Monday, July 23, 2018

Astronomique - Sharp Divide (2018)



Written by Craig Bowles, posted by blog admin

Astronomique’s Sharp Divide begins well with the confident stride fueling “Forefathers” and they come across with an authoritative edge one doesn’t often hear from similarly themed outfits. Bassist Preston Saari and drummer Mitch Billings lay down an impressive groove, but it’s guitarist Sean Hogan and synthesizer player/vocalist Logan Andra Fongemie who deserves fulsome plaudits for their kinetic, focused contributions to the song. Sharp Divide is consistent in many respects, but the hallmark consistency of the collection rests with how it treats Fongemie’s voice – echo effects give a sort of haunted quality to her otherwise ethereal vocal talents and Hogan’s often chiming guitar lines act as a memorable counterpoint. “Losing Our Control” raises the bar thanks to its seamless mix of a number of elements and, despite its mid-tempo pace; we hear every bit of the same confidence bubbling to the surface of the mix that defined the earlier tune.

The Minneapolis band goes one better with the album’s title song. These songs are, customarily, a key track on any release, presumably encapsulating the strongest musical and lyrical themes of the release, and “Sharp Divide” isn’t any disappointment. Saari and Billings are, once again, key to bringing the song off, but Hogan’s guitar playing has added edge with this performance that sets it apart from the surrounding tunes. “Unspoken” highlights Fongemie’s keyboard playing without ever making her the sole focus and, when the full band launches into the song, Astronomique once again successfully integrate her playing into the larger whole of the arrangement. “Bleed Me: is another of the album’s top shelf tracks and, despite the intensity of its imagery and how emphatically Fongemie conveys the writing, there’s a good balance between the darker mood struck by the lyrics and the entertaining musical arrangement.

“Hardly Deliberate” has a different percussive template than we’re accustomed to hearing from Astronomique while still adhering to business as usual in other respects. Billings’ drumming, however, keys everything and we can hear how it inspires the remaining band members to reach even higher. There’s a slightly chaotic, dissonant edge to the song without ever removing it too far from the band’s style. The last number on Sharp Divide, “Heading Nowhere”, brings the release to a downcast ending, but their talented for sweetening otherwise despairing musical messages remains intact with this final number and mitigates any darkness creeping in around the edges. Astronomique’s Sharp Divide swiftly establishes the four piece as one of the most creative and idiosyncratic acts working in popular music today and this ten song collection will surely propel them to a new level of renown.

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Astronomique - Sharp Divide (2018)

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