Astrobotnia - Part Three (Rephlex)
By Philip Raffaele
The third volume of the Astrobotnia legacy comes correct with 11 tracks, all designed to make your mind do the mashed potato.
'Muminaa' sets the stage with a minute-long overture of sorts, right before 'B' comes in with a kinetic beat pattern. By the 30 second mark, there are like 5 different types of percussion going on at once. Not as in-your-face as Squarepusher's style, this revamped Ovuca subdues it just a little tiny bit; it's not too much, too over the top, but it's kept interesting and engaging for the duration of each track.
With Astrobotnia, we've found a much more developed version of Braindance. Dare I say, matured version? Everything seems a lot more cohesive and nothing is lacking. While past releases have relied on tired formulas and not much innovation, this release (and the previous 12"s) have defied all previous formulas and patterns, and managed to really construct something that doesn't end up sounding like anything I've ever heard before. Sure there are certain elements that ring familiar, but overall, the general consensus is that this is a completely new approach to exciting electronic compositions.
With the main focus being abstract, hyper beat-patterns dominating the foreground, there lies atmospheric movements swaying and sweeping in the background. Along the way, there is crunch and fuzz and moments of clarity. Like right before the 2:00 mark on 'Acidophilus II'. a bit of calmness before the storm of drums.
'Portable Motor Home' enters with a pretty straight-forward hip-hop beat, but you can tell by the clean echoes and evolving background pattern, that its not going to stay so subtle. And slowly it does, but it's hard to actually recognize the parts where it does. This, like the other tracks on the disc, really grow out of themselves, twisting and turning and mutating into new versions of themselves, all in the same track. Creepy samples abound on the haunting, 'Esther Calling Jennifer'. "I just think she's falling apart."
Above all, this is one of the best Rephlex releases since 'Caustic Window'. This is really pushing boundaries and staying fun as well as interesting to listen to. Creepy undertones, yet not so overly serious where its difficult to just enjoy. Astrobotnia live was one of the best live electronic acts I'd seen in a long time. this definitely doesn't disappoint.
"The thing I remember about these at the time was the hype surrounding the fact that Astrobotnia could be another pseudonym for The Aphex Twin. Turned out in the end it was Aleksi Perala who had previously recorded for Rephlex as Ovuca."