Astral projection: Letting it be

Nathan Hall

One fascinating aspect of electronic-based music is that, due to its slavish reliance on computer software, mini-epiphanies of discovery can erupt multiple times over the same development or genre twist all over the world. If a particular country does not enjoy decent, unfiltered access to the Internet, it is still entirely possible for a foreign knob-twiddler to stumble upon what is new to them years after the short-attention-span West has branded it hopelessly passé.

Curiously, the vast majority of today’s industrial scene seems to toil gleefully behind the times. Predictable record after predictable record keeps hitting the shelves as both the goths dancing to it and the musicians creating it are happily stuck in a 1980s time warp. Fortunately, local electro outfit Astral Grey pays homage to its predecessors while injecting fresh, exciting new experimentation into the mix.

Their latest EP, “Keep Me Alive,” wears its group members’ influences (Bauhaus, Cure, Depeche Mode) proudly on their puffy sleeves. And it occasionally indulges in outright clichés, like samplings from old “Twilight Zone” re-runs. However, infusing modern elements like record scratching, existentialist-styled lyrics and a gender-bending stage show into the traditional plodding structure keeps the snooze factor to a minimum.

Also worthy of note, Grey is a member of the sadly obscure Cydonia distro team, which continues to do its darnedest to keep a viable darkside community alive here in Lefse Land. Cydonia has put out four free compilation CDs with label mates Fadladder and Confession of Faith, who help them host La Planete Rouge every month at the Lab in downtown St. Paul. Undoubtedly, these three tracks owe a huge debt to melancholic frontrunners like Siouxsie and the Banshees, but they provide an adequate substitute for those of us who occasionally choose to consciously remain in the past while pushing things forward.

Astral Grey will perform with Climb to Zalem, Rhombus and DJ So Supreme at 8 p.m. tonight at the 400 Bar, (612) 332-2903, 21+, $5.