Astral Social Club's new album Octuplex on VHF has been made album of the month at www.aquariusrecords.org .Don't forget you can see him and Mark Durgan play live on;
Saturday 21st of February,
Chameleon(Market Square,Nottingham, next to Bell Inn)
9pm start,10pm first band
Here's the review in full;
ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB Octuplex (VHF)
It's a weird thing, but we've always noticed that musicians, especially avant outsider musicians (and even then ESPECIALLY metal musicians) seemed inordinately fond of electronic music. Every time a band would come in the store, they would head straight for the electronic section and end up buying a bunch of weird techno or jungle or whatever.
Which then might make it less surprising that recently some of our favorite noise makers seem to be heading in that direction with their own music. Campbell Kneale's Birchville Cat Motel is gone, and in its place, Our Love Will Destroy The World, whose first record was indeed some bastardized dance music, a strange hybrid of blurred buzzy drone music, and thumping club jamz. Similarly, Neil Campbell, aka Astral Social Club has been peppering his recent record with similarly club worthy jamz, but again, those sounds still soaked in the same sort of blissed out psychedelic ambience that most people associate with his Astral Social Club.
For this latest full length, Campbell once again starts things off with a track that would almost sound more at home on Planet Mu than VHF. A skittery bloopfest, with a thick grinding synth bass line, and bloopy bleepy beats, but all wreathed in processed guitars and blurred soft focus buzz, which leads right into the second track, still electronic, but not actually danceable, it sounded more like a club jam on 45, the beats stumbling over one another, like a jumbled, almost hyper speed Pierre Bastien, a million little mechanical men, spewing a symphony of clicks and bleeps and loops, all wound around buried melodies and long thick streaks of hiss and fuzz.
We kept expecting things to switch gears, and for the sound to gradually bliss out into the more 'traditional' ASC sound, long form ur-drones more along the lines of Sunroof! or Skullflower, but most of us were hoping just the opposite, that maybe he'd push further, take ASC somewhere no band like that had really felt at home, the dancefloor, albeit, some strange seriously fucked up and drug addled ALIEN dancefloor. And so he has, for the most part. The first half of the record is indeed, all fractured beats, and warped loops, woozy tripped out grooves, effects swirling and whirling everywhere, the beats playful and not quite funky, stuttery skittery, and seriously fun. This is the kind of stuff that just might lure the perpetual wallflowers out onto that dancefloor.
BUT!!! Hidden between the opening salvo of beats and loops, and the closing outer space house jam, lurks some of the prettiest droned out ambience we've heard from ASC. Processed glitchery, smeared into grainy expanses of glistening blur and shimmery starburst, draped with delicate melodies, gradually growing into a glorious wall of warm fuzz, super thick grinding buzz, smoothed into hypnotic loops and pulsing soundscapes, a more caffeinated Tim Hecker, gauzy and washed out but propulsive and kinetic, glorious sun baked upper register blow outs, wrapped around crystalline acoustic guitars, all woven into a wheezing heaving whole, some sort of super abstract avant garde raga, and finally, a brief but fantastical tangle of crunch and buzz, off hiss and glitch, warped melodies and damaged arrangements, lo-fi tape hiss slithers beneath stuttering chopped up samples, again all blurred into something dreamlike and bleary eyed. WOW.
It all might seem a little schizophrenic, and it is, but it's also the best of both worlds, and the key being that the more beat oriented tracks, are still able to function like the more ambient drone based sounds, if you're laying in the dark, headphones strapped on, those beats might not induce you to shake your tail feathers, but they'll still be able to suck you under, to transport you to some crazed soundworld, to totally mesmerize and hypnotize, which makes the whole record either the weirdest most fucked up electronic dance record EVER, or quite possibly just the best Astral Social Club release so far. Maybe both...
You can read the Feral Debris review of the album in a few weeks, the fourth issue is nearly done- just waiting to take it to the printers!
3 days ago