Astronautalis is Andy Bothwell, a musician that a friend of mine stumbled upon way back in 2005 (way back) with the album You and Yer Good Ideas. Word passed quickly from him to everyone we knew, and right before graduation in 2006, we we’re all listening to Mighty Ocean and The Nine Dark Theaters. A testament to the record’s replay value, I still listen to it on a regular basis, and when “Meet Me Here Later” or “My Dinner with Andy” sings through the car speakers on a random playlist, no one in the backseat asks to skip the track. Astro’s latest album, Pomegranate, is due for release in September, and upon hearing the news, I looked to see if Treble had covered Mighty Ocean back in 2006. We hadn’t, which, as the title of this feature suggests, is perverse.
Where there is mention of Astronautalis, there is always mention of his “experimental” tendencies. If there’s anything experimental about Mighty Ocean, it doesn’t scream at the listener. The interlapping genres are instead smoothly sewn into the work, then delivered to the audience in seamless fashion. Astro’s pop sensibilites mix well with his soft-spoken rap, a light handed voice gently rapping, rapping on our hearing ears.
This gentle rapping is characteristic of all of Mighty Ocean‘s tracks. The lines and rhymes come in a constant barrage, never letting up, but neither rocking out nor taking advantage of the song. Life comes at you persistently and rarely gives you chance to scream or shout, neither time to simply word your woes in a way that does them justice. These rare times, however, do grace us in their own off and on manner, and we have only a second to revel. This is the nature of Mighty Ocean, in all of its verses, but perhaps best expressed in the following two lines:
I feel alive in little bursts
Its the little bits of life that hurt
The verse continues far past the above two lines, but I don’t trust myself to transcribe them on my own. Nonetheless, the verse delivers a line a second in wearied tone with rhymes subtle and ceaseless, all culminating in an exhale and an aphorism that allows us to breathe and take the shock: we appreciate. If these “little bits of life that hurt,” hadn’t the unrelenting pace behind them, they wouldn’t strike as hard as they do, and the stories spun by Astro might leave us more unsettled. In one sense, this might seem beyond the pale for Astro’s polish, but the content and form of his lyrics might suggest Astro’s long time acquaintance with disappointment and underwhelming forms of experience. Mighty Ocean dances the imaginary line between acceptability and accessibility, most of the time erasing it completely from out perception. Astronautalis does listeners a service with his second album, Mighty Ocean and the Nine Dark Theaters