Drone Records, 2009
Perhaps it’s a sort of nostalgia for a time when I wasn’t even born, but to me, 7” records are a beautiful format. In the heavy-duty music industry of today, which extends to a certain measure even into a genre as underground as dark ambient, it’s always nice to come across one. Usually used for leftover material or ideas that weren’t expanded into proper releases, 7” records serve as both a nice medium to make such material available and for the project in question to provide a more direct, intimate experience to its fans, and all that at only a fraction of the price of a new CD. Such is the case of AUN’s “Utica”, a very limited intermezzo release put out on Drone Records, an underground German vinyl-only label, a few months before their groundbreaking album “VII” (Important Records, 2010).
This particular release, however, holds a bit more importance than a mere 7” single. Although similar to AUN’s older material (2009 and earlier), “Utica” also charts some new, more melodic territory, as if hinting at the direction the band was about to take on “VII”, and particularly “Black Pyramid” (Cyclic Law, 2010), later on. Both sides are prime examples of what constitutes a great drone track – they start off slowly, drag you in and don’t let you go until the very end. Yet however drone in nature, there is a very clear melancholic, even romantic atmosphere sewn through the threads of both tracks, especially “Lelehudah”. Strictly speaking, and there’s no going around it, the sound is somewhat harsh (it is a drone record, after all), but then again, you’d hardly deem your typical drone track beautiful, which both sides of this 7” are. In fact, this may have been the first time that AUN managed to hit that perfect balance of melody and wall of sound, creating their signature amalgam that came to full life through subsequent full-lengths.
In short, “Utica” is the modern AUN’s rosebud, so if you’ve enjoyed their recent works, you’ll be sure to enjoy this release as well. While 7” releases are traditionally regarded as being for fans only, that can hardly be said about this one; in fact, I’d recommend it to all of AUN’s fanbase, regardless of what a particular fan’s favourite from AUN’s back catalogue might be. Add to that the beautiful handmade layout paired with white vinyl, and you’re really in for a very nice, if heavily distorted, treat.