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(71 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. Squirrels Net 5:10 2. Calusari 4:20 3. Gazpacho 1:43 4. The Pudas Box 4:34 5. Golden Gnome Business 3:05 6. Hedgehog in the Rain 5:19 7. Black-eyed Susan 4:47 8. Franco Has Just Left the Building 5:15 9. Dali's Hambo in Short Skirt 4:10 10. Gunaydin 1:56 11. Gurkha 2:00 12. Just As Fast As Saperstein 2:38 13. Ellington the Ruthless 2:47 14. Mankind Is Kept Alive by Bestial Acts 3:57 15. Speaking in Tongues 4:15 16. Blue Wave from the Skies 2:28 17. A Soul Is Like a Moon 2:11 18. Springrun 3:10 19. Magic of a Child 4:20 20. Pignoise 3:00
Prolusion. "Asylum for Astral Travelers" is thus far the only album by KUNDALINI, though the project's main man, Arne Jonasson, isn't a novice on a Prog scene, well known in Sweden for being one of the masterminds behind the Holy River Family Band, performing psychedelic Space Rock.
Analysis. Already the uniqueness of a combination of quasi Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, various Asian folk stylings, avant-garde psychedelic Rock and extreme Metal (with manifold, mostly exotic, stringed instruments at the core of most arrangements), which is a kind of trademark of this album, makes it a winner in my eyes. Besides which, the trio are men of great musical education, each member masterfully commanding his instruments. There are 20 tracks here, most of which are short in duration, and yet, none seem to be short in content, being full-fledged compositions, just compact. Well, a few pieces have undeveloped finales, sounding like they have been broken at the end rather than logically finished, but that's not a major drawback, considering their overall impressiveness. For all that the material is woven of plenty of different stylistic influences, the overall picture is always coherent, at least it's never excessively eclectic. Squirrels Net, Calusari, Black-eyed Susan and Franco Has Just Left the Building are a queer, yet, highly organic mixture of various (Thai, Balinese, Indian and more) Eastern tunes and Jazz-Fusion, with lots of exotic timbres, imparting an amazing piquancy to the music. The influence of extreme Metal is especially striking on Golden Gnome Business and Ellington the Ruthless, the latter's structural constructions easily associating with those of such of the genre's monsters as Brutal Truth and Kataklysm. The music on the album's last one third has a strong chamber sense, the emotional spectrum ranging mainly from an autumnal mood to melancholy. Among the best tracks here are Speaking in Tongues, filled with brilliant authentic improvisations, and Blue Wave from the Skies, where Jonasson quite vividly reproduces the opening door's squeak on one of his instruments (not sure on which exactly). A Soul Is Like a Moon unexpectedly reveals Arne's singing, which is surprisingly solid and tasteful. The emotional Pignoise is made up of angular constructions with an abundance of low 'growling' sounds. It's a very impressive composition and is an apt closing track for the CD in general.
Conclusion. "Asylum for Astral Travelers" by Kundalini is an album, striking for its progressiveness without having large-scaled musical maneuvers with endless changes of theme etc. Using the literary terminology, this would be a book of short stories, which surpass many novels by the richness and distinct originality of the storylines. Excellent music. Audiophile sound. Sincere recommendations. Top-20-2002
VM: October 26, 2005
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