4 out of 5
Produced by: Aleksi Perälä
Back in my didn’t-own-a-record-player days, I’m sitting on my copies of Astrobotnia Part 01 and Astrobotnia Part 03 on CD – two prized Rephlex releases – and wondering: where’s my Part 02? Either I was stupid at research then and / or hadn’t discovered Discogs, but I kept hunting used bins and shops – y’know, in the CD sections – in case that mystical missing entry showed, and no dice.
Later, I would realize it was only on vinyl, procure a copy, and…
…Normally the way this story goes is that long-in-coming purchases are inevitably disappointing. But no: Astrobotnia II might be my most relistened-to of the trio, accepting its format making it slightly less convenient. True, this is partially because it’s a 6-track EP: Part 01 wandered quite a bit, and Part 02 is excellent, but a slightly different vibe. Just as Part 02 is different from the others, but even moreso, as it feels “right” that this was vinyl only, and furthermore, that the font on the label is more playful than its sister Parts, as this is ‘Botnia for clubs, as opposed to late night star-gazing.
There’s a dose of Raczynski playfulness stuck into Part 02, especially on the leading tracks from each side, with the A-side driving hard on a burbling bass, and the B-side mixing in a ridiculously stereotypical sample with some Astro mystery smushed in. That’s really the name of the game, here, bringing the beat forward, but keeping with Aleksi Perälä’s dash of ominousness when working under this pseudonym. It’s jittery but fun, the middle of each side erring even more toward straight-up IDM club beats, before the conclusion of each side swerves back into minimalist territory, breaking things down into clicks and buzzes. Only the mid-track on the B-side kind of disappoints, going perhaps too far down the “straight-up” road and not offering any moves that feel particular to the ‘Botnia sound, but it’s still a toe-tapping track overall.
Thankfully, nowadays you can listen to this thing on youtube, but however you get it, if you’re a Perälä fan, take the goofiness of Ovuca and upgrade it with the relative emotional maturity of Astrobotnia, and remind yourself of what peak Rephlex artists offered.