Solstice by AstraliaRelease date: April 22, 2017
Label: Aloud Music
Astralia have built their career on perfecting the art of blending post-rock and ambient. The first step was taken by their self-titled release and (almost) perfected with Atlas, which I thought was difficult to top, until now. It’s not surprising that this trio from Barcelona are sublime musicians and able push the envelope and add complex layers of sound effortlessly. It’s also thrilling they are having more exposure in the US thanks to A Thousand Arms. In Europe they are very well represented by Aloud Music, home to bands like Toundra, Exxasens and Viva Belgrado.
These 7 tracks on Solstice are slow burners, they’re not rushed and are well structured and delicately layered. This is not your typical soft-loud-climax band. There was a lot of thought and effort put into the structures and the end result is a great reward. So put on a good pair of headphones, sit back, relax and let the music do the rest.
The journey starts with ‘Exhale’, which is a reflection of what I said above and a good indicator of what is to come. Meticulous, luscious and captivating melodies, along with its weeping guitars eliciting so many emotions. ‘Out of Nothing’ and ‘The Ornen’ follow and they take us through landscapes of calm and beauty. Guitar effects and drums seem to be in the background. Your mind is off somewhere else when suddenly, you find yourself smiling because a beautiful melody you came across is now stuck in your head.
‘Abyss of Light’ explores the more haunting, doomy and heavy soundscapes, keeping us on the edge of our seats. Epic and eerie sounding ‘Detachment’ is such a grandiose song it sends chills down my spine every single time. The chimes, the tribal drums, the build up and the way it drones out is pretty much perfection.
‘Farewell and Encounter’ includes a very touching and emotional sample (written by Mariona Palou and voiced by James Phillips) just before the absolutely glorious ending. The (almost) 10 minute closer ‘Solstice’ adds the necessary finishing touches, therefore completing this masterpiece. What a way to close the record!
In conclusion: Ambient and gazy sounds, gentle melodies, simmering build ups. Mellow and heavy. Beautiful and haunting. Soothing yet relentless. Overall emotive.
I’m still blown away every time I listen to Solstice. I’m finding small details that just make me enjoy it even more. Everything about this record makes me want to close my eyes and drift away. It’s perfect evening music, it’s perfect relaxing music, it’s perfect meditation music. The production is impeccable, the musicians are talented and the songs just flow and melt together. This is hands down their best album and I’m sure they can top it in the future. No pressure.