A Forgotten Astralwerks CD

(Sorry if the picture is tiny…)

Artist: Aqua rhythms

Title: Greetings from Deepest America

Label: Astralwerks

Released: 1997

Format: CD

Genre: House, techno, acid house

Astralwerks had a nice batch of releases back in its early days.  Originally starting out as a label that focused chiefly on ambient music, it quickly expanded to carry techno, house, trance, hip hop and indie music, becoming one of the most diverse labels to grace the states.  Early signees to the label included such famous folks as Fatboy Slim, the Future Sound of London, The Chemical Brothers, Air and Cassius, while on the more elusive side, you had Soul Oddity, Photek, Source Direct, and Aquarhythms.

I got into the label at the young age of twelve when “Praise You” was the biggest techno hit in America.  I grabbed that album and soon found myself scoping out the other artists on the Astralwerks webpage.  I remember writing a wish list of the albums I wanted from the label and slowly, over the years, worked on crossing them off and adding them to my collection.

This album was one I happened to find at FYE of all places, being offered up for about three bucks.  I bought it, played it once and wasn’t sure what to make of it.  From that day on, it sat in my record collection and hasn’t been spun a second time.  I guess that tends to happen a lot to albums  I just didn’t quite “get” when I bought them.  I tend to pick them up some time later, sometimes years later, and give them another try.  Usually this does the trick.

So here is a project that didn’t really produce a lot of releases.  There were several vinyl singles, chuck full of remixes and one early album that I can’t really seem to find at all.  And in 1997, we get the second album, which is really more of a collection of some remixes off the singles and a few original cuts.  Not that that is a bad thing, as the flow between tracks is solid and easy, unlike some remix and B-side compilations out there. 

I was never one to get too involved with house or the techno dance music.  I felt it was either too repetitive or it lacked in substance, or rather, was just good for the occasional road trip to keep me awake.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of giving dance music a serious listen but honestly, this album does make me pause and take notice.  The remixes are surprisingly good and fresh, particularly the Rabbit in the Moon mix at the opening.  The music is surprisingly catchy and fun in its own way without getting too deep and not being too shallow.  This is a fair blend between house and techno, and rare is the moment I talk highly with praises for it.  The music isn’t too sophisticated or too simplistic either- perhaps it is fair to say the balance has been made perfectly.

Remixes by Carl Craig, Deep Dish and Morgan Geist also grace us with their presence, alongside a few original cuts.   And even though some of these tracks are a little redundant, they aren’t bad.  I can’t help tapping my foot or drumming with my fingers as it plays.  The beats are bouncy and at a decent and sane pace, the acid synth pads are catchy and the background pads and vocal samples are mixed with fine precision.  And yes, many folks may play this and find there isn’t much special here that hasn’t been presented elsewhere by other artists a thousand times over, and some folk may find that this is a fine piece of work.  I can see both sides.  Either way, I have to admit, I like this. 

Should you get this album?  If you’re a fan of the remixing artists, or perhaps a fan of Photek’s “Solaris” album, you might like this.  I guess this is not the most essential thing to own, but if you do find yourself aching for a copy, used version can be easily found online between $3 and $20.  This release was only pressed on CD, but if you feel compelled to find vinyl, you will have to pick up the singles, which could add up if you’re not careful.  However, there are some tracks on the singles that did not make it onto this album, so that’s a nice plus.  Also available is the “Reversion” 12” single which features mixes by Morgan Geist and Dubtribe Sound System.  “Bodyjazz Bodyfusion” was released on the Aquarhythms label and has numerous remixes that were not featured on the CD as well.

3.75 out of 5.

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About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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One Response to A Forgotten Astralwerks CD

  1. Pingback: Astralwerks Turns 20! | TUNING INTO THE OBSCURE

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