While there are signs suggesting that the ravaging pandemic might be behind us before too long, it's indisputable that suffering, both physically and psychologically, has been intense and enduring for many. Some would say it's cringeworthy to describe a band as being able to provide a soundtrack for hope during perilous times, but for those aware of how moving and impactful music can be, the notion isn't outlandish at all. GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT is one such band capable of moving mountains, in the mind's eye of the diehard fanbase, anyway. And the legendary post-rock band's 10th full-length album, "Ghost Tapes #10", delivers an impressive artistic outpouring offering potentially inspiring sounds .
The quartet has been fearless and bold musically since its 2002 debut, "The End of the Beginning". But they've taken their curiosity and adventurous spirit to the nth degree with "Ghost Tapes #10". This isn't to say they've made a dramatic departure from their unique blend of spacious post-rock, electronic music and Krautrock. The Irish band has just increased the risk-taking factor with regard to their songwriting, and they've done so with success.
A massive soundscape reveals itself at the onset of opener "Adrift". An unnerving tension soon finds release along with a powerful series of melodies and electronic pulses that rhythmically dance with the stuttered drum work. Gently plucked strings and Jamie Dean's delicate piano lines provide soothing auditory pleasure but also stand as a brief reprieve prior to an explosive, building conclusion. Elsewhere, the sheer force and overwhelmingly evocative nature of the band is equally instantaneously evident with "Barren Trees"'s electronic, pseudo-eighties opening crawl. This track is a prime example of the manner in which GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT captures the essence of eighties pop and prog and delivers them with the heft of metal. "Luminous Waves" rounds the album out with a vast sound that facilitates melancholy and somehow exhibits a sliver of hope, just enough to free the song (and listeners) from the claws of depression.
The magnitude and quality of the songs are so jaw-dropping that new listeners might not even notice the atypical lack of vocals that further sets GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT apart from the sea of forgettable guitar-based bands. The seven tracks that comprise "Ghost Tapes #10" are considerably different, and yet there is a shared vision and a common thread throughout. GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT has always provided great music for driving or running to, engaging in activities that allow listeners to lose themselves without necessarily needing to focus on the music itself. But with "Ghost Tapes #10", the music is likely to be too gripping for one to be able to ignore or subconsciously compartmentalize.