Sunday, April 12, 2009

Album Review: Upsidedown Astronaut - Flight 1998

Soundtracks are some of my favorite albums and this is a soundtrack to a film that needs to be made. It is a grainy film of an record, full of glitches and noise without grating up against your aesthetics and remaining firmly in love with the beat. Once you hit the fourth track "The Same As Before", the record really takes off, bringing you into it's love affair with hip hop production that surpasses the cliches of the genre and leaving a fresh minty smell behind it. It is a wavering, gorgeous collection, equally at home with Boards Of Canada and the score for Blade Runner.

"Sunset" sounds exactly like that. Like the end of a great day, watching the sunlight wash over the edges of your life and lamenting the passing of another moment. For folks who aren't classically trained, they show a surprising depth of knowledge of tone and chord structures to convey a very specific picture. I like to know that a great deal of analytic music theory can be left by the wayside and the principles of human emotion remain easily accessible to artists.

At times it delves into the darkest mysteries of your mind, "Untitled Spaghetti Western Theme" is a brooding composition that takes what on the surface appears to be a fairly bright synth loop and weaves it seamlessly into a tapestry of drum beats just on the edge of existence. There is a halting and expectant quality across the entire record, like a finger wagging at you from a curtained doorway in the middle of the night.

It's alright, don't be afraid. Just go through the doorway and you won't be dissapointed. This lush album will treat you right. This is a painting of textures, emotions layered into one another and the sense that something great is just around the corner like Dntel's work on The Postal Service. Expectation is a very difficult concept to convey musically and Upside Down Astronaut has done an admirable job of bringing it into your eardrums. I recommend listening to this album while sitting on the edge of a cliff watching the sea fight off a storm as it approaches. It pairs nicely with dark clouds overhead and a large cup of coffee.

This gem is available at Kid Without Radio. A label I plan on keeping an eyeball pointed at. Take a listen at Upsidedown Astronaut's Myspace page.

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