Progressive music, in general, occupies a funny space in rock and roll. It just seems to mean so many different things to different people. Not that I mind – I mean, I don’t have a stake in it or anything. But, no other genre (or subgenre) seems to get such varied understanding in the minds of the public at large – at least when they think about it at all. It can fall anywhere along the spectrum from the spaced out music of old Yes and Genesis, to the energetic thrill of heavier bands like Rush, all the way to genre heavies, Dream Theater and Symphony X.
Astra’s The Black Chord is somewhere between the beginning and the middle of the spectrum, as indicated by extended jams replete with psychedelic guitar solos and exotic scalar runs like on the title track (2:13). Put another way, if you’re a The Mars Volta fan, but find them "a little too ethnic”, you may want to tune in to these cats from the West coast. Their analog machinations (Mellotron/Moog fans will plotz) blend together beautifully into an old school tapestry of mellow jams that tend to appeal to fans of Pink Floyd-style trips like myself (particulary Barefoot In The Head). Even their look is perfected with appropriately spacey covers and one of the coolest logos in decades.
The Bottom Line: Fans of old school progressive rock, with its Mellotrons and Moog synthesizers, will get enjoyably lost in the space that Astra creates. More than just another stoner metal band, they have an appreciation of 70s era, nascent prog that satisfies such fans nicely.
Tracks to Provide a Soundtrack to your Black Light Posters: The Black Chord, Drift, Barefoot in the Head
- Genghis needs another hit - and some potato chips would be killer...