'Astral' is the first completely new material Ellen Allien has released since her 'Berlinette' record. The big surprise for fans is that all three tracks are instrumentals.
Since 'Berlinette' she has released two 12inches with remixes and the 'Remix Collection' full length, but this single is the one fans have been waiting for.
Astral sits well next to Smash TV, T. Raumschmiere and ADULT. It has a well produced depth to it and robotic beats like Smash TV, dry sounds like early T. Raumschmiere, and the sequenced synth tone of ADULT. I like Astral because it moves through many variations, unlike the T. Raumschmiere stuff I compared it to. Ellen Allien understands the construction of songs, and brings this experience to her instrumental tracks.
The B-side has two songs. BangBang sounds like it was recorded at the same time as Berlinette, and has the type of sound Ellen Allien has excelled at for years. There is a brief appearance of vocal in the one phrase which gets repeated (sounds like "bang bang stop it"). The beats are broken. The continuous tone of the floating synth is the one comfortable sound on this track.
Strobo Me sounds a bit like the mix that Electric Indigo did for Human Records. It has lots of 808 action, and several broken swishing sounds which knock around throughout the track. It is hard techno that dancers could go insane to.
It is interesting that Ellen Allien made this 12inch without using vocals. There are several female German DJs that are making great mixes that are hard and interesting. Electric Indigo and Acid Maria are two such women. I like the fact that Ellen Allien is showcasing her music, as opposed to the vocal tracks which so many people love her for.
I believe that Ellen Allien could become a crossover hit like Tali is attempting with her 'Lyric On My Lip' full length, but it appears that Ellen Allien prefers to work the underground with techno music that looks forward even as it homors the past.
Now the wait begins for a new Ellen Allien full length. She has the means to take it anywhere she wants. I like this single, particularly the A-side, and look forward to whatever lies ahead.