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Astralfish, Far Corners

May 2, 2012

If you’re looking for a bit of eclectic listening, you’ve come to the right place. From trippy space-jazz to charging prog to freeform funk and various points in between, the broad collective called Astralfish touch a number of musical bases on the rightly titled Far Corners. Fronted by Bridget Wishart, who spent some time in Hawkwind, and Don Falcone, last seen around these parts as half of Grindlestone, Astralfish call on a number of side musicians (including Gong guitarist Daevid Allen) to help snap out 16 tough-to-classify tracks in under an hour. As much of a mixed bag as it is, it works well–especially if you have a short attention span or have your i-Whatever set to shuffle. With the longest track barely clearing five minutes, Far Corners is a small-plates kind of disc, but the sounds are so dense and well packed that you get a lot of unique flavor in each bite. This varied crew can handle a straight-up, rock-edged piece like “Cloud Gather,” which begins slowly but kicks into wild, prog-guitar overdrive at the whump of a bass drum, just as well as it can coolly glide through the lounge-worthy, Middle Eastern airs of “Pacifica”–which also has its moment of guitar glory, all the more delicious for the way it flails against the watery rhythms behind it. The group’s soft side is showcased in “Riding the Seasons,” a piece that carries a strong dramatic/narrative feel without having to really raise its voice. “Lil Utbird” is a playful piece that starts out wearing a symphonic mask, which it whips off to reveal a tight, techno-style electronic side. Rich bass runs lay down an anchor as this one takes off on spirals of glitch. Falcone and Wishart are well known in prog circles for their work as Spirits Burning (which I confess I have not heard); with Astralfish, they may be able to bring their talent to a broader audience; there’s certainly enough variety here to catch your attention, whether you’re prog-ish, ambient-ish, or just good music-ish. Well worth a listen.

Available from CD Baby.

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