REVIEW: Under

Solo projects can be some of the most interesting pieces from a musician’s career.  While some of these albums demonstrate a stylistic piece of a band’s greater whole (see all albums from the guys in Animal Collective), other times reveal an unseen side of an artist’s musical personality and taste.

Under, the solo debut album from cultureculture’s Anthony Aparo, falls in the latter camp.

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Whereas Aparo’s excellent EP with cultureculture from earlier this year delved into 1980s pastiche and chill synthpop, his first individual venture explores indie folk and singer-songwriter.  It’s as earnest as JX-3Please is mysterious, giving us our first real look behind a shroud of relative ambiguity that has been surrounding the musician.

What we see when we first go Under is that this is an immensely personal album.  The maintain a veneer of tenderness — due in no small part to Aparo’s vocals — but upon closer inspection often turn rather dark and raw.

These more somber moments are scored by dramatic musical flourishes, such as the strings in “Brother” or the atmospheric build of “All Hotel Ceilings Are White.”  However, moments of levity (“I’ve Got Plenty” and “It’s a Mystery”) balance out the conflict, despite having a cutting edge under the bubbly and heartfelt delivery.

Production-wise, the album walks the line between high and low fidelity,with the acoustic sound resembling that of the 60’s and 70’s in one moment while undoubtedly contemporary in the next.  It’s an interesting dynamic that doesn’t feel derivative or imbalanced.

In a genre that can seem a bit tired, Anthony Aparo delivers a standout album by way of transparency and strong musicianship.  Under doesn’t seem overdone or insincere, and it’s perhaps indie folk at its best

Under drops tomorrow.  The folks at Immersive Atlanta have a pre-release stream and mixtape going over here.  You can purchase the album over here.  Physical releases are forthcoming.  Finally, check out A. Aparo on the Web.

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