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ASTRID PROLL

Eclectic Prog • Puerto Rico


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Astrid Proll biography
Taking their name from a member of the Baader-Meinhof Gang in 1970s Gemany, ASTRID PRÖLL were formed in the summer of 2004 by 4 veterans of the Puerto Rican music scene. With a varied range of influences, such as Jazz, Punk, Canterbury Scene, Post Rock, Krautrock and other progressive rock genres, the band play exceptional music of an experimental nature, that sends you on a journey of highs and lows, both dark and light. With 15 years of experience as musicians, the guys have had plenty of time to develop a unique sound and this is exactly what Agustín "Chito" Criollo (bass, synths & vocals), Georgie Castro-Ramirez (guitars & tenor sax), Andrés Lugo (synths, prepared guitars & percussion) and Fernando Rosado (drums & percussion) have achieved. One of the bands they sound a lot like at times is KING CRIMSON, but not in a sense of a clone-band, but just in style on particular tracks. They also have a strong similarity to SOFT MACHINE in places as well. However, the majority of their sound is taken from the post-rock, krautrock and avant-prog scene and in particular, the Finnish band CIRCLE.

They are a very promising band for the future and have already impressed with their debut album "Astrid Pröll" as well an EP. They already plan on releasing another album in the near future, so exciting times are ahead for not only the progressive rock world, but for the Puerto Rican music scene.

A thoroughly recommended band and a must listen for fans of Post-rock (Explosions in the Sky, Tarentel, Do Say Make Think, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Sigur Rós and Radiohead), RIO/Avant-prog (Circle, Univers Zero, Present), Krautrock, Canterbury Scene (Soft Machine) and Art Rock (King Crimson).

: : : James R. Yeowell (Geck0) : : :




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Astrid Pröll are one of the most interesting new bands on the prog scene, blending diverse influences into their music and presenting them in a very individual way.



Discography:
The Astrid Pröll Bootleg ( 2004 - studio EP)
Astrid Pröll (2006 - studio album)

Astrid Proll official website

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3.98 | 6 ratings
Astrid Pröll
2006

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ASTRID PROLL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Astrid Pröll by ASTRID PROLL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 6 ratings

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Astrid Pröll
Astrid Proll Eclectic Prog

Review by Man With Hat
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion Team

4 stars The big album from the little island.

This is one of those albums you listen to and ask yourself, why aren't these guys well known. I really can't answer that. They have something for everyone on this album. Full on prog-rock, hard rock, post-rock, avant-prog, experimental, krautrock...this album leaves few musical avenues untouched. If I had to pick an album to represent the newly created eclectic category, it would be this one (and not only to get this some much deserved publicity). The brilliant thing about it is every genre is pulled off perfectly. Nothing ever sounds forced, contrived, or unskilled. These guys certainly know their way around their instruments. Yet this technical mastery is not the salient feature here. Sure, there are some excellent solos, but this music really blends together and supports all the instruments, in addition to bringing together many different kinds of music.

There are a few noticeable features that really standout for me. The first I alluded to previously. These guys do great things with conventional rock instruments (meaning guitar/bass/drums). I usually enjoy music that brings something different to the table (such as strings or woodwinds). But, Astrid Proll never bore. They always manage to do something different, or at least exciting. The second is the use of these other types of instruments, especially the tenor saxophone. Not to mention there are some wonderful guest stars that add to the music beautifully. Thirdly, this is a great example of heavy music that isn't metal (though I suppose there may be a few moments that could qualify).

I try to avoid track by track reviews (now-a-days) and stick mainly to the highlights, but this album has many. First and foremost, track one, Proll 1. Wonderful mix of spacey, droney, post-rock, rock sound. Then comes Catastrofe. The first example of the band showing off their rocking talents. Heavy, exciting, up-tempo...all good words to use. Later on they take it down a notch and create one of the most beautiful post rock songs I've heard in Resistencia. Top-notch layering and beautiful atmosphere are at the forefront here. Then, they take a hundred and eighty degree turn. 88Mhz. One of the more avant songs on the record, this 14 minute epic keeps pounding away through all its twists and turns. Every time you think you got it figured out, something else is thrown in your face. The bass and the sax really stand out and are played phenomenally. The drumming should also get a mention here as it takes many roles including pushing the song along and to create the tense atmosphere. Torso brings the ground shaking back to the forefront. One of the heaviest songs on the album, utilizing a great guitar riff followed by an awesome jazzy sax solo. The album ends on a bit of a mellow (at least compared to the rest of the album) and experimental note with Laboratorio Grotowsky. Also showing off their jazzy side again, with some very enjoyable sax work. It's the perfect way to end the album, keeping all of AP's elements firmly in tact and shown in a different light.

All in all, this album almost literally drips with modern progressive rock. Astrid Proll contains a little bit of everything prog rock should be and shows that modern prog can stand up next to the giants of the 'golden age'. Not to mention this is one of the most unique albums around. I believe everyone should at least listen to this album and any fan of any of the bands/styles above should really dig this. 4.5 stars. Extremely recommended!

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 Astrid Pröll by ASTRID PROLL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 6 ratings

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Astrid Pröll
Astrid Proll Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars ASTRID PROLL are a band from Puerto Rico who have a variety of musical influences as their debut record reveals. I really had a blast listening to this cd this week.

It starts off with one of my favourites "Proll 1". The intro is haunting almost eerie followed by a vocal melody that comes and goes (or is it mellotron choirs?) anyway it just adds to the atmosphere. This spacey soundscape starts to change 3 minutes in as bass and drums create a melody. Some intense guitar 5 minutes in before the song changes back to the spacey atmosphere of before.This song really reminds me of DJAM KARET the way they combine the spacey and heavy soundscapes. "Catastrofe" is an uptempo tune with merciless drumming as the guitars plays over the top. "Perro Negro" is a guitar driven song with vocals.The guitar gets rather heavy 2 minutes in. "Disidente" has a KING CRIMSON feel to it as the tempos and moods shift part way through.

"Obigenes Del Movimiento" is another track that reminds me of DJAM KARET because of the spacey and haunting atmosphere. "Resistencia" has a Post-Rock feel to it as it slowly builds to a full sound before 3 minutes. "88MHZ" has such a great rhythm to it as the intensity builds.There is a spacey interlude before a hypnotic melody arrives. Some dissonant sax later before the song settles down to a calm 10 minutes in with some synths.This is the longest track and one of my favourites. "Proll 2" is a heavy, straight forward tune with vocals. "Torso" is an uptempo song with some fantastic drumming.The song slows down as we are treated to some sax melodies. "Laboratorio Grotowsky" is influenced by SOFT MACHINE i'm sure. There are spoken words like "No racism allowed" and other statements like that,while the sax is being played.

I highly recommend this album for the amazing and diverse music that these guys have created. And besides they are the only band that I have in my collection who are from Puerto Rico !

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 Astrid Pröll by ASTRID PROLL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 6 ratings

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Astrid Pröll
Astrid Proll Eclectic Prog

Review by chamberry
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Astrid Pröll is a new band from Puerto Rico that play music they like and enjoy without caring much for airplay or being famous like many other puertorican artists. With their debut released in August, it caused alot of stir in the underground puertorican music scene with alot of praising and positive reviews from everyone all over the lil' island.

If I can sum all of Astrid Pröll's sound in one word it would be eclectic . All of the members of the band have been in the underground music scene for about 10 years. So they carry all of those influences and mix them with their own hard sound. Their influences range from Krautrock, RIO, Post-rock, Canterbury a pinch of Space rock and their main influence, King Crimson (Lark's era). In every song you'll find something new and different than the previous song and they still manage to sound organised and coherent. Every song flow nicely into the next one so in the end you'll find a well crafted album and you can see all the hard work and effort they've putted into it. And let's not forget every single member played their respective instruments very well (no slouch here) and no one shows off. They all work as a team and it works.

It's hard to make a review of this album and not go song by song explaining it since every song has a different story to tell, but I'll try to keep it at a minimum. The first song shows their krautrock and space rock influences with some atmospheric sounds until it later explodes into some hard prog to keep the blood pomping. The second track , Catastrofe, keeps that high energy sound with some King Crimson and Guapo influences through the whole song. Other songs like Disidente and Torso follow the same path as Catastrofe, but never sounding the same and always being dinamic and energetic. Orígenes de movimiento is an Ambient song that Cluster or Neu could've done and the next track, Resistencia, is a perfectly made Post-rock song. Very emotional and moving (one of my favorite songs from the album. Go figure). 88MHz is the best track in the album IMO. A 14 minute epic that's divided into three parts in wich the middle shows their RIO influences with a repetetive guitar riff, drums flying everywhere, people whispering in the background and sax sounding like they where sirens. Total chaos! After that song you'll be left gasping for air with your mouth open as if you where being chased by hungry dogs around your neighborhood, but the album isn't over yet! There are still three songs left. One being one of two songs with vocals (the other being Perro Negro) wich are easy to listen to, the other being one of the energetic songs, Torso, (also the best one of the three hard prog songs) and the last one is the best song on the album after 88MHz. Laboratorio Grotowsky is sure to please the Canterbury and jazz fan and I couldn't think of a better way to end the album. It's a smooth going song with a Fender Rhodes (!), some nice alto sax playing to keep it cool and nice jazzy bass to make things even better. They sample some words that repeat through the whole song that say "No racism allowed" It feels almost as if you where being hipnotized in a good way.

To sum this up, if you like any of the bands or genres mentioned in this review then you owe it to yourself to get this album

4.5 Brilliant!

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 Astrid Pröll by ASTRID PROLL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 6 ratings

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Astrid Pröll
Astrid Proll Eclectic Prog

Review by VanderGraafKommandöh
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Astrid Pröll are from Puerto Rico, which isn't exactly the music capital of the world, but with this release, which is their debut, self-titled album, you wouldn't think Puerto Rico's music scene was mainly confined to its own country. The band consists of musicians who have been playing music in Puerto Rico for the past 10 or more years, so I believe this helps the album sound as mature as it does. They have many influences, as is evident from this album, some of which are bands from the Canterbury Scene (jazz-fusion based music), the Post-Rock scene and even from the Chamber Rock and Avant-prog scene. However, one of the main influences I can hear in their music, is King Crimson (also an influence on many chamber rock bands), yet by no means does this mean they're a clone, far from it, infact. This album has lashings of smart progressive rock music, but with no clichéd elements that are often evident in that particular genre. The album is also not dated or retro, even with the clear influences they incorporate into their sound and is actually a breath of fresh air to the music world, in my opinion. The musicianship from Georgie Castro-Ramirez, Agustín "Chito" Criollo, Andrés Lugo and Fernando Rosado is excellent as well and they certainly do not make this sound like this is their debut album.

Now to the music itself:

Sounding slightly Egyptian in nature, the opening track "Pröll 1" starts off slowly, yet it rumbles and rumbles, until the relentlessness of it breaks free and the aural soundscape starts to explode, as the bass flickers in the background, followed by the irratic drumming... Then the explosion occurs... whoosh! A superb guitar attack, intense drumming, yet still with a relentless air to it. It slows down once more and then we hear Allen Ginsberg reading excerpts from his poem "The Howl", in the background. There's still a slight middle-eastern feel to the soundscape, when suddenly, once more, there is a sound explosion and the heavyness begins again... followed by a wonderfully distorted guitar solo. You can feel the desperation in this track and it feels somewhat politically surged. What a wonderful way to begin this wonderful album!

Next up is "Catástrofe", which is a much more straight up rocker, but still wonderful. The track is dominated by two guitars, one playing simple two-chord changes (to begin with), whilst the other one does a similar thing, but much heavier. Of course, this track is far from being simple and has a wonderful solo in the middle, played by Georgie and what a great solo it is! The drumming is relentless and the sound is mixed perfectly. I also really like the incidental sounds that are played occasionally between guitar parts and they really add to the track.

Next up is the "single" of the album, "Perro Negro". It's still not what I'd class as a typical single, as it incorporates some great guitar playing once more. Agustín sings on this track and to my ears, he sounds like David Grohl, which isn't a bad thing! Of course, he sings in Spanish, but that isn't too much of a distraction. There is a very special duel guitar solo in the middle, which counter off each other rather nicely. The track is rather catchy and deserves to be the first single from the album.

Next up is "Disidente", which continues on with similar rhythm guitar as the previous two tracks, yet is a different sounding track to the previous two, still heavy, but more progressive sounding with some funky sounds taking over in the background in the middle section. This track kind of reminds me of Robert Fripp's earlier days in King Crimson in places. Once more the two guitars have a distinctive sound and the bass is more prominent than it has been previously. Yet again the drumming is spot on, it's not over-the-top and does not get in the way of the rest of the music and keeps the rhythm of the track going. The track ends with a fade-out and leads into the gentler part of the album...

"Orígenes del Movimiento" really slows down the pace of the album and is another wonderful soundscape, but this time more electronic sounding. The ambient soundscape is still however somewhat desperate sounding and I still feel somewhat uneasy, especially as the track gets louder and more domineering as it goes. The track flows nicely into an even more relaxed track "Resistencia", which is a post-rock sounding track, with lovely ethereal guitar playing over some peaceful electronic sounds, that remind me of being at the beach. I feel waves crashing and they're getting stronger and once again, the peacefulness of the track is somewhat shattered, but I personally like darker music, so this is pleasant to my ears. A marching drum sound takes over, yet the guitar playing continues, whilst the bass meanders in the background, until a heavier guitar sound comes in, yet it's still in a somewhat peaceful vein, but with increased energy and vigour. The track ends as it began, with the peaceful air to it and flows into the darkest track on the album...

"88MHz". This is a 14 minute epic of very dark proportions and that dark sound never holds up once. This is an avant-garde track in the vein of Univers Zero, or Present and it works perfectly. However, due to the nature of the track, I find it difficult to comment about, but I can say that it's somewhat in 3 parts, with the middle section being amazingly dark. The sax playing reminds me of Gary Windo on Robert Wyatt's "Rock Bottom" and I am not disappointed one bit. I love this style of sax playing and Georgie does an amazing job at capturing the finer nuances of despair that this track portrays. Infact, I would describe Georgie's Sax playing as sounding like an Exocet missile has been let off in Puerto Rico and everyone is running away from it, that's how scary it sounds! This track has everything, it's the most perfect track on the album in my opinion. As like the other tracks, you will hear, that rather than the bass dominating, a simple guitar riff does instead, it's something that Astrid Pröll make their own. The bass does however take over later on in the track, to cut yet more atmospheric genius into the mix. Another part of this track that makes it feel like I am in agony, is the very low mixed voice in the background. The person (Ariel Hernandez) is not saying anything in particular, but it's used as a device to add atmosphere. Very good stuff! This is Astrid Proll's "Starless", a wonderfully compelling and exciting track from start to finish.

You really need to hear this track for yourself, as my words simply do not do it justice.

"Pröll 2" is another track with vocals (only one of two on the album) and is a let-off of steam after 88MHz's incendiary outrageousness. However, the track is still heavy and still packs a punch. The electronic moments in this track remind me slightly of Muse and again, they work perfectly with the overall sound of the track. The guitar solo in the middle is so great, it's a highlight of the track and the bass coming back in... great stuff! The synth is also used to masterly affect, they certainly know how to compose great music!

"Torso"... oh what a track! This is one of my personal favourites on the album. This is heavily King Crimsonified and sounds like a long-lost outtake from "Red" or "Starless and Bible Black"! I swear that's Robert Fripp playing, but I've been informed it's Georgie! The drumming is worth a mention here, as it's the fastest playing on the album and Fernando does a great job in keeping the pace, an outstanding drummer indeed. And hear comes Ian McDonald! Oh, well, it's not Ian McDonald, it's Georgie again! His sax playing is phenomenal! As for the lovely squonky bass, I happen to personally love this sound and it reminds me of... surprise surprise, John Wetton! The moment that bass kicks in after the sax finishes, is pure ecstasy to my ears.

The album ends on an exceptional high: "Laboratorio Grotowsky". A track modelled on the Poor Theatre philosophy, whereby no gimmicks are used, so it's pretty much a "live" track with few - if any - overdubs. To my ears, this is Robert Fripp playing in Soft Machine! Hard to imagine isn't it? Well this is what this is! The Frippian guitar lines, the Ian McDonald/Elton Dean style sax playing (actually not Georgie this time, but Milton Barreto) with a hint of that man Windo again, makes for a wonderful track. The band sample the words of Bobby Seale, read by a member of the Black Panthers Party, which is used to represent the oppression that takes place in the United States. They do not overuse this sample either, they know exactly when to cut it off and again, when to re-use it and it's not overkill to me, it works perfectly.

Overall, this album is exciting from start to finish and incorporates many different influences, from post rock and punk, to chamber rock and avant-prog. They manage to fit it all in! The only real issue I have, but which is a very minor gripe, is "Perro Negro". It's a great track and it has been stuck in my brain a lot, but in the whole nature of the album, I feel it's a slight disappointment, but not a huge one. I understand the need for an up and coming band to try and appeal to an audience, so therefore, I do not take anything away from their integrity. The album all together is an emotionally charged one, from the politically fuelled opener, to the anti-oppression closing track and this is one of the many reasons why I personally love this album. The music tells me the musicians' anger at the world, mainly without words and that is a hard feat to pull off, in my opinion. I don't think a British artist or band could have made this album, due to the aforesaid reason. The one final point I would like to make, is that the track order has been chosen perfectly and I cannot see it working any other way. The band seem to have grouped the similar tracks together, which helps me experience the mood changes I encounter at the same time, rather than making me go on an unpleasant and sickly journey. It's a kind of semi-concept album of sorts, due to this track order.

So in conclusion I thoroughly recommend this album to anyone who loves music, especially those that are familiar with some of the genres I mentioned in my synopsis of this album above. It is smart music and exceptionally well played and they seem to know their audience as well. I look forward to hearing more of their material in the future and I sincerely hope they get to tour England one day, as I know they will be a tour de force when performing live. An exceptional band and an exceptional album and from the last place you would expect as well. A very good debut indeed. What more could you ask for?

4.5/5 for me, this one!

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