Photo: Nathanial Schmidt
Milwaukee-based psych-rock/prog-rock outfit Astral Hand drops their debut album, Lords of Data, produced by Shane Hochstettler, via Romanus Records.
Made up of Al Kraemer, Victor Buell, Anthony Smith, and Dan Dahl, Astral Hand’s sound fuses synth-driven melodies, fuzzy guitars, and walloping percussion with lyrical themes musing on interstellar deities and the cosmic void.
Encompassing eight tracks, Lords of Data begins with “Not Alone,” opening on chiming tones atop thick, deep emerging surfaces flowing into heavy layers of viscous guitars riding a massive, measured rhythm, rumbling with hints of sludge. Spectral vocals imbue the lyrics with portentous, dreamy timbres.
Entry points include “Contact,” which rolls out on dark, resonant coloration tinted with suggestions of new wave aromas. Platinum guitars deliver shimmering jangles as the tight, thumping rhythm gives the tune an angular cadence.
Low, piercing guitars infuse the intro of “Psychedelicide” with edgy textures. Tight, rasping vocals give the lyrics eerie flavors, at once haunting and brooding with ominous essence. As the tempo shifts, accelerating, the tune takes on brawny, pushing energy, adding intense, sonic concentrations.
Perhaps the best track on the album, “Navigator” opens on raw, industrial-like drums, segueing to dense washes of thrumming guitars, injecting the harmonics with subterranean, lysergic waves of resounding atmospheres. Chant-like vocals imbue the lyrics with mysterious tones, simultaneously sinister and searching.
The final track, “God Emperor,” features gleaming guitars traveling on cavernously throbbing percussion, slow and full of circular shadows. An oscillating interlude suffuses the tune with urgent, intertwining layers of guitars, and then ramps up to a galloping rhythm as strident, cutting vocals give the lyrics insistent coloration.
Vaguely reminiscent of Tool, only more forbidding and disquieting, Astral Hand has put together an excellent album surging with intoxicating dynamism and transcendent elements.
Chockfull of glowering, muzzy guitars, and delicious, potent percussion, Lords of Data hums with murky surfaces of psychedelic mass.
Lords of Data will be available on vinyl on March 18, from Romanus Records.