A very satisfying first installment in the anonymously credited Astrobotnia trilogy, released on Rephlex Records. The label has found (or cultivated) a good thing here, in much the same way Richard James spearheaded the label's secrecy with early aliases like Martin Trezidder and Q-Chastic. Ten years later, the torch gets passed with a fresh splash of petrol. Astrobotnia, Pt. 1 is a warm hybrid of familiar and disparate elements, like a jellyfish with claws or a blue snowman on wheels. In the same way Boards of Canada sneaks out samples of recognition (even nostalgia), Astrobotnia spoons out disorienting but recognizable textures, set like precious stones within a framework of sputtering percussion tracks -- accomplished tempo-twisters that resemble plastic, aluminum, rubber, glass, and, yes, sometimes even actual drums. "Lightworks" opens the disc with wonder and mystery; an expansive blackberry sky bursting with fireworks and spectator awe. The channel switches to plasma feedback and bass chords yawning through half-speed breakbeats on "Hallo." The drums start shuffling into the upper atmosphere with "Everyone," as a not-so-friendly gentlemen shares his thoughts amidst treacherous chords of ambience. Tracks like "Acidophilus" and "Sweden" are electronic lullabies of crisp Sunday mornings -- the type Ovuca might have -- and groovebox rhythms that range from subdued countertop thumping to lazertag shoot-outs. "Untitled" is a beeping little pingpong of hip-hop and string samples, and "The Wing Thing" keeps a similar (but heavier) groove with whiney clusters of keyboards à la Global Goon. "Miss June" follows next, and its classic Rephlex: simple, gloomy synth melodies negotiating with squelches of acid and a dash of creepy playfulness. The disc closes with "Applause," featuring the obvious group noise, as well as a strange out-of-tune piano and vocals gurgling through a manic ring modulator. This fascinating reward of an album, and really all three albums, is due to a successful marriage of textures: barbed, crunchy beats wrapped in harmonic threads, then dipped in stardust. It's Eno and Lanois' gorgeous Apollo soundtrack remixed by Funkstörung, and an outstretched hand into the future. Essential.
AllMusic Review by Glenn Swan