To the Stars
softy, dear alum goes experimental as Astral Samara
Bands separate. People graduate, move out, travel, and start anew. It’s not easy to watch – especially if they’re local – and though the Eau Claire-based alt-rock outfit Softly, Dear is no more, former member Alex Adkinson is sailing back into the Midwest music scene with the new experimental moniker, Astral Samara. The project strays from his previous musical endeavors and takes on a curious organic-yet-electronic approach to songwriting. The forthcoming Zonal Flows EP, consisting of four tracks, is due out sometime towards the end of October. It’s a step in a new direction, but for Adkinson, a step forward nonetheless.
“I often love to work in the computer initially and know that I have an unlimited palate of tones, effects and instruments and think about it in a more visual way, like a sculpture or an expressionist landscape and just start to carve away or throw paint at a wall.” – musician Alex Adkinson on his creative process
“I really believed in what Softly, Dear was able to accomplish as a unit in terms of creating some good tunes and was especially proud of what we were able to accomplish as a democratically and autonomously run outfit,” he says. “But sometimes things have to change, and I still love those people and the times we rocked together so all is well that ends well. Through that I grew and learned a lot but have now begun to embrace myself creatively as a ‘project’ to ‘push’ but the shift has certainly been radical.”
Zonal Flows is a trip. It’s music inspired by starstuff. It’s rippling soundscapes that bleed into one another, field-recorded percussive samples, squeaks, and a healthy dose of white noise. At times it’s electrifying, with head-bob inducing tunes, and by the end, with wailing ghost-like vocals, there’s one of the most haunting and beautiful piano riffs I’ve heard all year. It’s meditative, reflective to the process in which it was created.
“I often love to work in the computer initially and know that I have an unlimited palate of tones, effects and instruments and think about it in a more visual way, like a sculpture or an expressionist landscape and just start to carve away or throw paint at a wall,” Adkinson says. “Either way, I like to have a moment, feeling or idea in my head informing the process. Oftentimes nature, specifically the sun shimmering on rippling water.”
Look out for the Zonal Flows EP out later next month on the Lowkey Radical label. Along with the EP, Adkinson has a zine release and set of ambient offerings coming soon entitled Microtonal Meditations and plans for a full-length Astral record within the next year or so. If you’re itching to experience the EP live, you can catch Astral Samara live as a full band Oct. 2 at the Mousetrap Tavern.