Fragmented Frequencies Jan 2016


Astor is Mark Harwood, who you may remember as DJ Quokenzocker or as the proprietor of Melbourne’s best ever record store, Synaesthesia – which was a haven for weird, wonderful and experimental practice for over a decade. Now based in the UK, Harwood runs Penultimate Press, which offers limited run music and literature such as Étant Donnés, Hour House, Graham Lambkin, and Matthew Hopkins. Whilst much of the music is pretty obscure, it’s characterised by artists pursuing their own obsessive vision down rabbit holes of their own making. Not unlike Harwood’s own approach. When considering Astor you wonder how a guy who’s heard a ridiculous amount of the strangest music in existence is going to settle on one approach, style or genre. The beauty is that he doesn’t. His previous two albums, released on Kye records, possessed a relentlessly indefinable musique concrete, with strange blurred unknowable field recordings evolving into amorphous yet beguiling sounds. It was atmospheric evocative music, the way you wished all sound design could be. His new album Lina in Nida (Penultimate Press), sees Astor take on a more overtly electronic aesthetic whilst maintaining his unique ability to transcend genres and transition seamlessly across disparate ingredients. The opener, The East, is his proposed anthem for a British invasion by Isis, though perhaps only if all Britians had been force fed early Mego recordings during childhood. Curiously there’s melody, even musicality here too. It’s still abstract and just out of reach, yet the key is its experiential and beguiling nature.