Many words come to mind upon hearing Astrix’s name — one that stands out in particular is “trailblazer.” The Israeli-born producer has been a key player in the psy-trance scene since the late 1990s, having reached commercial fame and securing his legend with his 2004 sophomore album, Artcore. When sounds of Goa began to pierce contemporary trance, Astrix’s fame expanded even more rapidly after dispersing his sonic vision across the globe.
Red Means Distortion had been the last album we’d seen from the stalwart. Demanding tour schedules every year have whisked Astrix away from the studio, leaving him with barely enough studio time to release the occasional single. Nearly six years later, however, He.Art’s Leap Day arrival has provided us with nine new pieces of music to digest.
He.Art’s catalogue suggests Avi Shmailov is embracing progressive sounds that have given birth in recent years to what one might call “nu-psy.” That isn’t to say he’s hopping on any sort of bandwagon for his fifth album — in fact, each song is expertly crafted in a way few can emulate. Within its 80-minute duration you can hear the same Astrix vibe present in all of his music, which has defined his leadership in psy while influencing countless artists beneath him.
photo credit: Insomniac
“Shamanic Tales” is a flawless opener for the LP, beginning subtly with such an atmosphere crisp to the point of feeling as though you’re actually listening to a shaman in the jungle while it’s playing. Twelve minutes later, the track has reached its peak as the tempo spikes in preparation for the intense listening experience about to unfold. He.Art’s title track bounces along with pounding kicks and whimsical synths, while “Sapana” coaxes the album into a sinister, psychedelic direction that finishes with two traditional goa compositions reminiscent of the old Astrix. His remix of Juno Reactor’s “Conquistador” is included in these aforementioned selections, and ranks highly among fans.
Shmailov also enlisted the contributions of several collaborators on He.Art, speaking volumes of how tightly-bound artists in the psy community are today. Seeing more than one joint effort on the track list brings one back to his debut album Eye To Eye. “Valley Of Stevie” shines as one of the more intriguing pieces of the whole album, striking the ears with cunning melodies that give way to cerebral background noises. “Awake The Snake” with Tristan closes the LP with echoey pings and tingly sets of note that hit the ears at various angles, submerging you in the music. Astrix certainly knew whose styles would work best with his, as evidenced by the artistic chemistry heard in each collaboration.
Waiting close to six years for Astrix’s album to drop was indeed worth it. He delivered a career-defining set of ten tracks that point in a direction toward progressive psy sounds. That said, his approach is brilliant as always; he adapts his unmistakable sonic profile into each composition. He.Art opens the door to painstakingly curated artists as well, who fuse their sounds with Shmailov’s to breed further creativity through collaboration. Ultimately, his fifth album is a success which only serves as another reason why Astrix is one of the highest-rated trance acts of his generation.
01. Astrix – Shamanic Tales
02. Astrix – Deep Jungle Walk
03. Astrix – Alien Turned Human
04. Astrix & Ace Ventura – Valley of Stevie
05. Astrix – He.art
06. Astrix & Ritmo – Agate
07. Astrix – Sapana (Album Version)
08. Astrix & Tristan – Awake the Snake
09. Juno Reactor – Conquistador (Astrix Remix)
10. He.art Continuous Mix
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