Philadelphia Globe Reviews Deserta’s “Black Aura My Sun“
By John Saeger
I am a sucker for space rock and shoegaze. When I first heard Deserta’s “Hole,” it was one of those fun moments where I stopped everything and dug around for more information on the band. Deserta’s subtle grooves and beautiful distortion quickly became one of my favorite songs of the year. The transportive track is an epic number and the centerpiece of the band’s Black Aura My Sun.
The album is the debut record of the West Coast shoegaze group. The LP came out in January 2020 after Matthew Doty started writing new material in 2017. Doty, who lives in L.A., is currently in the band Midnight Faces and formerly of Saxon Shore. Music fans may be especially familiar with one of his old Saxon Shore bandmates, John Tillman, who is more widely known as Father John Misty.
Doty’s latest effort does not sound like the desert rock of Josh Homme, but it is not a stretch to see how Black Aura My Sun could fill up a sunset night trip through Joshua Tree. The album has a soothing quality that is made for bathing arid landscapes in arrangements that are constantly reaching for something greater. With muffled lyrics blending in with the soundscape, it has to tell exactly what Doty is singing about, but it is a tangible mood that comes through in different licks and beats. Deserta is introverted escapism at its finest.
Not unlike Ride or more recent efforts such as Gum Country or Wooden Shjips, Doty’s vision comes through with his ability to fill space. “Hole,” which falls in the middle of the album, brilliantly threads intricate beats, a big drum sound, and Doty’s imaginative guitar. His guitar’s drone stays constant, but the change of drums powers the song into the nu-gaze equivalent of a John Hughes title sequence.
Black Aura My Sun runs only seven songs deep, but the length of each track extends the mileage of the release into a complete listen. Five of the expansive songs are well over the five-minute mark. Each fills its time with an introspective mix of synth and guitar. The concluding track, “Black Aura,” sounds like a modern David Gilmour effort as Doty finds a way to make his guitar screech with uncanny beauty.
Another standout track, “Monica,” is an outlier for Deserta in that it is driven by a brisk indie pop beat. Despite a limited collection of songs that stick to the same concept, the piece keeps the limited number of songs interesting. It is not enough of a deviation to break the trance of Black Aura My Sun, a must-listen for people needing music to bliss out to.
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About the Author: John Saeger is a music and film writer from Philadelphia. Since 2017 he has been writing his pop-culture blog Long After Dark, a site dedicated to the arts in the City of Brotherly Love and beyond. Email / Twitter