Listening to Astral TVs Chrystal Shores is like receiving some ancient transmission from deep space. It slowly unfolds through breathing synthesizers and tube-driven circuits these interplanetary melodies. This album evokes long walks contemplating life, or quiet moments watching the sun dissipate into the ocean. This record is made up of what I call “big picture” music. You get lost in the language of machines when you hit play or drop the needle, and in times like these a record like this is essential. Astral TV are asking us to slow down and smell the roses, or contemplate our own reality. Chrystal Shores is an aural manual on how navigate our universe, one dreamy song at a time.
So what is an Astral TV you ask? Well, I imagine that creepy television that shows up in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. You know, the one James Woods sticks his head into? Or maybe it’s some ancient console TV you find abandoned in some nondescript Midwestern basement where those strange transmissions from the great beyond arrive to on clear, star-filled evenings. James Woods may not be involved with this one, but there’s definitely some strange, beautiful transmissions happening here. Astral TV consists of Keith Canisus and Rasmus Rasmussen. Canisus is a producer and composer of electronic, dream pop, and lo-fi tunes. He’s self-released, as well as released through Darla Records. Rasmus Rasmussen is the keyboard wizard for Denmark’s Causa Sui and also puts excellent electronic music out under the name Aerosol. Together these two have formed Astral TV and their sound is new age for the new age.
Chrystal Shores blends both ambient song structures with classic Berlin School aesthetics to create something sublime, yet heady. “Before We Meet” opens the album with a feel of new beginnings. It opens like pure light cutting through fading blinds. “Mirrors” blows by your ears like a breezy rainfall just before the sun breaks through the afternoon overcast. You get a real Vangelis-meets-Tangerine Dream vibe here and that’s not a bad thing. “Staying Home” wavers in the air with echoing guitar lines that ground this otherworldly track, giving the song an overall earthy feel. “Human” sounds like the beginning of existence itself, unfolding like some circuit-driven pop up book that explains the meaning of it all.
And we’re only 4 songs in.
Though these songs take various forms of atmospheric, ambient music, they all carry with them a heavy 70s vibe. I imagine shag carpet in a basement with beanbag chairs and an old console stereo where stacks of vinyl wait to be spun. After school specials and Kool-Aid in the fridge. These songs tap into a very specific time. A time where beer commercials and kids shows are soundtracked by strange machines named things like “Moog” and “Prophet 8”. Though, there’s something far deeper going on in tracks like “Sun Flares”, “0000”, “Welcome”, and the epic creeper “Surveillance” than you’d find in a Schaefer Beer commercial. “Surveillance” especially starts out with an ominous drone that feels like strange eyes staring in on something they shouldn’t. If you could somehow blend the sonic humidity of The Fog with the neon-lit doomed futurism of Blade Runner you might have an idea of what’s going on here. It’s dark and light coming together somewhere in the middle.
Astral TVs Chrystal Shores is new age music for a new age. There’s nothing “hippy dippy” about this record, though. It sounds like a soundtrack for enlightenment. It’s wide open spaces and technicolor dreams. Canisus and Rasmussen have made a record for serious moments of contemplation and headphone explorations. Navel-gazing or stargazing, take your pick. It’s a record that opens your head and lets some serious light in.