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Aun: Alpha Heaven

img  Tobias Fischer

Have Aun really reached the pinnacle, the peak, the highest of heavens? Whatever the title's precise implications, the band's latest album is continuing on and extending beyond what Full Circle, a perfect 10inch from 2012, merely hinted at. Instead of the Aun-typical maze of guitars, electronics, the occasional vocals and excursions into the realm of shoegazer (as witnessed on 2011's Phantom Ghost), listeners are now treated to synths, sequencers and space.

In practise, this simply means that Alpha Heaven's filled to the brim with exquisite Vintage Synth-Sounds. Guitars are practically absent here – or at least they can no longer be clearly discerned as such – while the sound of the album is warm, harmonious and majestic. The result may seem to some as a break with tradition for the formation in the sixth year of their existence as a recording unit. On closer inspection, meanwhile, it's more about picking up on different threads from the past, using them as compositional pillars and putting their own spin on them. The use of laminar sounds, multifarious modulations and rhythmical sequencers seems to be drawing inspiration from the pioneering efforts of the electronic masters of the 70s. With the delicate, yet essential, difference that Aun tend to be far more to the point, operating much closer to the song-format – even, if there are no vocals around – and allowing pieces to breathe without allowing complacency to seep in.

Which means that instead of just having four epic cuts on Alpha Heaven, Aun have ended up with eleven mostly shorter ones, each with its own unique tension arch. By working with mood and timbral texture, meanwhile, these eventually do grow into a single, unified whole after all. By awarding a well-rounded ending to each track, the next one is free to fully develop and blossom, resulting in a multitude of beguiling contrasts: On "Voyager", the Vintage-aesthetics blend with Julie Leblanc's cut-up chants and a cool drum machine pulse, almost making for a chilled-out club track. Strangely, it doesn't seem out of place here.

A revised version of "Return to Jupiter", the stand-out track of Full Circle, with its airy sequencer sounds and galactically floating melodies, marks the final destination of this immersive trip. It's the perfect climax, especially since it doesn't feel like an ending at all, but rather like a new beginning. This really is the pinnacle, the peak, the highest of heavens. Press Return.

By Hellmut Neidhardt
Translation by Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Aun
Homepage: Denovali Records