Astroboter is the debut, self-titled album by “a spiritual manifestation of Nature’s own steady metronomic dance between good and evil”. We’re in concept album territory here, but that can be a great place to find yourself if it’s done right; think Viktor Vaugn’s Vaudeville Villain over 88 Keys’ The Death Of Adam. What we have here is an instrumental melting pot of trip-hop and psychedelic krautrock set to a perplexing tale, but as its instrumental – you aren’t forced to comply
“It all began with a faulty translation…”
The album opens with “The White Lodge”, a piece with an almost ceremonial tone that sounds like the first moments of “something” gaining sentience…
“A drunk Polish monk transcribed philosophical scrolls from Tibet and made “Staro Robota” – which means “old work” in Polish – into “Astroboter”. This mistake soon became a myth take and found its way into the people‘s folklore, turning Astroboter into a metaphysical resetter in the shape of a robot who is able to discharge the energies of good and evil. A role Astroboter accepted eventually and whose creator is unknown (yet?).”
[wpaudio url=”http://d2jos65913uaef.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/02.-Staro-Robota.mp3″ text=”Astroboter – Staro Robota” dl=”0″]
Take what you will from that, what “Staro Robota” gives us though is the first substantial morsel of Astroboters musicianship, and it fairs well. The choice of instrumentation and the sparse vocal sample are composed into a great piece of instrumental music that builds on itself before an all-out finish. “Metrokinesis” on the other hand (click the left image for the video) sounds much different; both from the preceding tracks and the rest of the album. It fades in with the sounds of an insomniac city which anchor it into a somewhat familiar reality away from the otherwise abstract nature of the other tracks. Most notable is the personifying guitar melody which makes its entrance amongst some clashing brass, marking this as one of the albums stand-outs tracks.
On the other side of “On Top Of Amon Meru”, another atmospheric interlude, lies “The Orchid” which again employs the albums key players of drums and guitar together for an introspective trip, with both instruments sharing the stage well throughout. By now the cinematic quality to Astroboter’s music is not to be discredited, so it’s only fitting that he recruits the talents of his equally adept peers, Juno award winning Canadian DJ and Brown Bag Allstars affiliate DJ Brace and Germany’s visionary Kabanjak for feature spots on “Strong Of Heart, Weak Of Gold”. It starts off well enough and even incorporates some dope mystic flute work. At first I felt it’s structure was heading down a repetitive path but it later bloomed, dispelling the thought that this triple threat would come short.
[wpaudio url=”http://d2jos65913uaef.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/08.-Strong-Of-Heart-Weak-Of-Gold-feat.-DJ-Brace-Kabanjak.mp3″ text=”Astroboter – Strong Of Heart, Weak Of Gold ft. DJ Brace & Kabanjak” dl=”0″]
Overall though, the percussion on the album probably isn’t fleshed out thoroughly enough for a seasoned beat junkie to be kept satiated, as the aforementioned ratio of drums to guitar ultimately favours the latter. Elsewhere, Astroboter might wade out a little too far sonically in general for some instrumental heads, but for anyone looking to take an excursion from a diet rich in boom-bap then it’s a great listen. Astroboter provides food for imagination, the sounds employed appear to have been sourced from all corners of the globe and possibly another dimension; but it makes for a great auditory trip that I’m sure compliments the narrative concept…
“In the end, Astroboter falls into a coma, forever frozen in the icy vaults of Antarctica and quite likely forgotten in the arctic nights. To be continued…”