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Aera - Hand und Fuss  CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.86 | 53 ratings

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4 stars Fusion for beginners - hot cocoa for the peeps in the know

I've often talked to people here on PA about how enormous the Italian prog scene was back in the day. Seems like everywhere you look - every rock you turn over, out pops a little obscurity. Well Germany was like that too. Man I've stumbled over some amazing records - spanning from Krautrock to Avant guarde to Symphonic cream. The scene was broad like a hippo's derrière - broad I say.

Aera fits in under the fusion umbrella, although I hear a strong psychedelic vibe from this band as well - meaning that whether you're cruising the Herbiedelic beboppadoo jazzy highway - or melting gently out on the terrace like a psychedelic gummy bear in heat, chances are that you're going to love this one like you love feet.

On Hand und Fuss (Hand and Foot) you are met with a delicious mix of melodies and a raw psych groove. No such thing as dry chops and duduliduh dududuliduh on its own - no, there's a sweetness to these pieces, that not unlike Danish band Secret Oyster manages to portray the music here as warm, vibrant and effortlessly flowing. Often you get obstacles in your fusion - blocking the easy way forth, making the melody skip the beat - drive around the set course, deviate from everything else, and leave everything behind for a nice spot in front of the band right up close to the mic. This is not the Aera way! This is smooth and floating jazz rock - with emphasis on the rock part of the equation. It's psychedelic as I mentioned earlier, but in a groovy gravy kind of way - with warbling bass lines and wah wahing guitar textures that sink into each other like hot scrumptious chocolate lovers making sonic adult gymnastics as the tunes drift along.

Just like Secret Oyster, the tracks here are often lead by birdy bird wind instruments such as saxomophone, flute and the occasional oboe. Mmmmhhh I love the oboe. It's like the instrument world's version of Pee-wee Herman... All these tooting birds are very attuned into the melodic approach taken by the other instruments around them. They don't complicate things unnecessary - they stay the course, but in a most brilliant way - which makes me think of the small insistent blackbirds outside my window that every summer wake me up around 5 in the morning with these sunshine serenades that all sound very smooth and beautiful - unlike the later afternoon sessions where they seem to have drunk a fair deal of alcohol, because they all start sounding like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Outside the birds, we have a violin taking care of business from time to time, and in a genius kind of way, it actually sounds perfectly like these aforementioned wind instruments - albeit with another timber and voice of its own. These are all the guiding beacons of Hand und Fuss, but where things start to get fuzzy and slightly psychedelic is in the guitar department, that whilst often sticking to the back draft with a tight rhythm bearing duty accompanying the bass lines - also freaks out when the moment calls for it - changing the scope of the track - adding olive oil to the mix slithering the tunes out of bounce in a most astonishing manner.

There are no keys or synths on this outing and I quite frankly don't miss them. If the individual track needs a splash of something out of the ordinary, the instruments on deck will surely take care of this in a jiffy - just like the weird and oddly infatuating animal piece called Elephen Elephants - where the sax changes its natural presence in for a much more lovable and nasally charged pachyderm sound, that takes me back into the Jungle-book with Colonel Hathi marching along - blowing his trunk to the saucy beat of the forest. So sweet this track, and again so melodic and alluring that it practically invites you in.

This is a jazz rock album for the uninitiated and those who are still wondering how and where to start in these fusioneros waters. These are treacherous - yes I know, but Hand und Fuss is so welcoming, rocking and melodically enhanced, that it is damn near impossible not to get a little smitten by it. This is a perfect album to start your journey into the more jazzy lands of prog rock, and if you already love this kind of stuff - you'll most likely adore this one. Somewhere between Kraan and Secret Oyster lie Aera with their marvellous brand of jazzy psych rock - that swoops over you like a cosy hand held sonic sprinkler. Frooooossshh!!!

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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