Original photo by Alex Lovell-Smith
Asta Rangu - ENTRTMNT
ALBUM REVIEW BY CARLA CAMILLERI
TRACE / UNTRACE RECORDS 2022
To experience an album as a sonic narrative is like reading a really good book that is difficult to put down. Even without the words on the page, you are instantly transported to a story-scape that is unique to your interpretation of the feeling it conveys and the images it triggers. It is a glorious moment when these worlds are discovered and when you realise that you are holding the key.
Asta Rangu have pulled off an adventurous chronicle with their new album ENTRNTNMNT; a glittering drive through a starry sky, with surprising twists and bursts of sunlight through the dark clouds.
The Ōtepoti outfit exploded into the scene from the tail end of indie-pop band Males, led by Richard Ley-Hamilton. His angular, sombre lyrics have always been apparent, yet his moniker Asta Rangu allowed for a more accurate projection of his ideas. After enlisting band members Julie Dunn on keys, Josh Nicholls on drums and Angus McBride on bass, the group emerged onto the scene with their singles, ‘I Dream’ and ‘Nico’, as well as support slots for the likes of The Chills, The Beths, Ha The Unclear and Marlin’s Dreaming.
ENTRTNMNT threads together 8 tracks, most with vowelless names that allow us to fill the gaps with our own figures and meaning. ‘---’, the opening piece, is the most ambiguously named. It gently envelopes us in Asta Rangu’s sound, giving small nods at what is to come. Julie’s synth coats the night sky a deep shade of purple while the perpetual bass line and driving drum pattern encourage us to fly right into it. ‘CWT’ comes next as a thunderstruck storm cloud - a turbulent, heavy-hitting song that highlights the band’s sound in all its glory. From the recurring dissonant melody to the guitar-heavy riffs and carefully measured vocals, the song is a swirling, tumultuous dreamscape. ‘VIC’ swiftly follows as a beam of light penetrating the chaos, the rich instrumentation creating a big bed to recline into and admire the brightness from. These three opening songs, to me, display Asta Rangu’s ability to effortlessly teeter between light and dark, weaving Ley Hamilton’s ideas together with an electric energy.
The escapade continues, the band dabbling in indie guitar-driven rock and dream pop, all while maintaining their angular textures. ‘LLPLZA’, one of the lead singles from the project, incorporates marimba and glockenspiel to accentuate the melodies, painting a new colour in the dreamscape that mirrors the song’s dark-yet-playful energy. The music video, which compiles archive public-domain footage, illuminates the song through an extraterrestrial lens.
Despite the unpredictable vitality of each track, there is a sense of familiarity when recognisable motifs poke through the surface, grounding the project and bringing us down from the sky. Amongst the whirling textures are the sounds of laughter and birds-calls that provide a sense of lucidity amongst the spellbinding imaginations the band have conjured up.
ENTRTNMNT is an impressive debut album from Asta Rangu who have proven themselves to be clever craftspeople of sound, curating catchy hooks amongst well thought-out layers that allow their concepts to flourish. Don’t miss their nationwide tour with Space Bats Attack! this June.