May 7th, 2008 MICHAEL MANNHEIMER | Special Section Stories
 

7. (tie) Au

25 points

     
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WHO: Luke Wyland and a rotating cast that includes Dana Valatka, Jonathan Sielaff, Becky Dawson, Jeremy Faulkner and Mark Kaylor, among others.

WHAT: Experimental pop.

SOUNDS LIKE: Animal Collective interpreting Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians for a modern opera. .

YEAR FORMED: 2006

MOST LIKELY TO BE FOUND: Playing at Holocene, looking for a good swimming hole.

VOTER QUOTE: “I first knew Luke Wyland of Au as one of my more quiet co-workers. When I first saw him perform I was blown away. With Au, Luke uses his honed musical talent and calm yet passionate personality to get you ready to wait in line for his next show and album release. As Luke surrounds himself with the most creative of musicians, the band as a whole—no matter who’s playing along—simply kills it.” —Lindsey Collins, artist/label relations at CDBaby.com


Luke Wyland is a man of his word. So when he names the first track on Au’s new album “All My Friends,” you know he’s not kidding around. Opening with the sound of more than 20 of his closest friends and musical cohorts singing the title refrain in joyous glee, Au’s latest piece of experimental pop expands the band’s sound—quite literally.

“I tend to write songs with certain people in mind,” Wyland mentions after a glass of wine on his front porch. “It’s why I love the recorded medium—the band can grow to giant size and hit upon things unrealistic in the live setting.”

The project of Wyland and various contributors (including the swoon-inducing voices of Becky Dawson and A Weather’s Sarah Winchester), Au’s music is shaped through various dichotomies: acoustic and electric instruments, folk-song traditions and minimalist tendencies, wildly different live renditions of studio tracks. Though the music is quite organic, it’s built upon layers of complexity in a process that could only stem from years as an art school student. “I’ll throw entirely too much stuff down and then slowly chisel away at it until it becomes something interesting,” he mentions, shrugging. “The first two songs are even like a cacophony.”

Despite so many seemingly disparate elements, the acclaim just keeps piling up. The majestic Sung Tongs-meets-Terry Riley sound of Au’s self-titled debut quickly caught the attention of Internet media giants Pitchfork and Stereogum, and the band’s set to release its already lauded follow-up, Verbs, on June 24. After all the hype and months of work, that’s nothing but relief for Wyland, who feels the album is more cohesive after a winter spent tinkering and “geeking out” with the recording in his home studio. With a release show and West Coast tour in the works, it’s just another chance for Wyland—and his friends—to make a racket.

MEDIA

"RR vs. D" from Verbs (Agoo):
[audio:http://localcut.wweek.com/mp3/rrvsd.mp3]
SEE IT: Au plays Monday, May 12, at Valentine’s. Website: myspace.com/peaofthesea
 
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