Saturday, January 15, 2022

Indie Music: Aura Blaze, "Open-Mindedness"

by Germar Derron

Overall, Open-Mindedness, by Aura Blaze, is a futuristic throwback. The sound is representative of what so many bands wanted to do in the 60s, 70s, and even a bit into the 80s. Here, he accomplishes what they could not. No, this indie EP is not better than all those chart-toppers of the past. But with 40 additional years of musical knowledge and technological advances, Aura Blaze more easily and accurately produced what I know those musicians imagined.

This isn't "easy listening," but it is easy to listen to. And even though each track is distinct, there is an overall sound that ensures the homogeny of the EP. Some pieces are complex for pop or radio-friendly music, while also being not hard to digest. There's more musicality present than you might find on a comparable track from a bigger act. Just to mention one example, "Summer Solstice" must be in common time throughout. But a little more than halfway through the track, the rhythm gets a little funky. It's interesting musically, but you can still clap on two and four.

More important than the foot-tapping, head-nodding easiness of the project is the attention to the technical aspects. The mix, on each track, is far more pro-sounding than most indie projects. Specifically, the vocals are audible and maintain clarity, without riding on top of the instrumental. Similarly, the production and arrangement sound like the best work of someone with a doctorate in music composition that also never stopped touring. 

 Usually, I think of including covers on an indie EP as cheating. But here, the cover of The Charlatans' "The Only One I Know" could be the weakest of the three tracks. However, it does maintain the feeling and drive of the original, while also fitting in nicely alongside the new throwback Aura Blaze originals. The addition of the majestic opening really sets up the new take well. 

The only thing that could improve this project is a remaster. If a mastering engineer could bump those highs and lows to the point that my ears bop and my eyes tear . . . .  Well, that's as good as music gets.


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