The music made by this French quartet on their third album, and first on Rune Grammofon, manages to convincingly straddle the increasingly slender hinterland that separates Earth in their current incarnation and Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk. The opening title track begins with a passage of low, ruminative electric guitar similar to Dylan Carson on his current form, but then suddenly stops to splinter into an extended ambient and atmospheric form of improvisation. Much of "High Blues" stays within this register, although there are shades of musical film noir within the guitar twangs of "Suite". The sense of slow drift, of music to contemplate dust particles floating through the air, is heightened by Astrïd´s arrangement of a piece by Erik Satie. It's an appropriate fit as, like Satie,
The spirits of Erik Satie and the No-Neck-Blues-Band rarely mix in a singular vision, but this French quartet even uses moments of the enigmatic moods of Mark Hollis and some Eno-esque abstractions to create unique chamber-like atmospheres that never soumd like a sum of their inspirations.
The French quartet ASTRÏD, which is named after Astrid Kirchherr because of the non-French and non-English flair, managed the feat of being accepted into the inner circle of Runegard as a non-Nordic band. Although the first thing is a good 21-min. The title track of High Blues (RCD 2126) begins to sound immediately obvious why. Cyril Secq with guitars and harmonium and Yvan Ros on drums, percussion and double bass, in 1997 the founding team of the formation from Nantes & Marseille, together with the violinist Vanina Andreani and Guillaume Wickel on clarinets, flute and rhodes weave a booming ambience in which the inner The eye can no longer distinguish whether the horizon is lined with glittering sand or snow dunes. Even frostbite is getting hot hallucinatory, and the Valkyries can then take the form of Huri of Paradise. While the violin curves and glitters and the clarinet strums and complains, small guitar and bass motifs revolve around themselves, oblivious to time. With a slow-motion version of 'Gnossiennes' follows as 'Erik S.' a tribute to Satie, in which acoustic guitar, violin and clarinet make the catchy tune dance. Dark timpani swabs mark the subsequent 'suite' as a solemn, pharaonic oriental swing. The acoustic guitar of 'James', long solo before a Kalimba and the other voices join in, suggests an Arabesque Spain. Finally the violin files tonelessly to 'Bysimh', to chimes (or one-finger rhodes) and again acoustic guitar, here in monotonous desert style, but with melodic mind games, yearning violin threads and pensive clarinet. The Orient as a horizon of longing, psychedelic, hypnotic.
Bad Alchemy (DE)
Unusually enough, but fundamentally likeable: a French quartet around the guitarist Cyril Secq and the drummer Yvan Ros named themselves to cover up traces after the photographer and Beatles icon Astrid Kirchherr and has published his third album since 1997 on the Norwegian gourmet label of all places Rune gramophone, but that makes sense, because Astrïd plays a radically decelerated, free, psychedelic chamber music with guitar, percussion, harmonium, violin and bass clarinet. Sometimes that sounds like John Fahey, sometimes Earth, more often after the very late Talk Talk or after Pink Floyd without keyboards and unplugged. A very obscure herb rock band from the early 1970s could also be at work here. Or the shaman folk of the No Neck Blues Band.
Stuttgarter Zeitung (DE)
Astrïd is a quartet from southern France and unfolds long, worn, archaic soundscapes with acoustic guitar and jazz elements on “high blues”.
Plateselskapet Rune gramophone slipper sjelden til utenlandske artister. Når det skjer, he derforforventningene høye. The franske, gitardrevne kvartetten Astrïd har et sammenatt uttrykk som peker reaches utenfor hovedinstrumentets domene. Sounds like this gir gode assosiasjoner to the artist Loren Connors og Earth. He slowed down and gjerrigheten utpreget. Kalimba, fiolin, harmonium and clarinet tydeliggjør saktmodigheten. Franskmennene spiller chamber music permanently hjemsted. Structure og tilnærming står i gjeld til det klassiske så vel som til rocken. På "Erik S." tar Cyril Secq foreign acoustic guitars og gjør omgivelsene myke og varme. Astrïd har fast grep om egen identit og lykkes godt med varsom og melodisk Kraft. 5/6.
Astrïd reveals the assimilation of american minimalism with the us of various timbers coming from far territories. Erik Satie is showing his nose in Erik S. - a way, for the french quartet to draw his reverence to one of the most original coposers of the 20th century. Psychedelic folk, a very kind of saucerful of secrets revisited, belongs to the atmospheric instrumental tradition, where time is shared in glissandi, loops- these moments are the way to trap time spreading. Astrïd is on the borders of contemporary chamber music and an abstract white progressive rock. Erik Satie might play guitar and have been reincarnated in Astrïd- and that's great!
French quartet evolving quietly from "music for" (2004), with an album every 4 years, Astrïd has landed softly on Rune Grammofon. An accomodating space, cut to measure for that original and beautiful "avatar" of electronic music, played organicaly in an half ambient-half jazz weightlessness that only skill musicians are able of. From the beginning, in gracious 20 minutes, the bewitching High blues is the theater of skilful slips and subtle junctions: post-rock sound are quick disappearing to leave the place to a streched improvisation where appear the ghosts of Mark Hollis, Jerry Garcia and Jon Hassel, before a bass rock riff, obsessive but idle, invites clarinet and strings to join a whales choir. Revolving around the superlative precision of Cyril Secq guitar playing, the compositions of the quartet- applying to the letter the silence equation from Miles Davis- never fall down in the trap of facility. Their intelligence allowed them not to make a cheap melancholic homage, taking out the core of the first gymnopedy (1887) from Satie (Erik S.) and working out a surprising "bullet time" flamenco (James), whose pulse seems to have been based on match the future summer rain of meteorits. Extremely quiet, but never soporific, high blues is a beautiful album allowing dreams and contemplation, offering, like the japanese gardens, several listening levels.
Magic RPM (FR)
After the well acclaimed "music for" (2004), "&" (2008), out on arbouse recordings, Astrïd - a stongly discrete band - has just sent out a third album on Rune Grammofon. High blues is barely "In a silent way" in a post-rock way. All along the 20 minutes of the first piece, the 1969 ambient Miles Davis is dancing tightened to Labradford. Crystal guitars, hypnotizing drones, rare chords changes, soft strings dissonances, beautiful wind instruments. Felted like a billiard cloth. As velvety as love. For High Blues, the Grateful Dead white rabbit would have turned from LSD to Cognac. Reminiscences from the act of madness from Talk Talk (Laughing Stock), and a marvelous french 90's UFO, Mils. One can notice some guilty acts, trying to flux and embellish, that can decrease the insidious low trailing character of those five tracks. But the good is done: we are taken by that Hypermuzak, returned of all. Very beautiful album.
Spread between Nantes and Marseille, the band AstrÏd has done a long trip, for 15 years, that leads them to explore what is between improvised music, contemporary, baroque, folk and rock. Despite the appearences, the quartet (guitar, drums, clarinet and violin) can't be summarized to a simple chicagoan post-rock sound. The ghosts of Satie, Ravel, Rachel's or Ry Cooder are floating on that skeletal folk, an ideal soundtrack for an afternoon rest.
The band who has suscribed to long instrumental epics is digging for 15 years a rigorous furrow between post-rock and ambient neo-classical. One has to be aware, we are here on the margins, on the borders of pop empire and a barbarian world, where the Roman law does no longer apply. For the release of their third record, the quartet lent allegiance to Rune Grammofon. A "head-inquiring" label that fits them as a glove. I have already said it, the music of Astrïd needs patience and time to get in. A little friend advice, avoid redundancy. It is useless to listen to their music on a rainy sunday or to forget a sad love affair. The music could barely match with urban agitation, subway halls or a heavy sun in "south of France" village. When using the opposite course, one can, more easily, get in that "high blues". Five tracks that sound like the thunder or a lullaby, like the sound of the sea. The album is opening with a 21 minutes long odyssey, crossed by a reverberated guitar playing a repetitive riff. Neil Young, get out of that body! Then, a minimalistic cover of the first Satie Gnossienne. The band, then, changes of way with "Suite", central track, on which resound a huge drum. But you have to wait untill "James" or "Bysimh" to listen to the most intense moments of the record, when all the instruments play together and fill the sound space with warm and rough texture. The listener will travel during almost an hour in that "terra incognita" crossed by many traps. In spite of long tracks, Astrïd is a band that plays with silence with brilliance. This ascetism, able of luminous rises that are made wait subtly,
http://www.popnews.com (french interview)