Astrakan - Astrakan | RECORD STORE DAY

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Recorded at The Cowshed, North London in the summer of 2008, this is the first recording by the band Astrakan. Formed by Michael Garcia in 2004 as The Astrakan Collective, the band has evolved from a loose amalgam of between 6 and 18 players to the present 5-piece line-up of Raymond Hardy (reeds and woodwind), Jerry Wigens (guitar), Michael Garcia (keyboards), Oli Mayne (bass) and Dave Fowler (drums). Garcia has been the main composer from the outset although Hardy and Wigens each contribute tracks here. The music itself covers quite a broad field. Complex, tightly structured material sits alongside total improvisation and blistering, charged solos. This is a collective investigation of the possibilities of combining spontaneity and improvised material with interesting and unusual forms and structures. Friends and followers of the band have likened their sound variously to Soft Machine, Zappa, Gong, Dave Douglas as well as to the newer jazz outfits such as Fraud, Led Bib and Get the Blessing. This is understandable given the band's varied individual experience in the fields of rock, jazz and contemporary music. Not only are they all consummate improvisers capable of enhancing a variety of settings, they also all contribute material to the band's ever growing repertory of pieces. Arrangements tend to emerge from a collective process of discussion and experimentation and, invariably, material presented and rehearsed will end up bearing each member's mark in some way. The band were very pleased with the results obtained by engineer Joe Leach at Cowshed and the material here is the mixed and mastered results of live takes with a bare minimum of overdubbing. It therefore gives an excellent impression of the band's exciting live sound. Enjoy!