Not to be confused with Italy’s Astra, California’s Astra plays a vintage form of Psychedelic Progressive Rock not far removed from the likes of Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. Even the sound of the album is somewhat antique, but not in a “back corner of the dusty shop” kind of way…more in a “display in a prominent place of honor” sort of manner. It has history and roots and depth and does not copy a style so much as it carries it on with pride much like modern day jazz or bluegrass players keep beloved traditions alive.

The band’s influences and mindset are stark and evident as soon as the first song, the instrumental “The Rising Of The Black Sun”, kicks in. This is a band that wants to take you on the journey they themselves are on. They care nothing of traditional song writing convention and are more into carrying the listener on waves of sound through endless skies. Atmosphere abounds throughout this album with guitars, synthesizers, flutes and vocals creating a pale, purple mist that both obscures your surroundings and cools the air. The title track shows the first sign of vocal work and, despite being from California, they have an English sort of vibe ala Yes or early Genesis in the phrasing and use of harmony. The eight songs on offer here flow seamlessly from extended, spirited jams (thankfully, not in a Grateful Dead pastiche, but a more cerebral, moody way) to enveloping aural soundscapes and melodic, delicate musical whispers. The album as a whole carries sort of a melancholic darkness about it which, when taken as a whole, is truly inspiring.

Great stuff indeed and I for one am quite happy that Lee Dorian and company have decided to share this band with the world because, I believe, the world needs to hear it. This is music for music’s sake…passionate and sincere…grandiose and sweeping. If you dig the whole 1970s Psychedelic/Prog/English thing, you’d be remiss if you didn’t look into Astra…it’s the real deal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
August 4th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: corporatedemon

    This review has me pretty excited, I need to look into this for sure!


  2. Commented by: ceno

    Sure sounds like my thing. I’ll be checking this out soon. Great review as usual, Shawn. You definitely got me with the early Genesis/Yes comparison.


  3. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    Thanks guys…one of my favorite new records….


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    digging this. sounds like Ozzy broke off from recording “Mr. Crowley” to jam with Wishbone Ash.


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