Ether Aura: Crash (The Gaia Project, 2005)
Formed in 2004 and hailing from Detroit, Ether Aura blast through your speakers with an aggression that is all rock and bliss-pop, mixed with shoegaze elements. This band combines these great genres to sound like, well, themselves. Bursting onto the scene with their debut album Crash, Ether Aura is a four member powerhouse made up of Tony Hamera (guitars), Kate Hinote (angelic vocalist!), Bret Haupt (bass/vox), and William King (drums). With the power of fuzzy walls of sound, powerful and listless vocals, and an incredibly strong rhythm section, the music speaks for itself.
“All Doves Grey” begins this debut tour de force with straightforward drums sitting on top of fuzzy bass and a wall of sound. About 25 seconds into the track, you instantly realize that this band has it. The chemistry in the band is uncanny and Hinote’s vocals are perfection. With no keyboardist, the walls of sound are made entirely with strings and their swirling jangle harkens back to the ghost of Slowdive. “About You” shimmers and glistens through the speakers. This song showcases much of their rock sensibilities, but Hamera really breaks up the monotony that could be just another rock song and fills the air with fuzz, affects, and beautiful feedback. Ok, so now I am going to sound like a broken record, but Hinote is just blowing me away. Her vocals are innocent yet extremely powerful. She’s flawless. I don’t want it to seem like this is the front woman taking all the glory. No indeed! This band has the whole package.
“6 Days Yesterday” is a bliss-pop song from heaven. Groovy and danceable, King plays that trip-hop beat with precision while Haupt glues the whole band together. Blurring the lines of genres throughout, Ether Aura emphasize different aspects of their sound palate with every turn. “Hardly Know You” begins with Lassie Foundation style fuzz ala California. The drums pulse under the fuzz and Hinote lays her vox on top of the stream of blessed out rock. The title track, “Crash,” is a slow, quiet track with lightly glimmering guitar turning into walls of fuzz. The drums are minimal with bass fuzzing out in-between the other instruments. Playing with dark themes that touch upon the dark side of relationships, this central track expresses the theme of much of the disc. “Falling,” the longest track, begins with beautifully shimmering layers of guitar that hypnotize as Hinote makes you swoon in her magical way. The bridge posts another layer of guitars, all fuzzed out and perfectly wonderful. “Why” pounces into the speakers with their pulsing bliss-rock. A perfect space-rock song if I ever heard one. It’s full of soaring guitars, tambourine, and is even a short three-minutes, making a perfectly compact tune that is infectious.
“Once Shed Skin” has an angrier tone, with the fuzzy bass turned up in the mix. As the vox come up in the mix, the guitar soars and turns to an angry pulse. This rather dark song leads into “I’m All You Need,” which is a soft ballad with soaring guitars and glittering layers of sound. “Waiting” beings with the pulse of bass and dissonant guitars. Again, a angrier sound returns and changes up the mix for the listener. Of course, Hinote’s vocals are so sweet, but the words that come out are not always just so. She has a taste for the ironic, I think, playing the angelic vocalist with a naughty side. Yes, I would say that might be true. “In Oceans” seals the back end of the disc with dark, rumbling guitars and a sorrowful mix. Slide guitar is used to change up the sound as the song swaggers to a sad close.
This is a strong freshman outing! Blissful, shoegazery, soaring, angelic, dark, simple, layered, whatever you want to call this band or however you wish to describe them, they are fantastic. Go buy the disc and listen for yourself!