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Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Bottled bliss

Posted By on Wed, Nov 1, 2000 at 12:00 AM

A dramatic farewell to glowing flashes against northern black skies in the rearview mirror, or the clinical term for a rare itchy-foot fungus? The images construed from a name like Au Revoir Borealis stretch their fingers out across a crumpled-open map, and so do the images formed within the expansively gorgeous music the humans behind the “en Français” moniker create. And because of this, the name fits. From the opening hum of “Heavens Downward,” the lights go out, your cushioned seat reclines and fast-forward constellations swarm and swoop across your eyes. Your neck aches, but you don’t notice until the moon-lit, dirt-road car trip home. And by the third track, “Waldorf Theft Song,” you’re on your way to a fuzzy-blanket, naked-eyelash dreamland.

The Michigan-based foursome behind ARB’s celestial sound has been collaborating since the latter half of the ’90s and performing in the Detroit area for the past two years. After shows, listeners continuously prompted the band to release material. Thus, Tienken, the band’s debut six-song EP, has arrived, in all its deep-breath monolithic glory.

Stephenie Halpert’s mostly ghostly exquisite vocals enrapture you at once, but each ingredient is folded into the recipe with equal importance. It’s like inviting a spicy tuna roll into your mouth with chopsticks. You take it in one bite, but while the tangy red mayolike substance clears out your sinuses, the crinkle of the seaweed tickles the roof of your mouth and the slime of the fish settles on your tongue. Especially in “Waldorf Theft Song,” where a stripped guitar plucks out a melody until a few warm and inviting bass notes introduce the egg-shaker beat. Each component comes together to ride along a nod-your-head synth wave. The result is stunning.

You can find the CD at Stormie Records in Dearborn, Neptune Records in Royal Oak or Record Time in Roseville. Or order it from the Web site at www.aurb.org.

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