Astrosoniq

Quadrant

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Holland's self-appointed "Wizards of Oss" didn't earn that nickname solely from their town of origin, but through a collective body of work defined by constant defiance of clichés and expectations, and this tradition certainly didn't lapse on the group's aptly named fourth album, 2009's Quadrant. Here, early offerings like album opener "Faustian Bargain" and the 14-minute astral acid test "As Soon as They Got Airborne…" suggest that Astrosoniq's bread and butter essentially consist of psychedelic stoner rock ornamented with alien synthesizer swoosh effects befitting of Hawkwind's heyday, analog-flavored technology reminiscent of Krautrock, and dazzling guitar heroics of a supernatural Hendrix-ian imagination (seriously, this guitar player is a stud!). But, as it turns out, pegging Astrosoniq as just another stoner/space rock band with benefits proves totally impossible in light of surprising detours into the bruising industrial grunge of "Cloud of Decay" and "Lured," the amusingly flashy heavy metal of "Play It Straight," the down-home country music ingredients of "Bloom" (pedal steel and everything), and the blissfully buzzed acoustic number "Sin." Another batch of songs -- namely the relatively Spartan late-album triptych of "Zero," "Downfall Lover," and "Bored" -- borrows ideas from Queens of the Stone Age, Clutch, and Halfway to Gone, respectively. Pretty interesting, huh? And keeping things interesting while referencing an almost infinite number of inspirational cornerstones is precisely what makes Astrosoniq such a rare bird in this era of predictable musical fashions.

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