Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 3 CDs from 2015

Ok so as usual it’s tough to get it whittled down to just three favs from the year. I wish I could include Motorhead’s Bad Magic (which is a fantastic record) in the list to honor Lemmy’s passage to another plane but that would be a lie. Sorry Lem, but these ones had it over you. I owe you another beer when I join you in the beyond.
3. Twink-Dust Bunny
Ok so once again Twink hits the top three. This is the best Twink album yet. There was a crowd funding campaign for the record, which I gladly participated in. There is a cracking good vinyl pressing of the album which really lends itself to the production of this album. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the vinyl lathe cut that supporters could get. It is four extra tracks pressed on a square record that sound just a wee bit different whenever you play it. Wild!
Now to the music. Wow! Yes, there is the usual Twink joy and fun but there is also a lite melancholy hanging around some of the tracks. The sad beauty of the death and rebirth of seasons are evoked from funked out toy piano sounds. Emberglow opens the album with a leave covered tinkling of toy piano keys. It’s hard to list standout tracks here as they all feel like they have a beautiful flow from one to the next like a passage of musical seasons. Amazing stuff.
2. Steven Wilson- Hand. Cannot. Erase.
            Usually when Mr. Wilson puts out a record it’s almost guaranteed to be my favorite musical slice for the year. Sorry Steven, but you came in second this time out.
Now let’s chat about this brilliant record shall we? The deluxe edition of this record is the best multi-media package that I have ever seen bar none. Books within the booklet, Blu Ray content, an envelope stuffed with a letter, bonus tracks, blog content, hidden coordinates that point to the ocean, there is just a ton of depth here. Yeah I meant that pun.
            The music itself has a modern vibe as filtered through Steven’s wonderful musical lenses. There are a lot of keys, choirs, along with some raw heavy guitars. Routine is a standout track chronicling the daily struggle to exist for someone who lost their entire family. Steven thinks it’s the prettiest sad song he ever wrote. I’d have to go through his whole catalogue to see what I think, but it is up there. Sad beauty indeed and food for thought. How do humans cope when all they had is gone?
The story of the album follows a young artistic girl who moves to London to try to disappear into life. There is the possibility that she is being stalked by strange creatures called the Visitors who promise to take her away somewhere magical but yet… some of the people they took in the past have returned only to die. Or maybe that’s all in her head. Steven leaves it up to the listener to decide. Personally I think they’re evil scum bags trying to mess up her life for their own ends.
It’s filled with a clean modern sound and texture throughout which makes sense given the modern theme of the record.
1.    Nik Turner Space Fusion Odyssey
This is space rock meets jazz-fusion in another galaxy. This is the sound
of space awesome. So many musical guest stars groove in and out of this record it would be a crime not to mention a few. So here we go; Robbie Krieger (if you don’t know who he is please don’t read this blog ever again), Kephera Moon and Nicky Garratt (part of the engine of Hedersleben), Steve Hillage (the guy who created the brilliant record Fish Rising), Chris Poland (from Megadeth), and boatloads more.
            Before diving in too deep to the record I want to throw out some high praise for the inner cd poster. It’s amazing and practically indescribable in its nutty insanity.
            Let’s get to the tunes. This is primarily an instrumental affair as it should be with this kind of deep cosmic ridden jazz. This is the sounds of Miles Davis’s Bitch’s Brew meets Hawkwind on the set of a lost 60’s science fiction flick. Over all of it Nik’s sax coated in flange and phaser roars like a spaced out dragon except when his sonic flute is drifting through it.
            The stand out track of stand out tracks on this slab of astounding is, An Elliptical Galaxy. It has old school menacing sci-fi synths, swirling bleeps, jazz guitar scorch, throbbing drums and bass, and a skonking, squeaking, out of this world sax. This track is a powerful soundscape of other world fusions. Dig this song Earth people!
            Pulsar is a rip-roaring blast off into the outer reaches of jazz-rock space out music. There is a quick riffing dive through hyperspace sax stomps with drum rolling fill-laden punches. Nik also lets fly with some great flute on this tune too.
            This record should be played whenever mankind first steps on a planet outside of our solar system. That’s how far in the future this music is.

Ok so that’s 2015. Maybe 2016 will bring us a new Trance to the Sun record!
There was a great batch of releases this year. Honorable mention goes to Brainticket’s latest release Past, Present, and Future. It was amazing but it couldn’t topple the power of Twink!

Yours in the joy of the sounds of 2015,

Count Robot

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Goodbye Christopher Lee

We will miss you.
Your acting talent was always outstanding.
Whether you played a monster that you somehow made us loath, fear, and feel sorry for your character as when you portrayed Frankenstein’s creation.

It didn’t matter how bad the movie was that you were in you always gave a wonderful turn never giving less than your best which of course made you shine.

Often surprising but always dependable.

Thank you sir for the great body of work you gave to us.

Yours in Hammer Horror and beyond,
Count Robot

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Becoming What You Hate

Some philosophers posit that you will always become that which you hate. Not sure how much I can argue with that statement.
By the time you read this we at the space cadet academy that is Astro Al will have gone digital or will shortly. Yes, sadly we will no longer be selling cds online. Our store page on (yes, remember above all else that everything is a commercial for everything else) will be converted so that all we will sell musically are digital downloads. If you come to see us at a gig, we will still be selling cds but these will only be sold at our shows.
We live in a world of wonderful tactile experience. Touching, feeling, holding are a daily occurrence that should never be overrated. We live in a physical world and should embrace that yet we are rapidly coming to disdain most material concepts. We stream our movies, we download our music, we don’t cherish them, study the artwork on a cd cover, or look at the grooves on a vinyl album, and we don’t care about the feel of paper books in our hands. I can’t tell anyone how much time I’ve enjoyed staring at the magnificent artwork on some cds and vinyl albums and the exciting moment when I pick up the album or cd and hold it in anticipation of the joy that I will soon have when it’s played, that is something I will always savor.
So why did we cave into this trend of replacing the sensation of touch?
The recent postal increases and international taxes have put us out of the physical sales realm. We just can’t justify charging $10 for our cds and then charging people $10 to ship them. We kept our prices low. We always included shipping in our costs so basically we were selling our cds for about $5, while charging $10, total $5 of which went to shipping. We had no problem with that, it worked well for us and the people kind enough to want to pay for our music.
Sadly this is no more.
So here we are the thing we loathe.
Download away.

Yours in self-loathing,
Count Robot

Sunday, January 18, 2015

top 3 CDs of 2014

Ok so here’s the breakdown and musical shakedown from the lair of yours truly, Count Robot.
3. Twink-Critter Club
Toy piano madness with smoking horns! This release made the top 3 list based on the packaging of the CD alone let alone the fantabulous sounds. It comes with tarot cards and a complex symbology, which is used to entitle all the tunes. Brainer people than I will be left to decode it all accurately but I will simply say all the symbols, numbers, runes (?) equal awesome. I’ve long been a devotee to Twink but damn if the addition of the live horns doesn’t lift this release up. It is impossible to depressed while listening to such joyously infectious bright tunes. It’s a secret bunny rabbit party at midnight in a jam-based forest! I would list stand out tunes but I can’t type all the symbols without a code breaker!
2. Mission Creep-Sea of Suns
Lounge lizards set the jams into go-go atomic cool party music. Been a long time fan of Mission Creep. My t-shirt of theirs will continue to log many travel miles. So I was overjoyed to get their first full-length recording. It’s a groovy collection of tunes. Dig dropping the laser needle on this disc big time. Having a dull party, throw this collection of songs on and the dance floor will rock up to a Love Boat psychedelic jazz bop party town. One of my favorite tracks is Weed Wacka and Lucky Dog is another stand out. Party down in surf space!
1. Electrik Wurms – Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk
Ok the Electrik Wurms are a version of the grand psych band The Flaming Lips. Wow. This CD is a kraut rock spaced out freak out man. Discordant weirdness beauteous sounds flow over under around everything man. This is one dense layer of sounds. Ok its only 29 minutes but damn, it’s a trip of strangeness. It ends with a cover of Heart of the Sunrise, which you would expect to be at least as ten minutes long as the original but no it’s shorter. It feels like they did a bizarre edit/sample/time/mind/warp of the original. Man its cosmic.
Please feed me more Electrik Wurms!

Ok so that’s 2014. Come on 2015 bring the good tunes!
There was a great torrent of releases this year. This list is just so difficult to make….

Yours in awe at all the great music of 2014,
Count Robot