Sunday, July 22, 2018
Astronomique - Sharp Divide (2018)
Written by Larry Robertson, posted by blog admin
Astronomique’s journey to musical prominence takes another major leap into the future with the release of their first full length collection Sharp Divide. The ten song outing builds on the band’s previous EP efforts and illustrates the full breadth of their creative vision while still pointing the way towards a boundless future. Led by lead vocalist Logan Andra Fongemie and guitarist Sean Hogan, the four piece also benefits enormously from the contributions of drummer Mitch Billings and bass player Preston Saari. Their heft and swing as a rhythm section is produced for maximum effect and provides a muscular center for each performance without threatening to dominate the mix. This Minneapolis based band fuses a number of styles together on Sharp Divide and the ultimate effect of the release widens the gulf between their work and similarly themed bands working on the indie scene or elsewhere.
“Forefathers” begins Sharp Divide with an excellent example of the steady pulse provided by Saari and Billings. It has a speaker rattling touch without ever being too heavy handed and the production virtues round it into a warm, fat heartbeat for this song and others to come. Fongemie’s synthesizer playing blends well with Hogan’s guitar and they often work in concert akin to the manner we hear between progressive guitarists and their keyboard playing band mates. There’s an appealing Euro pop vibe to the track “Side of Your Mind” with a strong danceable beat and jangling Hogan guitar flashing throughout. Fongemie’s vocal is surrounded with considerable echo and seems slightly submerged in the mix, but the overall quality of her performance remains unaffected. It’s one of the album’s most evocative numbers and never overplays its ambitions.
“Losing Our Control” is built around its electronica sheen and has a steady stride once the full band kicks in. The consistent push of this song makes it one of the album’s more meaningful numbers while still relying on the same atmospheric calling cards we’ve heard with Sharp Divide’s first two songs. The album’s title song will impress many as the finest song on the release thanks to its fully conceived slant, both lyrically and musically, but Mitch Billings’ striding drums strike just the right pacing for the performance. Fongemie’s vocal is among her finest outings on the album and she wisely reserves an effort of this quality for the album’s title cut.
A recurrent swell of Fongemie’s synthesizers opens “Unspoken” and, when the song begins in full, Billings sets a definite tone with the brief gallop in his drumming. It’s impressive how the band maintains such a steady, nuanced pace throughout the track and Hogan’s lattice like guitar work hits an individual peak with his playing here. “Bleed Me” is a much darker tune, both lyrically and sonically, without ever deviating from Astronomique’s core sound and the album’s finale “Heading Nowhere” powerfully encapsulates the album’s primary themes in a parting tune every bit as compelling as its best predecessors. Sharp Divide is one of the year’s more creative musical efforts and opens the door to a boundless future for this Minneapolis band.
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