“Au My Gawd!”

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you – I have never listened to an album three times in a row. Never. In all my years of adoring music and everything it’s about, I have never been motivated to listen to any single record three times, back to back to back. This, however, has been changed. When I was given the opportunity to preview the debut album by Canada’s Au4 (pronounced “oh-four”), I was positively blown away. On Audio is a riveting work of depth and power – enough to prompt three consecutive listens.

Brothers Ben, Aaron, and Nathan Wylie grew up in rural British Columbia, Canada. The three were trained in classical music at the Royal Conservatory and taking part in the obligatory high school band formation process through high school, the learning process facilitated by the mixing board and instruments supplied by their mother. The Wylie brothers continued to grow, eventually coming to experimenting with electronic loops and MIDI. Countless hours spent “reading instruction manuals” for synthesizers and MIDI players led to an eventual expertise in the art of electronica music; a love for the roots of rock and roll led to the marriage of electronica and live instrumentation that can be found in Au4’s music.

On Audio is a journey; its epic sounds will wrap around your head and refuse to let go. Au4’s musical mission statement is similar to that of Icelandic art-rock band Sigur Rós: their goal is to represent the geographical beauty of their homeland through music. The Wylie brothers grew up very much immersed in the diverse beauty of rural British Columbia, and those qualities have manifested themselves strongly in the group’s majestic and powerful songs. Singer and lyricist Ben Wylie told me that his goal was to convey a unified vision of geographical and emotional highs and lows, backed with a fairy tale theme that can be found in the lyrics. The diversity of Au4’s songs mirrors the changing seasons of British Columbia—variety and ingenuity are commonplace on this record.

All things considered—the impeccable production, fantastic arrangement, blissful vocal harmonies—the most ingeneous aspect of Au4’s music is the fact that the band has somehow found a way to successfully fuse hard rock with ambient electronica. Many groups have attempted to combine rock and roll with electronic influences, but none have done so with results as resounding as Au4’s. The guitars are thickly layered and heavy-hitting, but not so much that they overpower the ambient synthesizers and electronic loops that help create the atmospheric beauty the Wylie brothers wish to express.

Au4 is one of the few bands that I can say are doing something completely original. I have honestly never encountered such a successful marriage of hard rock and electronica. The idea itself simply sounds silly, but these Canadian brothers have navigated this musical territory with surprising dexterity.

Sean Boulger – Union Weekly