AU - Both Lights - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

AU - Both Lights

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8.5 Release Date:2012-04-02

Prog rock duly disappeared after the fresh sound of punk shoved it over the cliff and into another dimension. It wasn't until the turn of the 90s that a twisted and fucked up version melded into another musical sub-culture: Post-rock. Due mainly to the nascent Slint with their ground breaking Spiderland, it spawned bands such as the ever clever Mogwai, the brooding Explosions in the Sky and the quick-witted Battles, with the magnificent 'Mirrored'.

AU are pronounced 'Ay Yoo' and siphon off a huge lump of post-rock, alt-folk and beyond on their third long player Both Lights. Such influences pretty evident on lively opener 'Epic' with it's the energetic and overarching power snare hits alongside the youthful, frantic guitar fretwork which drifts from the foreground to the background throughout, alongside some pretty nifty ambient keys. AU is the brainchild of Luke Wyland and he isn't fearful of turning it all on its head with the eclectic use of horns and banjo juxtaposed beautifully with an instinctive, haunting soaring vocal on 'Get Alive'. It's hedonistic, euphoric and continues to impress the uninitiated - myself.

The doorbell looping, funereal 'Crazy Idol', with its mixed, harmonised vocals, is mid-paced and soothing, once again positioning AU as ever-changing chameleons. They jam to within an inch of their lives on the stewed-up funk, cranky riffs and thudding bass synth of 'OJ', which wouldn't sound out of place off the last Battles album. However, the jam is tempered and truncated enough to stop it wandering off and becoming yawnsome.

The level-headed, slow-burning piano sound on this album is reminiscent of Barn Owl at their most horizontal and, although it's not hugely adventurous, it's a captivating listen all the same. Wyland, not content to be mournful, pumps up a hybrid of electro-funk and collapsed horns with the bonkers 'Solid Gold'. It teeters in parts towards jazz with the free-form saxophone spray of Colin Stetson, whose legendary technical ability guides the song beautifully. 'Why I Must', on the other hand, is a wanton mess of bashed-up keys and primal pounding, a bunch of sounds created by a drunken band at their most wilful.

Wyland evokes his own cathartic musical expression on Both Lights and his feral musical magpie stance is rather captivating to the untrained ear. In parts it might be deemed ostentatious, but I'd rather look at it as a complete heterogeneous spectrum of his own musical highlights.

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