- No two John Roberts records sound the same. From the dance floor strut of 2008's Hesitate through to the Far Eastern-lean of his last album, Fences, the American's sound has been constantly mutating. Ausio, Roberts' latest outing for Dial, sees him move away from the tranquil tones and stuttered gait of Fences towards heavier, more club-ready grooves. Like all his releases, it carries the rare quality of sounding both fresh and familiar.
That said, the title track actually begins on new ground for Roberts. Leaden synths pulsate ominously, punctuated by the odd drum lick and a second layer of eerie shimmers; everything suggests dark techno, but then the snares hit and usher in a tender, uplifting melody. It's a dramatic opening. "Indigo" bears traces of Fences, leading with Far Eastern flutters, which are joined by crashing off-kilter kicks and later by a burly bassline. Weighty yet breezy, groovy yet tuneful, it's Roberts at his best. Though not quite as richly textured, "Faces" follows a similar formula, mapping robust kicks and snares to a scampering melody. The feeling at the end of Ausio, like with every John Roberts record, is a curiosity as to where he'll venture next.