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 Post subject: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:14 pm 
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Posts: 1676
Astra - The Weirding
Rise Above Records
Release date: June 23, 2009


Not quite as out there as label mates Diagonal but still within the same everything-but-the-kitchen-sink musical ballpark, San Diego's Astra delivers on the promise of the title of its debut album. If you think that sentence was a mouthful, well, let's just say I've been influenced by the topic at hand.

Make no mistake, Astra is “fancy outfit” progressive rock, the sort of group that isn't afraid to bring a little theatricality – or a lot, depending on your tolerance – to the table. The Weirding is essentially a collection of grandiose statements, each one doing its damndest to one-up the others. “The Rising of the Black Sun” opens with a jumble of percussion, chimes, flute, and guitar – you half expect to hear a solemn voice go on about mythological woodland creatures preparing for either Harvest Day or some kind of epic battle – before launching into a frantic solo-based jam (think Earthless). Don't get used to that sort of free-for-all playing, though. Starting with the title track, the remainder of The Weirding is a predominantly a series of melancholy, end-of-days numbers that have as much in common with Jethro Tull and 60s folk as they do Yes, King Crimson, and the Book of Revelations.

There's not much of a sense of spontaneity, but the songs are so densely packed and well composed that it doesn't really matter. And when the band does let loose, such as when the guitar takes center stage for a lengthy stretch of unadulterated rock goodness in “The Weirdness,” it keeps Astra from permanently crossing the line into overblown self-indulgence. The exception to this symphonic gloom and doom laser light show is “Broken Glass,” a decidedly English sounding acoustic number that lends credence to the claim that The Weirding is “the missing link between Rubber Soul and Radiohead.” It's a welcome respite before returning to the multi-hued, majestic despair that otherwise defines the album.

Overall, The Weirding's weirdness would've been better served in under an hour. While only four of the eight songs breach the ten minute mark, most of them are exhausting in terms of scope and execution, especially when the synths are the focal point. Don't get me wrong – this is definitely a keeper, but it's also one of those albums where I feel I'll need to take a deep breath before diving into again.

- John Pegoraro

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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:14 pm 
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And in the long run, this wound up being a favorite album from last year. Great stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:04 am
Posts: 3300
Location: Albuquerque
Great album indeed. I think Naam ends up beating out this one for my best of '09 but both are definitely worth albums of the title.


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:00 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:02 pm
Posts: 12
I really dig the record a lot. It reminds me of Meddle era Pink Floyd mixed with the Beatles.


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:19 pm
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Location: Massachusetts
I forgot that I had this. Sometimes I'm really pumped to get something, listen to it a couple times and it's good but doesn't knock me out like I was hoping, and it then disappears into my collection, never to be seen again. I need to find it next time I'm hacking through the primordial cd closet jungle. Better to unearth this album than an Unearth album.

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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:56 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:45 am
Posts: 144
Location: new bedford, ma usa
I like this album a lot. I put it in my top 10 for the year. I was digging them at Roadburn but then had to leave like 15 minutes into to the set to go see Death Row. Hope they've got something good up their sleeve for a sophomore release.


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:00 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:24 pm
Posts: 776
No Astra shows since their brief summer Euro-tour, been hoping to hear anything about these guys for months, but I have to wonder what their status is. Any of the S.D. crew know?


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:04 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Louisiana
This was #1 on my Best of '09.
I revisit it from time to time still.
I'm really interested to hear what they follow up with.


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:44 pm
Posts: 612
Location: Quincy, MA
Great album!

Their cover of Pink Floyd's Empty Spaces was amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:58 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:57 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Lebanon
I really like the song ourobouros


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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:19 pm
Posts: 1559
Location: Massachusetts
God. My comment is from almost three years ago and I still haven't listened to the fucking album like I said I was going to. The cd hoarding situation is that bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Astra - The Weirding
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:19 pm
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Location: Massachusetts
Listened to it again, finally. Really enjoyed it as a break from a lot of heavier stuff I'd had on in the car. Definitely "Meddle" Pink Floyd as the major and most obvious influence, but they had a bit of all the prog and prog folk styles in there. Maybe a little too long as Arz said, but now I am interested in more from them.

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