French modern-classical quartet Astrïd return with the first part of a new release entitled A Porthole. Conceptually, the two records will work in unison, focusing on portholes into the abyss, with part one delving into the depths of the deep sea. The tracks are named after various strains of seaweed, the artwork depicting dark waves and uncertainty. Part two will follow in a year's time and will turn its attention to the night sky and constellations. A Porthole continues Astrïd's signature style of billowing guitars, strings and woodwinds. Each element is intertwined with another, linked perfectly together through restrained jazz-tinged percussion. 2017's acclaimed Through The Sparkle (GZH 073CD/LP) with renowned pianist Rachel Grimes (of Rachels) set the bar high for this release but Astrïd have matched the depth, melody and quality of that record here. Part one of this journey features some sublime compositions with Cyril Secq's expressive and bold guitar playing carrying the pieces into chamber music territory, joined seamlessly by a variety of other instruments that swell and soar and fit perfectly into the story being told. Everything seems to have its place; nothing is overplayed or out of step here, and there is an organic nature to the way this quartet plays and interacts with one another as melodies circle back and fade away in the same beautiful breath. A Porthole is a deeply charming record, exercising glorious, nuanced refrains and offering a sort of hope rarely found in music these days. Mastered by Harris Newman (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tindersticks), art by Gizeh overlord Richard Knox. Edition of 300 on aqua blue vinyl, includes download.