Oh Fantastica

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The first five seconds of Aspera's Oh Fantastica let you know that the band has changed dramatically. They have tossed aside the expansive, wide angle to the point of chaos sound of their last album, Sugar & Feathered, and have discovered electronic music. The have also stripped away much of what made them interesting. They still pack the songs with lots of noise and insanity, but the drum machines and loops inevitably rein the songs in and give then a linear feel that renders them ultimately quite boring. Singer Drew Mill doesn't help out any as he attempts to bring life into the proceedings by over-emoting; it sounds like he is trying to hit a stadium-clearing home run on each pitch. It all smacks of weirdness for weirdness' sake, and that rarely makes for a pleasant listening experience. As the record continues its inexorable journey to its end, the negatives begin to pile up. Songs like "The Sand in Your Shoe" and "But for Now" are inconsequential trifles that last far too long, there are no strong melodies to be found, the keyboards sound like the presets weren't altered, they use the ridiculous "orchestra" setting far too often, the rhythms are boring and unimaginative -- add them up and the only conclusion to be made is that this record is a complete disaster! Much like Simian, another band who squandered the promise of an exciting and unpredictable album by going electronic, Aspera have driven their train off the tracks at an alarming rate of speed, and the odds of them coming back seem fleeting at best.

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