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Au Revoir Simone

LIVE REVIEW: Au Revoir Simone, Loppen, 06.02.2014

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Au Revoir Simone line up neatly behind their synths across the stage at Loppen, like a sexier version of Kraftwerk. Unlike the storied Germans, the Brooklyn trio work to infuse some humanity into their performance, rather than erase it. They aren’t glued in place, and often switch keyboards, pick up a bass, or simply take the microphone in hand and step away from their instruments.

There is a clear division between Au Revoir Simone’s pop songs and their more atmospheric songs, namely that the pop songs get louder vocals. And while the pop songs are more fun, not least because they’re easier to sing along to, there is plenty to be said for the rich beauty of their crooned vocals dissolving into the synthesizers. It isn’t just woozy, swampy, formless ambient electro; there is always a beat to string things along, even when the drum machine or bass is enveloped by the same soft tones.

The live bass, used only on a few songs, doesn’t really differentiate itself in sound from the synth bass they use, but it is a better outlet for Annie Hart, whose bouncing energy is more suited to an instrument with some mobility. She provides an entertaining contrast to her bandmates, who are more inclined to gently sway behind their keyboards.

But the band maintain a certain detachment from the audience, and it’s not until the encore that they begin making jokes, teasing about how after 10 years they have enough songs for a jam band-length set, then fretting when this fails to get any laughs (possibly explaining their detachment — perhaps jam bands lack the same stigma here that they have in America).

They end the night with an altered version of “Knights Of Wands” — Hart, while defending her ancient keyboard that her bandmates hate, is forced to admit that she can’t remember which sound the song is supposed to be played on. The result has less of a chiming effect, but it’s the kind of variation that works, and the kind of spontaneity that would be welcomed to their set.


INTERVIEW: Au Revoir Simone

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A new album is out with dream pop trio Au Revoir Simone. Here Today met with Annie Hart prior to the bands rehearsal hour. Among other things we talked about the time that had passed, the title of the new album, Move In Spectrums, and cover art.

Ten years ago Erika Forster and Annie Hart met on train heading for New York. They shared a dream of an all-keyboard band. Fast forward two years and Au Revoir simone releases their first album: “Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation”. Another two years: Second album “The Bird of Music”. Yet another two years: ”Still Night, Still Light”.

It seems like a pattern, but no. Four years has gone by and in world of pop-music that is quite a while, but to Annie Hall it did not seem so:

“After the release of Still Night, still Light we where on tour for about 2 years. At that time I got pregnant, still we kept touring until I was about 8 months in. I had the baby and still we where playing shows. About one and a half year ago we began making this record. So much has happen in between these two albums that it does not feel like four years has past.” says Annie Hart.

Doing those four years Au Revoir Simone have matured as songwriters. Move In Spectrums is honest album stripped from any attempts of being “poetic”, Annie Hart explains, but finding a title for the album was a challenge. Erica went away to a meditation retreat upstate in the woods.

“The yoga teacher mentioned we move in spectrums with our feelings. It is not all black and white, you are not really angry or really happy, but there is kind of spectrum. You can shift yourself along these lines, between these feelings; you don’t have to be happy or sad, you can be in the middle or leaning one way or the other like a meter.

When she said that frase – move in spectrums – we where like ‘that is the perfect title for a record’ and we all started jumping up and down,” recalls Annie Hart.

Bright neon colors

A spectrum can also be a spectrum of light – like a rainbow – and the band where looking for excactly that kind of cover. Something Pink Floydish like a prism, as Annie Hart puts it. They had their eyes on Berenice Abbott, a female photographer, that worked twenty years to “prove that photography was the medium uniquely qualified to unite art with science”, but when they found out, what it would cost to use her images, they began to look in other directions.

During that time photographer Amelia Bauer and flower arranger Elizabeth Parks Kibbey collaborated on a project called Book Of Shadowsa series of still lifes based on magic spells. Especially one of the photographs enticed the band because of the way it combined flowers and nature with bright neon colors and black.


“We and really wanted to do something with bright neon colors for this record becuase we felt that this record felt more alive, present and vibrant than our records had in the past. We wanted more a direct, vibrant sensation and we thougth that that photograph was just so beautiful and that it captured that feeling,” says Annie Hart. 

Move In Spectrums is released today (23.09.2013). You can stream it at NPR


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