Life As A Canvas


Aurganic, 2012

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Aurganic’s musical vision is a challenging one, to say the least. This duo’s desire to blend jazz, indie, and electronic music in one cohesive format to create beautifully elegant songs is certainly an ambitious one. The band’s eponymous debut EP was sort of a disjointed cross between bigbeat and chillwave, and it seemed as if the duo was still trying to figure out its sound. With Life As A Canvas, their full-length debut, Michael Kossov and Leo Pisaq appear to have gotten many steps closer to realizing that sound. Life As A Canvas is clearly a huge departure from the debut EP and a huge leap forward in the maturation of their musical style.

The one main difference between the two releases is the inclusion of vocalists on this record – on one half of it, at least. But even the instrumentals on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Life As A Canvas are polar opposites of the duo’s completely instrumental debut EP, exhibiting no trace of the awkward bigbeat/chillwave mishmash whatsoever. Instead, the instrumentals are artfully arranged indie jazz numbers that show that Kossov and Pisaq have truly realized their potential and have reached a level of musicianship that will surely grab attention. Starting with the less jazzy “Intro” and “Radio Stasis,” which are sweeping guitar-based pop tracks, the jazz influence and the experimentation gets more pronounced on “Ophiuchus I,” “Ophiuchus II,” “Ophiuchus III,” and “Grandma’s Love,” where the duo masterfully and seamlessly blends jazz jams with electronic music.

However, the band’s jazzy sound is mostly restricted to the album’s instrumentals only; the tracks with vocals are a slightly different breed. In a completely dramatic contrast to the instrumentals, Aurganic’s old electronica influence manifests on “Systematic Vision” (featuring Joel Goguen), which has an almost acid techno sound. Furthermore, “Snowflake” is a total trip hop track with its lazy beats and Bristol vibe, and so is “Pleasure Addict,” on which singer Jessica Stewart gives a great sultry vocal performance. Although the duo doesn’t sound all that bad as an absolute electronic music outfit, it’s not as nearly as good a  sound as their other work.

“Let It Go” (another cut featuring Jessica Stewart) is the only track with a vocal accompaniment, where the duo tries and triumphs in incorporating the jazzy essence of the album’s instrumentals. On the other hand, “And When…” and “False Accusations” – both featuring the smooth vocals of Scott Carruthers – although not exactly the jazzy type, aren’t full on electronic either. The combination of electronic music and dreamy guitars (in addition to the warm vocals) make these great pop songs that are on par with the instrumentals.

This album finds Aurganic in a state of metamorphosis; a state of transformation from a band that is trying to find their footing, to a band that has almost found their sound. But even as a lowly stepping stone to a future spectacular work, Life As A Canvas is a pretty incredible effort on its own accord.

Rating: A-

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© 2013 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Aurganic, and is used for informational purposes only.