Auburn Lull began releasing their brand of ethereal dreampop sprinkled with shoegaze back in 1999. Consisting of Sean Heenan, Jason Kolb, Eli Wekenman, Ron Gibbs, and Jason Wiesinger, the band has put out few albums in their history. Hypha is their fourth full-length album, with their last being Begin Civil Twilight in 2008 on Darla Records. They released a five track EP in 2014 entitled Hiber on Geographic North, so I was ecstatic to hear that Azure Vista Records was putting out a full-length so soon. Nine tracks in length, Hypha is a more stripped down Auburn Lull. The album is an experiment in minimalism, stretching out soundscapes and playing with more open sonic worlds. There is an ambient sensibility here that is infused with their signature sound and the result is glorious.
“Juni” opens the album with reverb drenched vocals, slowly rolling in the speaker. Deep, plodding percussion underlines the compositions as fuzzy tones, sparkling synths, shakers, and string like tones move about in the mix. This is a brilliant, slowcore ambient piece that sets the open mood for the rest of the album. At about 3 minutes, the drums become reverb drenched with fuzzy edges and are fuller and more expressive. The bright, spacy sounds sweep and dive among the vocal melodies. Fuzzed out bass acts as a sparse textual marker. “Outsight” has a brittle undertone topped with ambient, swelling guitar. Rumbles begin to move in and out of the mix and then vocals come to the fore. They slowly, vulnerably roll out over the experimental slowcore underneath. Within the delicate beauty creeps a rather ominous tone that screeches and ends the song.
“Silo” gloriously shimmers into the speakers. It is simple at first, with those soaring vocals on top. Glitchy, corrugated tones sit in-between vocal lines. Then deep thumps act as percussion and a tambourine glitters in its midst. A bass-line comes in as percussion becomes more complex. The track is dreamy, ethereal and far more layered than the prior two. A beautiful display of Auburn Lull’s old sounds mixed in a very new way. “Starlet” is startling with a large, angry crackling, brittle bulging sound. As it disappears, luminescent ambient noises float about as vocals pass over the sonic soundscape. The brilliant thing about this track is, when the full band joins in, it doesn’t take away from any of the ethereal, floating feel. In fact, the additional instrumentation induces a more floating feel. “Moonflower” is the shortest piece on the album and is an ambient delight. With wistful, sunken vocals and shimmering, shivering guitars, this composition is made for dark rooms and headphones.
“Leylines” swirls with high pitched synths and deep bass which turns into a catchy melody. Drums keep a steady pace as psych vocals move through different percussion sounds and an abiding drone. Dare I say that this is the most “accessible” song on the album, whatever that might mean? “Divaldlo pts. i,ii,iv” has erratic sounding piano, sampled noises, and gorgeous analog synth sounds. This changes into a more structured piece with glistening synths, steady percussion, and various sounds. It is a very experimental piece that flows with toy like sounds throughout.
“Hypha” reverberates with some great textural choices that I can’t really put into word. This is punctuated with incandescent synths that swell and fade. As the track approaches its center, percussion begins, cricket like sounds populate the soundscape, and haunting drones move throughout. The drums fade and those nighttime noise continue with frogs and bugs singing their nightly love tunes. “Mora Mirage” begins as a noise piece with various noises moving in and out of the speaker. A crackly encrusted guitar gleams into the mix and psychedelic vocals eventually emerge. There is also a sort of slowcore surf pop feel in this track, which is just amazingly done. As always, Auburn Lull doesn’t disappoint. The Beach Boy-esque harmonies over the experimental drones and sounds is otherworldly. A great finish to this newly produced set of tracks.
Auburn Lull has wowed me once again. Still utilizing their signature sound and careful, constructive compositions, Auburn Lull brings to the table a more stripped down, experimental affair that is breathtaking. Hypha is a blend of dreampop, ambient, slowcore, and experimental moments that lead the listener on a psychedelic way back ride full of fresh and new discoveries. At their most vulnerable, Auburn Lull pulls back the sonics and lays bare their beautifully wrought vision in the form of Hypha. I will be surprised if this album isn’t in many top lists of the year come December. Hypha will be released on September 15 via Azure Vista Records on limited vinyl, CD, and digital. Click the Bandcamp below for more details and to order yourself a copy.