HomeRecording Review: Arora's "Bioluminescence"

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I have a confession to make: I procrastinated writing this album review until the eleventh hour. I’ve been listening to Bioluminescence (2013 A Cappella Community Award for Best Professional Album) non-stop for weeks, but I still don’t really know what I’m going to say about Arora’s phenomenal debut album after changing their name because I’m too busy fan-girling over here. I’ll have to look up track names to write this, because I’ve never skipped a song. So, here goes nothing.

Before I even get into the music, the designer in me is screaming that I need to talk about the album art. The original photograph, taken by photographer Alexander Semenov, is a work of art in and of itself (his Flickr stream is definitely worth a browse - http://www.flickr.com/photos/a_semenov/). Pair that with a cohesive design consistent with the feel of the music contained in the album and a badass logo, and voilà – Bioluminescence.

Lyrically, this album is a knockout. The songs are emotional, honest, sensual, relatable, and everything in between. The group gave a teaser of the lyrics on their Facebook page prior to the release of Bioluminescence, but when put in the context of the songs, these lyrics are just… everything.

Arora’s bio on Facebook is simply, “vocals + electronics.” Their recorded music reflects this, with just the right combination of effects and raw talent. Soloists sound refreshingly human and natural, while background elements receive some assistance to give the full experience. The vibe I took from this album is “chill,” for lack of a better word, but driving. I couldn’t say why, but this album really makes me want to take a road trip.

For those who remain unconvinced that they should buy this album, I’ll give my top 5 favorite tracks (in no particular order) – try one of these on for size and you’ll be back for more in no time.

  1. “Silverhand” starts with low and high female voices in octaves, showing off the impressive range of the female voices in the group, and transitions seamlessly into a gently doubled male voice that has a haunting quality, especially when paired with a whispered voice subtly matching the solo. Flawless execution.
  2. “Goldmine” has lilting, clever harmonies and a simple but powerful background that give this song that special je ne sais pas that keeps me coming back to it over and over again.
  3. “Be Mine” has a seductive quality in everything from the lyrics to the background, but not in an overly sexual way. I love the gradual buildup in the final section of the song.
  4. “Satellite” gives another glimpse into the vocal range of this group. This song has the highest play count from the album in my iTunes library, for what it’s worth. (2013 A Cappella Community Award for Best Original Song)
  5. “Lock the Light” is truly captivating. References to the supernatural combined with a heavy electronic vibe make this a really badass song.

Honorable mention goes out to “Start Again,” which is the track used for the album teaser. It has a powerful sense of longing pouring out from the soloist and the background does a great job of echoing that throughout.

I’ve said before that I believe a cappella as a genre will never have real commercial success until more groups master the art of original songwriting for a cappella voices in a way that is accessible to the masses, and Bioluminescence is exactly the kind of album that I think will pave the way for the future of contemporary a cappella.


About the writer:
Nina Beaulieu is a recent graduate of James Madison University where she studied Converged Media in the School of Media Arts and Design and minored in Music Industry. She was a member of The BluesTones, an award-winning all-female group at JMU. She currently works for Musictoday, a Live Nation company, in Crozet, VA. Her spirit animal is a lion, and like Taio Cruz, she’s not easy to please.