Astral TV lock into the universe when they create. Their music feels centered on some deeper understanding. A deeper understanding of what? Our connectivity to currents and how they effect us emotionally and psychically. It’s a visceral sound that goes from hazy, circuital beauty to more darker realms of tone and feel. Rasmus Rasmussen and Keith Canisius work within the sounds of 70s pioneers like Froese, Schulze, and Roedelius, but they shape their compositions in their own, unique way.
Is that way too heavy? Well, let me put it this way: Rasmussen and Canisius make some truly far out sounds, man. Using synths(both analog and digital) as well as guitar, their work as Astral TV covers both komische-style electronic improvisations and new age enlightenment vibes.
With their debut, 2017s excellent Chrystal Shores, Astral TV laid out the groundwork for their newest LP, the masterpiece Travelling The Circuits. Where their debut was more quiet and slow-building, Travelling The Circuits has an untethered quality. It’s noisier, more viscerally raw at moments but also unquestionably beautiful and serene in others. Astral TV have made one of the year’s best sonic journeys.
When I first listened to Astral TV’s newest opus I was on an evening walk. The sun was melting into the western horizon and euphoric reds, pinks, and purples emanated from the line of corn stalks in the field next to me. It’s a point at dusk where things feel quiet. There’s a stillness in the air when the traffic is at a minimum and everyone has settled into their living rooms for whatever the bright screen decides to feed their eyes. It’s my favorite time to walk. I crave that stillness and that heavy pace. Astral TV have created a soundtrack for the stillness. For the euphoric colors that bleed from the sky just before the universe shuts out the light. Travelling The Circuits is a score for that ethereal, otherworldly walk.
“Rewrite” opens like a message from beyond. It buzzes and blips like static emanating from some other dimension, which leads us to the exquisite “Terraforms”. It moves steadily along like an electronic pulse. Hypnotic and dense, “Terraforms” is easy to get lost in. “Xi’an” sounds like an awakening of some kind. There’s a Vangelis vibe here, but it runs deeper than just Blade Runner vibes. Guitar adds a nice touch to the already transcendent feel. “Post Future” sounds like Terry Riley giving into New Age enlightenment vibes. A theme for spatial awakenings.
The album is peppered with smaller pieces, like “Around The Corner”, “Next Wave”, “Observer”, and “Forest” that act as doorways into the longer pieces. The longest track here is “Different Dreams”, an epic piece that runs 8 1/2 minutes in length and acts as a centerpiece of sorts to the record. It shows Astral TV at their most expansive and thoughtful. It’s an absolutely gorgeous track. One of my favorites is the gorgeous, buzzing beauty that is “Late Arrival”. This track extends itself from the Komische and Berlin School vibes into new age territory. It’s meditative beauty and droning calm makes it the perfect moment of musical transcendence.
Chrystal Shores was one of my favorite albums of 2017, and I honestly wondered how Astral TV could top that record. I needn’t wonder anymore, because Travelling The Circuits answered that question. The duo of Rasmus Rasmussen and Keith Canisius explore the far reaches of electronic composition and improvisation with immense results. Travelling The Circuits is a future classic, and is a new take on the old school.
8.8 out of 10
Travelling The Circuits is out today, 9/6. Grab a copy at El Paraiso Records. Vinyl limited to 300.