spacer Age.

The production is very good, almost better than in their debut, and although the quality of the album is not great the whole time (The Brain Room and Live Human are a bit under the rest in terms of songwriting), this is a another excellent work of this great British band!

Best Tracks: Continuum (a true Amplifier classic in live shows!), Into the Space Age (strange and very original track, unique in the band's career), Everyday Combat (typical Amplifier sound, dense and intense) and Scarecrows (a perfect acoustic and meditative ending for a great EP)

Conclusion: if you like Amplifier, you will love this EP. Nevertheless, if you do not know Amplifier yet I recommend you to start with their debut album instead, because this record is a more challenging and difficult one.

But please, don't take me wrong! The Astronaut Dismantles Hal is excellent anyway and a very worthy addition to any prog-rock collection.

My rating: ****

Latest members reviews

4 stars I first heard Amplifier as the support band for Porcupine Tree in Bristol last year, and I wasn't paying too much attention because I was so desperately waiting for my favourite modern band to turn up. Also I didn't know their music. However, there was enough here to make me stand up and liste ... (read more)

Report this review (#163528) | Posted by PinkPangolin | Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The title of this EP gives the listener a good indication of just how spaced out this recording can be. This is a slightly simpler recording than the début album but their music is still just as powerful on this EP. As with the début all 3 members of the band put in a great performance. The EP ... (read more)

Report this review (#132638) | Posted by N Ellingworth | Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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