Deserta — Black Aura My Sun (Jan. 17, 2020)
■ The project of singer~songwriter/multi~instrumentalist Matthew Doty finds the sweet spot between synth pop and shoegaze.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Styles: Dream Pop, Ambient Pop, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Post~Rock, Shoegaze
Album release: January 17, 2020
Record Label: felte
1 Save Me 6:00
2 Paradiso 6:26
3 Monica 4:40
4 Hide 6:47
5 Be So Blue 5:31
6 I’ll Be Gone 4:43
7 Black Aura 5:32
♠ Dave Cooley Mastering
♠ Matt Doty Composer, Engineer, Mixing
■ With Black Aura My Sun, Deserta’s Matthew Doty shows off his knowledge of several decades’ worth of shoegaze and synth pop as well as his skill at reinterpreting those styles in ways that are familiar, but never boring. Much like Lust for Youth, Deserta excels at creating almost uncannily perfect recombinations of iconic sounds.
■ On the opening track “Save Me” alone, it’s possible to hear Cocteau Twins’ glimmering swirl, Slowdive’s soft peaks and valleys, and M83’s widescreen synths. As with the latter act — who were among the first to discover that crystalline keyboards and tremolo~laden guitars are the sonic equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter — Doty emphasizes different sides of his music from song to song. “Paradiso” focuses on massive, gated drums and equally bold synth arpeggios; on “Hide,” noisy, dive~bombing guitars come to the fore. On each of Black Aura My Sun’s tracks, Doty makes artful use of space as well as densely piled sonics, and blissful melodies trace unhurried arcs on highlights such as “Be So Blue.” The vastness of songs like “Black Aura” harks back to classic shoegaze, where huge sounds conveyed overwhelming emotions (in Doty’s case, he was inspired by becoming a father).
■ As epic as the album gets, it’s never heavy handed or obvious, and its breeziness makes it easier for Doty’s listeners to get swept away with him. Black Aura My Sun is a promising debut, and anyone with a fondness for this kind of dreamy sound should find a lot to enjoy here.
■ Mike Reitemeier, January 15, 2020
■ As experimental as it is enthralling, Black Aura My Sun applies the vapor~trailed production values and sublime dynamics of Doty's previous group projects (including post~rock band Saxon Shore and the synth~laced post~punk of Midnight Faces) to a shoegaze~y sound that splits the difference between Slowdive and Sigur Rós. Deserta expands and contracts, with chords that drift like clouds, drums that drag and dissipate, and hooks that hang in the air for what feels like forever.
■ “A modern shoegaze classic.” — Rough Trade
■ “Likely to be one of the best shoegaze releases of the coming year.” — Post~punk.com
■ “Searing, echoed jags of guitar resound and at times unbalance the harmonious world of delicate synth notes, sedate beats, and hushed vocals.” — The Big Takeover
■ “As epic as the album gets, it's never heavy handed or obvious, and its breeziness makes it easier for Doty's listeners to get swept away with him.” — Allmusic.com
■ “Songs that feel effortless while leaving us breathless and hopeful for what is to come.” — The Revue