Review: The Astronaut Body Four – Murder City

The Astronaut Body Four - Murder CityRecorded in the drummer’s bedroom, it’s only inevitable that a wayward elbow would clatter into a wardrobe, or that the limbs of both body and saxophone would joust and jostle unintentionally. That’s what I imagine at least, as side one’s smooth, cyclical swing awkwardly negotiates the small amount of space – musical formality is retained in a brittle balance, quivering like a cocked buckaroo, awaiting just one misjudged sway to knock Murder City into a rubble of loose circuitry and percussive annihilation. There are times where the oblivious bleep of synthesiser is the only thing stopping the silence from sticking, and there are others where the minimal space compacts the atmospheric tension into bullets of brayed dissonance.

All etiquette is abandoned for side two, which presses the steep gradients into sheer drops and hard spikes: keyboards spiral into dislodged rants, cymbals and snares tick like a wagon tumbling downward, voids open up and suck the momentum into pitch black, albeit for a broken saxophone solo under crooked spotlight. The room is expertly reshaped and repainted between the four of them; jazz backdrops collapse and mid-tempo rock emerges with the seamless professionalism of a theatre scene change, and even as The Astronaut Body Four seem to tip right off the edge into numerous blackouts of rationality and decorum, I see them clambering back up again each time. All this within a drummer’s bedroom.