Markus Sieber -- born in East Germany, 15 years prior to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall -- delivers his sophomore album as Aukai, 'Branches of Sun'. Sieber spent a month holed up in the Colorado Rockies; each day crossing a frozen lake twice, to and from his studio in a cabin in the mountains. The result is an album rich in beautifully sensual, textured tones; featuring piano, cello and Andean ronroco / baritone charango -- a guitar-like instrument in the lute family. Once again Sieber has proved himself a master of delicate, dappled, emotional music.
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Ah, Aukai -- I liked his debut, self-titled LP which was I can clearly recall reviewing just under two years ago. Beautiful acoustic ambience which evoked late-afternoon strolls in the Autumn, watery rays of sunshine filtering through the branches as golden leaves softly tumble in the crisp air. Well, here’s Markus Sieber’s second LP ‘Branches Of Sun’ which follows on with even more clear-watered streams of loveliness. Markus knows what he’s doing all right; although when we played this on the office stereo yesterday I overheard one airy, ‘wallpaper’ related dismissal (might’ve been Clint) -- I’m sure it was in jest as our Phil likes this acoustic prettiness -- so there you have it, there’s our office split following on from our Arctic Monkeys lounge lizard furore.
Branches of Sun builds on its predecessor’s twinkling pre-dusk recipe, working its way through delicately finger-picked, guitar-soundalike baritone charango -- backed with soft, floaty electronics, a murmuring violin and occasional sprinklings of piano -- up to a mountain-scaling peak at ‘Turning Days’. That slightly Durutti-ish (not)-guitar sounds great in the West Yorkshire Spring/Summer sunshine today, and on the record it’s content to vibrate in the warmth of the south-facing downslope on whichever Coloradan mountain Sieber rested upon to in order to strum it so magnificently. ‘Fragmentary Blue’, ‘Distracted by Clouds’: both spend their lazy afternoons content to bask in the beauty of untroubled skies and clean air (nearest city: Denver, located a few hundred miles away to the Northeast, probably).
‘Nightfall’ is finally reached by way of steadily flowing watery electronics and that stringed instrument which, as Phil just pointed out, strongly calls to mind Gustavo Santaolalla’s somewhat epic (4-LP boxset!) and highly atmospheric score to the game ‘The Last Of Us’. Finally, might I recommend this album to fans of Penguin Cafe’s ‘The Imperfect Sea’? Thank you.
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