Astor
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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