What would you do if you were the last person on the planet? This is one of the searching questions Munich band Aloa Input have been asking themselves while on tour, and they decided to go one step further and document their musical responses.
Devil’s Diamond Mercury Collection, their first album in five years, brings those thoughts together in the form of a concept album. It looks at an Earth in 20 or so years’ time, where AI is the only ‘life form’. An open mind on the part of the listener is helpful here, the imagination allowed to run riot.
The music is richly coloured throughout, with beats provided by Cico Beck (who is also in The Notwist) and Marcus Grassi. Angela Aux is the thoughtful vocalist, ranging from an almost absent-minded style to thoughts of greater urgency. Tracks like Atlas Daze are indicative of the band at their best, facing the situation with warmth and humanity. “I feel like the skies are coming down, I see the world is gonna drown,” sings Aux with an air of acceptance, the music around him reeking of late Beatles / Byrds psychedelia, but standing on its own two original feet.
Initial musical responses to the predicament are blissful, with the pastoral feel of Desert Something. The sense of contentment is immediate, Aux’s dreamy voice meditating on the unexpected calm of the situation. The future may be the primary topic, but this is music from the past, its dappled textures recalling like-minded pop music from the late 1960s or early ’70s. Barclay James Harvest, early Genesis, the gentler side of the Super Furry Animals, The Beta Band – all can be used as valid reference points.
Beta Mourning Journal is a beauty that shows how all these influences are used for original good. It is beautifully scored, the synths creating bright colours and mottled textures. How Mellow The Sun reflects the warmth still beaming down on the deserted planet, but exposes darker thoughts too. “I think I need a prison, to get in touch with myself,” muses Aux, a touch of Beck about his softly spoken words and thoughtful prose. Lest things get too dry, Make It Rain has a sweetly flavoured nostalgia, its old style synths refracted through narrow sonic openings. The track is situated between two short, quite eerie transmissions.
The trio sign off with Universe Keeps Places, a warming comfort blanket of a track that oscillates gently in a sonic stream. The implication is that the earth will actually be better for our absence, that AI will keep its natural processes going just fine. Who will listen to the music, meanwhile, is not yet known.
A valid response to this album could well be, “What’s it all about?” This is however the reaction that Aloa Input are surely after, with their thought provoking lyrics and open minded music that has the freedom to go anywhere it wants. Put it on, luxuriate in its ability to sound both past and present, and reflect on what you might do in the same circumstances.