Alpha Pup Records have got to be one of the most under-rated record labels in music generally. They act as the huge trawling net that catches only the finest and most talented specimens and lets the influx of distinctly average bedroom producers slip through the ropes back into the ocean. Flicking through their roster now is basically like reading a who’s who in modern electronic music alongside a few surprising additions (bonus points if you knew that mid-’70s funk band Ohio Players used to be signed to them), and the latest new talent to emerge from that very net is Astronautica, a 21-year-old producer from Los Angeles.
Having only previously released a few singles via her Bandcamp page, Astronautica (real name Edrina Martinez) has decided to jump straight into the deep end with the release of her debut LP Replay Last Night, a collection of “lush instrumentals from a sedated dream” according to the press release. If the album provides the instrumentals, then the hazy, translucent and moodily lit portrait shot that’s part of the artwork gives you an idea of the visuals that accompany them.
Opening track “Califlorida” fits the brief perfectly; a skittering, foggy beat that is quickly covered with a thick blanket of shimmering guitar chords, something that becomes quickly recognizable as the reoccurring theme throughout the album. Martinez has been playing guitar since she was 11, and she’s not at all afraid to make use of that talent, as they appear on every track and are used to tremendous effect, particularly on the track “Lowrider” which makes use of some beautifully smooth, jazzy chord progressions.
The whole trippy, sedated electronic music vibe isn’t exactly untrodden ground – UK producer Holy Other’s album Held from last year took the same blueprint and led it into even darker territory – but Martinez is pretty clinical with her execution of each track. “Champagne Constellation” is 5:18 of dubbed-out bliss that sounds as if time itself is starting to move in slow motion, whilst “∞” moves at a much faster tempo and makes use of some Clams Casino-esque vocal sampling. Meanwhile, “Replay Last Night” features some hefty bass that should probably carry a health warning, and “Cruise” drifts along pleasantly, guided by the ever-present undercurrent that is those luscious guitars.
Replay Last Night is 11 tracks long, and with none of those tracks coming in at less than 3 minutes it can end up being quite a tedious listen. However, what this LP does have is a distinctly feminine fragility and sensuality that is reminiscent of other producers such as Cooly G and Tokimonsta (particularly her fantastic track “Little Pleasures”). A few vocal collaborations on this LP could have been the icing on the cake, but instead we’re just going to have to appreciate what we’ve been given, which is a cake without icing. And that’s definitely still a good thing.