We've all been there before: stuck in the wrong place at the right time. In Au. Ra's case, Tom Crandles and Tim Jenkins both walked to the wrong Sydney campus for a TAFE class on audio engineering. Once they realized no one else was going to show up – and the fact that the right classroom was in another neighborhood – the future collaborators were forced to talk about their shared interests.
As the conversation wore on, Crandles and Jenkins both realized they were at a crossroads musically. And since they seemed to be on the same page sonically, the potential for a new project felt particularly strong. Limitless even, so they started rehearsing to see where some improv sessions would lead. The duo didn't want to rush their first record, though. It took two years to wrap 2015's acclaimed Jane's Lament album, a prolonged creative process that paid off when several key outlets praised its heady hooks.
The Guardian, for one, wrote, »After succumbing to the riptide pull of the opening track, ›Morning‹, you stay submerged, sound-bathing in layers of sublime guitar tones and effects that evoke a bevy of shoegaze legends like Slowdive, Ride, and Pale Saints. Two years in the making, the gradual build of Jane's Lament paid off in its drowsy unhurried air.« Au. Ra took a similar approach with this year's Cultivations LP, embracing spontaneity on several vastly different songs (see: the intricate, slow-moving guitars of »Dreamwork« and the disjointed dance loops of »Blue Chip«) and exploring the outer limits of experimental pop elsewhere.
That goes for everything from the shimmering keys and steely percussion of »I Feel You« to the lush, melancholic melodies of »Set the Scene« – tracks that take cues from King Tubby's dub-wise delays and murky synth-pop. Not to mention »Nowhere«, a humid number that channels such richly woven reference points as the surreal '90s program Wild Palms and the artful duets of David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto. And to think it all started with showing up to the wrong class. Fate moves in mysterious ways indeed.