AU - Both lights (The Leaf Label)


Superb album from the Portland duo (with notable help from several friends), swinging between irresistible, freewheeling polyrhythms and massed choral exultations.

We've already spoken here about the wonderful first single Solid gold and the euphoric Get alive. They're great but wait until you get a load of the machine funk of OJ (which will be the second single) - a by-product of their work on the Kasai Allstars/Konono No. 1 re-interpretations album Tradi-Mods vs Rockers - a seething mixture of bubbling bass synth and steel drum samples. On the other hand, the sublime Crazy idol is like sacred music, a post-classical leaning also on show in the beguiling piano instrumental The veil (where Luke Wyland's Keith Jarrett influence becomes apparent).

And that's just the first half. AU's world is such a broad church that it can accommodate free jazz, punk rock, folk and machine music under a unified banner. In the second half, I particularly loved the segue from Go slow into Old friend, a suspended piano figure changing into a marvellous hushed guest vocal by Sara Winchester, a gorgeous contribution, laden with emotion.

AU have come up with a monumental piece of work (and Leaf, to add to Matthew Bourne's Montauk Variations already this year). It's one of the best albums you'll hear this year.



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