Friday, 25 February 2011

[ALBUM REVIEW] (aura) - Invisible Landscape

1. the furious march
2. vacuity
3. katharsis
4. parallel worlds
5. flowing textures
6. two steps for the gods
7. the faith woods
8. the frozen enchant of warmth
9. warm winter
10. cloud colossus

Rather than just being another run of the mill ambient/post-rock act, Portugese band (aura) have decided to shake things up a bit here, rather than doing what most bands do such as creating the music in their heads and then developing an image from that , (aura) have opted to do things the other way round first. Start out with the images and construct the music out of them. Andre has selected a few chosen works from photographer and fellow countryman Jose Ramos and attempted to build a story connecting the photographs (which are in the booklet) together in a sequence. Certainly intriguing to say the least, as the concept is something I’ve never come across before, but one which (aura) have left me interested in hearing more.

The influences on Invisible Landscape are vast; I can hear everything from Massive Attack-styled trip hop to echoes of God is an Astronaut and even contemporary classical. It’s an ambitious record and doesn’t really slot properly into one single genre, it’s extremely dynamic and compelling with a surprising amount of variation for ambient influenced works. From the fragile serenity of the oceanic lull of “The Furious March” and “Vacuity” right through to the glowing electronic overtones of “Warm Winter” and impending nature of “Cloud Colossus” it coils a mesh round you right from the very beginning. One special thing to note about “Cloud Colossus” is that it’s the only song on the album with vocals, which was a surprise as vocals in this style of music full-stop are a rarity. I would go as far as to say this is my favourite track on the album, the sombre guitar picking with the distortion and almost post-punk styled vocals works extremely well together, and as much as I love my post-rock, I would love to see the band continue down this route.

Invisible Landscape is a great debut effort by this Portuguese act, they manage to blend all the different styles together pretty much seamlessly and the whole album has a great continuity about it. The music does fantastic justice to the photos which I must add, are absolutely stunning themselves. It may not hit you at first listen, it didn’t for me, but then this is one of those albums you have to sit down alone and listen to with headphones in and immerse yourself in it. If ever there was a better argument against the mp3 fad, this is certainly a good one, for without the booklet, it wouldn’t even be half as enchanting.



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