Helmet Room Recordings, 2006

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The music of Astrophagus carries influences ranging from Radiohead to Doves. On Casualite, you will hear dense layers of synthesizers with kooky electronic beats on one track, guitar-enslaved jaggedness on the next one, and the best of both of these styles on another.

But no matter what direction the music takes, there is always an element of passion that runs through this music, and a degree of intensity that does not come across as too overbearing. This is probably the most integral part of the group’s music, more so than its multifariousness.

Listen to “Innocuous Dance Track” and you’ll understand the band’s unpredictability. This dance number is more deceptive than innocuous. It kicks off with spaced-out Prodigy-like fuzzy sonics and then changes vibe, when instead of the ensuing beats and keyboard sounds, the drums and guitars kick in and the song takes a wild spin into the realm of psychedelic rock, with swirling riffs and a bass line to die for.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Or take “Square Parts Of Houses,” which is in the same vein as the aforesaid dance track that claims to be innocuous. In fact this one starts out even more promisingly, with some chunky beats (probably stolen from Radiohead’s Kid A/Amnesiac sessions), getting more and more pleasing with some nice strokes of guitar, until it gets trashed by rage and some mean garage-esque guitars, and a rabid singer, and there is nothing pleasant about it anymore.

The two brilliantly ambient electro-prog instrumentals “Never Happen” and “Use Care When Using,” take no such nasty turn, and stick to one formula throughout, hiding no surprises within their armor. Another track of the same nature is “The Risk Of Birth Defects.” But this one is way more organic than the other two cuts. Also, more than being just trippy and ambient, it has a great acoustic tune playing harmoniously with the syncopated rhythm from the brilliantly orchestrated drum programming, and has the most structure of all three instrumentals.

The best parts on Casualite are the plain old rock songs, driven by nothing more than a beautiful tune and a whole lot of simplicity. Like the opening cut “ATM,” which is simply a combination of a beautiful piano tune, honest vocals, and what seems like a very folksy accordion playing in the background. A bit more intense and way brilliant is “Riverside,” which is probably the best cut on Casualite. This one has a similar recipe with merely a beautiful piano tune supporting the strongest aspect of the song, the vocals, which possess a sense of restlessness that’s heartfelt.

The unpredictability and variety aren’t the only things that are inviting about Casualite. It is also Astrophagus’ craftsmanship in creating elaborate images as well as humble ones within the tightness of its song structures. Astrophagus is just another indie band that’s not your just another ordinary indie band.

Rating: B

User Rating: A



© 2007 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Helmet Room Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.