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The Alpha Conspiracy: "Aura"
(****)

Covert art

Intricate intelligent dance music

At last the long wait is over, "Aura" is here. To sum it up in one sentence: It was well worth the wait.

The Alpha Conspiracy has always struck a chord with me. It's entirely electronic, yet has soul (not to mention big beats). There's a fine, ethereal quality to AC's music which is largely thanks to Andrew Sega's use of complex, layered harmonics and pads. An organic, sophisticated texture in both harmonies and beats is perhaps the defining aspect of this album and AC in general. The opening track (also a single release), "Wishing Never" perfectly illustrates both the haunting melodies as well as the compelling beats that are the Alpha Conspiracy.

While "Aura" is hardly a departure from the AC I've grown to know and love, you'll still notice a few more vocal numbers than on "Cipher". On "Close" (reminiscent of "Winter" on Cipher) and "Accelerating" (energetic hiphoppish track with guest vocals from Stromkern) lyrics are used more traditionally, but on tracks like "Defend Yourself", "RTYU", "Waterfall" and "Scarlet" vocals or voices are used more as just another instrument. Scarlet is an unexpected closing to the album - possibly even the most beautiful track here, a short yet deep ambient journey with some spoken Japanese in the beginning. Another very beautiful track that must be mentioned is "Awake" which sent chills down my spine from the first seconds.

Even though the tempo of the album shifts from aggressive (Defend Yourself) to lazy (Bip Neuro), two things remain constant throughout. The innovativeness of the drumwork is one - I'm such a sucker for drums - and the way the harmonies are constructed is another. The melodies are not always obvious and there's always more to them than what you can take in with only one listening. At times the album reaches zenlike qualities like Boards of Canada - "Waterfall" being the prime example here. A brilliantly progressing track that offers surprising melodic elements, a beautiful chorus, strong beatwork, and an unexpected ambient ending with yet another twist in the harmony for a brief few seconds at 4:15.

While not that relevant, it's worth mentioning that AC has always also appealed to my sense of aesthetics not only musically, but also visually. I was utterly impressed by the beauty of the album artwork and they way it complemented the mood of the music. (Editor's note: Excuse the poor scanwork). You could say Aura sounds exactly the way it looks.

Be sure to visit www.alphaconspiracy.com for full-length versions of the tracks I've sampled here if any of this sparked your interest!

TOP TRACKS: Wishing Never, Close, Awake, Waterfall, City Of Ruin

Tracklist

  1. Wishing Never [Sample]
  2. Close [Sample]
  3. Crush Terminology
  4. Defend Yourself
  5. Accelerating
  6. Awake
  7. 72 Hours
  8. Waterfall
  9. City Of Ruin
  10. Bip Neuro
  11. RTYU
  12. Scarlet
Image of CD

Diffusion Records 2004

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Review by Saboteur


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