The Aurapool - Straphoric Euphoric (Self-released 2003)
The Aurapool - s/t (Third Album) (Self-released, 2007)
From Aural Innovations #37 (September 2007)
Florida space rockers The Aurapool return with their third album, a self-titled release that sees them really finding their own sound and pushing forward. I know this because they sent me a copy of their second album, Straphoric Euphoric along with it, so I got a chance to hear where the band had come from. Let's take a look at that album first.
The Ozric Tentacles like title may give you an idea where The Aurapool were at in 2003. Indeed, songs like Aurariff and Seeker have a very Ozrics feel to them. But overall, the band are a little more restrained in their approach to space rock, carefully crafting swirling atmospheres with synths and shimmering cymbals through which their rhythmic jams and jazzy leads travel. The album is mostly instrumental, and ranges from the semi-ambience of tracks like Bells of Abzu and Beyond Down to rockers like the early Ozrics influenced Haoma. But it's on tracks like Mindgaps, with its spacey atmospheres and subtle melodies and Cumulonimbus, with its floating synths, understated percussion, shivering rain sticks and distant crashes of thunder that the band finds its own sound the most. The final track, Olympia's Pub, is the only track with true vocals on it (Enkisense, the album's opening cut, has some chant-like vocals). A bit more of a funky space pop tune in style, it perhaps heralds things to come, as we shall read below. All in all, Straphoric Euphoric is an excellent album of atmospheric jams, but it was The Aurapool's latest, self-titled album that truly blew me away.
Their latest release takes the best of what they were doing on their previous album and takes off with it into the skies. Things kick off with the twisty electronic sequences of the slowly evolving Lothar. Chimes, gong like percussions, electric piano and deep spacey blues guitar develop little by little into a fiery space jam that sets the perfect tone for the album. This album finds a nice balance between instrumental tracks and more psychedelic pop-style tracks similar to Olympia's Pub from the previous album, and we immediately hear that with the second cut, the funky rocker Timespan. The gorgeous and dreamy space pop of Sense Her follows, sounding not unlike a more soulful Pink Floyd. Denial delves into heavier space rock, again with a funky twist to it though, and some stellar guitar work. The instrumental Primal starts as a blistering space rocker before dissolving into a gentler piece, with flute like synth melodies and jazzy piano. Feeling Yourself Thinking is an easy-grooving psychedelic tune with some lovely electric piano dancing through it. G.O.E. returns us to instrumental space, with a mid-tempo exploration that sports some definitely darker tones. Schmokola, on the other hand, is some kind of eccentric rocker, with some very unique rhythms and a soaring chorus. The final track is a lengthier, but lighter, kind of meditative pop song called Mr. Ahm that ends the album on a bright note. Now don't get me wrong when I refer to songs on this album as "pop" songs. That's the feel they have, but they are full of beautiful synth atmospheres, terrific guitar and keys work, and shimmering, complex percussion utilizing drums, chimes, gongs, and hand percussion. The melodies are often catchy, sure, but the band is never afraid to go off at a tangent into intriguing sonic twists and turns and explorations. In fact, songs like Sense Her and Mr.Ahm are in the 8-minute range, not your average length pop tune.
Straphoric Euphoric found the band still searching for their own sound, sometimes finding it, sometimes not quite. But on their latest, The Aurapool have come into their own, producing a dazzling album of dreamy, innovative and exhilarating songs full of trippy grooves and cosmic atmospheres that will please any space rock enthusiast. Both albums, however, are highly recommended!
For more info, visit: http://www.theaurapool.com and http://www.myspace.com/theaurapool.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald