Astronomica – of1000faces (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The great thing about musicians, the ones who you need most in your life at least, is that you can’t second guess them. We all know people in bands, usually local bands and generally destined to reach their peak playing the Kebab and Calculator’s Monday Night Battle of The Bands in the heart of Newport Pagnell, who regard themselves as a rock drummer or and indie guitarist, who define what they are rather than what they might be. Genres are the mind-killers…to paraphrase Paul Atreides himself now that Dune is all the rage. Yet again!

The ones who truly get it are the ones who at most consider themselves makers of music, who keep their minds open and their eye on the future, and Matt Walker, the man behind of1000faces is certainly that. Although perhaps better known for residing over drum duties for everyone from Morrissey to Smashing Pumpkins, Filter to Garbage, when not drumming up pop and rock storms he uses this alter ego to create lucid, lush soundscapes and ambient worlds.

And the reference to Frank Herbert’s Dune is quite apt for the songs found on Astronomica seem to be the sound of the shifting sands of Arrakis themselves. Mood replaces melody, atmospheres seem more evident than arrangement, supple and subtle sonics are the order of the day.  The title track gave us a taste of this and using that as a centre piece he sends out sonic ripples across the surface of this intoxicating landscape.

Origami Ocean is built of shimmering reflections of music and liquid pulses of sound, Trees Sway Metallic is a swell of chiming percussion and drifting acoustic haze and Laos sits somewhere between the otherworldly and the oriental, via echoes of afro-beat allusions. Or perhaps merely illusions.

It’s a gorgeous album, one which, as I mentioned before, sounds like a sound track looking for its own movie. This could be the start of a new modus operandi, one where soundtracks are written first and then directors have to write a story to fit. If that were ever the case I would be the first in the queue to watch the visuals to accompany this glorious score.

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