“The goal was always to thrill and create a little world,” Aan’s brainchild Bud Wilson says. “We didn’t want to do anything anybody else is doing.”
That statement alone is nowhere near enough to prep prospective listeners for the magical wormholes of sound conjured on Aan’s third studio album, Losing My Shadow. It does give a pretty great hint though.
Drizzled in warm, fuzzy textures and festooned by hauntingly candid tunes, Losing My Shadow is the sound of a man coming to terms with himself, learning to let go, and eventually coming back down somewhere nearer to where he began.
To wit, album opener “Cause and Effect” blooms purposefully, layered as it is in shimmery sonic accoutrement, with a clap-back guitar line leading a cornucopic arrangement of shakers, synths and all other manner of groovy, trippy sounds. The experimentation was the byproduct of Wilson and producer Cameron Spies (Radiation City, Night Heron) sequestering themselves in the studio and allowing, as Wilson explains, “a maximalist approach.”
“We didn’t want to have any limitations for this album, just pure inspiration of the instruments available,” Wilson says. “So we incorporated everything from chicken squawks and singing bowls to vintage mono bass synths and LinnDrums. It’s all in there. From a song structure POV, Cameron has a great sense of what works while still keeping it untraditional.”
The balance Wilson’s talking about is divvied in rolling waves of gorgeous instrumentation. “Wishin’ Well” unfolds like a sinister hip-hop cut, with a funk-tight bass and drum tandem anchoring vocal hisses and pops—minor, though impactful, additions reminiscent of infamously avant-garde studio efforts like Pet Sounds or Tune-Yards’ Whokill. The partnership with Portland label Fresh Selects—primarily known for hip-hop, R&B and beats-based projects—speaks to the genre-flipping heights Wilson and Aan endeavored for the album, too.
“There were also plenty of instances where I thought things weren’t weird enough and [Spies would] make me take a break,” Wilson continues. “We’d come back after an hour or two and I’d realize it was so out there maybe we should try something else!”