July 12, 2007

Astro – Astral Orange Sunshine

Filed under: Hype,Music — RadioFly @ 2:35 am

Astral Orange Sunshine

[Blossoming Noise; 2007]

Space music has always been hard to precisely define. Is it the goofy sci-fi of Gong and Hawkwind? Or is it the ambient mass of Tangerine Dream? I’d personally suggest Astro’s Astral Orange Sunshine as an excellent document of the semi-genre. Astro (AKA former C.C.C.C. member Hiroshi Hasegawa) uses nothing but synths for this spacey, instrumental slice of psychedelia, managing to combine the best of both the sci-fi and ambient sides of space music and that combination has caused my dreams to careen through outer space every time I’ve fallen asleep to the record.

“Incubation,” the half-hour behemoth of a first cut, opens with some inviting, tingly notes that would not be out of place in one of Acid Mothers Temple’s more ambient passages. Astro, however, quickly reveals his roots as a noise artist with a towering wall of grating fuzz that consumes any lingering invitingness left in the music. Such giant sounds occasionally pass through the music, invoking in the willing listener the image of massive comets passing overhead. The journey that is “Incubation” generally follows the “quiet-loud-quiet-loud” pattern to its end, but the moments of noise manage to arrive in sudden, surprising fashion, giving the piece a spontaneity all too uncommon in space music. As the piece progresses, the quiet portions become more eerie while the noisy portions grow more chaotic.

“Still Water” immediately dispenses with the notion that the space presented on Astral Orange Sunshine is a friendly one with a dense, abrasive wall of sound. To put it into Hawkwind terms, the awe-inspiring comets have been replaced by a terrifyingly large enemy spaceship. The record’s final song, the comically titled “Shine On You Crazy Crystal Machine,” serves as a second psychedelic bookend to the middle noise piece of “Still Water.” Fifteen minutes of gloriously fuzzy, noisy, and loud psychedelia, the overwhelming “Shine On” is the album’s best cut. Where “Incubation” was a journey, “Shine On” is more of a chaotic tailspin.

Astral Orange Sunshine succeeds as a whole thanks to the fullness and spontaneity of its sound. Astro has the chops and the vision, both of which are on full display here as his version of space music has given us one of 2007’s strongest releases.

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