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Album Review: Solstice by Astralia

Spanish post-rock act Astralia released their third album, Solstice, on 22nd April via Aloud Music (Worldwide) and A Thousand Arms (North America). If, like us, you’re a new comer to Astralia let us fill in some blanks… Astralia was born in La Floresta in November 2010, from the union of three music coming from different styles but with the common idea of creating songs with new sounds, new atmospheres, new textures, often developed from a few notes. Playing with instruments, they create organic ambients where harmonic sensation coexist. Creations that inspired by nature and, as well as it does, ask for time and pauses. It’s a space trip, influenced by the most ambient post-rock that goes under your skin and it’s impossible to forget.

Astralia self-produced and self-released their first self-titled album, between November 2011 and February 2012. Two years later, after a positive reception amongst public and media / independent blogs, they released their new work, Atlas (May 2014, self-produced and self-released), together with a presentation tour in Portugal and North of Spain in Summer 2014. By then, they crossed paths with Aloud Music to re-release Atlas in vinyl, 3 different editions, one of them shared with the Belgian label Dunk! Records.

With that considered, it’s obvious that Solstice is the result of seven years’ hard work. There’s the feeling that this is the sound of a band coming of age and fully realising all their potential. After a brief reconnaissance mission of their previous material you can see why others consider this the band’s best material, the song writing has been honed, it’s tighter and the structure points towards a better understanding and knowledge of how to create that epic post-rock atmosphere.

It should be noted that this falls strictly within the more ambient side of post-rock. More Explosions In The Sky than the math tinged And So I Watch You From Afar and should be treated accordingly. Listen to it as an album, let it soak in, let yourself get lost in it. It’s a sprawling, gradual affair – there’s plenty of big post-rock crescendos, but they’re used sparingly and thus have more of an impact when utilised. Take ‘Out of Nothing’ as an example, ambient and quite minimal for the most part, you’ll find the riffs and crescendos that little bit more impactful when they come into play.

Conversely, there are tracks that simply revel in post-rock ambience. In fact, much of the album goes for the ambient feel rather than relying on riff heavy crescendos. For the most part it works wonderfully with full and vibrant landscapes being conjured in the mind’s eye. There’s niggling thought that there could be a minute or two shaved off a couple of tracks and sometimes the emotion the band go for just misses the mark. Overall though, it doesn’t detract from what is a strong and inspiring album.

AD Rating 7/10

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