Almost exactly a year on from Loose Lips’ label feature, The Astral Plane graces us with the second of their New Year compilations. Not shy of epic, the comp highlights exactly what the platform is about. Every track has a unique poignancy that impinges both body and mind. Excelling in mind-bending sound design, intelligently-crafted collages and exalting Astral Plane’s unconventionality, this comp puts a spotlight on the emergence of the globally rising deconstructed-club-music scene.
Starting out in 2012 as a blog for forward thinking dance music, The Astral Plane now comprises of a record label, a mix series and a monthly NTS show. The platform’s work is codified amongst a tight-knit group of devoted, ‘idiosyncratic’ artists. Their collective vision aims at opposing convention, exclusivity and elitism in club-music culture at large, all with a “distinct outsider sensibility”.
This nonconforming sensibility is captured in the wild moods and production techniques throughout the comp, with the tracks either experimenting with down-tempo haziness, or buzzing with dramatic energizing bass. The mellower mood is brought with tracks like Lak’s ‘Midnight Blu’, loaded with dainty percussion and immersed with clouded, vapory vocals. M.D. James also gets sensitive with his totally introspective ‘Swan’. The dichotomy of dense ambient chords cut with clanging percussion on this seems to capture the very subtle fidgeting and relentless restlessness that every mind wrestles with.
On the other side of the spectrum, Amazondotcom’s offers up a raw, spaced-out bass track that merges industrial groans and nimble percussion with fiery hip-hop lyrics. Her sound is continually morphing, grappling with deeper and more asymmetric experimentation, yet her output always retains an emotional quality that gets hearts fluttering and guts churning. Then more frenzy comes from The Astral Plane’s mainstays - Chant with a distorted poly-rhythmic throat cutter, and again with Shalt’s edit of Air Max '97’s jumpy ‘Hounded Molo’.
The release then gets truly peculiar with LOFT’s hyperactive, dystopian sci-fi journey, ‘Shouldn Wouldn Couldn Leavv’. Through this sonic escapade, we encounter the energetic charges, cybernetic malfunctions and spontaneous transformations of some alien droid. It undoubtedly points towards the uncertainties and scary realities we face at the dawn of the hyper-technological age. Ending with lullaby-esque tunes, what makes this track so startling is the space and stillness from which each sonic element arises and returns to.
Together the artists deliver everything from soothing harmonics to lurching, psychedelic bass; twisty cinematic string pieces to then sentimental, yet gut-churning noise music. The boundary-pushing gravitas this music holds gives a sense of the confusion, turmoil, detachment and sheer oddity that younger generations experience globally as we navigate ourselves waywardly through a world that struggles to keep up with its own changes. The message the comp brings forth is one likening to, 'out of destruction lies the dawn of creation'.
On the 2nd March, we (Loose Lips) will be hosting the first ever Astral Plane label showcase in London at The Bussey Building, Peckham. Label boss Gabe Meier will be flying over from LA to be joined by E.M.MA, Shalt & Loft. Keep your eyes and ears peeled...
Released January 9, 2018