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Here we’ve got the new record from psychedelic outfit Aura Blaze, The Sparkling Black. A 60s album at heart but with crisp, clear, modern production. The New Jersey group’s effort was produced solely by frontman Rhode Rachel, who has done a stellar job of breathing life into this record from the desk.
Hazy, bright, poppy, joyful, and mysterious, this new release touches on several cornerstone sounds of classic psychedelic music, but also draws on various modern styles. This fusion keeps the listener guessing, making well-trodden ground sound fresh and reinvigorated.
Trippy, addictive melodies in the vein of Bowie kick us off with ‘Overture: Solar Emerge’. The pastiche of weird background effects and wandering vocal melodies make for a killer combination, setting the stage for the album’s atmosphere.
‘Good While it Lasted’ is an upbeat garage rock tune with spaced out vocals and clinky guitar lines, but the vocal harmonies are pure Beatles. An excellent contribution from Aura Blaze.
Channelling a more Krautrock sound is ‘Eyes of the Rising Sun’. It starts with a short narration before jumping into experimental instrumental bits. (Check out The Sky Children for an example of over the top 60s poetry rock). The whacked out vocals are a real jewel on this one.
‘Keep on Believing’ is a Beach Boys-style psych-pop tune powered by some rambunctious organ work. The organ eventually melts into an ambient pool of sound. A breakout guitar solo has all the Hendrix-inspired swagger and style of the era. No flash, just zany, otherworldly fuzz tones.
Also of note is album closer, ‘Reprise: Lunar Dissolve’. This one is truly bizarre. Kicking off as a melancholic, breathy vocal chant with a delicate piano line, it bursts out into a straight up electro-disco tune. Somehow, it works, giving the listener a final explosion of the colour and positivity, something evident across the album.
Excuse the pun, but this album is genuinely quite the trip. The textures and sounds are enormous and ambitious while stoking nostalgia for an unforgettable era of music. Aura Blaze sound confident despite indulgence in the whimsical, ethereal vibes of acts like Iron Butterfly and early Pink Floyd.