Advance Review and Artist Spotlight - Astralingua: Safe Passage
(Photo Credit: Lisa Siciliano)
Safe Passage Advance Review
There is something almost classical about Astralingua's sound, perhaps it's their use of strings on "Plunge" the lead track of their new album Safe Passage, or the delicate backing they provide in the almost ethereal "Visitor". This nod to the classical is only one part of Astralingua's complex sound. While they have classical tendencies, they also have a sound that is heavily influenced by folk. The use of acoustics and delicate harmonization in tracks like "Sweet Dreams" reminds of acts like Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, or Fleet Foxes. At times, Astralingua's sound can veer toward the psychedelic or the surreal with instrumental tracks like "The Nimble Men" and "Phantoms" that evoke memories of Pink Floyd's more grandiose offerings. They masterfully fuse their folk and psychedelic roots with tracks like "Space Blues". With their track "NSA" Astralingua emphasize vocals as the highlight, while still mixing folk, classical and, psychedelic stylings. The ending result is a five minute track that feels almost like an opera in it's musical movements, it's well done. With "A Poison Tree" Astralingua gives us their most traditionally formatted track of the album thus far. It again evokes comps to the aforementioned groups. With this track Astralingua go less psychedelic and air more toward the folk and classical. In "The Troubled Road" the group again blends psychedelia with folk.
Astralingua's Safe Passage is a collection of understated songs that meticulously blend folk, classical, with a dash of psychedelia. If you're looking for a banger, you're not going to find it here. However, if you can appreciate subtly and how delicate technique can produce moving, brooding, and emotional music then you're going to like what you hear from Astralingua.
Safe Passage can be pre-ordered here!
Advance Review - Astralingua: Safe Passage
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"When I was 11 years old, I found myself alone at my grandfather's house. Looking for something to do, I wandered into the back den where there was an old upright grand piano that was horribly out of tune and likely hadn't been played in years. I sat down on the stool, opened the lid, and though I had never had a piano lesson in my life, stuck my fingers on the keys and began playing. At first, a lot of it was just noise and exploration, but over maybe a half hour, I wrote a short sonata-type piece. Up to that point nothing had, and since that day nothing has, given me greater joy. I've continued composing music ever since, but it wasn't until my freshman year in college that I realized that it must be my life's work and made it my first priority."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Sometimes I do hear a motif in my head out of the blue, but most things usually begin with experimentation on the guitar or piano. There's no intention at all, just fiddling around, trying out ideas, concepts, chord shapes. If I stumble upon something that's interesting, that seems to want to be developed further, I work on it backwards and forwards. A song structure slowly emerges, as does the basic melody and harmony. For me, musical works have a beginning, middle, and end, and seek balance, like an equation.
When the basic structure, changes, and melody are done, if I haven't already finished the lyrics, I focus solely on them. Things you say can propel the song in a different direction, so it's important that they are clarified before proceeding further. Everything else in the work is an afterthought. There are some musical lines here or there that I hear in my head in those initial stages, which are later assigned to a particular instrument, but all in all, they come afterwards. After the basics are done, I start considering the other instrumentation. It's then about showing and developing the inherent music already within the structure. How do I reveal the beauty or power of these chord changes or this turn-around? How do I build the right ambiance and with what timbres? That's really when things move from songwriting to composition."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Alice in Chains
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I've got this old, beat-up Martin DX1 acoustic that I've dragged around the world with me. It's got the 'composite' wood back and sides and doesn't sound all that exciting, but it was cheap and has made a good travel guitar. The top board has split a few times, drunken people have fallen onto it and punctured the back, its fallen off of chicken buses in Latin America, and still the neck (strata bond) plays great. I took it to the Amazon once where the humidity was some insane 200%, and the neck curled up quite a bit. Since it was unplayable, I left it in its soft case, and banged it around on boat rides, bus rides, 2 airplane rides, a shuttle, and a taxi before I got it home and took it out to dry. After two weeks, I picked it up and without having touched the tuners since months before, when I left, it was still almost perfectly in tune."
"It's not great for recording or performance, but because we travel so much, and this guitar goes where I dare not bring a nicer one, most of my music has been written on it. We're bonded."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"Our music is slow, contemplative, evocative and moody. The idea is to take you out of your reality, to somewhere you haven't been before or to a feeling that may be long forgotten or hidden within. It's not a big jammy carouse of drinking merriment where you experience a club party with the band. Instead, it's our hope that for at least a short time, you forget your surroundings and find an escape through what we are playing. It's for dreamers, stoners, explorers, disenchanteds, etc. We like venues that have good sound and an audience that is there for music more than socializing. It's great to meet fans old and new and chat with good folk."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"It's absolutely pure. It comes from the heart, mind, and experience. It's not always the most marketable music, it doesn't appeal to the lowest common denominator, but it was written to communicate some aspect of the human experience - my experience - and if you give it a chance, you really might connect with it and go somewhere you perhaps didn't know existed. Then, we become one."
7. Do you have any upcoming projects, shows, etc you would like fans to know about?
"Our new album Safe Passage releases on March 8th. We hope to do a spring/summer tour and possibly get over to the Europe. We also have the next album written and plan to begin production later in the year."