Astronoid - Air review


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Band: Astronoid
Album: Air
Release date: June 2016

01. Incandescent
02. Up And Atom
03. Resin
04. Violence
05. Homesick
06. Tin Foil Hats
07. Air
08. Obsolete
09. Trail Of Sulfur

Taking flight.

Astronoid's debut album Air is probably one of the best examples of the blackgaze genre, a niche that has grown as of late, making itself a yardstick with which future releases are measured against. It is essential listening if you are looking to expand your musical horizons but still want something with bite to it.

Air is a very apt name for the album, given it conjures up the feeling of euphoric flying, letting you fall into its tones and soundscapes before launching you into the clouds. Sometimes it's smooth flying through clear skies ("Homesick"), other times moonlit vistas ("Air") or turbulent grey skies ("Incandescent"). This isn't so much an album as it is an experience, something to sit and listen to rather than have it stuck on in the background; it is something that ironically demands your attention yet is best heard when resting, letting your mind be taken by the hand and toured around the soundscapes conjured up by the band. It's like the girl in the A-Ha video being pulled from the real world into that of the artist.

This does limit the scope of Astronoid's audience, given you have to make time to listen to the album. but it pays you back when it does, with tracks like "Resin" able to breathe and showcase its vastness to you where half-hearted listening doesn't attach itself to you in nearly the same way. Unlike bands of similar ilk like Alcest who can be listened to in both a casual manner as well as in a dedicated manner, Astronoid are unable to get their music to fit that niche.

When the album is able to attach itself to you like a head crab in Half Life (crowbar not included) then Air is able to come into its element. Tracks like "Up And Atom" grab you from the off with Aylward, Boland and DeMellia's guitars drawing you in before St. Jean puts on a hell of a drum clinic to occupy your mind. Once a song hits you, it's hard to pull yourself away. The musicianship found on Air is something that is worth noting, with the aforementioned St. Jean managing to bridge Portnoy-esque drum acrobatics with a scene-setting, almost mood-lighting type job; it's a strange balance, but one he manages to pull off well. The black metal-infused guitar trio are reminiscent of Devin Townsend in that they play to the song while managing to do their own thing at the same time.

Where Astronoid may find detractors are those who want an immediate hit of energy; while the band are content to drip feed you, if you are someone who shakes IV drips because they're too slow then I would suggest this music is perhaps not intense enough for you. The saying it's about the journey not the destination is something the band should slap on the front of the album cover like a parental advisory sticker.

There is one flaw in Astronoid's formula, that being that those of you who enjoy experiencing music and gravitate to the emotional response music can invoke, when the band don't connect, the song just limply plays out and you're left either waiting for the next passage in the track to take a swing or for the song to come to an end. For me "Tin Foil Hats" encapsulated this problem, taking until the two and half minute mark to connect with me and the song to come to life rather than remain an imitation of life. If you are someone who enjoys the technicality and musicality side of music, then I can see you having a field day picking apart the different passages and parts that make up these songs.

Air takes flight from beginning to end, an album well worth making time for and giving a go even if you are new to the genre.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 16.10.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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