(Taking a short break from my series on FSOL, but it will return in a post or two at the most)
Released 2006 (originally 1990 on Fungus Records)
I haven’t dabbled much in the realm of Astralasia. I own their first album and a random single, but so far that is it. I was poking around in the record shop a few years back and I saw this release sitting on the shelf, it’s contrasting colored cover gleaming at me. I was curious and I really was drawn in by their artwork, much like how I was with their first album. I bought it, spun it once for myself and once for my brother, who scoffed and said it was crap. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at the time, and left it to sit for a couple of years before tonight.
Upon giving this a third spin, I realized the first track sounds very dated. I mean, can you really blame it? Some of these pieces were recorded in 1988-89, there will be some dated sounds in here for sure. Kim Oz is on vocals on a few tracks before her days in the Magic Mushroom band with former Astralasia band mates, Gary “Moonboot” Masters and Ed Bones. Her styles aren’t bad, but they do tend to make the songs she appears in sound… well, old for trance. And no, that is not a bad thing either, considering it sounds advanced for something recorded in 1988.
Once you get past the few corny tracks, there are some nice gems here. Of course, I found those to be the last three tracks on the album. “Sexsquat” sounds like a porno set to trance with jam guitar bits, but it is kind of a relaxing, well balanced tune. “Set Me Free” is probably the true trance track here; it was layered nicely but not overly so, it progressed at a fair pace and droned on nicely as a decent trance tune ought to—all fairness given to the fact that this paved the way for some of the trance genre staples.
The closing track, “Astralasia Pt 2” is more ambient than anything else. I found this a nice surprise given the pace of the rest of the album. it is as if the band has provided us with a chill out tune to cool us off. This trend continued on their first album, “Politics of Ecstasy,” which originally came out a year after this release. This track flutters with echoed orchestral samples and some chimes before some swooshes and other odd sounds layer themselves in. A ship of some sort takes off at the end of the tune and closes the album.
Despite the length of some of these tracks, this is a very short album, hence why officially, this is slated as an EP. This record contains a few tracks originally released solely on cassette from the band (anyone out there have a copy of this?) while a few pieces are originals, unique to this format. “Astralasia” was originally released in 1990 on vinyl (limited to 500 copies) and another batch on CD (again, 500 copies), and according to the liner notes, sounded bad due to misspressings. This version has been remastered and it sounds very nice.
Should you buy this? If you’re a fan of the band and/or a completest, maybe you should pick it up. Though, it isn’t like you’re missing much, especially if you are the type to avoid older cheesy material. I do not feel that this is cheesy (not entirely), but others might, especially concerning the first half of this CD. And again, this is not a very long CD and I feel that the $16 I paid for it was too much. However, it is better than paying $30 or more for an original. A good album, yes, but not an essential must-have.
3 out of 5.