"...an exquisitely delicate work..."
"Think Gustavo Santaolalla cavorting in a landscape of Ludovico Einaudi while sitting on the Champs-Élysées with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra...In its matrix of mood and emotion, intelligence and sensuousness, Aukai could not be more perfectly pitched."
John Diliberto, Echoes, USA
picked for CD of the month in June, 'Best of 2016..So Far’, #1 for Top 25 in June
"...magnificent works and pieces..."
Fractured Air Media
"...Think of this disc as a more consciously melodic backward glance at Brian Eno’s ambient LPs. It’s quiet charms add up to something deceptively substantial."
The Arts Desk, UK
"The brevity and atmospheric nature of all the tracks constantly makes them sound like film soundtrack motifs – the melancholy beauty of Fled Away one of the best, bringing together Sieber on guitar and organ with Djukic's violin and Heyne on cymbals."
"Tracks like gently floating Snow and Wind Runner have that cinematic quality you could imagine scoring “The Revenant"
"It's a staggering collection of tunes that explore their own limits as well as pushing gently against audience expectations. Across the thirteen tracks Aukai establishes a sense of space and style that clearly marks a trajectory worth following."
"...gorgeous mood lifting single “Agua Azul” that lets you float downstream in clear blue waters."
"...truly mesmerizing…a modern classic in every sense..."
God Is In The TV Zine.
"...thirteen tracks of stunningly delivered acoustic instrumental music..."
In a lot of ways, Aukai’s self-titled debut is the sound of Markus Sieber bringing his career full circle. Having spent part of the ’90s playing rock music in East Germany, the composer/multi-instrumentalist then shifted his focus to acting, only to have music creep back into his life after a mind-altering move to Mexico.
Aukai was born of his desire to create music that could work in tandem with film, video, theater and the visual arts. The compositions on the album also grew out of Sieber’s love affair with the ronrocco, a plucked string instrument from Argentina that Sieber first discovered through the music of film composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Babel, Brokeback Mountain).
“This album and project has a lot to do with memories from travel,” explains Sieber, “but also memories from childhood and nature. How did the river smell in summer? I wanted to create a sonic space where music guides the listener into some imaginative inner world.”
Which explains why he came up with the name Aukai in the first place; it’s the Hawaiian word for a seafaring traveler, the sort of person who seeks out the stillness in uncertain waters. In the case of Sieber’s new record, that meant spending a winter holed up in a mountainside cabin around Colorado’s La Plata Canyon. Basic tracks were then cut in Lichte Studio Berlin and brought into full relief alongside cellist Anne Muller (Agnes Obel Band, Nils Frahm), violinist Bogdan Djukic, pianist Angelika Baumbach, keyboardist Alexander Nickmann, and longtime collaborator Jamshied Sharifi (Laurie Anderson, Sting, Dream Theater). Aukai was mixed then in Berlin by Martyn Heyne and mastered in London by award-winning engineer Mandy Parnell who has also mastered discs by Bjork, Max Richter, Aphex Twin and many others.
Aukai may draw initial comparisons to the work of ambient instrumental masters such as Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Goldmund/Helios, but ultimately it is a CD that belongs in a category all its own—a beguiling collection of autumnal acoustic soundscapes dappled with subtle electronic touches.
“It’s kind of an unfinished sound,” says Sieber. “Tangible, not too processed. It invites the listener in.”
— Written by Alan DiPerna