Otherworldly psychedelic folk

A.U.R.A., featuring Albert Mikolaj (right), brings its SIL album tour to the Cook tonight. PHOTO:...
A.U.R.A., featuring Albert Mikolaj (right), brings its SIL album tour to the Cook tonight. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Lower Hutt-based Albert Mikolaj writes and performs beautiful multi-layered pieces of otherworldly psychedelic folk music as A.U.R.A.

Mikolaj's fourth release, titled Secret Intelligent Light, has just dropped and he'll be playing tonight at The Cook.

Fraser Thompson caught up with him earlier in the week to find out more about the new album and what to expect at the show.

Q What was the inspiration for Secret Intelligent Light?

I feel like the inspiration was very long growing, so I sort of almost feel the idea for the album has been oscillating around my mind for quite some time, but one of the inspirations is the artists I love and the artists I listen to, like Joni Mitchell and Jeff Buckley and people like that who helped me shape my ideas and set a certain standard for the music.

Q What does the title refer to?

I guess to some extent I have an interest in physics and just light in general; I'm very fascinated by light. And I think that the album contains many themes which are sort of synonymous with that title as well ... So I don't know, I think it's just sort of the mysteriousness of it.

Q I did feel like the album had a sort of mysterious, esoteric feeling...

Yeah, I think there's an esoteric element in me and in my thinking in general, so I express that artistically. And I sort of value mystery, I mean I love David Lynch's films, and he kind of does this thing where he doesn't force you to conclude anything - it's more observational and something you can sit with.

I enjoy abstraction, and I think that music is very abstract. I think a lot of people watch films more now and engage a lot more in video.

I think music had its place before mass video, so I feel like, you know, you're listening to ``sound''. A lot of people enjoy podcasts at the moment and there's something about sound kind of being a peripheral thing, but I think this album requires the listeners' attention to some extent.

Q The arrangements are much more dense on this album than your previous efforts. How did you go about writing it?

I usually write on the guitar, that's how I've always done it. But I've added a new sonic layer, I've got a band now, so I'm sort of working in a broader spectrum instrumentation-wise and arrangement-wise. Ben Lemi who's playing in this band as well, he and I worked really closely together, and he's a really amazing musician. So I was sort of able to be like ``I want harmonium on this song'' and he'd be like `Well, OK we can work that in'. So he was very good at taking the ideas I had and ... Providing a new sonic palette for the record.

Q How did that work? Were you just trying things out in the studio?

A lot of it was building up ideas and then packing them down and building them up again. So there's thousands of demos, aye, so many demos. The record took about three years to build, so there was a lot of rejection, saying no to one idea and saying yes to another. I think it was much more contentious because I don't usually work in the studio, I usually have a four-track recorder that I've recorded most of the other stuff on, you know what I mean. It was definitely a treat for me to have more space to find more sounds.

Q What sort of live experience and feeling should the audience expect?

I think it leans on the more psychedelic folk end of the spectrum. I think you get a good range from very raw and intimate moments to quite joyous danceable moments. So it sort of has quite a broad feel, each dimension really is represented. Definitely the psychedelic folk end of the spectrum with moments of folk and then some sonic experimentation.

• For more from Fraser Thompson go to dunedinsound.com.

The gig

A.U.R.A., The SIL Album Tour with Lucy Hunter, tonight at The Cook, 8pm.

Tickets $15 from undertheradar.co.nz (door sales also available).



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