Astrament, "Xenossiah" (self-released)
For over a decade, former member of Hardly Art-associated goth-rockers Grave Babies Mitchell Saulsberry has carried on a scandalously below-the-rader recording regimen under aliases such as Yoko Phono, Perpetual Ritual, and now Astrament. As his new Astramental Kirtans album proves, Saulsberry remains an ambitious explorer of non-Western rhythms, percussion, and melodic progressions. The five tracks here delve into exotic textures and ritualistic realms in the veins of Muslimgauze, Rapoon, and late-era Dead Can Dance without sounding too much like any of those revered artists.
"Xenossiah" instantly ushers you to a stranger world with a gentle, slow-motion gush of mysterious space dust, distant shakers, subliminally ominous synth ripples, and what sounds like a sample of ex-Transglobal Underground vocalist Natacha Atlas in the throes of romantic turmoil. Soon, dub-bass pressure, defiant hand percussion, and a sinuous melody on a foreign wind instrument enter and we're off on a caravan to the unknown. There aren't many musician in Seattle carving out such fascinatingly nebulous sonic topiary, so we should treasure the ones who trod the path least taken with this much distinctiveness.