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Review: Astro Al – Aliens Abducted My Christmas Tree (released November 5, 2016)

Unfortunately, I received Astro Al’s latest album, Aliens Abducted My Christmas Tree, a little too late to review it before Christmas. But it’s not too early to get ready for next Christmas, is it? This is definitely not your typical Christmas album though. This is classic Astro Al, with all the weird music, all the whacky and twisted stories, and all the loopiness you would expect if you were familiar with Astro Al’s music. (If you aren’t, you should be!)

Hailing from the US, Astro Al is the duo of Paul Angelosanto (voice, vocals, samples, synths, loops, laptop, lead stooge) and Debbie Nash (vocals, voice, guitar, mandolin, saz, synths, samples, laptop, lead witchy woman), along with frequent guests and collaborators. Across their career (some 20 albums now) you can hear everything from blistering space rock, lo fi madness, experimental soundscapes, strange folk songs and spoken word narratives, all infused with trippy, psychedelic sounds and laced together with their irreverent sense of humour. And you will hear all of that on Aliens Abducted My Christmas Tree, from the title track, a song in which a man is trying to explain to his wife why he has come home with only some cheap beer and no Christmas tree or presents; to what I think must be an ode to a cheesy 70’s TV horror movie called Snow Beast; to a letter to Santa Claus about how the writer is going to destroy the jolly man of the north pole.

There are two longer tracks on the album, both warped tales with a Christmas spirit to them, one a creepy, vaguely Lovecraftian Victorian ghost story, the other, Merry Black Mass, a macabre tale of occult misdoings concerning the ghost of a murdered elf, a psychotically rampaging S

anta Claus and the mad matriarch of the most dysfunctional family you could imagine. Both tales are told over a soundscape of surrealistic sounds and ghost haunted melodies. There’s even a couple of traditional folk songs on the album, both given the crazy Astro Al treatment so that we get House of the Rising Scrooge and a lo-fi, psychedelic version of the ancient medieval Wassail tune, Bring Us Good Ale.

Just like you could enjoy the Christmas episode of your favourite TV show when it re-runs in the middle of July, Astro Al’s Aliens Abducted My Christmas Tree could (and should) be enjoyed year-round. But make sure you definitely break it out at Christmas time, so that you can leave your relatives with their eyes wide and their jaws hanging open. Great fun!

Aliens Abducted My Christmas Tree and all the other Astro Al albums can be purchased here:

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