After a summer spent listening to grimy hip hop beats and hooks, supporting the re-release of Sugar and Feathered, and making 4 track demos, Aspera converged at Tonearm Studios to begin work on their third album. Oh Fantastica continues a darkly thematic tradition established with Sugar and Feathered and the follow up Birds Fly EP (Suicide Squeeze) but strays from both records overwrought psychedelia (oft compared to Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev). Oh Fantastica is full of minimal yet memorable melodies driven by Drew Mills’ most upfront and un-effected vocal performance to date. The beats are intentionally raw—composed of deep, 808 / 909 textures and laced with gated, acoustic percussion takes and dirty synth bass lines. On Oh Fantastica, Aspera ride a dream-like wave enjoying and sharing the fruit of parallel universes—where the epic ‘80s pop production (as heard in early work of Simple Minds and Tears for Fears) exist side by side with hip-hop’s old school (Afrika Bambaataa) and new school (Swizz Beats, Anti-Pop Consortium, Missy Elliott & Timbaland, and producers the Neptunes), and, perhaps most-notably, electronic music's contemporary experimentalists (Boards of Canada) as well as its early trailblazers (such as the pop soundscapes of Another Green World-era Brian Eno; Giorgio Moroder’s militant electro; and the early-80’s tech-adventurism of musical veterans as manifested in Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock and Paul McCartney’s McCartney II).
Through the cerebral undergrowth and fantastical thickets of Aspera's dark imagination comes Sugar And Feathered, the re-release of the elusive Philadelphia-based quartet's sophomore full-length, re-mastered and packaged with all new artwork. As eerie as it is amiable, the twelve songs of Sugar And Feathered create a conceptual forest breathing with melodies familiar and forgone.On this record, Aspera creates songs that bear a passing resemblance to Crocodiles era Echo and The Bunnymen as fed through the dry, trashy production work of Tony Visconti's T Rex recordings. The experimental nature of Brian Eno and David Byrne's random sampling on My Life In The Bush of Ghosts mixes with the rudimentary electronics of Bowie's Scary Monsters, a smattering of 80's-style synthetic percussion and a fondness for Peter Murphy, conjuring a record with only one non-wayward quality - unrelenting creativity.