I admit that I am new to the Swiss band monkey3 and I was initially attracted to review this album because the album artwork looked amazing and the title “Astra Symmetry” sounded cool. It’s even better that the music fits both of those! monkey3 play a nice blend of psych rock, prog rock and stoner rock. The album is a balance of very old Floyd, Hawkwind and even My Sleeping Karma.
The album opens with the sitar-laden “Abyss” which if Pink Floyd had taken a Middle Eastern turn with their music, it might have sounded like this. The vocals aren’t perfect but they work. They really don’t need the vocals at all to be honest! “Moon” starts with a massive layer of keys over majestic lumbering drums. The problem is the vocals. This time is a very deep, spoken vocal during which the music basically dies down. Once the vocals stop, the band kick the song back into gear.
“Endless Ocean” has a cool, spacey vibe to it with a solid drum pattern. “The Water Bearer” is a piano led track with a cool bassline. The track kicks in mid way thru and does have vocals. The vocals are solid, not spectacular. Overall, it’s a great song though with a cool guitar solo at the end. It’s cool how many of these tracks all segue into each other. There’s a natural flow to “Astra Symmetry” as a whole. It feels much more like a whole piece versus 12 separate tracks.
The cosmic “Mirrors” is another cool track, led by an acoustic guitar and what sounds like a flute but really is a keyboard. The keyboards on this album are so tasty throughout. There are so many different sounds and all are classic and steeped in 70s prog. Need more mellotron? “Dead Planet Eyes” is for you. The vocal on this track is a lot more animated than the rest which actually works better for me.
monkey3 aren’t reinventing anything on “Astra Symmetry” but they aren’t trying to and they really don’t need to either. They clearly know what their sound is and execute it well. I still would have preferred this as an all instrumental album, because it already is mostly instrumental and sounds great when it is that. If you like bands that don’t just play psych rock and prog rock but actually UNDERSTAND the vocabulary of each, “Astra Symmetry” by monkey3 is a must.
3. Endless Ocean
4. The Water Bearer
7. Dead Planet’s Eyes
11. The Guardian
12. Realms Of Lights
Label: Napalm Records
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