Artist: Astral Bazaar
Album: A Sudden Realization
Label: Inverse Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
The band hail from Helsinki, Finland and formed several years ago. The A Sudden Realization follows their 2018 release Pictures Unrelated. The band is Ville Manninen (vocals and percussion), Lauri Loikkanen (guitar and vocals), Pekka Lehtelä (guitar), Mikael Laaksonen (saxophone, guitar and vocals), Jukka Sainio (bass) and Eetu Peltoluhta (drums). The album was produced by Lauri Loikkanen and mastered by Jarno Alho. The trippy cover art is courtesy of Jasmin Kemppinen.
The band play a blend of psychedelic/prog/art rock and throw in a bunch of jazz influences and Middle Eastern elements. They state that their sound is influenced by various modern psychedelic rock artists such as Tame Impala, Pond and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. This statement rings true, as all these bands and a number of others can be heard in the overall sound of A Sudden Realization. There are also a number of throwbacks to 60s and 70s psychedelic and prog rock present. Having said that, there are a lot of unique elements that the band bring to the table, making this a distinctive and standout release. You’ll hear plenty of captivating Middle Eastern influences in the mix, something that has become more and more prevalent in psychedelic music as of late. They play a key role in the music’s overall aesthetic and are definitely one of the most enjoyable elements of the band’s sound. You will also find some fantastic segments of saxophone mixed in throughout the album that add to its jazzy feeling.
The vocal harmonies on the release have to be one of my favourite elements. The vocals are already psyched out and atmospheric enough thanks to the echoed, layered and faded effects applied to them throughout the album, but when those harmonies come in, it takes things to another level. When you pair this with the progressive and meandering, jam style guitar work it really starts to form a full and immersive sound, even without any of the other elements. You’ll hear definite prog rock influences (both classic and modern) in the mix, particularly in the realm of the guitar, bass and drum work. On the topic of bass, there is plenty of it and it plays two distinct roles, both of which are thick and audible. The fist is atmospheric work, padding out the more groovy/funky parts on the album and adding depth of sound. The second is the more technical, proggy bass work that comes into play in the more upbeat and experimental parts of the release.
Drum wise you will find quite a bit of variety, but for the most part it shifts back and forth between chilled psychedelic work and more complex prog rock parts. Then as mentioned we have the saxophone which personally, I cannot get enough of. I must always give props to bands that incorporate the instrument into their music. It has such a smoothness and power to it that it elevates any song when implemented properly. Finally, you have the other instrumental elements on the album. You’ll find non-traditional percussion, shakers and a number of Middle Eastern instruments throughout the release, which make things that much more interesting.
Overall, this is a fantastic release and one that I truly enjoyed. Over the past year or two I’ve really come to love heavy psych and psychedelic rock music and this album is yet another example of why. There’s just so much freedom in the freeform jam style structure of the music and the level of atmosphere it creates is truly captivating and immersive. There is just something free about the music that carries across to the listener. So, enjoy some freedom yourself today and give the album a spin or two.
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