Personnel: Conor Riley (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, electric piano, organ, Mellotron); Brian Ellis (electric guitar, Moog synthesizer); David Hurley (flute, drums, percussion); Stuart Sclater (bass guitar).
Recording information: Astra's Black Widow Studio (2008).
Illustrator: Arik Roper.
During the late '90s, it seemed like prog rock had finally achieved extinction. But fast forward ten years later and the genre was thriving once more - as evidenced by the arrival of such groups as Astra and their 2009 full-length debut, THE WEIRDING (which includes some very Roger Dean-inspired cover artwork). Hailing from an area not exactly known for spawning prog goliaths (San Diego), THE WEIRDING is not all about fingers flyin' on the fretboard, however, as the group touches upon the spacy sounds of early Pink Floyd and King Crimson on the title track. And this same approach carries over throughout the entire album, as evidenced by such ditties as "Silent Sleep" and "Ouroboros," both of which follow the prog prerequisite of songs that stretch over ten minutes in length (and in this case, over 15 minutes). Unlike many other modern-day prog rock revivalists, Astra recalls a day when the genre was more about creating sweeping mood shifts than mere mind-numbing instrumental acrobatics.
Record Collector (magazine) (p.78) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Hailing from San Francisco, they make a fine fist of summoning forth the swirling, magisterial portent so essential to the genre."
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