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Album Review: Aura Blaze’s The Sparkling Black

A fantastic psychedelic journey that brings the 60’s to the present.

Kevin Ashley

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Today, I have Aura Blaze’s album, The Sparkling Black. They are a psychedelic rock band from Lebanon Township, New Jersey, and is solely produced by Rhode Rachel. I’m a big fan of psychedelic rock, so I am excited to hear this and find out what sub-style it is. Garage rock like The Black Angels, or long jamming sessions like Electric Moon? We’ll see shortly.

First up is the track, “Overture- Solar Emerge”. Now, this is 60’s psychedelic pop personified. I love the background effects, the vocals are great, the production is stellar. The album’s off to a really good start so far.

“Good While It Lasted” opens with a brief snippet of birdsong before bouncing into a happy groove of acoustic guitar, organ, and drums. This is a very upbeat 60’s garage rock tune, I love it! There’s even some effects on the vocals, giving them a slightly hollow ring.

“Eyes of the Rising Sun” opens with a brief narration, before going into very krautrock-esque instrumentation. Chilled out drum percussion, meandering guitar, space-y vocal effects, another great track.

“Manipulation (feat. Björn Strid)” goes for a straightforward rock sound this time, featuring a couple symphonic edges. The psychedelics are pretty minimal, so it’s a departure from the previous tracks. Björn Strid does the vocals for this one, which is weird. He’s the frontman of Soilwork, a melodic death metal/metalcore outfit from Sweden. I would not have expected that, not in a million years.

The psychedelics are back in “Keep On Believing”, which is another psych-pop track. The organ is pretty upfront in this one, but the track switches up close to halfway through. It becomes very space-y and ambient, but that only lasts for a short while before breaking out into a guitar solo.

“No Soul That Couldn’t Be Sold in Hollywood” has a lot of cool stuff. Progressive rock keyboards, symphonic brass, rocking rhythm. The surprisingly dark lyrics contrast with the light sound, making this another great song.

“Hope It All Works Out” features the keys and symphonics of “No Soul That Couldn’t Be Sold in Hollywood”, and is the first ballad on the album. However, it still has the garage rock base, making it an interesting combination.

“The Sparkling Black” is another pure 60’s garage track. Fuzzy guitar, psychedelics, chill vocals, organs, it’s all here. It’s also the longest song on the album, clocking it at seven minutes. Good thing too, since I always love a good, long psychedelic jam session.

The last track, “Reprise- Lunar Dissolve” is another psych-fest, until it breaks out into… Disco? What an odd turn! From there, it goes into a rock track, which sounds like it could be it’s own thing. It finishes off with an ambient section, making this a super dynamic track. I really wish I could hear a full length of the “Butterfly of Love” rock section.

What a great album! No downers to speak of, every track had something good about it. 60’s charm in spades, but with clear and crisp production. This album is up their with the best output from The Black Angels, Baby Woodrose, and Vibravoid, just to name a few. I can’t wait to hear more of this group in the future, this is definitely a release anyone into 60’s inspired music should check out.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Kevin is a graduate from Central Washington University, where he was awarded a Bachelors degree in Professional and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Silverdale, Washington, where he explores new food and drink, goes to concerts, and works on personal projects.

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