Eighteen months or so in the making, Dear Absentee Creator is the keenly awaited successor to the critically well-received debut album marking Astral Cloud Ashes out as one inescapably magnetic encounter. Released in 2016, Too Close to the Noise Floor was a collection of songs which intrigued as they pleasured, fascinated as they almost forcibly introduced an ear grabbing new artist to the British music scene. Now Dear Absentee Creator takes all the prowess and potential of its predecessor to the next level with eleven tracks which seduce the imagination and stir ears with their infectious adventures.
Astral Cloud Ashes is the solo project of Jersey hailing multi-instrumentalist Antony Walker who had already caught our ears and appetite as one half of also Channel Islands bred outfit Select All Delete Save As . Formed in 2016, the band swiftly sparked keen interest with the title track of that subsequent first album. The full bodied Too Close to the Noise Floor really stirred attention and praise with its release later that first year and a sound which lies somewhere between the embraces of indie rock, alt-pop, and math rock being self-tagged as Future-core. To be fair, enjoyably it is a proposition very difficult to pin down, familiar in some ways, boldly individual in a great many others, and as proven by the new encounter, always at ease captivating the senses.
Whereas Too Close to the Noise Floor saw backing vocalist Jason Neil a thick presence alongside, Dear Absentee Creator is all Walker with just a few guests in pianist/vocalist James Elliott Field (Tubelord, Tall Ships) on the album’s closing song and drummer Max Saidi on three others as well as Melle Brower (vocalist for Dutch metallers Illusionless) providing cymbals on Clockhand Reversal. Mastered as that earlier album by Tim Turan, Dear Absentee Creator references Satoshi Nakamoto in its title, the creator of the world’s first ever cryptocurrency in Bitcoin, whose true identity has never been known to anyone and has not been heard of since the final weeks of 2010.
It opens up with the melodic enticement of News Anchor Breaks Rank, a short mellow invitation with drama in its heart and touch as Walker’s ever resourceful vocal mix rises within a guitar nurtured weave. It is the opening breath to next up Moonphase Bloom, and outstanding track which helped spark anticipation for the album with its release as a single last year. A virulently infectious and lively slice of pop rock as tempting when it is a melodic smoulder or a rousing rocker, the track just draws ears into the sound and imagination of Walker like a magnet; its success as a single pure evidence.
Old Moods follows, it too a bouncy proposal with emotion lining every melody and word, adventure each twist and turn. Almost fiery in its eruptions and firmly mesmeric in its melancholic calms, the song is a skilfully woven clamour drawing on a host of pop and indie flavours with subtlety and open hunger before A Reformatted Heart goes off on its own catchy stroll wrapped in melodic intimation.
Already four tracks in and Dear Absentee Creator showed a feistier character and contagion of sound compared to its predecessor with the same calm elegance and lively imagination which helped the first album stand out. It has a roar to it which just incites attention even as in next up Ryukyu Kingdom Declares Independence, a song which ebbs and flows in intensity almost reflecting from a standstill at times as Walker croons throughout with a gentle touch.
Similarly Ironed Shirts bounces along with a mercurial gait, every move inviting a willing body to match its changeable energy, the imagination bound in its expectations escaping invention, while Dallas Knows the Reason just enthrals from its emotive harmonic gaze to its voracious rock explosions. The grumble of the bass is irresistible, the flames of guitar compelling as the track seduces, lulls into false safety, and preys on ears and thoughts with its tenacious sound around a tale of a gun-wielding girl from Texas.
The piano led, metronomic tease of the following Clock Hand Reversal is just as richly enticing, that clever bait opening up a tenacious shimmer of melody and harmony with a volatile underbelly which springs up again and again to add to the track’s captivation.
The fuzzy pop ‘n’ roll of Satoshi Nakamoto vs Unyielding Desire for BAU is a quick match in wrapping up ears and appetite in its creative tapestry, the melodic senses entangling of Gush just as charismatic and increasingly gripping before Kimobetsu Love brings the album to a fine conclusion. A song which blossomed over plays rather than making the immediate impact of some of its companions, it epitomises the imaginative and arresting not forgetting perpetually enticing sound of Astral Cloud Ashes.
It is increasingly impossible to compare the band’s sound to others such its growing uniqueness but imagine a pinch of House Of Love intimacy, a slither of Weezer infectiousness, and an infusion of XTC melodic imagination all blended together in a Tubelord fired mortar and you get an idea of the creative breath and pop rock fun of Astral Cloud Ashes.
Dear Absentee Creator is out now across major online stores and
Pete RingMaster 26/05/2018
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