Russian experimentalists I Am Above On The Left return with their third full length album Astro which is made up of ten untitled compositions that rely more on a complex myriad of sonic textures as opposed to typical song structures.
Now reduced to a trio, the band is comprised of Alexei Taroutz (guitars, vocals, percussion, bass), Artem Galkin (bass, vocals, guitar, percussion) and Pavel Eremeev (drums, devices, feedback). If this is your first exposure to I Am Above On The Left's intriguing brand of cinematic, instrumental rock then you better buckle yourself in tight because these ten avant-garde musical sketches aren't exactly what you'd call conventional sounding.
The band shifts gears effortlessly from the laid back post rock musings on the first track, to an all out densely layered wall of sound, replete with icy, dissonant, stabbing guitars on tracks three and four, while songs five and ten rely more on droning atmospherics to flush out the sound. In addition to possessing a radically diverse sonic palette the other main reason why Astro works so well comes down to just how effectively they tie it all together. Even though one gets the distinct feeling that with each new track the trio is effectively building things up only to take them apart again, you never lose that emotional connection of being fully engaged in a single, multi-textured and cohesive sounding musical journey.
I won't lie to you and pretend to say that Astro isn't without its 'challenging' moments. The above mentioned wall of sound the band employs at various different points throughout the course of Astro may grate on the nerves of some listeners, but I can assure you that those moments are relatively few and far between. The wonderful balance of diverse approaches, sounds and structures found throughout this album will ultimately more than make up for any so called difficult moments.