The Tsunami Sessions

By Andy Rantzen

Astor's debut, two years in the making, is the work of Rhode Island's Michele Doucet (music and production), and Alison Jane (occasional engineering). It's a burbling, off-kilter delight of subtle, oblique, little instrumentals. The shy but warped sense of humour recalls The Residents' instrumental work, but maybe there's a little bit of The Mothers of Invention in there too, and perhaps Polygon Window-era Richard James. Also, it could be that Doucet has some conservatorium training, such is the authority and complexity of some of the melodic and rhythmic progressions. The drums are a delight: like a cluster of pygmy percussionists, they dart in and out of the curious melodies, all miniscule bongos and fluttering rolls. Doucet is a master of the understated, semi-quantised groove. These playful, introspective and slightly tricky little tunes change their aspect when listened to at night, where they unexpectedly reveal a more serpentine, sensuous nature. Perhaps it's just the suggestive cover artwork, but I was put in mind of the colourful, cloudlike shapes of the Beatles' animated film Yellow Submarine, but with sharp, modernist lines.
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