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Asbestoscape

Now here is an album that deserves some attention. This review was actually a long time in coming because I originally discovered it via a blog as early as last October. It quickly became a staple soundtrack for long, mind-numbing walks I would have to make on chilly autumn nights. It has a somewhat gloomy atmosphere, but it is by no means grim and depressing – I have black metal for that. Instead, I found it uplifting in its own way.

Asbestoscape is a one-man project that utilizes atmospheric guitars, somber synths, and twitchy electronic beats. If I were forced to place Asbestoscape into a single genre, it would be post-rock. However, this album doesn’t totally conform to the conventions of that genre. It doesn’t meander off from the main melodic themes, or start quietly and build slowly. Instead, the approach here is to launch into a groove that digs deep into your psyche, then pile on subtle textures, working toward a cathartic climax.

Regardless, the moral of this story is that I hear in the music of Asbestoscape a kind of yearning that resonates deeply with me. The beautifully layered shimmering guitars are soothing, even therapeutic in a Freudian sense of the word, bringing things to the surface I had long forgotten and helping me come to terms with them.

The first of seven tracks, “Arctic,” is laidback and groovy, yet solemn due to its minor key. The guitars are pretty but dark, and perfectly layered in my opinion, and the song is propelled by a simple, repetitive beat. But I think anything more would be overkill. Next comes another great song, “Return,” which is even more brooding and has a more complex electronic beat. The balance of effects chosen for the guitars is just right and that is what helps give the song such a great mood. The third song, “Mono,” is different in that it is mostly comprised of what I think is either distorted bass or guitar played through some kind of octave effect. Either way, it’s a cool song.

I also have to mention the last two tracks. “Ashen,” the second-to-last, is absolutely chilling. The guitars build in intensity at the perfect pace, and most metal bands couldn’t come up with a drum part as earth moving as the one in this song. This is actually the only track I wish were longer. At two minutes and forty-four seconds, it leaves me wishing it had been developed further. However, it does leave on a good note (literally and figuratively), so I’m not complaining. The final track, “Thursday,” builds some great tension, and then releases it – a fitting end for the album.

This album has a lot going for it: a great mood and atmosphere, more streamlined songwriting than one can normally expect in the instrumental genre, and it’s the perfect length at thirty-four minutes (it doesn’t leave me feeling unsatisfied, but it also doesn’t wear out its welcome). I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes any version of instrumental or atmospheric music. I have yet to grow tired of this album and it makes me hopeful there will soon be more material from Asbestoscape.

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You can listen to the “Return” track here.

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