Hail To The Clear Figurines is the sixth album by Philly psychonauts, The Asteroid #4.
Hot off the heels of their prior release, 2008’s These Flowers Of Ours…, our heroes decamped to the mind-warp vortex that is their studio home during the winter of 2010 to continue their assault on the senses.
Perhaps due to the season, and its affect on the psyche, Hail To The Clear Figurines has a touch of melancholy, a wistfulness borne of the blown snow and bare trees enveloping their surroundings. A willing back to life of all that was slumbering. What we have is a document of the effort. The bargain was sealed, the giant awoke.
>From the opening invitation to “take the journey like we’re lovers,” on “Wicked Wire”, the apocalypse history of the title track, the shambolic Buffalo Springfield-alike of The Unknown and the Byrdsian Got Nowhere To Go — with its line “I’m looking around this room/I feel as though I’m living in a cocoon” — to the dreams-of-futures-passed invoked by “A Sunny Day (One Afternoon)” to the closing thrust and majesty of “Ignition Slated For Eight”, The Asteroid #4 have built a temple to take shelter and solace in.
Supposedly named after Vesta, the brightest asteroid in our solar system, the moniker is an obvious nod to Spacemen 3, the classic UK band which The Asteroid #4 repeatedly cite as an influence. In fact, one of the group’s earliest recorded offerings was an even spacier (if that’s possible) version of “Losing Touch With My Mind” on Rocket Girl’s tribute compilation to the psych giants. Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember himself named the song as a stand-out track on that compilation in an interview with Magnet Magazine.
Now The Asteroid #4 is ready to release what will be their 6th full-length album. This collection of albums, accompanied by a host of compilation selections, digital-only rarities and a number of 7″ singles, is all the more impressive considering the revolving cast of band members over the years. Like the Brian Jonestown Massacre or Philly brethren The Lilys, The Asteriod #4 have maintained a few core members but watched countless others come and go. Despite this challenge in continuity, the band has never called it quits. If truth be told, perhaps it has been the near-constant change in personnel over the last decade or so that’s made the band what it is today. Their sound, a hypnotic hybrid of several different genres filtered through the kaleidoscope of all things psych, krautrock, shoegaze, folk and even 70s “cosmic” country-rock, has matured them to the point of originality rather than simply homage.
We’re all witness to the formidable maturation and glory days of a band willing to take, head-on, their own lofty expectations — then exceed them.