The Astroboy – The Chromium Fence
With a name like The Astroboy you can expect either a very funky haircut (while shooting rockets out of your ass) or a very spacey sound. It seems it’s more of the latter on The Chromium Fence, the new album by The Astroboy, filled to the brim with droning, atmospheric ambient pieces.
Through 8 different stages of this musical rocketship, we get different ambient works full of iterative notes, swelling volumes and sweeping arpeggios. The otherwordly atmosphere is more like that thousand yard stare you get when you’re just looking at the sky with not a passing thought in your head than anything else.
‘Coordination sphere’ and ‘The voight score’ are a good pairing for an album opener, the first sounding like the first steps from the flight control centre towards the rocket and the latter being the moment the rocket is about to take off. Weightlessness comes breezy and the expansive blackness of space gives you a moment to reflect how small is the human race when watched from space. It’s only a tiny blue lightbulb in a lonely room (‘Glow’).
But all is not well: there might be some malfunctions that hinder the mission’s progress (‘Radioisotopes’) and the spaceship must pull to the nearest space station for some R & R and a good repair. While wandering through the space station, our hero (yeah, I just called him one) walks through empty corridors, with the lights flickering and lost transmissions raising red flags (‘Cliffs’). The name of the game is horror. Quietness. The eerie volume swells come back, completely engulfing the room until the silence takes over.
Visions of what happened in the station come through delirious, feverish dreams. ‘Electric Sheep’ blinks on the screen three times, while a synth emulating Jean Michel Jarre serves as the soundtrack for this revelation. It is time for a final confrontation. The evil that lurked in the darkness finally reveals itself with great fanfare (‘The Chromium Fence’). It’s this beast the one that deafens the foolhardy with its ungodly sounds. It’s this aberration from the Outer Planes which tries to take over the dreams of the explorer and the brave. But it has finally met its match. The astronaut that wandered through the station like another possible victim is well prepared to confront this monster. It’s banished to the dimension it came from and all that remains now is a still quietness with a slowly fading sound.
Our hero flies back to Earth and everything seems fine. The sun is shining, the trees are green and an optimistic piano leads the way to happiness. He soon realises that it was a false moment of peace, as all the people in the flight centre walk in a shambolic way, their eyes glowing red, their hands pointing to our hero. Is he doomed? Or does he has an ace under his sleeve? He grins to the camera and the scene cuts to black. Cue the theme tune (‘The Voight Score (papercutz remix)’ and the title of the sequel.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/21938384 ]
(The author would like to mention that this post comes courtesy of the ideas you get from reading the Midwich Cuckoos after watching Solyaris).