Music Monday – Featuring Aurora Edition

So I’ve been doing album write ups on Fridays, but sometimes I do still listen to singles and one offs and songs not on albums. So here’s a new series, starting here in Blaugust, where instead of doing albums, I just talk about videos and songs I enjoy. Also I’m calling it “Music Monday” because it’s not very original and I am a sucker for alliteration.

The Chemical Brothers – Eve of Destruction

Look at me, cheating already by just doing Aurora videos (well not all of them). I once made a comment on the Aurora Discord that my “favorite Aurora song isn’t even an Aurora song.” That’s not really true, though this track is pretty awesome. This is definitely my favorite Aurora video. It’s possibly my favorite video in general actually, there is just so much appealing here.

There’s Aurora, so that’s a bonus. But it also has this amazing cheesy Super Sentai thing going on. What is Sentai? Well it’s…. what’s in this video. It’s popular and originated in Japan. Thought the easiest example for most people is, Power Rangers, which is a remixed and American-ized version of the series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger.

The Chemical Brothers – Wide Open

This is such an interesting and fascinating video to watch, though I also do like the song. It’s very simple on the surface, a long shot of a young woman dancing around a room. But the effect of the vanishing body parts is really quite interesting and makes for a neat effect. The effect itself is actually pretty complex and the behind the scenes mentions they created special software to achieve it. Essentially they scanned her body to create a matching 3D model. Then she does the long take dance. The software extrapolates the entire scene out using LIDAR so they can sort of, recreate everything as a 3D model, which allows for the body replacement effect, that matches her movements.

It’s also kind of spooky when the video passes by the mirror and she’s watching herself, though I’m not real sure why.

Qing Feng Wu, AURORA – Storm (English Version)

I actually keep forgetting this collaboration exists, which is a shame because it’s really good. Qing Feng Wu fits well with Aurora too, better than the previous collab she did with Sub Urban. I have no idea if Qing Feng Wu’s music is normally this stylistic or not (a brief sampling suggests it is), but the ethereal nature of his voice and the natural themes and feel of the video are definitely right up there for Aurora.

There is also a version with some lyrics in Chinese.

Aurora – A Different Kind of Human

I figure I should just continue on from Infections of a Different Kind with the follow-up album, A Different Kind of Human. These are, in theory, two parts to a greater whole, though it’s not clear if there will every actually be anymore of that whole, I personally hope so. Aurora’s fourth album, The Gods We Can Touch, has grown on me since it was first released, but I still don’t enjoy it as much as her previous albums and it definitely has a slightly different feel to it overall.

Of the pair, I think overall I prefer A Different kind of Human to Infections of a Different Kind, but they do fit together very well so it’s hard to really go with one more than the other. I do prefer more of the tracks on this, album versus it’s precursor. It opens with The River, which is less directly about a flowing of water and more about the idea that it’s ok to show your emotions and to cry (the river) if you need to, to help rid yourself of your sadness One thing I have always really found interesting in this track is the lyric “Drinking your eyes”, which is both an interesting sort of metaphor, but also really feels like one of those occasional “Aurora-isms” that pop up in a few of her songs. It’s one of my top tier Aurora tracks though.

The second track, Animal, is another really fun track, about the primal urges and needs of humans to need and want each other. It has another fun metaphorical lyric with “lost in a concrete jungle”, representing the idea that the modern world and life (the city, the concrete jungle), conflicts with this primal need. Track three, Dance on the Moon, is a fun little lighter track. I particularly enjoy the little “da da das” at the end that start running along in the background near the end of the song.

Next up comes Daydreamer, a track that has a nice build over time and really feels like it embodies a lot of Aurora’s overall mood in one song. A desire to encourage everyone to be their best selves, to not dwell on and become these negative things when people should be able to be their best selves. That people should be the daydreamers and enjoy what they dream about being. It’s a pretty upbeat and inspiring song. It’s actually a pretty good follow-up to Dance on the Moon which almost feels like it has an underlying message of someone who wants to be free and dream but can’t because they are trapped. Which also works when you slip in Animal before, the person with suppressed primal needs and desires, desperate to be free.

Aurora continues the crusade for the underrepresented people with Hunger, not so much hunger for food but hunger for agency and power. The follow up track, Soulless Creatures is an interesting almost balladlike track that honestly almost feels out of place in this album. It’s a good track, it just has a slightly different almost eerie sound going for it that doesn’t quite match the feel of the rest of the album. In Bottles, I always want to confuse it with In Boxes, which is an older track that isn’t on any of Aurora’s albums. The two tracks don’t even sound anything alike, but I like both, and they have similar names, and sometimes my brain just gets broken a bit that way (In Boxes is the superior track).

The album’s title track, A Different Kind of Human, I always want to call this track Mothership, which is also a track, but just not, THIS track. I think that’s mostly because it talks about aliens coming to take you away on their Mothership. There are a lot of regular underlying notes to a lot of Aurora’s music, the environment, letting your feelings show, everyone is worthwhile, and occasionally, “maybe Aurora is secretly an alien.” I would not be surprised actually, she has a lot of interesting eccentricities.

Next up is Apple Tree, which, is an interesting track. It comes out of the gate moving and just keeps going. Like The River a bit lyrically, because it has a lot of those odd Aurora-isms to it’s grammar at times. I mostly mention this again because it’s just something I’ve noticed it several tracks, often where tensing or plurals comes off as a bit off. I actually really LIKE these little eccentricities in the lyrics though, so it’ not really a complaint or anything. I also want to say i really like the little brief interlude moment near the end of this track where the vocals drop back briefly.

The last real track on this album is The Seed, which, I really really like, but it’s also extremely repetitive so over time I find I enjoy it, a bit less. It’s essentially a statement about how the environment and planet are being destroyed. It has some excellent layering and build to it. I absolutely love the structure. The lyrics are mostly repeating the saying (of unclear origin, seems to be Native American) about how you Cannot Eat Money. I like the track, I just find the single line repeated actually does get a little well, repetitive. The last track Mothership is hardly a full actual track, and more of a quiet interlude moment that is mostly instrumental.

Aurora – Infections of a Different Kind

Technically Infections of A Different Kind is an EP and not an album, along with it’s sister EP, A Different Kind of Human, they make up a complete double album. I also have heard that Aurora has plans to put out some addition “Step X” albums at some point, though I can’t speak to any truth on that. I certainly wouldn’t mind it.

A Different Kind of Human carries on with a lot of the themes present in All My Demons… with tracks that are self reflecting and tracks that are more outward focused, and tracks that are both quite sorrowful and others that are much more upbeat. All have the same dense, layered sound present in All My Demons… While Aurora tends to suggest that the meanings behind her lyrics are very open to interpretation, a lot of the tracks here feel a lot more focused on the message they are pushing.

The album opens with Queendom, an upbeat song about acceptance of everyone, into the Queendom, though it’s not quite clear if it’s “Aurora’s Queendom” or if she is suggesting “Mother Earth’s Queendom”. A lot of nature and love of the planet themes underlay her music, and in a lot of the tracks on this album and it’s follow up, she sort of extra present.

The second track, Forgotten Love, at least in my view, is sort of about the idea of finding new strength from an empty relationship. It opens with a bit of a questioning of if the other still cares, but the Chorus gives a bit of a hint of letting it go and not caring, “And I don’t care if you don’t understand why I cry.” And by the end it talks about being able to move on, and being able to be more awake (and dance among the goodbyes). Musically, I find that I really really enjoy this track, probably more than I realize, and I actually find it runs through my head pretty often.

But that’s not to discount the other tracks on this album. Gentle Earthquakes, the third track, may be my favorite Aurora Track, at least from a pure music structure standpoint. I absolutely love the initial build up the the fist big bass drop, with the BOOM and the little follow up rattling bumbumbum thumps and the “Like a Gentle Earthquake …..” Even though there isn’t another drop, which is a bit disappointing, it still has a nice booming and flowing sound that really gives the feel of “Gentle Earthquakes”. It’s followed by All Is Soft Inside, which is another really great track with a lot of wonderful highs and lows.

Then everything shifts with It Happened Quiet, which is a much more solemn track with strong undertones of being about survival of a sexual assault, which bring with it the gravity of that situation. Aurora has said it’s related to Murder Song, though not exactly how. It also runs next into Churchyard, which kind of feels like it fits a bit with this shift into the idea of unhealthy relationships. Which also harkens back a bit to Forgotten Love as well, though Forgotten Love is a bit more about getting out of such relationships.

Soft Universe isn’t a bad track but it’s one that I find a bit more forgettable on this album. I will mention the use of the word “Soft”, which comes up a lot in Aurora’s lyrics as a bit of a metaphor for simply, “caring, warm, and good”. The last track, Infections of a Different Kind which is also the title track is one that I didn’t used to enjoy, but it’s really grown on me, especially after hearing it done live. It’s really a beautiful song. This is a bit of a pattern I have found for artists I start to get really into. I start off tending to like the more “pop style” tracks, then evolve over time to really enjoy the more deep cut tracks.

Aurora – All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend

Released 2016.03.11

I don’t know exactly when my first exposure with Aurora was, but I can say my exposure of actually becoming a fan, was through Sigrid. Which is kind of funny because I feel like it more often would go the other way. I don’t know that Sigrid and Aurora are “friends” exactly, but they have, I dunno, been in the same room together, and re both originally from Norway. Though Sigrid seems a bit more based in England, Aurora is decidedly Norwegian.

I’m sure overtime my music tastes will evolve again, but for the time being, Aurora is definitely my top pick for favorite artist. I can’t really articulate exactly why, but there is just something, quote magical and wonderful about every track she has done. Like, seriously, solidly, every track. Her musical style reminds me a lot of Björk or Enya.

I’m not here now to write about every track, though in time, probably, I will. I am here to talk about her first album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, or, for my own sanity, simply All My Demons. Similar to the case with CHVRCHES, Aurora is an artist that I am sure I heard before becoming a fan, I just didn’t really put much into it. Her first album, is also my top most listened to album, at least, according to I’ll be running through the Deluxe version of this album.

There is a lot of variety to have here, but all of them share a sort of, primal energy. Aurora incorporates a lot of traditional Norwegian sound and vocalizations along with modern electronic music and methods. It creates an incredibly powerful vehicle which Aurora uses to push her message. Oddly enough, while her message have a clear, “love everything and everyone” sort of motif, she has mentioned before that a lot of her songs are left to “personal interpretation” by the listener.

The album itself is up and down on it’s emotion and tones as well. Almost all of the tracks are underpinned by a sort of lingering sorrow, but other push it to the forefront. Some tracks like Runaway, Winter Bird, and Lucky, which are hopeful but sad. Others are much more sorrow and sadness, like Under the Water, I Went to Far, and of course, Murder Song. Murder Song is particularly interesting in it’s two versions, the less often heard album version has a much larger and forceful push to it, while the more commonly heard acoustic version bonus track is much much more low key.

But there is also plenty of emotion from the upbeat tracks, which are some of my favorites on the album. Warrior is the commonly known classic. Running with the Wolves is very full of primal energy and builds to a fantastic climax. Conqueror has a great beat and tune, though Aurora has mentions she dislikes the track. I don’t know, but I suspect because it has a bit of a, subservient theme, which feels like it pushes against her otherwise fully independent spirit personality.

Probably my favorite song on All My Demons… is Black Water Lilies. It feels a bit less complex than a lot of the other tracks on the album but I really like the running melodies and overall sort of, happy lyrics with a sad-ish sound it has throughout, though it’s mostly positive energy. It wasn’t a song that was initially my favorite, but its one that grew to be so after digging deeper into Aurora’s overall sound.

I can’t really say I can give an unbiased overall opinion here, but i can say it’s my favorite Aurora Album and it’s also one of my favorite, overall albums.