The moment I heard the billowing guitars unfold in the opening seconds of “Heavens Downward,” I think I smiled. I’m a huge sucker for the shoegazer sounds of the early ’90s (e.g., Slowdive, Chapterhouse) and Au Revoir Borealis immediately hit that same nerve that responded so deeply to songs like “Celia’s Dream” or “Catch the Breeze.” As Tienken progresses, however, they go on to show just how rich and deep that sound can be, creating music that feels very familiar (even traditional by shoegazer standards), but still very lovely.
As Stephanie Halpert sings “I could lose myself in this,” I find myself heartily agreeing, especially as the guitars achieve a graceful ballet on “Monolith” (which may just be the best song left off of Velour 100’s Fall Sounds). In fact, there’s very little, if anything, on here that isn’t lovely, be it Halpert’s lush voice (which bears a passing resemblance to both Amon Krist and Rebecca Coseboom) or the effects-drenched guitars. Even when the band moves into a more electronic direction, such as track 4’s experiments with squelchy, dub-like electronics a la Pan-American, it does little to break the mood.
And mood is what this one’s all about. But not that sort of passive mood, where you just let the music become aural wallpaper. Rather, I think you’d find it hard not to become involved, to just sit and actively absorb songs like “Monolith,” or even the sifting wall of sound that closes the album. Indeed, you really can lose yourself in this.