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The sublime brilliance of Astral Industries



Ambient music has become increasingly popular in recent years, as a response to people staying at home and increasingly searching for more meditative sounds. During this time, few record labels have dedicated themselves to crafting abstract and deep sounds in the way that London-based label Astral Industries (AI) have done. Run by Ario Farahani, the label releases vinyl EPs of sublime, ambient brilliance month after month. Illustrated with shimmering, surreal artwork with contemplative names, AI fuses collaborative art projects with unusual experiments and sensitive musical artistry, to become an essential part of the rise in experimental, ambient music.

Celebrating their 30th release from artists Mystic AM, titled 'Cardamom & Laudanum' the label's distinct aesthetic runs through the unusual and sometimes breathtaking warmth from little known artists and collaborators based often on a whim. A good example of this is their prior release, 'Son of Chi' who returned to AI for a second release alongside Spanish artist Clara Brea, for AI-29.

A product of fate and neat experimentation, ’The Wetland Remixes’ puts together sounds and samples collected from the Ebro Delta nature reserve in Catalonia, one of the regions most threatened by climate change on the Iberian peninsula. The record is a sublime epic that draws together a rich archive of ecological field recordings, live instrumentation and natural, organic sounds. Ahead of a concert at ‘Avalovara listening club’ in Madrid by Hanyo van Oosterom at the end of 2019, the curators (Diskoan & Josephine’ Soundscapes) arranged a meeting between Clara and Hanyo. As Hanyo recalls, “There was an instant match and understanding, and basically we decided in a split second to exchange recordings and to collaborate on future live and studio experiments.”

Following an exchange of materials and ideas the two artists collaborated to create this unique piece of ambient music. The first set of recordings included the stems of Clara’s ‘Wetland Project’ - a location-specific audiovisual project originally produced for the Eufonic Festival in Spain. From this initial impetus, Hanyo began working on the first sketches of the album back in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Just like their meeting in Madrid, the project developed naturally and spontaneously with extraordinary ease. Later, Hanyo started adding field recordings taken from the Magic Cave in ‘Kallikatsou’ in the Aegean Islands as well as organic and acoustic overdubs, including bass, drums, percussion, guitars, oud, piano, hammond organ, wurlitzer, flutes, bells, and mouth harp.
 
Beneath the shimmering veneer of textures, wildlife sounds and melodies, it is often possible to hear deeper references that rarely surface outside of live music or art performance space. Astral Industries captures these distinct sounds, bottling them up for home consumption and making these sounds available for personal use. Each record is a story and a rich soundscape in its own right.

As the record label passes its 30th release we look forward to hearing what the future has in store for Astral Industries.

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