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Music review: Aus – Sonorapid April 17, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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“Music has always been a form of escapism. People want to relax, take off their shoes and sit back. They don’t want to think about the summer heat, global warming and the other millions of ways the human race is slowly dying. Wouldn’t it be nice to just forget for a little while?

At first, “Sonorapid” appears to be an odd album to be released in the dead middle of summer. It’s more of a typical wintery album. Even the cover is blue tinted and gives off the vibe of coldness. It’s not until the first track that it’s clear where Aus’ purpose is coming from. Precious escapism! Or perhaps a cheap mental air conditioner?

Aus is Tokyo, Japan’s Yasuhiko Fukuzono. Before “Sonorapid,” he’s made experimental music for short films and released two CD-Rs that are available for purchase online. “Sonorapid” is his first pressed LP and will probably be the first chance for people to hear his music.

Aus has been described as “urban bedroom pop.” That’s an interesting way to put it, but I would call it “brain music,” music that calls for no outside distractions and needs to be listened to on headphones. Japan has been producing a lot of these lately. The most obvious (and Western loved) artists that come to mind are Tujiko Noriko and Nobukazu Takemura. The music is more of a quieter ambient take on experimental music rather than your typical minimalist or noise music (in other words, it’s more listenable).

“Toku Kara,” which starts off the album, begins as typical glitch pop before the vocals sweep in and carry the rest of the song and beyond. “Small Time” is a standout track that’s almost gentle in the way it disorients the beats and then builds up to a form of controlled chaos. “EMI” is probably the only track on the album that does not feel wintery. With the addition of an acoustic guitar, the song is like what a road trip through the European countryside would sound like.

“Koeto” is another standout track, and the longest one on the album. Clocking in at seven minutes, it contains the most impressive vocals, but its lasting power does not last all the way until the end. “It’s Tomorrow Already” is the only all instrumental track on the album and somehow succeeds in being the most mellow. Closure track “Music” is the most upbeat — if you can even call it that — track on the album that quickly blooms as if stumbling onto the song already in progress.

Hats off goes to the two guest vocalists, Yukiko Okamoto and Cokiyu, that accompany all the songs. They really make the album and keep the tracks from straying too far into the land of boredom. As cliched as it sounds, they really bring the music to life.

Although these songs are definitely winter music, I don’t want people to confuse “winter” with being “cold.” “Sonorapid” is far from being distant or interpersonal. It’s more like a breathe of refreshing cold air. And who doesn’t need that? Especially in the middle of summer.

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