Macrocosmica

Ad Astra

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AllMusic Review by

Besides the Fiend albums, Brendan O'Hare kept himself busy with Macrocosmica, but in place of trippy Krautrock inspirations, Ad Astra is a somewhat more blunt prospect. It's not totally without precedent, though -- like th' Faith Healers, Macrocosmica seems to want to take motorik music, รก la Can, and give it a rough kick suitable for the '90s. The other role model for the group appears to be American indie, specifically the Pixies; there's a similar loud/soft/loud, scream one's head off approach, which is perfectly clear on opening number "Rusty's Arms" and hinted at elsewhere like "A Horse Can Walk." O'Hare isn't quite Frank Black, though. In fact, his singing comes uncomfortably close to generic alt rock growls more than once, dating the whole album rapidly enough, though bassist Cerwyss Ower has a better, cleaner vocal approach. O'Hare's guitar playing is excellent, though, kicking up a fierce storm on cuts like "Orbit 48," where his shades and solos really stand out, and the tight, more upbeat "Lamotta," which could almost be a Dischord label single if you squint. Russell McEwan's drumming shows some good signs of flair without losing the obsessive focus of the songs, and the band as a whole sound like they could be a fearsome prospect live, however hampered here and there by the indie-by-numbers approach. Best song of the bunch is square in the middle -- "I Am the Spaceship Digitalis," a steady, deliberate space rock zoneout that's pure head nodding mysterious gloom, spiked just right with a guitar line that lightens things just a touch and O'Hare's restrained, wistful vocal. A short record -- it doesn't even break the half-hour mark -- Ad Astra is not as truly striking as O'Hare's Fiend work, but overall Macrocosmica makes for a pleasant, if not deathless or necessary, listen.

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