Floating, disembodied, quietly insistent, enveloping… fair to say these cosmic tones caught me by surprise in the best and beguiling kind of way. I’d seen Primal Regression Therapy play a few times in Hobart prior to this album landing in my inbox and was admittedly expecting something a little more abrasive. As one of the band members explains, there were definitely some harsh noise elements in their live sets but they’d always set out to do something different in their recordings. The four lengthy tracks on Astral Agnosia contrast with those earlier live performances not only in noise levels but also in the broader range of instrumentation they employ and the use of experimental recording techniques that make for some really elusive textures. The opening track ‘I’ is all ascending string and synth drones, circled by some beautifully subtle flute and choral-like sounds of unknown origin. The atmosphere feels a bit darker and hermetic with ‘II’, distant ethereal keys and what sounds like modulated wordless vocals. I’d hesitate to call this music dark ambient but it shares some similar DNA: early UK industrial, ambient proper, neo-folk (think Current 93), 20th Century minimalism. At other times the flute returns to hover above a rumbling, sawing low end or as in the super gentle closing track, crystalline synth tones rise and fall around barely-there vocal drones before everything fades into the ether. The sounds conjured on this album also make me think of the original German kosmische gang, Popol Vuh in particular; this music is a lot like a mantra, a kind of transcendental psychedelia that works just as well with the volume turned down low (but turn it up loud by all means). The idea of ritual is really important here, yet these rituals remain somehow private – a quality that means you can never quite grasp this music even as it takes a strong hold on you. – Tim P.
Limited edition of 33 hand-numbered copies.