The Changelings
~reviewed by Jezebel

It is refreshing in a scene where sometimes, a new album is just a rehashing of the last one that something like Astronomica comes along. Bands need to become more of themselves while developing further and, The Changelings have done it.

I have been a fan of this band for ages, loving the way that they incorporate so many different styles, particularly Middle Eastern styles, of music together to envelop, enrapture and stretch the boundaries of gothic ethereal as a whole. This is not always well done, as it can seem put on and affected, but somehow, The Changelings had made it part of their fabric, part of their soul and being.

We open with what is seemingly a typical song, "Departure" once again incorporates Middle Eastern influences, but takes those to space and gives one the image of flowing among the stars, daintily touching one and yet another, rhythmatically floating through it all. "Orbit" takes us back to their ethereal roots and once again showcases the growth of the band, as revisiting creates something more than what was there before instead of just regurgitation. Regeana Morris' voice is that which Kate from Seventh Harmonic inspires to, folk, yet ethereal; angelic, yet grounded. 

"Outrun Your Fears" starts off sexily and seductively, willing and whispering to you to enter this world. Glorious piano (?) and string playing is the substance to the smoke of Regeana's voice. 

The accompanying release speaks of the "raw passion" of "Veils of Gold" and I can see where this description. Showcasing the sexiness and lushness of The Changelings sound, once again Regeana's voice is the invitation to this very romantic and rich landscape they have created. 

"Parallax" is an offer that threw me the first time I listened to it.  It's definitely The Changelings, but somewhere the percussion section has become more focused upon and more of a thrust for the sound. Paul's strong playing is prominent and excellent enough to garner mention, but the percussion playing of Chandler Rentz deserves much more. Interesting rhythms and timing changes create a different journey for the regular Changelings listener. This challenges them to hear something different from the band, a different aspect I don't feel has been showcased quite so much or so well before in previous releases. It also has probably one of my favourite Changelings lyrics not only in wording but in delivery:

 don't know the date
 don't know the time
 the lab rats are insane
 and I fear that I'll be next

"Hyperspace" is a bit more ethereal than I have really encountered before from The Changelings. It's "ambient" as the release explains, but I believe it is more of an exploration than anything. It is definitely well done and I think that as The Changelings continue to put out amazing albums, you will hear more of this influence (similarly as you heard in the recent Shroud release).

"Olympus Mons" features vocals by Damon Young and is an amazing trip. And I mean that. It's a trip. I listened to this lying in Hyde Park in London, under a tree around 6pm as dusk was starting to fall. It seemed as dusk fell, this song filled that which was left empty. Soft and evocative, I hope that we get more from Damon on future releases.

But my absolutely favourite song on the album is "See Emily Play" a cover of the Pink Floyd song. I need, want, must see The Changelings do this song live. I just hope to see the whole band jump up and down as Regeana sings "There is no other day, let's try it another way, you'll lose your mind in flames, free games for me, See Emily Play".  It's a great exploration of her voice, a great exploration for the band, taking the original and just making it all their own and yet retaining that which made the song good in its original form. Oh yeah. 

And our final offering…the melancholy and touching "My Shadow, Your Ghost." This is haunting and although back from our happy trippy song and back to a tempo more related to the The Changelings, here we do get a bit more of the range of Regeana's voice…this is ballad-like, some what soft jazz like perhaps?, yet with, The Changelings stamp.

Being a fan of the band, I thought that it would be difficult to be objective when reviewing the CD. I mean, come on….I have everything they have ever put their stamp on. But, The Changelings surprised me. They have taken their sound, found the core of what makes it what it is and then used it as a tool to interpret other styles and genres. It was not changing those styles and genres into The Changeling's, but making something more, new and evolutionary in a scene which desperately needs broadening.

Track Listing:
1 Departure
2 Orbit
3 Mata Hari
4 Outrun Your Fears
5 Veils of Gold
6 Parallax
7 Hypersleep
8 Olympus Mons
9 See Emily Play
10 My Shadow, Your Ghost

The Changelings are:
Paul Mercer - Violin & Viola
Regeana Morris - Voice, Bass Guitar and Hammered Dulcimer
Nick Pagan - MPS Orchestral Plus, CSX1, Nano Synth, Mini-Moog, "Mellotron", Phased Chimes and Backing Vocals
Chandler Rentz - Drums and Percussion and Backing Vocals
Damon Young - Guitars, Olympus Vocals

The Changelings:

Middle Pillar: