Auburn Lull
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Auburn Lull


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"Cast from the Platform"

Auburn Lull
Cast from the Platform
[Darla; 2004]
Rating: 8.0

Darla; 2004]
"I'm not an entomologist or anything, but I think I have proof that butterflies live great lives. You start out as a caterpillar, of course, a furry little thing with a tent-like exoskeleton and too many legs, but before long, you're wrapped in your chrysalis, slowly morphing into something entirely different, more mature, and frequently beautiful. What I really think gives butterflies the edge over other species is that period of metamorphic hibernation-- during their most awkward phase, they're insulated from the world at large, and they still emerge with a new maturity. On the other extreme, when we're in our most awkward phase, adolescence, we're thrust into the hostile social grist mills we refer to as schools, and emerging with a new-found maturity on the other end is no sure bet. Some people emerge as adults, others just very large caterpillars.

People really have nothing to compare to that chrysalis state, though certainly try hard to find it; Thoreau on Walden Pond, transcendental meditation, or even a teenager in that awkward phase hiding out in her room with the radio up to drown out thoughts and inquisitive parents seem to reach for it. To heighten the effect, that teenager might want to slip in Cast from the Platform, the sophomore effort from Lansing, MI's Auburn Lull, which is about as close as you can come, musically, to being wrapped in heavy gauze and closed in from the ugly detail revealed by harsh direct light.

There is no awkwardness in the world the band creates on Cast from the Platform, only abiding grace and enveloping beauty. Even when they cast their tunnel of light drones and oceanic washes of guitar and synth texture across fractured rhythms, as they do on "Season of False Starts", the flow of sound is too natural to be hobbled. "Direction & Destination", meanwhile, has all the weightless illumination of the Verve's debut EP or Bark Psychosis' "I Know", Sean Heenan's rounded, seafoam (and suspiciously British-sounding) vocals drifting over Jason Weisinger's spacious drums through a cavern of water-formed reverb.

This is the kind of album that will no doubt garner more than a few reviews that try to pin a shoegazer label to it, and just as many that try to call it "space-rock" or something similar, and that's a shame, because it's entirely too ascendant to deserve the first term, and too terrestrial and warm to warrant the second. "Trenches" may have guitars that could soundtrack a supernova, but that shuffling march beat keeps it firmly on the ground, while piano and dusty vocals render it human and evocative. The music's principle paradox is its expansiveness in spite of the intimacy of the recording-- it's the kind of thing that seems perfect for a rainy day alone inside with cats and books, but also makes me want to get out the maps and start planning routes to scenic places.

Ultimately, it's your choice when you listen to it; my role really only extends to imploring you to give it a go in the first place. Auburn Lull's musical cocoon is a wholly inviting one, melodic and gorgeously textured, uniform in sound, but with enough rhythmic and tonal variety to explode any accusations of monochromaticism. Cast from the Platform is an album you can immerse yourself in as deeply as you like, so step inside. You won't regret it."

-Joe Tangari, June 10, 2004

- Pitchfork review

"Alone I Admire"

Auburn Lull
Alone I Admire
[Burnt Hair; 1999; r: Darla; 2002]
Rating: 9.0

"Occasionally you'll come across a bandname that describes its aura more succinctly than you ever could. The 'Auburn Lull'-- that warm, radiant feeling that stays with you when your girlfriend's gone home, after a psychedelic trip or just a long, lazy day at the beach. It's an apt name for the musicians, who holed up between the summer of 1997 and the spring of 1998 and carved out the thick slabs of resonance that became Alone I Admire. The album was originally released in 1999 on Burnt Hair Records, the Michigan label known for drone excursions by groups like Füxa and Windy & Carl, and it's been out-of-print since shortly thereafter. Darla was wise to secure the reissue: this is a classic, transcending notions of space-rock and shoegazing to reach an apotheosis of pure, vibrant sound.

A massive amount of production work went into Alone I Admire, no doubt due in part to producer Andrew Prinz of Mahogany. The sleeve notes mention the array of microphones spread throughout the studio, centered especially around the drums to create a sensation of depth. The guitar signals were bi-amped for dense resolution, and "it should be noted that several different kinds of sampling and delay units were utilized, as well as a gregarious amount of external reverberation processors." Afterwards the songs were enhanced by further editing and tape looping, and eventually fed into a 16-channel mixing desk. As a result, these slow songs evolve gently through some of the most eyelid-shudderingly rich sonic layers I've ever heard. Audiophiles will revel in a record that finally tests their systems to the limit.

The group begins each track with a simple rhythmic idea, as with the steady cymbal tick that opens "Stockard Drive." A sheet of sound rises up, instruments completely indistinguishable, just this sustained choral hum that builds as the male singer breathes a light refrain. Nothing prepares you for the burst that follows, though, as a searing ray that was once a guitar soars upwards into a gorgeous heliosphere. The timbres throughout Alone I Admire have you reaching sheepishly for embarrassing adjectives like 'glorious' or 'sacred.' There's an all-enveloping, alien perfection to the music that even some legendarily obsessive musicians couldn't quite craft.

The Auburn Lull's success has to do somewhat with the minimal instrumentation they chose. Bass, guitar and drums are augmented by other strings and occasional tape loops and piano strains. "Old Mission" features the bowing of a cello, its solitary nature setting a melancholy counterpoint against the orchestral swell of guitars that follows. "Blur My Thoughts" brightens the mood as angelic pulse tones descend amongst the cavernous bass drum reverb, a constant shimmering that reminds me of Seefeel. That's one of the only comparisons necessary for these otherworldly atmospheres, though, and ethereal vocals intrude to draw you out of total reverie. A sample of foreign language chatter from the television ends the piece on a tense note.

The album's careful to keep enough progressions in play to avoid floating away entirely. On "Desert," the sheen of the guitar permeates the mix at first, chipped into recognizable form by the circling strokes of the percussion. Then a deep rhythm line rises, like dub played on double-bass, shifting the piece into forward motion. Again, the male/female vocal harmony chimes together like a psalm, and the lyrics ("leave without a clue...") turn the title into a verb. But despite the utterly solemn moments on the album, it's striking how nice the melodies are overall. "The Last Beat" in particular heightens the pace with a faster drum shuffle, and the oscillating scree of the guitar brings peaceful images of seagulls gliding over shorelines. It's simply beautiful, uplifting music.

Environments this pristine and patient inevitably get tagged as 'glacial,' but the Auburn Lull drift through spaces far more nebulous, like billowing clouds ringing mountaintops. Of course, some listeners might get lost in the haze, and there will be some who say that the album puts them to sleep. That's partly the point: whereas the rock-oriented shoegazer bands were content to coat their pop songs in cycles of distortion, the Auburn Lull finds an even more engrossing starting point deep within the decay of reverberation. You'll find yourself lulled by the swirling sounds, always spinning forward and yet echoing in the past's delay, caught up in the doldrums and realizing it's a lovely place to be. They may have recorded only one album, but the Auburn Lull have made music fine enough to die to, and I don't think I alone admire their ability to bring heaven to the earth."

-Christopher Dare, July 30, 2002

- Pitchfork Review

"North Territorial"

Auburn Lull - North Territorial [Zeal Records]
"Lansing, MI quartet (Jason Kolb, gtrs/Eli Wekenman, gtrs/Sean Heenan, vox + gtrs/ Jason Weisinger, drums) have outlived a once-thriving Great Lakes space-rock scene, soldiering on with their own filmic/pastoral/music for heliopads approach, a trademark blend of surging, miasmic swells, samples, looped guitar/vocals peaking in a slow-cresting sonic euphoria of song/soundcraft. Produced by soul mate
Andrew Prinz (MAHOGANY) and mastered by Brooklyn NY’s Jon Chaikin (who has done the duties for every Shelflife Records release to date) at Nonstop Sound, this European release offers the now-familiar elegant wash inside cartographic cockpit somewhere between landscape and ozone. Like all AUBURN LULL records, this should come with flight ring and
instructions for most listeners, particularly those of the Ptolemaic Terrascope variety. Additional ethereal vocals from Amanda Kolb & Jessica Fuller, a pair of visiting angels. Both sides in Afterlife Technicolor, 360mm, eggbeater soft. Whirlybirds."
-MITCH August 2002

- KFJC FM Review


Dual Group EP - Split 12" with Mahogany - 1997
Alone I Admire - Full length CD - 1999/reissue 2002
North Territorial - 7" single - 2002
Cast from the Platform - Full length CD 2004
Regions Less Parallel - Rarities Compilation(various comp. releases, unreleased songs 1995-2004) - 2005
Begin Civil Twilight - Full length CD 2008



Textural guitar collagists Auburn Lull formed on the rural fringe of Lansing, MI in 1995; comprised of guitarist/vocalist Sean Heenan, guitarist Jason Kolb, guitarist Eli Wekenman, and drummer Jason Wiesinger. The quartet came together out of a shared affection for 4AD and Creation bands, Seefeel, early OMD, and the lo-fi expanse of Flying Saucer Attack. Debuting along with Mahogany in 1997, the two bands split sides of a 12" EP, simply titled the Dual Group EP, produced by Mahogany's Andrew Prinz and released on Detroit's Burnt Hair label. The band immediately won favorable comparisons to their beloved 4AD and Creation heros for their reverb-laden, shimmering, dynamic guitar-based sound; comparisons that continued with the release 1999's Alone I Admire, their first full-length release, also on Burnt Hair. A subtle shift in direction was showcased in 2001 on Belgium's Zeal label with a 7" single entitled, Behind all Curses of Thought Lies the Ability to Focus on Vacant Spaces. The 7" nods towards more electronically-based elements than heard on prior releases; elements that interweave amongst cascading guitars and droning samples. The band and many others simply refer to this release by the name of it's title track, North Territorial. Shortly thereafter, the band signed to Darla records, who re-released Alone I Admire in 2002. The much-anticipated second full-length, Cast from the Platform, finally appeared in mid-2004 after a somewhat difficult and rocky period for the band. The album again featured beautiful production work by Prinz and received critical acclaim. Darla was keen to compile early rare and out-of-print material which culminated in 2005's Regions Less Parallel. Regions features early compilation appearances, the Dual Group EP, North Territorial, and previously unreleased material. In 2006, work began on a 3rd proper full-length "Begin Civil Twilight", to be released on Darla on April 8, 2008. Ulrich Schnauss mixed a song and contributing other post production treatments and mastered by Kirk Marrison of 'Kiln'.