Oh Fantastica


Oh Fantastica

Released: June 3, 2003



After a year of creative exploration, with its members split between Brooklyn and Philly, and straining to see through the recent barrage of garage rock and musical regurgitation, Aspera converged on Tonearm Studios to work on Oh Fantastica, their third album. Tonearm occupies a portion of the acclaimed Space 1026 art collective in Chinatown, Philadelphia and is purveyed by production team King Honey and J.SProcess. Aspera approached Honey after hearing the MF Doom “Monday Night At Fluid” 12″ (Sound Ink). J.SProcess was brought in to compliment Honey’s synthetic production skills with a more organic sensibility. Oh Fantastica continues a darkly thematic tradition established with Sugar and Feathered (recently re-released on Jagjaguwar) and the follow up Birds Fly EP (Suicide Squeeze) yet abandons the overwrought psychedelia of both records (oft compared to Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev). Oh Fantastica is full of minimal yet memorable melodies driven by Drew Mills’ most upfront and un-effected vocal performance to date. The beats are intentionally grimy — composed of deep, 808 / 909 textures and laced with gated, acoustic percussion takes and dirty synth bass lines. On Oh Fantastica, the band ride a dream-like wave with ears attune to musical relevancy then, now, and to come. ’80s pop production (Simple Minds and Tears for Fears) exists side by side with hip-hop’s old school (Afrika Bambaataa) and new school (Swizz Beats, Anti-Pop Consortium, Timbaland, Neptunes). Contemporary electronic experimentation meets the old guard (Another Green World-era Brian Eno; Giorgio Moroder’s militant electro; early-80’s tech-adventurism of Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock and Paul McCartney’s McCartney II). Oh Fantastica is a vessel that’s only movement is toward the future, and the future sounds fantastic. Aspera (known then as Aspera Ad Astra) was originally conceived in the summer of ’96. An Aspera track featured on Tree’s Postmarked Stamp Series caught the attention of Marc Bianchi (Her Space Holiday) who would release the band’s first album, Peace, on the short-lived AudioInformationPhenomena label. The band threw fans of Peace’s shoegazer revivalism through a loop with their contribution to Insound’s Tour Support Series (Vol. 4) and split 12″ with The Lilys (Tigerstyle). The collection of songs marked both a line up change and deviation from standard writing that would be fully realized on the band’s second album, Sugar and Feathered.

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