Sometimes these sort of things fall flat. Sometimes musical artists, emboldened by sincere conviction, use their art as a sonic pulpit from which they can decry injustices in our world. It often results in dogmatic, unmusical nonsense, but not this time. Astronauts of Antiquity’s latest single “Paradise” is an unique audio document from a New York based collective sure to garner considerable notice and praise for their idiosyncratic work. The band labels their work as a mix of “… luminous electronic soundscapes, tantalizing dance rhythms, pop-conscious melodies and provocative lyrical themes”. To help deliver the last quality on this particular single, the collective enlisted the collaborative efforts of rapper Deploi from the House of Vibe. These various elements combust in an intelligent, layered, and highly disciplined track that’s capable of speaking eloquently for the voiceless and entertaining audiences.
“Paradise” opens with India’s playful, child-like vocals before the intro segues into a hard hip hop tempo. Astronauts of Antiquity lace keyboard and synthesizer lines around a fat bass pulse while Deploi’s heavily syncopated rap emerges from the mix. It plays quite well against the backbeat and shows Deploi’s talent for listening intently to the song and syncing up his voice accordingly. The compositional structure intersperses Deploi’s sections with brief respites from India’s comparatively smoother vocal style and the contrast makes for compelling listening. Guitarist B. Rhyan’s parts do not call attention to themselves. Instead, his playing has a compositional slant and looks for ways to mold itself around the other instruments. It is notable how Astronauts of Antiquity are able to construct a thick wall of sound despite minimal membership. The production is superb throughout and imbues the track with surprising warmth while maintaining balance and clarity.
The lyrics spend much of their time focusing on ripped from the headlines players in world politics, i.e. Monsanto, but few will be able to deny the delicious wordplay Deploi and Astronauts of Antiquity are able to conjure. There’s substantial literacy and biting intelligence in the way that the lyrics present their case and it never traffics in outright generalities. Instead, the artists take dead aim at the aforementioned players and indict them of their complicity in dragging down the planet for profit while still maintaining a high degree of musicality. Deploi’s performance is the indisputable highlight of the track and gives it swaggering street credibility that is often lacking from such works.
Astronauts of Antiquity (Feat. Deploi) remind all music lovers that this never has to be a strictly facile medium. The idea behind much of pop music is that, while entertaining, the products have limited shelf life and are ultimately disposable. AoA are aiming much higher. “Paradise” is far from a disposable effort and will linger with thoughtful listeners long after its last notes fade.