steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Verbs" CD

Aagoo Records

Genre: psych folk, experimental folk, experimental pop

Aug 20 2008

Au's Verbs is in some ways like a Pink Floyd album. Of course, the two are of very different genres and are sonically quite disparate. But like a Dark Side of the Moon, Verbs is an experience - an album that is less a collection of songs and more a musical adventure. Experimental and yet melodic, Au's music trades the progressive rock of Floyd for a more current experimental psych-folk approach, ala Animal Collective et al. Verbs has peaks and valleys, intense moments and calmer lulls - but never do they become so awash in their avant-garde-ism that they lose sight of the listener; while it may take a few listens to sink in, Verbs emerges as an unquestionably memorable record in the end.

Let's start from the beginning. The record starts with a shapeless call to arms, combining rolling piano and arhythmic cymbal clish-clattering with a foreboding vocal part. It provides a serviceable foreword to the gloriously busy "Are Animals," which boasts campfire calibre vocal hi-jinks and a wonderful wiggling bassline - compositionally scattered, it keeps you guessing but never lets up on the fun. The journey continues throughout the rest of the disc, ranging from the carnivalesque "RR vs. D" to the beautifully sombre horns, woodwinds, and piano of Talk Talk-influenced "All Myself," the record's crystalline masterpiece.

Also glorious is the one-two punch of "The Waltz" and "Sleep." The former is a blaringly triumphant expression of joy, plodding but unquestionably uplifting, with a whimsical combination of bass clarinet, accordion, drums, and vocals. "Sleep," meanwhile, contrasts with its predecessor as an eerily quiet piece of outsider pop. Although initially unsettling, it ends the record on a warm if weary note, chiming the finish with a bit of trebly guitar folk. Mmm.

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Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2008]