Just as in nature, our own seasons as human beings have a way of playing themselves out in subtle, yet vicious cycles. This seems to have been hinted at in the music and artwork of Abby Gundersen’s first record, “Time Moves Quickly”; whose final track summoned up and transitioned into the record’s beginning. The record stared into the beady eyes of the past, in all its voraciousness and nostalgia. All the while, there was something monumental about this process that was left unexamined—the way in which these cycles also drive us forward.
“Aurora” is the press forward that exists in spite of (or perhaps even because of) the cycle. It is the change that comes with the breaking of dawn.
The enthralling image that makes up the album’s cover is a stark example of this interplay between circularity and the press forward. According to Gundersen, the painting (by MaryGrace Wolnski, entitled “We Will Make it There”) acted a catalyst for the record. In turn, the painting itself was inspired by the music of Gundersen’s previous EP. The cover lacks any indication of the record’s author or title, demanding our attention as though it should be a gateway into the music not only for Gundersen, but for us as well.
The title track, which opens the album, eases everything to life with a gentle drone, and violin that is like a slow assured breathing; or a coursing of the veins. Piano greets us in sparse, careful, and welcoming flourishes. An array of instruments both familiar and new to Gundersen calmly begin to rise into the aural space—yet just as we are gasping for more the track is over. Gundersen tenaciously revels in the space where potential is everything. Many of her songs do build beyond their gorgeous contemplative state, but are only allowed to exist in fully realized bliss for a short time—moments whose beauty are amplified because they are incredibly precious and brief.
These moments of bliss, these daybreaks, punctuate and give meaning to all of our changes, all of our seasons. And it is certainly worth noting that often, they do not come in the form which we expect. With Aurora, the unfamiliar and the beautiful are continually peeking their way out of each song, as in the calm experimental limbo that concludes “Sunrise”, or the haunting reversal of the piano in “Waves”. Even a dreamlike guitar segment heralds the final track “Hearing is Seeing”, and as the record ebbs towards its conclusion, a new painting ever-more sublime and self-fulfilling brings itself to glorious completion.
released September 1, 2015
Abby Gundersen: piano, violin, cello, vocals, Juno-60, Korg
Michael Porter: electric guitar
Engineered by Floyd Reitsma and mastered by Ed Brooks.
Recorded at Studio Litho in Seattle, WA.
Album artwork by MaryGrace Wolnski
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