Denver’s Astralingua are here to explore some pretty deep questions. “The journey to the afterlife does not begin at death but rather at birth,” songwriter Joseph Thompson said when outlining the ideas behind their new album Safe Passage. “Death is merely a staging ground where we change our clothes and command a new vehicle onwards.” Conceived in the Joshua Tree desert, Safe Passage tackles these notions from several directions. With the backing of a 12-piece string section, Joseph and his bandmate and wife Anne deliver rich tapestries which draw on their own tragic and difficult experiences.
Having travelled Europe together in their younger days, they were brought back together after Anne’s father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and later married. Astralingua quickly followed but as they prepared EP Contact in 2008 Joseph developed a debilitating illness after a prescribed drug severely damaged a liver. “Going through something like that, where for a long period of time I didn’t even know the cause of my own symptoms, or where they were leading…confronts you with your own mortality,” Joseph said.
Heavy stuff then, but out of the darkness Astralingua have found beauty. Wherever life is taking us, with a soundtrack like this to savour a long the way, it can be a wonderful journey.
Safe Passage will be released on March 8 and can be pre-ordered here.
Photo by Lisa Siciliano.