02 Out of Mind
04 Nineteen Eighty-Four
05 Orga II
06 Light Years
AUN is the extremely diverse project of Martin Dumais (guitar,bass, violin, synths, programming) and Julie Leblanc (voice, guitar, programming, video), who joined the project in 2008 during the recordings of “Motorsleep”. Julie’s participation led to the addition of ethereal, dreamy vocals, percussions and song-driven guitars which drifted the sound further from its ambient-based character. In 2010 they released “Black Pyramid” on Cyclic Law, a massively impressive mixture of dark ambient electronics and progressive guitar drones, which received extensive critical acclaim. AUN themselves oddly but accurately describe their music as “Erecting vast sound walls streaked in heavenly celestial electronic whiteout” and “cosmic rooted shoegazing grind”. One thing that makes itself very clear when you familiarize yourself with their work is that it is a constantly moving, ever-changing thing, wearing many disguises but not identifying itself with any of them. At the core of AUN’s ceaseless experimentation lies that cosmic feeling mentioned above, a spacey aura that somehow connects everything to a larger, higher type of energy. Each album is a journey to a part of that vast, indeterminate entity.
“Phantom Ghost” has none of the intensely magnetic, dark vibrations of “Motorsleep”, the feverish, ritual droning of “VII” or the icy, alien accents of “Black Pyramid”. Its tone is lighter, more earthly and accessible, and as the title suggests its music is of a haunting quality. Entangled in intricate arrangements, creating a voluminous, melodic result, its sounds resonate in the mind much longer than the time it takes to produce them, just as a fleeting ghostly impression would linger on for the rest of the day. The otherworldly drones and the sylph-like vocals of Julie in “Phantom” swirl and fade into the distance, in a slow-motion oscillating embrace. “Out of Mind” ups the tempo with its noisy guitars and quickly-paced rhythmic percussion. The confines of reality are broken, and the previously unnoticed, inaudible presences there are now apprehensible. “Travellers” is more introverted and intimate, while “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is an instrumental track which combines a bright, translucent ambience with droning guitars and organic sounds in an escalating yet at the same time contemplative manner. “Orga II”’s hypnotic, repetitive percussion and noise-enhanced guitars effortlessly merge into the mixture of suggestive drones and crisp electronics of “Light Years”, leaving the listener in a luminous, euphoric state of self-indulgent abandonment. In the high frequencies and noise walls of “Ghost” traces of a fragmentary existence emerge, like a damaged transmission randomly interrupting the static of empty airwaves. Samples of choir, whispers, electronic sounds and piercing drones are thrown into a seemingly discordant maelstrom, finding their way to ascension by the use of rhythmic repetition and melodic keyboards in the background. As the visitation ends the air clears. We are wandering through the streets of “Berlin”, perceiving everything in terms of past as well as future, both expressed by melancholic keyboards balancing between ambient and electronics.
To those among you who, like me, have gotten to know AUN from “Black Pyramid”, “Phantom Ghost” will undoubtedly seem very different, as it does not submit to the attachment of the label “dark ambient”. The truth however remains that their overall work defies categorization, it is a living, breathing organism irrevocably linked to its creators, going through phases and alterations just like any other organism does. In AUN, otherwise dissimilar genre characteristics are able to co-exist, adding to the final result. The one generalisation which applies to them, is that of releasing exceptional recordings. “Phantom Ghost” offers an enlightening and strangely personal experience to the open-minded listener, as it moves in varying speed and tension through a maze of spectral abstractions, only vaguely sketching their outline. Their final form is to be discovered by your own imagination.