Astra - The Black ChordSometimes Wikipedia is bang on.

About Astra it says they are from San Diego, California and that their sound is 70s progressive and psychedelic rock and features a variety of keyboards and long jams. That seems to sum it up nicely…assuming the bit about San Diego is right.

So, if we start from that snippet of information we are in the right frame of mind to appreciate what Astra are doing and how they are doing it.

Now I’m not big on keyboards but in the first track “Cocoon” we get an almost Jean-Michel Jarre vibe to get things going; not an unpleasant start at all. I notice as the track progresses that Astra are much more interested in creating a sound and an atmosphere than showing off whatever musical chops they might possess. This is a very good thing.

I guess Yes are an obvious influence, but I think there’s a bit of all those bands in here. I hear some King Crimson in the 14 minute title track but also some Deep Purple and Kansas. It makes you realise how distinctive those keyboard sounds were, and are.

The playing is of a high standard but as I mentioned, without showing off. The six tracks do meander somewhat but in the prog genre that’s generally perfectly acceptable and part of the fun.

Track 5 “Bull Torpis” is less than three minutes long though and features some great guitar work that Carlos Santana would be proud of.

The vocals remind me of someone but I can’t for the life of me think who. Actually, its just come to me. They are Pink Floydy, and I don’t think Astra would be too upset by that comparison.

Astra are a fine band. If you are looking to recreate all the things you loved about 70s prog then you could do a lot worse than check out “The Black Chord”.

Astra – Official Website