The Los Angeles based collective Astronauts of Antiquity is a trio of musicians with an artistic commitment to marrying the entertainment and physical value of electronic pop and EDM with substantive personal and social statements. Melodies are bountiful in Astronauts of Antiquity’s musical universe and they aren’t imitative – you may search and scour, but it’s unlikely that you’ll ever hear their musical antecedent anywhere. There is a distinctly European vibe to their ambition and precise musical sensibilities – most acts in this genre lay out the admirable goal of entertaining audiences or prodding people to dance as their only ambition, but Astronauts of Antiquity reaches for something more. However, there is another more American quality in their music, something distinctly urban and atmospheric that powerfully invokes the spirit of a humid night club on a Friday night.
Their further willingness to grab listener’s attention in a decidedly American way is illustrated by the song’s brief introduction. Robotic voiceover reminds the uninitiated that they are in the hands of musicians and writers with a strongly different approach to the art of songwriting with theatrical moments co-existing alongside the strictly musical. The song finds its footing immediately and begins percolating with a stripped down attack keeping a steady, yet insistent, pace. Guitarist B. Rhyan drops a number of surgical and sharply cut fills into the mix at various points with impeccable timing. The beauty of those icy chords adds a bright, almost strobe like flashes of light to the backing track.
The lyrics have a much more individualistic slant than the trio’s first single, but even these seemingly more personal concerns have a touch of the overarching that Astronauts of Antiquity are always searching for. Two additional aspects of the lyrics listeners might find enjoyable is how they deftly blend the specific and the general and revisit familiar images and tropes while still filtering them through a distinctive voice and soundscape that makes them seem fresh once again.
Vocalist India makes much of the above possible. Her breathy phrasing hangs with every word, weighing them equally, and clearly knows how to weave herself in tightly with the musical performance. Singer and arrangement move side by side from the song’s beginning to end and, instead of pulling against one another, strengthen each other. There’s some playfulness and humor in her delivery as well, but where India truly excels is in communicating the wanting and desire behind every line.
“Future Back” isn’t lightweight fluff, so far as statements go, but it also packs the necessary punch to garner people’s attention on a dance floor. Some artistic collectives or bands might be intimidated by the idea that they have a mission to engage the listener’s mind and body alike, but not Astronauts of Antiquity. Their efforts here are clearly the result of intense and focused work, but like all of the great performing acts, Astronauts of Antiquity make it sound so easy.