The annals of post rock will look kindly on the somber parts of the genre. In the past few years, they’ve been some of the most prolific, drawing on the once-not-obvious proximity between post rock and post metal. These bands, like If These Trees Could Talk or Outrun the Sunlight, create an atmosphere that is darker in its shadings than the post rock of the mid 2000’s, relying on booming drums and thick bass to garnish their delayed guitars. Into this context burst Astralia, a Barcelona based band with three albums to their name. Their most recent effort, released just a few days ago, sees them polish their style and cohesion. On Solstice, Astralia make a worthy addition to the realm of ponderous post rock and all the intonations one might expect from that label.
“Detachment”‘s measured build up is a great example of what Astralia do well. Through hints of wind instruments, synths and interesting drum patterns, they manage to turn what would otherwise be a slog, as is the case with many bands of the style, into something captivating. You know that the crescendo is coming and, indeed, when it comes almost a full six minutes after, you are pleased with the result, but the buildup is just as rewarding. The crescendo itself shows a large measure of restraint; it’s not that the buildup just stops and the crash comes after. There’s a decidedly subtle quickening of the rhythm and increase in the presence of guitars, which quickly falls into the the almost drone outro.
The album is filled with clever moments like these, of denial and a bait and switch instead of the simple payoff most bands of the style opt for. This shows a level of musicianship that is often sorely lacking within this sub-genre and its range of ideas. Coupled with the fact that the band’s previous releases showed less of this maturity, Solstice is an impressive example of how musicians should always strive to grow and exceed themselves. Oh, and the band are also distributed by our friends at A Thousand Arms. Go and give them a listen and perhaps some of your money.