If like me this E.P is your first experience of Au, you’ll find it provides a fine launching pad for exploring their back catalogue. Versions collects together reworked music from the group’s previous albums Au and Verbs, alongside the solitary new track, ‘Ida Walked Away’.
Au is essentially the brainchild of Luke Wyland, beginning humbly as a bedroom project during his art school days of 2005. Since then the talented multi-instrumentalist and singer has made a couple of records amid touring relentlessly across the globe with a backing ensemble often reaching double figures. He also found time to recruit a full time drummer in Dana Valatka along the way. Having come so far in such a short amount of time, perhaps Versions has provided Wyland with the perfect opportunity to reflect on his career thus far and introducing the uninitiated to the potential of his sound.
Versions is certainly challenging, versatile, off-putting and yet somehow still fun. The orchestration is vast and frequently displays a dizzying array of talented musicianship. ‘Ida Walked Away’ and ‘Death’ both glisten along like a chirpier interpretation of the Arcade Fire. There are also hints of Flaming Lips-style grandiose sonic misadventure with ‘All Myself’ and ‘RR Vs. D’. You can even hear the intricate sound of Mars Volta jazz-fusion freak-outs on ‘Are Animals’ and ‘Boute’. It’s certainly eclectic, erratic and not easy to get into. Patience is a virtue, though, so make sure you give it your full attention before dismissing entirely.
One can almost imagine Wyland as a Brian Wilson type of character, bursting with ideas about how each facet of his music should sound. That said, whereas Au shows interesting musical ideas, the brothers Wilson had actual full-blown songs (and bloody good ones, as if it needs saying). Regardless, Au's musical landscapes must have been painstaking despite an obvious enthusiasm shining through. The sound also certainly benefits from the percussive barrage provided by Valatka. The man is simply relentless, with a wonderfully cacophonous blend of jazz and metal styles giving structure and balance to the material.
Versions is worthy of 30 minutes or so of your time. It’s made a believer of me and I’ll be making my way through their previous records in due course. If expansive, intricate and challenging sounds are your thing then go check them out.
7Nicholas Sell's Score