Bud Wilson started writing and recording songs under the Aan moniker a decade ago, as an avenue of expression for his darker thoughts and feelings about love and domesticity. Several EPs, a couple unofficial LPs and a full-length later, he’s still mining the quarry of discontent. Lately there’s a lot to mill.
As bad years go, Wilson’s 2015 was a motherfucker. Two close friends died. He closed the book on a six-year relationship. His Aan bandmates moved away or moved on. His native Portland became steadily less familiar and more expensive.
The only constant seemed to be Wilson’s love of making music. And after briefly considering closing shop with Aan entirely, he doubled-down instead. While accompanying players have come and gone, Aan remains a container versatile and earnest enough to hold everything Wilson is going through, from bad dreams to bad years. Despite lineup changes, the band’s live show consistently purveys a sense of catharsis through stuttering, unexpected rhythms and spooky chord progressions that conspire to form a cycle of queasy unease and soaring melodic relief. Musical passages can turn from droning proto-motorik to explosive aggro-dub without warning. Somewhere between avant garde jazz and heavyweight Northwest sludge, Aan finds musical kin in everything from Fugazi to Faust; Soundgarden to Stereolab. But Wilson’s alternately ornate and grinding vocals keep the Portland outfit from clinging too tightly to comparisons.
Wilson has plenty of time on the road to refine his band’s sound and spirit. Aan has toured extensively alongside The Smashing Pumpkins, Built to Spill, Wye Oak, Preoccupations (FKA Viet Cong) and hundreds of other notable acts. The band’s dynamic, explosive live sound can be heard loud and clear on Aan’s new record, Dada Distractions. Aan’s touring sound engineer, Gabriel Nardin, stepped in to help craft songs for the band’s second official full-length, which will again be released via Portland’s Party Damage Records. The two posted up in various studios in both Portland and Seattle, crafting songs of loss, frustration, and freedom. Then producer Riley Geare (former drummer of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) took the sketches Gabriel and Bud crafted, and shaped them with help from newly formed four piece of Travis Leipzig and Dana Valatka in the studio. The result is nearly a live record: Geare’s affinity for analog production techniques gives Dada Distractions a warm early ’70s vibe.
That throwback fidelity is tempered with a pop playfulness that feels like an aesthetic reboot, from the driving, fuzzy pop of “Hollywood Buyout” and “All You Have to Say” to the of billowing, five-minute-plus slow-burners “Forever Underfoot” and “Bleached Out For Nothing.” The band’s second official full-length (and second release on Portland’s Party Damage Records). Dada Distractions takes its name from the myriad diversions that filled the second half of 2015 for Wilson, throughout the absurd and selfish process of attempting to understand death. It’s an album about the bullshit that gets in the way of now—right now. This theme runs throughout Dada Distractions, and helps to make it Aan’s most profound, powerful statement to date.For tour dates and more visit: weareaan.bandcamp.com