New Jersey indie-rock outfit Aura Blaze dropped The Sparkling Black on June 21, the day of the summer solstice, thus accentuating Aura Blaze’s fanciful imagination, along with recognizing the “sun and moon” concept running through the album.
Aura Blaze is the musical offspring of Rhode Rachel, who provides all vocals, instrumentation, and production on the album. Blending elements of sunshine pop, psychedelic rock, and potent retro flavors from the ‘60s and ‘70s, Aura Blaze’s sound is reminiscent of bands such as The Doors, Pink Floyd, and ELO, along with the contemporary psych-savors of Tame Impala, and Holy Wave.
Featured on Psych Box, the compilation released by Cleopatra Records, Aura Blaze’s music corresponds with other renowned bands on the anthology, including Iron Butterfly, Nico, MC5, and Hawkwind. Moreover, Aura Blaze’s classic song “A Glass of Tears Half Empty” currently resides on more than 60,000 TouchTunes jukeboxes throughout the U.S.
The album comprises nine-tracks, beginning with “Overture: Solar Emerge,” which opens on a ‘60’s-flavored melody reminiscent of The Kinks amalgamated with ELO. When the rhythm kicks in, the tune takes on buoyant savors of indie-pop and alt-rock.
From a purely subjective viewpoint, entry points on the album include “Manipulation,” opening on surging guitars and retro gleaming colors. The melody reminds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer combined with The Cowsills, with the potent dynamism of Journey tossed in for good measure. A searing, dirty guitar solo slices the air with dark soiled tones, imbuing the tune with heady energy. The vocals, provided by Björn Strid, infuse the tune with muscular delicious timbres.
“Speed demon, never taking it slow / Easy come and easy go / Satisfaction so hard to find / But easy girls are easy to come by / Is she ready to go? Oh yea, yea, yea / Is she letting you know? Oh yea, yea, yea / Could it be all for show? Well maybe so.”
“Keep On Believing” rides a psychedelic surf rock-flavored melody reminiscent of The Beach Boys, as glistening tones from an organ fill the harmonics with pulsing beach aromas. A swirling kaleidoscopic breakdown, topped by three-part harmonies, gives the tune a tasty retro feel, followed by a snarling guitar solo. This is a great track!
“No Soul That Couldn’t Be Sold In Hollywood” merges cool sensuous R&B undulations with a potent rhythmic flow resulting in a scrumptiously delightful song. The title track mingles new wave tangs with seething psychedelic rock-laced energy from The Doors, but with dirtier harmonics provided by grinding guitars.
The last track, “Reprise: Lunar Dissolve,” initially conjures up the Talking Heads covering disco, and then flows into a brawny wall-of-sound emanating from soaring guitars and streaming textures from the synths.
The Sparkling Black is great, full of yummy retro flavors, enchanting surface colors, and wonderful vocal inflections. Aura Blaze has a grand gift for harmonic flair fused with a variety of retro additives.