Welcome to the first official segment of PK’s Picks. I’m PKSkyler, and I regularly siphon through the best lesser known music I can find on the depths of the internet and bring it to you in a casual review style format. Today’s choice was emailed to me about a week ago, and I’ve had a few enjoyable listens since then. We’ll be sending our ears on a quest through a relaxing symbiosis into a new musical world with this enticing bandcamp oddity ” 1 “, the debut EP by aoi.
From what I’ve been able to gather, aoi is an independent composer, musician, and producer from Montreal,Québec. He studies molecular biology at the University of Montreal, and he also studied jazz music performance for bass guitar in the past. His debut album/EP “1” was created on his laptop over the summer and during autumn, which he released on October 22 of this year . It is experimental in genre, iinfluenced by post-rock, electronica, alternative, progressive rock, jazz and classical. I would label it along the lines of something like “electric prog?” I don’t know, but it’s good stuff, reminiscent of influences from artists like Radiohead or Pink Floyd, yet on some Scott Pilgrim style video game adventure.
We start this album off with “wavelings” a chilled out and spacey yet well structured opening instrumental. It opens with some pretty synths and guitars, which aoi increasingly adds more layers of as well as some electronic ambience. I eventually get the feeling of being in the Egyptian desert searching for an oasis, and finding illusions, yet continuing my voyage.
The next two tracks change the tone to something even more distant and far from this world. It seems we have left or are leaving Earth, or at least found lands yet undiscovered. The electronic and upbeat yet dangerous nature track 2 puts off reminds me of some tracks off the Castle Crashers OST. A relaxing, and yet foreboding sample of a woman talking enigmatically appear at the end of track 3- “the void between“, seeming to warn us of the potential perils of our journey and human nature….who is this mysterious voice? She speaks the first and only words on the album.
I personally really enjoy tracks 4 and 5. They feel like something pulled straight out of a video game set in some futuristic or at least technologically advanced setting- one with a great composer. Now that I mention it, this entire soundtrack would be fitting for a video game with its reliance of electric noises and synths in pretty much every track.
Track 6 is the first to use some piano which I really enjoyed and felt it helped close out the song and bring us to the final track masterfully which is track 7, “waltz for ioa draconis“. It has the most fitting title of any track and is in my opinion the most emotionally charged. It’s incredibly soulful and melancholy, yet stays true to its title of being well…a waltz. You feel as if you are drifting back and forth in a sense, dancing in circles, the powerful electric guitar ballad helping drive your movements and paint this picture in your mind. The album leaves us with a sense of fulfillment from our journey, yet desire for comprehension of the meaning from it.
The entire album is incredibly cohesive, relying on the previous and following tracks to help mesh together a seamless listening experience. You can also tell aoi has studied music and took care designing these songs, employing electroacoustics to his advantage. Some listeners may find qualms with the lack of any lyrical content whatsoever or what can seem to be the droning on and on nature of prog rock in general, however I personally find this EP to be relaxing and enjoyable to listen to, as well as not too distracting. It’s something you could put on while doing homework, in my opinion. That doesn’t make it boring and detract from its interesting sounds and textures though, although I can admit some listeners would be turned off by how the album was made all electronically, and goes through its variations a bit slowly. I also felt that the album performs best when listened to in one sitting, which can be seen as a negative to some as well. However all in all I would still recommend this to others and will have many more listens. I am looking forward to hearing more of what aoi will be releasing.
Final Score: 8/10