Versions – AU

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This seven-song EP is actually more of a gap-filler than it is a full-fledged recording. It’s a reworking of several older songs from both of the two previous AU records (Au, Verbs). Verbs made a more than respectable impact on the likes of Pop Matters and Pitchfork, not to mention lots of fans of wigged-out electro-pop rock.

Leader Luke Wyland and percussionist Dana Valatka have found a powerful symbiosis that casts them among some of the better fractured and noisy duos riding out on the distant periphery. Mention of Krautrock and Steve Reich gets tossed about in the company of Wyland, but his songs, despite their own auteur-like minimalism, travel well beyond those markers.

In a live setting the duo expands into what might be called a mini-orchestra, with up to 20 members. The lone new song here, “Ida Walked Away,” is a real nice find. It comes out swinging, and slowly makes its way toward a much more cacophonous and curmudgeonly Talking Heads track, or maybe an outtake from the noisy record the ‘Heads never released. “RR vs. D” dons My Morning Jacket apparel with a melody that’s all tangled up in blue. “All Myself” is slower, denser and even more emotionally complex and dank, coming closest to the experimental side of Soft Machine.

“Death” also hangs around with Jim James and the fellas for a spell, before falling apart altogether, and wandering around aimlessly like an oddly subdued Truman’s Water, or something equally oxymoronic. “Boute” even goes so far as to flirt with some of the bitter and caustic John Cale material circa mid-late 70s. Wyland has established that he can cop a sound from just about anywhere, reanimate the past and even rattle some cages. Now, can he produce the Masterpiece that will propel him to the heights of some of his compatriots? The next real album will tell us a lot. Versions is also available on ten-inch vinyl in a limited edition of 500.