reviewed by Michael Thomas
It’s a bold move to declare your band “experimental folk,” but Vancouver’s Dil Brito is doing just that and they’re doing it well.
To try to get to the heart of what Astro is about seems to be missing the point entirely. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to compare this work to that of She-Devils, though the acts operate in very different genres—both are grounded in one genre, but are intermittently lifted out of it. Just as with She-Devils, listeners will constantly have to readjust their expectations.
The surface level of Dil Brito is the soft vocals and skillful guitar that lay out the quiet landscape. The guitar playing can be bluesy, sunny or just downright hypnotic, and there are some great, enigmatic lyrics to take note of, if you can make them out through the less-than-clean production. Lines like “Keeping time by screaming wild songs at blank lines” from “Down My Lane” really get you thinking.
But every once in a while, that tranquility is distorted; sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes for an entire song. “The Wheels” is a good example of this; with less than a minute of the song to go, the picked guitar and gentle vocals are suddenly overwhelmed by a storm of distortion, as though the song has been haunted by a ghost. Other times the effect is more fleeting; the sudden craziness of “The Wall” or the weird, almost synth-sounding bits in “Wrapped Up In Reeds.”
The album’s songs sometimes feel like two-part units when paired with later numbers. “Ghosts” and “Thoughts to Rust” both inhabit a bluesier world, with the latter even featuring some ethereal “oohs,” while “The Wheels” and “My Old Fix” are on the surface a lot sunnier. Then there’s the two interludes, “Good Work” and “Gooseberries,” short instrumentals that will give you even more to think about.
Astro is an intriguing, artful little thing that can sometimes be overwhelming. But isn’t it good to have your perceptions challenged?
Top Tracks: “My Old Fix”; “A Continuum”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)