Aucan – DNA EP

3 out of 5

Label: Ruminance, Africantape

Produced by: Aucan, Giovanni Ferliga

Ah, growing pains, god bless em.  I applaud Aucan’s attempt at shrugging off the instrumental-rock safety net of their debut (eh, which I loved, mind you) and trying to incorporate something new.  On the DNA EP, that newness equals some vocals, but mostly a ton of electronics.  You remember how on Bush’s The Science of Things – which, come on, you own that too, right? – Gavin Rossdale’s electronic flourishes were interesting but rather unnatural sounding against the band’s crunchy base layer?  Yeah, same deal here, for better or worse.  The better is opener Rooko, which is the ideal meetup between Tortoise-y knob twiddling and Aucan’s chugga chugga guitar and drums interplay; the track ebbs and flows with ease, and though its subject to my other criticism (I’m getting there), it sounds damned good.

Followup Crisis (Club Version) repeats this impressive newly learned trick to a certain extent, centered around an almost hip-hop beat.  In its last section, with tweaked vocals acting like another instrumental layer, we get an impression of how Aucan could make this rock/electro mush truly their own thing, but before they get there, repetition sort of stalls the track from building on its promise.

Track three is make or break.  The heavy percussive beat doesn’t hide what’s sort of a generic stadium anthem type thing, like a Kasabian radio-ready singalong.  For me, it’s a break: I sense no personality in this version of Aucan.

Track four is a reprieve for those of us not digging some of this newness, back to the post-rock dynamics we might’ve expected, concluding with another possible – maybe likely – “break,” the fifteen minute momentum-killing static of The Darkest Light.

Excepting the last track, none of this is disinteresting, per se, and most of it has some damned fine breakout moments.  The strangest, and most distancing thing, though – first awesome track included – is that all the electronic fiddlery sounds stock.  Like you’ve heard these exact sounds before, culled from other songs and reapplied.  It stifles the possibility of immersion when your brain is always twinging on something that sounds super familiar.

The expanded palette is noentheless nifty, and there’s enough Aucan v.1 left in the, ahem, DNA, to warrant a listen.