Artist: Ashtar Command
Title: American Sunshine
Label: Privateer Records
Ashtar Command may have been a real hot commodity in the music world, if the year was 2004. Instead their new release American Sunshine will unfortunately slip under most peoples radars, not because it’s not a well recorded chill out record, but because this particular type of music still has that mid-2000’s sound that is not old enough yet to become retro. I still haven’t quite gotten used to the fact that Nirvana is now being played on Classic rock stations, and in a few years, bands like Coldplay and others off the Garden State Soundtrack will be the base for an oldies soft rock radio station. Are you frightened of that notion? Are you excited? How you feel about that will probably affect
your enjoyment of Ashtar Command.
Now it sort of makes sense that the album sounds the way it does, because well it was created by guys that have been making music since the 90’s, except it’s never really come out as an album before. Ashtar Command is one half made up of Chris Holmes, a producer/DJ who has become music A-lister only by association as he’s worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Daft Punk. While the other half is Brian Liesegang who was part of Nine Inch Nails in their heyday and then went on to create Filter. So
with that context you get a better picture of where this music is coming from, unless you think about the context of the band name. Holmes apparently is also a UFO fanatic, and Ashtar Command is a reference to a sort of extraterrestrial United Nations that controls the universe. Holmes has a radio show in Chicago that delves into all of these subjects that apparently was the main impetus for Holmes and Liesegang to create music together. So there’s where things get a bit muddled, because with the name and all the press Ashtar gets, it would seem that that would be their calling card, that this album would be a chill out record for the tin foil hat crowd. Unfortunately despite its efforts the album just
falls back on the usual chillout clichés with songs such as “The Breakup Song”, “Save Me”, and “Requiem for Love”. Like I’ve said this all may have worked if Zach Braff had discovered them for his Garden State Soundtrack, but now it just seems like a faded memory that may have to wait a few more years before it all becomes retro again.
– Michael Unger