Review: Ambient specialists Astral Industries have yet to put a foot wrong, so it's little surprise to find that their latest missive - a label debut from Bernard Zwijzen AKA Sonmi451 - is another must-have release. "Nachtmuziek" gathers together six overlooked tracks from the Belgian's sizable back catalogue, offering a neat introduction to his work for those who may have not come across his often ultra-limited releases for the likes of U-Cover and Time Released Sound. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the Pete Namlook style gentle pulse of "Probe", the crackly, harp-laden "Outer Shell", to the sumptuous chimes of "Inner Structure" and becalmed, slowly unfurling "Bay Hatch".
Review: Last year, Astral Industries dived into the back catalogue of obscure ambient explorer Heavenly Music Corporation (AKA film and TV composer Kim Cascone) to present the first vinyl release of superb 1995 album "Lunar Phase". Here, they offer the same treatment to 1993's "In A Garden of Eden", Cascone's first solo release. It, too, is something of an overlooked classic, albeit one whose inspirations were more pastoral and natural than the stargazing Lunar Phase. The set is notable not only for its Pete Namlook-esque use of dreamy, elongated chords, but also for the presence of hyponotic, Global Communication style melodic movements and Cascone's liberal use of sound effects and field recordings, which bring to mind the KLF's legendary ambient house album, "Chill Out".
Review: Given that Chi Factory producer Hanyo van Oosterom can do no wrong, it's little surprise to find that his latest outing for Astral Industries - his most expansive yet - is another very special excursion. The set was inspired by, and is dedicated to, minimalist American poet Robert Lax, who was a contemporary of Jack Kerouac. As a result, there's a slightly sparser feel to the set than some of van Oosterom's previous work. Of course, he still makes great use of field recordings, spoken word samples and softly winding electronics, alongside minimalist, tribal-tinged rhythms that doff a cap towards dub techno and vintage ambient dub. All four tracks are ebbing and flowing 20-minute epics, making "The Mantra Recordings" the perfect album in which to immerse yourself.