Astralingua - Safe Passage - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Astralingua - Safe Passage

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2019-03-08
Astralingua - Safe Passage
Astralingua - Safe Passage

Safe Passage is a gorgeous folk/psych/space music (of the German variety) record.

It’s all acoustic music that travels inward far enough to touch an outer soul, and it also travels outward far enough to reach the inner heart. Parallel universes co-exist. Joseph Andrew Thompson writes, sings, and plays sundry instruments, while Anne Rose Thompson’s shadowy back-up vocals hover over the melodies. This album never drifts into new age drivel.

Just an idea: It was the perfect soundtrack as I read The Concise History of the United States, as the authors described the day when the Cuban Missile Crisis ended with the words, “The next morning—a Sunday, October 28--dawned with mercy.”

That was a beautiful thing to read. Now, this record has nothing to do with conflict or possible nuclear war, but it does evoke that spirit of that time when tension still lingered, but a merciful dawn greeted the Earth. And I just happened to be reading that line while listening to this album, the second track, “Visitor,” to be specific.

So, this is music that glances back at darkness, and then brushes beauty and deep sincerity over that black hole.

 An acoustic guitar anchors the first song, “Plunge,” while an urgent vocal and violin complement each other. This is dramatic music.

Sometimes.

As the next track, “Visitor” is soft acoustic folk psych with a flute solo that is worthy of an unknown re-discovered folk-psych classic from 1970 now available for the first-time advertisement. The brilliant Magna Carta’s first few records come to mind. The flute bit could also be part of a prog tune (on the more melodic spectrum) like Celeste or even the very early Gabriel voiced Genesis. “Sweet Dreams” is equally acoustic. Now, this is a way-back comment, but this tune evokes the pastoral absolute beauty of early Barclay James Harvest. For those who don’t know, well, this is sublime psych-folk acoustic stuff. For those who do know, think about “Jonathan” and “Someone There You Know.”

Sorry about all the back then comments: but this music evokes the beauty of the early 70’s. And, as John Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” This music was lovely then, and despite a brief intermission when we wanted God to Save the Queen and Video Killed the Radio Star, it is still quite splendid today.

So, order a coffee, because, thankfully, thoughtful music is now hip once again, like ripped blue jeans, and ecological concerns. “The Nimble Man” begins with a Jethro Tull-like “Cross-Eyed Mary” flute solo, trundles off into space, and then plays to the acoustic muse with sincere vocals and a deep and very personal violin, while a piano gently touches the tune.  This is lovely music. And “Space Blues” and “Phantoms” also explore (albeit with brevity) the German space music of Brainticket or Annexus Quam.

Now, that’s obscure stuff, but this record begs obscure greatness.

More comfort follows: “NSA” is soft and dense, and the violin skims across the tune’s soft vocals. This touches the density of classical music.

And then they tackle (the great} William Blakes’s “Poison Tree.” Now, that’s aces in my book any time. Again, for the uninitiated, Blake was a mystic English Romantic poet who wrote, “I must create a system, or be enslaved by another mans.”

He also wrote, “Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn no longer in deadly black with hoarse note curse the sons of joy…For every thing that lives is Holy.”

This album evokes that sentiment.

The final song, The Fallen,” once again, recalls the memory of British pastoral folk music. The violin yearns in unison with an acoustic guitar. There is a gentle vocal that sings about “paying the River Man.” Acoustic Impressionistic sounds paint tension, and something sounding like a koto is softly plucked. This music begs its beauty, and asks to be “taken to the other shore.”

Nick Drake did the very same thing.

The album dips its notes into the river of timeless beauty. It’s lovely. Perhaps, it’s some sort of mystical blues. But it is the perfect soundtrack to the thought of any morning that dawned with mercy, a mercy that predicts, at least for that day, a safe passage.

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