New Audio: Astrocolor’s Dub-Leaning, Trippy Take on “Sleigh Bells”

Now, if you’re been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of months, you might recall that I’ve written about the  Victoria, BC-based quintet Astrocolor. Comprised of Andrew Poirier (guitar), Anand Greenwell (saxophone), Chris Mackenzie (drums), William Farrant (bass), and Piers Henwood (guitar), the Canadian quintet decided that they wanted to tackle traditional and familiar Christmas songs for their latest recoded effort, Lit Up: Music for Christmas.

Featuring guest vocals from KandleRykkaJets Overhead‘s Antonia Freybe-Smith, and Abi Rose and co-produced by the Canadian quintet and Colin Stewart, best known for his work with Black MountainDan Mangan and AC Newman, the compositional and sonic approach was largely inspired by jazz great Stan Getz’Getz Au Go-Go, as well as Massive AttackAir and St. Germain. As the band explained in press notes, Stan Getz’s rendition of “Summertime,” “became a jumping off point for what we were trying to do, taking the classic ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy’  hook and reshaping it into an exploratory piece. We too wanted to create a sense of familiarity and exploration within the context of a Christmas album.”

The album’s first single “We Three Kings” was a noir-ish and moodily atmospheric song that managed to sound as though it owed a sonic debt to jazz, as much as it did to dubstep and trip-hop as Abi Rose’s seductive, jazz standard vocal stylings were paired with a mournful horn line, swirling electronics, angular, funk guitar and bass and plinking keys submerged in layers of reverb to craft a cinematic and sensual rendition of a familiar and beloved holiday song. The album’s latest single is a dubby and jazz-leaning rendition of “Sleigh Bells” that pairs Rose’s husky, jazz standard vocal stylings with angular bass lines, twisting and turning guitar chords played through gentle amounts of feedback and wah wah pedal, and warm blasts of expressive horns and subtly slows down the song’s familiar tempo and melody to create a trippy and breezy rendition of a beloved Christmas song we’ve all sung at some point — while sounding as though it drew influence from the Josh Roseman Unit‘s dub-leaning rendition of Burt Bacharach‘s “Long Day, Short Night.” And it does while reminding the listener of the song’s playful nature.

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