I panicked when I saw the release date for this album which I’d intended to review before release – April 28th! Oh, wait… 2017. So I’m reviewing Fade In // Space Out on its anniversary which is equally as good.
Astrosaur hail from Norway and are an instrumental prog rock/metal act featuring just drums, bass and a single guitar. But believe me – this is enough to create a wonderful melodious racket. The “songs” were designed to be performed as a single piece of live music, and as such the album was recorded live in the studio. That is, the band all sat there and played together with the whole thing recorded and prepared for delivery to your ears. No multiple takes for the guitar on Monday while the bass player popped by on Thursday to lay down his tracks. Oh, no, not for Astrosaur.
There are five tracks on here with a total run length of around 45 minutes. This isn’t, obviously, an album you sing along to or pick out a track to rock to for four minutes. This is something you soak in, wrap around yourself and allow to conjure images. What Fade In // Space Out needs is a novel to go with it, telling the story of the music.
Opener “Necronauts” alone has enough variety for most albums. Although there are places where vocals would work (I’m thinking Ghost Bath style screams towards the final third), they’re not missed and the ideas the group have come up with are wonderful. Each part of the tune blends nicely with the next and the 6-and-a-half minute running length flies by.
The closing sustained guitar note bleeds through into “Space Mountain” and you can hear how the songs would link together in the live setting. With overall a more up-tempo feel, this one seems to fly by a little quicker than “Necronauts” and also sounds a bit more “proggy” with swooshy guitar effects. “Yugen” managed to be both spacey and funky, while fishing for Kraken is heavy enough to help envision the huge seabound creature itself. The huge, ponderous bass notes paired with the zippy guitars make me picture little speedboats whizzing around while the crew try to spear the behemoth.
The final (and title) track is the lengthy one, hitting thirteen plus minutes. The first half or so is very much the calm before a very heavy storm, taking a long time to build before a beat heavier than Priest’s “Monster of Rock” assails the senses.
While not the kind of album I’d usually go for, I was pleasantly surprised by Fade In // Space Out and would definitely recommend it to fans of the instrumental and prog styles. In fact, if you just want something pretty heavy to put on while you’re doing something else, it’s a great piece of music.
Header image by Donna Zed