Astral Synergy Productions (label)
30 November 2020 (released)
23 January 2021
Truly great electronic music, when it's at its most profoundly affecting, should not feel “electronic” at all. It should live and breathe with the kind of continuous flow that is otherwise only achieved by the organic realm. Sounds, moods, and experiences that our previous millennia of acoustic instruments have failed to recreate. In (most) summers, thousands upon thousands shed the city for festivals of electronic music communion in lush mountain forest retreats and nomadic temporary cities on the desert plains. The experience is humbling, nourishing, and for those whom the idea of dogma and scripture is counter-intuitive to the notion of spirituality; it is a religious experience. Artists like Juno Reactor have done amazing work in translating the coursing lifeblood of the earth into infectious tribal rhythms and hypnotic melodies.
Following in that path is the Norwegian tribal trance group Astralseid. The production and vocal duo of Gustav Holberg and Rúnahild craft earthly incantations from their off-grid cabin situated on an organic mountain-farm in Western Norway. The grass and flower-covered roof of their secluded studio brings to mind a hobbit hole nestled in the shire. Their isolated creative retreat in the land of the northern lights makes them uniquely suited to weave together nebulous soundscapes with howling beckons to the ancient gods. In addition to the lineage of Juno Reactor, Astralseid runs in the ilk of Mother Earth worship music titans like Dead Can Dance and Wardruna, creating an oeuvre of spiritual music beyond hymns to a bearded man in a white gown.
Each of the four tracks on the album are extended mantras that denote a different aspect of spiritual actuation. 'Shadow Love' opens with sonorous vocals amid a shimmering wash of sounds. The heartbeat of a muted kick drum the sole propulsive element. The listener is welcomed into this hallowed space. Eventually, drums enter and a cascading harp-like flourish overtakes as the vocals take chase. The deep bellow of throat singing is met with the scuttling around of subterranean orcs busily plotting and conducting operations deep within the mountain. You're no longer simply listening to a collection of tracks but a cinematic score to an epic struggle of archaic forces.
'Skydance' rings with twinkling synths and the group locks into the more familiar one-two punch of classic electronic dance. Rúnahild's deeply evocative vocals are right in league with the towering presence of Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard. 'Liberty's cosmic background radiation opening gives way to a spacey mouth harp-driven trance. Arpeggiators flutter as pads swell and break. The song peaks with all the elements coalescing to a glorious union of vibrations. The final track 'Awakening' again features Rúnahild's powerful vocals as a conjuring invocation amid astral synths which ties up the album leaving the listener with a sense of cleansing and renewal.
Shamanic Love touches the peak of what organic electronica can be. Deeply spiritual, illuminating, grounding, and transcendent. There must be a magic surrounding their Norwegian hideaway in the mountains because the music that they are able to translate from there taps into the heart of this living, breathing planet.