Albums Of The Week

Strange, dreamy tunes

Home-grown band T-Rex (from front, Ahmad Khaliq, Axel Serik, Bryan De Rozario and Junaidi Kusnong).
Home-grown band T-Rex (from front, Ahmad Khaliq, Axel Serik, Bryan De Rozario and Junaidi Kusnong).PHOTO: JUFHZR

Astreal mark their return with a collection of ethereal tunes while T-Rex mix disparate elements into an intoxicating blend in their debut release

Since music festival Laneway started programming Singapore acts in 2014, home-grown bands have consistently used that platform to launch new releases.

This year, two home-grown acts on the bill, indie stalwarts Astreal and prog-rock upstarts T-Rex,did the same.

Astreal, a band that trace their roots back to 1992, mark their return with Light, their first new work since 2006's Fragments Of The Same Dead Star.

The seven tracks in the release are a culmination of the array of genres found in their past discography, an exhilarating mix of shoegaze, dreampop and moody electronica.

  • SHOEGAZE/DREAMPOP

  • LIGHT

    Astreal

    Self-released

    3.5/5 stars

    PROGRESSIVE ROCK/ EXPERIMENTAL

    VOLUME 1

    T-Rex

    Self-released

    4/5 stars

It is a collection of songs that feel warm and clinical at the same time; airy, ethereal tunes grounded by strong vocal melodies and insistent, almost dance-like rhythms.

The guitar swirls seem more refined this time, a little more restrained compared with the onslaught of noise in the band's past tunes, but blending well with the vaporous synths.

While tracks such as Our Time Is Now, The End and Light And Magic are assertive numbers that compel the listener to physically move, songs such as Mobius, the instrumental Consternation and album closer Replaceable are pensive tunes that glow with distinctive, ghostly beauty.

T-Rex's debut release sports a modest moniker, Volume 1, that belies the monster instrumentals densely packed in the four-song release.

The quartet mix seemingly disparate elements such as saxophone solos, polyrhythmic rock drumming and pyschedelic guitar riffs into a cohesive and intoxicating blend.

Each member is an adroit musician, each song a wild ride - you sit in the passenger seat and hang on for dear life as the band manoeuvre their way through wildly shifting time signatures, convoluted riffs and serpentine song structures.

Landloper, which at close to six minutes is the shortest song on the release, starts with kaleidoscopic guitars and lulls the listener with a bluesy groove before the wave of hardcore and metal riffs come crashing in.

Then there is View From Tivoli, a strange but riveting jam over eight minutes long, with jazz and avant-garde overtones.

This debut is a release that demands to be put on loop; with each listen, you uncover myriad hidden gems.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Strange, dreamy tunes'. Print Edition | Subscribe