Auric Echoes – ‘Division for Human Ascension’


West Virginia-based rockers Auric Echoes deliver a captivating listening experience across their third studio album, Division for Human Ascension, out on July 12th. A diverse tonal array, from simmering lushness to erupting distortion, complement inventive song structures and stylistic journeys — blending rock, jazz, post-punk, and beyond for a sound that leaves a strong mark.

“I See Smoke” commences the album with a haunting, processional engrossment. Droning synths and murmured vocals craft ample intrigue, reminding of Oneohtrix Point Never in its fragmented flashes of brightness within a spacey soundscape. An eerie, escalating tonal arrival at the end conjures visions of empty space and darkness, beckoning to the void as one descends into a deoxygenated state. The group’s talents for atmosphere and enjoyably unpredictable structural turns are prevalent from the get-go.

The subsequent “Ballad of Malcolm” is a different world entirely, showcasing the project’s versatile abilities. A frenzy of electric guitars and clamoring percussion meld within a brassy, free-flowing fusion. Vocals accelerate with passion into an especially emotive sound at mid-point, moving from relentlessness into the “fall backwards,” brooding — playing like a lovely aesthetical cross of Black Midi and Muse. Roaring guitars, brass infusions, and rhythmic excitability converge for one of the album’s standout efforts with “Ballad of Malcolm.”

Synths, marimbas, and flutes guide the hypnotic “Multiplicity,” further exemplary of Auric Echoes’ knack for gripping structural builds. Sporadic vocals move in patiently, shifting seamlessly into heavier rock arsenals and another brass-heavy concluding invigoration. “All Your Bets in All the Wrong Places” follows with shades of Tom Waits, exuding a dark alleyway setting as simmering orchestral components and husky vocals assemble with enigmatic charm. “A Long Golden Tether” concludes the album’s first half with enchantment, revealing a lusher comedown in its twinkling orchestral and brass elements.

One of the album’s more approachable rock efforts, by its dense standards, “Crash” evolves from haunting piano and murmuring guitar tones into a fervent raucousness. “If my death is what you need,” the vocals let out with somber effect, building cohesively into the tour-de-force ardency thereafter. “Body Song” embraces the heavier rock spectrum in a full embrace, as “As One Over the Sea” brings forth a jazzy, woodwind-laden sophistication that evolves with gorgeous precision. Album finale “…When He Found Me at the Hotel Bar” simmers with anticipation, with jazzy rhythmic flourishes and murmuring guitars arriving into a wall of distortion and saxophone blares; it’s a fitting, satiating send-off to a riveting album from Auric Echoes.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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