After leaving Vibracathedral Orchestra in 2006, veteran British experimental musician Neil Campbell focused on Astral Social Club, an outlet for his solo and small group recordings and performances that melded throbbing, intense techno beats with dense, overwhelming tapestries of psychedelic noise. Campbell constructs his confounding, manic collages with a vast array of drum machines and electronics, often layering and mixing sounds the way a DJ would. In some ways, he approaches techno the way Third Eye Foundation approaches drum'n'bass, surrounding the beats with dark, swarming noises, but Campbell's work is considerably more playful. As chaotic as his music can seem, he doesn't consider it to be fully improvised, and there's more structure in place than many of the other projects he's been involved with; he thinks of Astral Social Club as his "pop" project.
Campbell's musical history dates back to the late '70s, when he began improvising using whatever musical equipment he could find. He was in a few obscure bands throughout the '80s such as Smell & Quim and ESP Kinetic, and around the end of the decade, he formed A Band, an improv group with a sporadic, ever-changing lineup (and name), sometimes including Richard Youngs. He formed experimental psych-rock group Vibracathedral Orchestra in the late '90s, and collaborated with Matthew Bower's projects Sunroof! and Total. He started Astral Social Club in 2005, taking the name from a bar near his house, and using the bar's sign as the album art for his many self-released CD-R albums. In 2006, VHF Records (home to Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sunroof!) released a self-titled Astral Social Club CD containing reworked material from the project's 2005 CD-Rs. He continued the series into the 2010s, in addition to releasing full-lengths, cassettes, 7"s, and split releases on other labels. Vinyl-only LP Star Guzzlers appeared on Qbico in 2007, and Important Records released two ASC albums that year: CD Neon Pibroch and companion LP Super Grease. 2008 saw the release of 7" singles on Dirty Knobby ("Monster Mittens") and Trensmat ("Skelp"/"Ginnel"), as well as the CD Sieben Stax on German label Bottrop-Boy and LP Model Town in a Field of Mud on Textile Records. 2009 LP Plug Music Ramoon appeared on Dancing Wayang, and ASC returned to VHF Records for the release of the Octuplex CD. Also released that year were the Psychic Smog 1-7 LP on Qbico, and a split 12" with Alog on FatCat Records, as part of that label's long-running, well-regarded split series.
In 2010, Japanese label Happy Prince released ASC's Happy Horse CD, and a split 7" with Glockenspiel came out on Krayon Recordings. 2011 brought the Generator Breaker LP on Dekorder, as well as a split 12" with Tomutonttu on Tipped Bowler Tapes and the "Snaefell" 7" on Trensmat. Another Japanese label, Wonderyou, released the CD Magic Smile in 2012. A 7" titled "Metal Guru" appeared on Must Die Records in 2013; that same year, Tresmat released LP Electric Yep, and NNA Tapes released cassette Destiny SNFU. Fountain Transmitter Medications, an LP containing a CD of extended compositions, appeared on VHF in 2014. ~ Paul Simpson