, The Alpha Conspiracy's debut, won plenty of props from Splendid. Back in 2001, we called it
"one of the best electronic releases of the past year". Based on the group's full-length follow-up, it seems we called it correctly. Aura
makes good on its predecessor's promise, delivering twelve additional Alpha Conspiracy tracks equally worthy of praise. In other words, that previous album wasn't just beginner's luck.
The first thing you'll notice about Aura is the outstanding programming. The Alpha Conspiracy -- aka Austin, Texas's Andrew Sega -- delivers the sort of polished performance you might be lucky enough to hear in New York's hottest dance clubs. So rich and engaging is opener "Wishing Never" that even the most stoic wallflower will be tapping his/her toes. The rest of the album is equally catchy; its complex layering and well-thought-out sequencing retains interest clear through to the last atmospheric note.
The most remarkable aspect of Aura isn't its perfect composition, but the warmth it conveys. While so many of his programmer contemporaries construct tracks like modern building contractors -- all steel and glass and cement -- Sega's work demonstrates a sense of humanity. There's a friendliness to the album's deep textures, something more personal and inviting than we're accustomed to hearing from electronic music. In the end, it's this human quality that gives Aura such fabulous vibrancy...and that, in turn, earns The Alpha Conspiracy more accolades from us.