Astralasia - Oceania album review

Two-CD/blue vinyl set from Astralasia, the wizards of psychedelic electronica

Astralasia - Oceania album artwork

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Listening to Astralasia makes you feel psychically pampered. These instrumental musings on the cycles of life and death are sound paintings of “a forgotten time, a land where love was the answer”. Back in the day, Astralasia erred toward more generic psychedelic trance, with whomping beats, but on Oceania these rhythms are purveyed with a lighter touch, with what sounds like a sampled high tabla and other percussion, and waves of sound created by echoed guitar or sequenced keyboards. In this respect, their techno influences are backgrounded and the music is more reminiscent of Manuel Göttsching’s albums like E2-E4, or Rovo and System 7’s Phoenix Rising. AlooLand starts with birdsong, a sunrise of electronics, electric piano picking out sparse notes, spuming synths and oscillating guitar, with all the instruments merging beautifully. There are some jazzy sax and keyboard solos in places, and on the title track, Peter Pracownik wigs out on guitar before becoming inundated by a phased sea. Time & Tide Eternal closes, a 22-minute exploration with ticking percussion and flute lines in a hazy ambience of unidentifiable instruments, whooshing cymbals and looped and echoed voices.

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.