Castel – “Astral Portal”
Album: Astral Portal
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 27 August 2017
Label: Asura Revolver
- Blue cassette, edition 30 (Asura Revolver, 2017)
- Digital download (Asura Revolver, 2017)
Astral Portal was the last in a string of summer releases from Asura Revolver, a Norwegian label that deals in “pure energy” – oftentimes “vapor” and vaporwave releases. Astral Portal is by Castel, a dreampunk/drone artist who – like many such artists – got his start releasing ambient music on labels such as Pinkbox Teleport. Almost immediately, Castel switched to long-form drone releases starting with The Saviour on hardvapour label HVRF. Astral Portal is his second overall full-length.
Along with Shinjuku Underground – Meditation Chamber System Overload by Subaeris, Astral Portal is one of the longest albums in the Asura Revolver library. It is roughly divided into three sections in which two long-form drone tracks bookend four lighter, dreampunk-esque songs; the whole suite ends in a brief outro. The drone tracks share much in common with the “nu age” music released through Elemental 95, Acid Medical, and No Problema Tapes – being long washes of ambient synthesizer sounds with some callbacks to the early space music of artists such as Tangerine Dream. The first track – “Neo Rising” was originally featured on the Pinkbox Teleport release. The shorter tracks recall early dreampunk music with languid synth progressions, as with the curiously lo-fi “Void Portal”. “Transcended” features field recordings of rushing water and stereo washes of smooth digital sounds that slide down the harmonic scale – something that could be an early 2814 mix if you didn’t know better.
The long drone tracks are slightly too long and lack some meaningful evolution or statement to make the drone matter – a problem also faced by The Knife with the dark ambient suite “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized” on Shaking the Habitual. In particular, the thirty-four minutes of “Dream Entanglement” has few changes or elements worth repeating ad infinitum other than some points of volume increase and similar waves-crashing sound effects as heard on “Transcended”. However, if you’re looking for background music when reading a book or pretending you’re at Case’s beach in Neuromancer, then the drone tracks do alright.
1. Neo Rising – (24:36)
2. Void Portal – (2:10)
3. Transcended – (8:00)
4. Singularity – (3:34)
5. Astral Connection – (3:28)
6. Dream Entanglement – (34:21)
7. All Things End – (0:55)