Review: This short lived but seminal Dutch band that formed in the mid-eighties only recorded one album of cosmic and ambient excursions on an independent cassette release in 1986. The first re-issue came out ten years later on Container (Staalplaat) and now; twenty years on we finally have the second re-issue on a remastered double LP. Chi also reformed recently for a comeback concert at London's Cafe OTO too, This wonderful time capsule will appeal fans of obscure prog rock as it would to seekers of oddball Balearica who flock to labels such as Finders Keepers/Cache Cache or even Claremont 56. Props to Astral Industries for this one!
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: Last year, Astral Industries released The Bamboo Recordings, a sublime, non-stop ambient voyage from obscure Dutch outfit The Chi Factory based around recordings Hanyo van Oosterom made while living in a cave on the Greek island of Palmos in the early 1980s. This follow-up contains sounds, textures and musical elements recording during the same period, which van Oosterom has been tinkering with, on and off, since the early '90s. Like its predecessor, The Kallikatsou Recordings - named in tribute to the "sacred mountain" the producer lived beneath on Palmos - joins the dots between Eno style ambience, Stockhausen style sound collage, the sample-heavy brilliance of The KLF's Chill Out, the humidity of Finis Africae, and contemporary drone productions. If anything, it's even better than The Bamboo Recordings.
Review: Two epic ambient journeys from an underrated hero of the underground. Hanyo van Oosterom is a musician and promoter from Rotterdam. He was part of Chi (1984 - 1987), Byzantium (1997 - 1998) and One Cent People since 2002. He has never met Rod Modell (Deepchord) in person, but they have met through music. Story has it that Modell is said to have found an obscure cassette of Chi music and sent it to Astral Industries - which paved the way for the release of 'The Original Recordings' in 2016. Since then, they have exchanged ideas and music. Van Oosterom sent Modell a preview of 'The Kallikatsou Recordings' which he liked it and inspired the idea for a remix of 'Lanterns'. He sent the first sketches to him, but they ended up in the wrong inbox. Months later he responded, apparently saying he loved them so much that they needed to be released. Van Oosterom is said to have used lo-fi approach on these tracks: manipulating the samples, time-stretching, tempo and pitch-shifting, mixing different layers and using effects in addition to field recordings, voices and samples from his early cassettes.
Review: Amongst ambient aficionados, obscure 1980s outfit The Chi Factory - a collaboration between Jacobus Derwort and Hanyo van Oosterom - has a cult following. While the duo went their separate ways in 1987, Derwort continued to work on tracks, which fused field recordings taken in far-flung locations around the world, with indigenous instrumentation and his innate ability to craft mood-altering soundscapes. The Bamboo Recordings offers the first chance to savour those previously unheard mid-to-late-80s tracks; while they've been remixed for release, they remain as trippy, inspired and intoxicating as you'd expect. Akin to a humid saunter through thick Mangrove swamps, the album feels like a long lost, tropical partner to The KLF's Chill Out.
Review: Since Deepchord helped launch Astral Industries with the sublime "Lanterns" double-album in 2014, the London label has gone on to become a reliable source of dreamy ambient techno and blissful, otherworldly ambience (for proof, check out the releases from Waveform Transmission, the Chi Factory and Heavenly Music Corporation). Predictably, Deepchord's return to the imprint is every bit as wonderful as you'd expect. While naturally underpinned by restless dub techno rhythms and wrapped in Rod Modell's usual densely layered aural textures, the two tracks that make up Immersions are far wavier and more ambient-focused than much of the Detroit producer's work. And, yes, both tracks are exceedingly immersive. You shouldn't need a second invitation to dive right in.
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: This album is compiled of material composed especially for St. Giga, Japan: a satellite broadcast radio station that transmits ambient music 24 hours a day and whose programming was based around current tidal movements. Composed and mixed by Kim Cascone and originally released on his seminal Silent imprint in 1995. Initially a visual artist, Cascone was said to be drawn to the aural collage of cinema soundtracks. He received formal instruction in structural arrangement and composition of electronic music at the Berklee School of Music until 1973, then went on to study with Dana McCurdy at the New School in Manhattan. After gaining experience as an audio technician, Cascone worked with David Lynch on both the syndicated television pilot 'Twin Peaks' and the movie 'Wild at Heart.' The gorgeous and mesmerising soundscapes on this release are just made for drifting and will certainly appeal to fans of Pete Namlook or Biosphere.
Review: Ambient specialists Astral Industries have yet to put a foot wrong, so it's little surprise to find that their latest missive - a label debut from Bernard Zwijzen AKA Sonmi451 - is another must-have release. "Nachtmuziek" gathers together six overlooked tracks from the Belgian's sizable back catalogue, offering a neat introduction to his work for those who may have not come across his often ultra-limited releases for the likes of U-Cover and Time Released Sound. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the Pete Namlook style gentle pulse of "Probe", the crackly, harp-laden "Outer Shell", to the sumptuous chimes of "Inner Structure" and becalmed, slowly unfurling "Bay Hatch".
Review: Kompakt main man and ambient maestro Wolfgang Voigt served up some of his finest work yet on the Ruckverzauberung album a couple of years ago. Now Astral Industries treats us to a live recording of said album, taken from Voigt's performance at Hackney venue St Johns Church in March last year. The dark and brooding soundscapes of this modern classical exploration take on a new and dynamic dimension as his immersive compositions of haunting, densely layered strings and sinister swirling pads transport you to another world, behind the mirror. A fine release from Astral Industries.
Colours Of Time (Deepchords Carolina Forest mix) (14:31)
Review: After a brilliant re-issue by Dutch cosmic legends Chi, Astral Industries have drafted in Wolfgang Voigt, who appeared for the label previously with the live recordings of his mighty Ruckverzauberung LP with Detroit dub techno legend DeepChord, who inaugurated the label with his Lanterns EP. Both highly respected figures unite to reinterpret the music of revered minimalist German composer Peter Michael Hamel. Astral Industries write: "Each expansive interpretation invites you to step outside of reality and into an alternative imagination of Hamel's future world, spiralling into the colours and slowly out of time itself."
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.