Review: Given that Chi Factory producer Hanyo van Oosterom can do no wrong, it's little surprise to find that his latest outing for Astral Industries - his most expansive yet - is another very special excursion. The set was inspired by, and is dedicated to, minimalist American poet Robert Lax, who was a contemporary of Jack Kerouac. As a result, there's a slightly sparser feel to the set than some of van Oosterom's previous work. Of course, he still makes great use of field recordings, spoken word samples and softly winding electronics, alongside minimalist, tribal-tinged rhythms that doff a cap towards dub techno and vintage ambient dub. All four tracks are ebbing and flowing 20-minute epics, making "The Mantra Recordings" the perfect album in which to immerse yourself.
Review: Uwe Schmidt - he of Atom Heart, Atom TM and Senor Coconut fame - has used an insane number of aliases over the years, so you'd be forgiven for not knowing about the sole album he produced as Dots. It first appeared on CD way back in 1994 and has long been considered something of a slept on classic by '90s ambient fans. Here it appears on vinyl for the very first time courtesy of Astyral Industries, a label that knows a thing or two about unearthing forgotten ambient treasure. Stylistically, there are hints to some of Schmidt's other work - a dub bassline here, an abstract motif there - but for the most part the becalmed and beguiling soundscapes have more in common with the work of German ambient legend Pete Namlook.
Review: Last year, Astral Industries dived into the back catalogue of obscure ambient explorer Heavenly Music Corporation (AKA film and TV composer Kim Cascone) to present the first vinyl release of superb 1995 album "Lunar Phase". Here, they offer the same treatment to 1993's "In A Garden of Eden", Cascone's first solo release. It, too, is something of an overlooked classic, albeit one whose inspirations were more pastoral and natural than the stargazing Lunar Phase. The set is notable not only for its Pete Namlook-esque use of dreamy, elongated chords, but also for the presence of hyponotic, Global Communication style melodic movements and Cascone's liberal use of sound effects and field recordings, which bring to mind the KLF's legendary ambient house album, "Chill Out".
Review: Way back in 1996, Rod Modell (he of Deepchord and Echospace fame) joined forces with Chris Troy as Waveform Transmission. They released one, CD-only album, V1.0-1.9, before going their separate ways. 21 years on, they've reunited for this superb follow-up on Astral Industries. While there are naturally plenty of nods towards Modell's usual densely layered, ultra-textured sound - think manipulated field recordings and lashings of outboard analogue effects - for the most part the set is far dreamier and more melodically precise than his ambient works; a testament, perhaps, to Troy's influence. Either way, the resultant tracks are, for the most part, breathtakingly good, sitting somewhere between gently drifting aural meditations and Pete Namlook style deep space soundscapes.