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Album Review: Aun – Alpha Heaven

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Somewhere in orbit outside of this planet Aun have been scheming and preparing to release their latest effort, entitled Alpha Heaven. The band from Montreal, Canada has been evaporating the boundaries between diverse musical genres such as electronic music, ambient, drone, techno, progressive, psychedelia and industrial since their conception back in 2007. And in their latest work they outdo themselves once again.

The music found within Alpha Heaven is encircling. It is a spiraling monument of continuous movement through abstract thoughts. The feeling that the album transmits can be described easily as cinematic and alien at the same time. But what is brilliant about it is that it never stays in one place. Aun are able to move between different sonic territories effortlessly, showing a different face at every turn that this album takes. Appearing in instances with a romantic dreamlike presence, as is the case in “Koenig” and “Returna”, or in more uplifting personifications, for instance in “Viva” and “Peacecalm”. Of course the album contains a much darker side as well, which starts from being melancholic, for example in the post-rocky (Sigur Ros influenced) “War Is Near”, or surrounded by a much more sinister extension to their music, for instance in “Voyager”.

The hypnotic element of the record gives it a sense of continuity and connection between the different compositions found in it. The dreamlike ambiance of “Koenig” ties in perfectly with the more melancholic concept of “War Is Near” which incorporates abstract female vocals to enhance even further the solitary emotion of the album. The uplifting vibe of “Viva”, surprisingly enough, is the perfect introduction to the more sickening side of Aun, which is firstly revealed in “Vulcan”, one of the most interesting tracks of the album due to the ability of the band to maintain a peaceful state while in unbroken movement. On the other hand “La Luna” manages to merge together the romantic and sinister sides of Aun, causing endless confusion to the listener.

The shortest track of the album, “Peacecalm”, offers some of the most beautiful moments found in the entirety of Alpha Heaven while the disturbing feeling that is underlying the melodies of “Alpha” gives way to the unsettling and nerve wrecking “Voyager”, easily one of the darkest songs of the record with its bizarre use of vocals to enhance cognitive dissonance. “Floodland” is found on the other edge of Aun’s spectrum with a gloomy quality to it, aided by the use of samples; it soon gives way to the absolute finest moment of the full-length, “Return to Jupiter”. The closing track of the album spans for over ten minutes and it reaches the boundaries of the celestial trip to the alien soundscapes that Aun are navigating us through, with its industrial nature, which resolves in the building of tension in the most imaginative way.

Aun’s latest release is an excellent sonic trip to different dimensions. Even if you are not a fan of electronic/ambient music but you like a fair bit of atmosphere or if you simply want to lose yourself for about an hour, you should definitely give Alpha Heaven a listen.

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