B3Long Way Down
Vinyl LP | 2022 / UK – Original | New
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Birth evolved from Astra, whose two albums for Rise Above Records - 2009’s ‘The Weirding’ and 2012’s ‘The Black Chord’ - had already reinvented classic sonic textures and mind-melds in lucid and intoxicating style. Conor Reilly and Brian Ellis nonetheless found themselves seeking out new life and new civilisations. Initially this led to a collaboration with Psicomagia’s Trevor Mast and Paul Marrone, although later Marrone (while he does play on ‘Born’) was replaced by Thomas DiBenedetto (of Sacri Monte, Joy and Monarch) as sparks began to fly in earnest. The result has been a debut which combines a questing spirit with a dystopian take on the here and now. Musically, whilst traces can be discerned of the dark and magisterial King Crimson of ‘Red’ herein, as well as the yearning cadences of early Yes and the delirious contortions of Van Der Graaf Generator, a whole host of influences made their presence felt in these mournful cadences, joyful solo passages and kinetic freakouts, from '70s mainstays like Aphrodites Child, Premiata Formeria Marconi and Area to the primitive folk of Robbie Basho and the symphonic soundtrack work of Osanna. Yet far from the trappings of retro chic and fashion-aligned classicism, these five celestial serenades stake their claim in a different headspace to most other exponents of the form. Certainly, it’s true that many of the audial shapes manifesting themselves here - the exploratory jazz-rock diversions, Mellotron and Hammond-abetted textures and the rich melancholia of the song-writing - may recall moments from progressive rock’s past and the listener may be forgiven for losing themselves in a gatefold-sleeved reverie. Nonetheless, this is a band which was thrown into life via the constrictions and temporal shifts of a global pandemic, as well as one which has largely set about chronicling a reality in which the surrounding world appears to be hurrying its own demise. Alchemical forces have done their considerable work with ‘Born’, in creating an uplifting album for the ages, 42 minutes in which past, present and future are blurred; an album haunted by earthly concerns even whilst its sonics aim for the stars.