This new entity AURI has come to fruition from the mastermind behind the Finnish metal sensation Nightwish, keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, and also features fellow Nightwish alumni Troy Donockley (guitars, bouzouki, Uilleann pipes) and the super-talent of Johanna Kurkela (vocals, viola). Together, this talented trio celebrate a variation of epic, romantic “ethno-pop” (as detailed by the label). All this is bundled into their self-titled debut, Auri.
The intro of “The Space Between” made my cat and I flinch as it started surreptitiously, with Donockley’s pipes to begin with, shortly followed by Kurkela’s sultry vocals – and at this point the judgemental feline is positively spooked. As to be expected from this imaginative collaboration, the music takes the listener on a relaxing, meandering journey; as though they are a character in an animated Disney piece like Pocahontas or Moana. The album is a vessel to transport the listener to another world, where worries and concerns can be momentarily cast aside, so that time can be had to oneself.
The music Auri have created is truly otherworldly, reminiscent of a far-off dream land, and in particular the dreamy Celtic influence is immediately apparent – listening to it on St. Patrick’s Day recently seemed truly fitting. Kurkela’s vocals are truly haunting, almost sing-song in composition, and whilst she takes on the main role for vocals; the listener is still blessed with the occasional appearance of the astounding voice belonging to the multi-talented Tuomas Holopainen.
Auri is a difficult type of music to peg into a certain genre, and Holopainen himself in the publicity pamphlet has suggested it is impossible to truly pigeon-hole also. Auri themselves call their music “celestial metal” or “Rabbit Hole music”; combining influences from folk, Celtic, and soundtracks, with a hint of metal composition also woven into the intricate tapestry. Rabbit Hole music is definitely the closest genre I am able to bundle it into – it sounds like nothing that I have ever heard before. It is like the listener is plunged into a fantastical, whimsical world of joy, and beauty and purity.
This notion also coincides with the main influence of the band name – Auri. According to Holopainen, it is derived from his favourite novels written by Patrick Rothfuss, which feature a female character called Auri. For Holopainen, this perfectly symbolises the sound and idea he wanted to achieve with this offshoot project of “perfect symbiosis.”
Although the album is truly captivating and hypnotic in nature, it does make me wonder if the project would be just as anticipated as it is currently if it did not have the connections of Holopainen, Donockley or Nightwish attached to it. Whilst it is a cracking recording, I feel the audience would be otherwise limited for this release if current fans did not know about it; as this style of music would usually appeal to a much smaller pool of music fans without these connections. However it is still a stunning piece of composition and truly awakens a mystical energy inside oneself.
Auri Track Listing:
01. The Space Between
02. I Hope Your World is Kind
03. Skeleton Tree
04. Desert Flower
05. Night 13
07. The Name of The Wind
08. Aphrodite Rising
10. Underthing Solstice
11. Them Thar Chanterelles (feat Liquor in the Well)
Run Time: 56:00
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Watch the band’s “The Space Between” lyric video here.