• TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2007

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    When music is at its best, it allows you to put your own meaning to it. The songs may be so open-ended that anyone can add their own interpretation. Even if the song shares a theme every listener can recognize, it might mean something different to each person. Now that I’ve run that metaphor into the ground, we can focus on the beauty of the work of multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland under the moniker Au (Aagoo/Oedipus Records). Simple, but complex. Elegant, but down to earth.

    If one were to classify Wyland’s music it would fall under the genre of “Avant-Folk.” But classifying Au would do the album injustice. Backed by several musicians, Au, produces some of the most life-affirming material heard in a long time.

    “Boute” sets off the album with jumpy pianos that remain low in volume, but eventually pick up when joined by hypnotizing cymbals and beautiful, angelic vocals. The increase in volume should be the audible definition of joy. The triumphant display of noise on Sum suddenly stops and is followed by a ukulele solo, which also stops to introduce Zoe Wright’s carefree vocals, blistering play from the strings, which are joined by percussion to create a wall of sound that can do nothing but make you smile.

    “Death” seems to follow a couple of the stages of mourning with a sad beginning and angry middle and an eventual acceptance at the end. The middle features Sarah Winchester singing “Bring me my death/Bring me my shadow,” a line that sounds like it was sung with the labor that accompanies dealing with the death of a loved one. When “Death” seems to be the sound of dealing with someone else’s demise, “Remain” sounds like someone realizing their own impending doom…or at least just thinking about it. “Remain” provides the listener with an assortment of percussion, uneasy and kinetic pianos, a high-pitched scary rattle and a threatening bass drum. It’s the sound of death approaching. The sweetness of Honeybee, emphasized by Jonathan Sielaff’s clarinets, is the antithesis of death, but welcomed nonetheless. “Life” and “Ask The River” close the album on a beautiful and somber note.

    Au takes you on a trip through life that many might not experience themselves. In a way, these pieces (calling them songs feels so wrong) offer the path to life without the help of many lyrics. You'll be a better person if you bought this album. - Stephon Johnson

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