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Dave Aju - Open Wide


Released in October, but only having made it to my ears recently, San Francisco-born Aju’s debut LP, recorded entirely using only his mouth as the source of all sound, is a mixed bag of ideas and atmospheres, peaking beautifully with the slow-burning glory of “Crazy Place”, but somewhere along the line loses its direction and the bright light of promise burns out rather suddenly.

Comparisons with Matthew Herbert’s ground-breaking “Bodily Functions” or Iz and Diz’s infamous “Mouth” are apt, and to be fair, Aju is retracing their steps, but instead of concentrating on one particular style, spreads his musical palette further. The slow elastic funk of “Bump” and “Roundabout” kick off the album, yet fail to excite beyond some head-nodding. Take care to avoid the overrated remix of “Crazy Place” by Luciano, the original is far more worthy of your attention, Aju taking time to build up a musical kaleidoscope of sounds that oscillate to a most satisfactory finish. Think of Pepe Bradock at his finest. Alongside that is the narcotic splendour of “First Love”, recalling early Paper records, and my favourite track on the album, the title track “Open Wide”, a joyful sing-a-long of a track that is strengthened by its simplicity.  These 3 tracks give the album a sense of permanency, and it’s just a shame that the rest of the tracks don’t live up to that standard, although “Tapatio” is an interesting Brinkmann-style minimal work-out, and there’s a catchy element to the closer  “With You” that had me returning to it after a while.

On close inspection “Open Wide” is let down by Aju’s desire to spread his wings as far as possible, but there’s enough invention in it to warrant your attention. The return of vocals to deep house, given further creedence by Luomo’s Convivial album, may just give the genre the extra spark it needs.


Toby Frith


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