There are times when we check an album’s genre tags on Bandcamp to be sure we are in the right area. Does the artist consider their work drone or ambient, for example? It’s a useful pointer if we are feeling indecisive. There wasn’t much doubt about how to categorise aurora, though – it’s a composed work and definitely modern. However, the tags on the site skip any reference to that, citing ‘chamber pop’ and ‘minimal’ amongst others. If you’re expecting an album that’s a cross between Perfume Genius and Taylor Deupree, then you might feel slightly misled. But whatever your preconceptions are, you shouldn’t be disappointed – aurora is a singularly remarkable work of delicate woodwind and brass compositions by Vilhelm Bromander that will appeal to anybody with ears.
Best described as a suite of ten parts than a long-playing record, aurora has a light, airy feel to it. There’s a sense that some of the pieces are in danger of collapsing in on themselves, such is their delicate nature. As half of the sextet play instruments they are unfamiliar with, that feeling of uncertainty is a very real element in the recording. Bromander, best known as a double bassist, plays saxophone here. The presence of Emma Augustsson on cello along with Anton Svanberg (tuba) and Pelle Westlin (clarinets and soprano sax) audibly act as an anchor for the other three. It’s a good balance to strike – the recording retains a freshness that might otherwise have been lost if six virtuosi were performing.
aurora is comparable to the work of a saxophone quartet, but the presence of cello and tuba give it a richer, deeper sound. The track “Hollisgram” almost certainly nods to Mark Hollis, singer of Talk Talk, with definite echoes of “The Daily Planet” from his solo album. Bromander embraces texture and timbre as part of the recording to frame the delicate melodic phrases in his compositions. It all comes together beautifully on the closing “Over the top and beyond”. Just looking at the track lengths, aurora may appear slight, yet it’s a perfectly balanced work; long enough to sate the soul, and brief enough to encourage multiple listens. (Jeremy Bye)