ASC
The Astral Traveller


5.0
classic

Review

by Eloriaz USER (9 Reviews)
June 24th, 2013 | 68 replies | 4,554 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 3001: A Drum and Bass Odyssey. Mesmerizing percussions meet our expanding Universe.

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

One fascinating asset of electronic music is how well you can create sonic atmospheres. After all, why are synthesizers so appealing to the human ear? Maybe it is because they feed our imaginations in the same way that dreams do. In explaining how he made Selected Ambient Works Volume II, Aphex Twin once said that he drew inspiration from his very own dreams. Throughout its history, electronic music has often been about making us visualize or feel wonderful and not-yet-seen things, from the gloomy and enamoured keyboards of Depeche Mode's Black Celebration to the urban, elegant landscapes of Underworld's dubnobasswithmyheadman as well as the mysterious and sorrowful alleys of Burial's Untrue. Synthpop, progressive house, dubstep, it doesn't matter because each electronic genre has something to say to the world, and a world to create on its own.

With The Astral Traveller, James Clements, A.K.A. ASC, prolific electronic music producer hailing from England, makes us travel far, far away with the assistance of drum'n'bass. Although the album is danceable (like DnB regularly is), you can very well listen to it in a state of contemplation. It is one of those electronic albums that have both a "chill out" quality and a "club" quality to them - Reform Club of Claro Intelecto is one of many examples of that. You can blast it in the car when on the highway, or appreciate it before going to sweet sleep. I have listened to it several times during a ride on the bus when it was late at night, watching the stars rise and the dark buildings pass quickly before my eyes, losing myself in the adventure it offers.

Yes, what an adventure it is! The spaceship is ready. It all begins with "Cassini". Discreet and subtle sounds emerge from the International Space Station. Looks like we are set. Some indistinct vocal samples give the impression that we are about to take off. Roger that. The 1:30 mark arrives and the amazing drums start to inhabit your ears. As the opener for the album, "Cassini" is perfect: it is definitive, but not yet as hard-hitting as the later tracks, and the soundscape makes you feel like you are quitting the Solar System, on your way to unknown galaxies, gearing up for the next step. The drums and the bass symbolize the human touch - they are kind of a statement before the tremendous Universe.

"Lightyears" is next and, oh boy, the drums are already pounding as if our spaceship reached maximum speed. The track features a very interesting sound, like some air gets sucked out in a black hole in a split second - Autechre's "Rotar", from Tri Repetae, comes to mind. "Lightyears" pictures the starry whirlwind of the Milky Way: fast, intense, larger than life, and very danceable. "Space Technique" opens next and is probably the most anxious track of the album. A single note is repeated throughout all of it. Are we alone in the Universe? What will happen to us? The drums are paranoid and thick and clumped altogether, almost breakbeat sounding, while the synthesizers create an ambiance that feels both empty and ghostly, almost pale and desolate. It challenges our spaceship to stay strong despite any anomaly that might happen.

Enters "Juno", hard and courageous, the glorious comeback to the severe "Space Technique". Here again, the drums and the bass picture the triumph of our knowledge and of our exploration. God is Love! It is perhaps the most optimistic track of The Astral Traveller and perpetuates the dancing streak "Lightyears" has started. You feel strong like in a video game, like nothing could ever harm the odyssey and the thirst of discovery we live for. Then "Logical Regression" emerges from the depths of constellations, more organic, lush, almost exotic, reminiscent of FSOL's Lifeforms. Our speculations find, at last, an answer: we are not alone in the Universe. There are other civilisations than ours. The percussions and the atmosphere sound more tribal in this track. They satisfy our dying curiosity.

"Zero Gravity" is the most mesmerizing track of all. Our conceptions about life and the Universe are constantly challenged. The amount of knowledge we have acquired since we have left Earth is overwhelming. Remember the psychedelic and colourful scene in Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece, near the end of the movie? The drums are restless. The sounds make our spaceship tumble down the rabbit hole. What is language anyway? Even the Milky Way is behind us and we don't know anymore where we are heading. Fortunately, "Projections" brings back some order in the dizziness of our travels. Here is another track of wonderful discoveries in the same way that "Lightyears" was. The drums and the bass engulf you so much in contemplation, they sound from beneath the ocean.

Watch out for "Collision Course", though. It is an almost brutal track in comparison to the others. This is the other-worldly attack: unknown beings want our demise. Lasers burst out within the fighting drums, accompanied by a dramatic soundscape. Everything breaks the stillness of space, until victory comes under the namesake of "Delta Shift". Our journey meets a vivid ending with this track. Ethereal and sweet vocal samples surround us with blossoming electronic sounds. The drums are some of the best on the album, marching and progressing from everlasting loops. "End of the Line" ends it all on a chilled out breakbeat. It features a floating melody that creates the perfect "open ending". What is to come next? The music says: well, it's your turn now.....

Even if you are not that much into electronic music, let alone drum and bass, I suggest you give The Astral Traveller at least one listen, especially - however ridiculous it may sound - if topics like space, aliens and galaxies are of interest to you. It is an album so detailed and polished that it takes several listens to grasp it all. If it doesn't give you at all the sensation that you are in space, then I don't know what else could other than being out there with an astronaut suit. Plus you can dance to it - what more could you ask for?



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user ratings (41)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Eloriaz
June 24th 2013



686 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

First review ever! I hope you enjoy! =)

Please bear in mind that English is not my first language (French is), so I am sorry for any grammar mistake or weird syntax. It is obvious that I write much better in French but I try my best ^_^

The Astral Traveller will probably be one of my favorite DnB albums for a long time to come :]

"Lightyears": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_8HDlbdhHM
"Juno": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrWZaRoBzEI
"Zero Gravity": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Zw303jTQI
"Delta Shift": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kko5tLP4ro

ethixx
June 24th 2013



1170 Comments


yay, someone reviewed this

Eloriaz
June 24th 2013



686 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I know right? I thought this badly needed a review ;P

ethixx
June 24th 2013



1170 Comments


great job on it!

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2013



3414 Comments


must check this, love DnB but haven't given this a spin yet

will probably read the review later

Eloriaz
June 24th 2013



686 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I strongly encourage you to! It is wonderful :]

YetAnotherBrick
June 24th 2013



4405 Comments


good review

i've heard a few songs off this and loved em

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2013



3414 Comments


Listening to Lightyears, it's pretty sweet. Love the snare

As far as the review goes: I probably wouldn't have guessed English wasn't your first language if you hadn't said so, but a few words are a little unusual. You clearly know how to write well, but parts of the review (especially the first half of the first paragraph) strike me as a little "dreamy" (which isn't really a bad thing, but it's not really my style). This is a really good review, though, especially considering you speak French first. I love the description for "Juno." If I had to suggest one thing, though, you don't have to talk about every single track from here. Just talk about the album as a whole, and your review is more concise and easy to read.

BTW, if you like DnB check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnLpoXbUUSM
totally different style but great nonetheless, my number 2 album on the year

Eloriaz
June 24th 2013



686 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Brostep: Thanks for your comment man. Much appreciated and I'll keep it in mind =)

Thanks for the link too I'll check it out! I'm becoming a sucker for DnB, hehehe

cagedescending
June 24th 2013



4124 Comments


pretentious in all the right ways

album deserved a good review and you've provided amply

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2013



3414 Comments


^this

Eloriaz
June 24th 2013



686 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you!!

mindleviticus
June 24th 2013



8200 Comments


I WAS ACTUALLY JUST ABOUT TO REVIEW THIS.

This is probably the best dnb album ever made

mindleviticus
June 24th 2013



8200 Comments


my fav song is either space technique or logical regression

wacknizzle
June 24th 2013



12888 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this rules, I should listen to it more.

Digging: Plebeian Grandstand - Lowgazers

Rev
June 24th 2013



9403 Comments


Gotta check this out

Eloriaz
June 24th 2013



686 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hahaha, what a coincidence then! xD

My 2 favorites are:
Lightyears and Juno. So awesome. But I do love every track, I find it hard to pick single ones.

mindleviticus
June 24th 2013



8200 Comments


Rev hasn't heard this...all hope is lost.

But yeah every song is fucking amazing

Rev
June 24th 2013



9403 Comments


I've only heard a few albums, EPs, singles, and collabs from this guy, but not this

Will get asap

cagedescending
June 24th 2013



4124 Comments


been debating a 5 myself



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