Astralia – ‘Solstice’.
Hailing from the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain, Astralia have been established in the world of both Post and Ambient-Rock for a number of years, touring Europe and sharing stages with live heavyweights such as Mono, Nordic Giants and Maybe She Will.
As you would expect of a band who keeps such esteemed company, Astralia’s sound is polished, refined and sounds much larger than you would expect for a three piece. Steeped in ambience, driven by a solid rhythm section and demonstrating some assured and tasteful musicianship, their third release, Solstice, is my first introduction to the band.
Post-Rock as a genre for me is all about dynamics, and I’m pleased to say there are plenty of moments throughout the record where the tracks build from subtle, understated arrangements into strong, driving and feel good peaks. Most of the tracks clock in around the eight minute mark, which allows for each track to breathe and build but without outstaying its welcome.
Throughout the record there aren’t any particularly surprising tonal shifts – the song structure is quite minimalist, instead building layers of guitar, washes of ambient feedback and volume swells which have been creatively arranged. Despite the amount of layered sounds in these arrangements, each one is distinct, balanced and complimentary to the tracks.
Although the band have a full and well developed sound, on occasion I found myself wishing that some of the ambience that permeates the record was dialled back a little for the sake of contrast. Astralia have clearly refined their particularly warm and ambient sound over many years however, and I think this is perhaps just personal preference rather than being a negative point – if I were to experience these songs live (and I hope that I will at some point), I doubt that this would enter my mind.
This is perhaps a record to put on as you drive through beautiful countryside, or to listen to as an antidote to the hectic pace of modern life. It drives itself along, but it’s also relaxing throughout.
Throughout the record there are numerous nice touches of additional percussion, standing out particularly on ‘Detatchment’, which also has a particularly nice build up. I have to compliment the band on their restraint and the way they have incorporated changes in dynamics throughout each of the tracks with tasteful playing and creative use of effects (the bass in particular helps to add some weight in heavier sections with some great sounding overdrive), rather than with more instrumentation.
The closing and titular track incorporates a Nordic Giants-esque Spoken Word poem over the music, describing an eyelash slowly falling to the ground, and the cosmic significance of this event to the observer. It works well over the music, and adds some colour to a pretty and effective closer.
Solstice is an accomplished and enjoyable third record from Astralia, and well worth spending some time with. You may find it quite relaxing, however, so possibly not while operating heavy machinery.
Solstice is out now from Aloud Music.
Find the band below:
- Social Media/Updates: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Official Website.
- Music: Youtube Channel, bandcamp.
- Aloud Music: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Official Website.