Over the past few years, I have tried my best to stretch my own musical tastes, and also to bring those musical projects to your ears. I do not want this to be a “normal” prog site, I think you can tell. I have, consequently, fallen in love with the ambient/shoegaze genre, and so I jump on any new releases. The one I have for you today is the debut from Deserta, called “Black Aura My Sun”, which released January 17th. This album is quite an experience.
Deserta hails from Los Angeles, California. The project is a solo effort from Matthew Doty, member of post-rock band Saxon Shore. He provides the guitars, keys, programmed drums/beats, and vocals for the entire album, so far as I can tell. This is truly the brainchild of a single artist, then.
The music here is shoegaze, if you want to leave it with a simple label. Some shoegaze can be muscular and powerful in approach or instrumentation, but I think Deserta takes a different route by basking in the vivid glow of ambient textures, ethereal vocals, pulsating beats, electronic loops, and piercing yet tame guitars. The album will throw some more abrasive textures at you, contrasting them up against towering walls of feeling and color, but the entire album is mainly about the effects and aftereffects of various sounds and feelings. So, some tracks leave you in a haze, while others carve a more intense trail for your mind.
“Black Aura My Sun” has everything I love about this genre. The purity of emotion is the first thing you will notice, as your heart will soar, cast to the vibrant winds of beauty and sound. From the very first note to the very last, it is like entering a different world altogether.
I would note, though, that I think Doty is influenced by more than just the typical bands, like Slowdive and Sigur Rós. There are points in this album where I swear I hear melodies and throwbacks to the likes of U2 or Journey. Maybe that is my own mind, but this album is undeniably nostalgic, golden, and familiar in the way it presents melody.
This album should be experienced as a whole to get the full effect. However, there are definitely highlights. “Save Me” launches the album with direct, echoing melody, and the vivacious fog feels just right. “Paradiso” is a highly textured track that almost comes across as more dominant and lush than the rest of the album, and the melodies slide off the back end of your mind satisfyingly. “Monica” is probably the most straightforward single on the album, with a steady beat and more of a song format. I love the explosions of color and light that it brings.
I realized that I just discussed the first three songs on the album, and I could mention every single track. They are all amazing. I think my favorite, at least at this moment, is the last song, “Black Aura”. I think it is my favorite for having such a hazy serenity to it: one that echoes off the walls and inside my head. It climaxes exquisitely near the end, bringing the album full circle. Honestly, I usually just want to start it all over again immediately.
Deserta’s “Black Aura My Sun” is probably one of the most accessible, most instantly lovable shoegaze albums I’ve heard in some time. There was never a doubt, even on my first listen, that this celestial album would fulfill all of its promises and potential. Doty has an ear for creating mood and setting, and then whirling and igniting within that framework with maturity and light. This album will surely set your mind and heart ablaze.
Find Deserta online: