Rich Aucoin Sonically Captures the Division of the 'United States'

BY Sarah ChodosPublished Sep 17, 2020

Rich Aucoin has been known to sync his albums to movies so they can be used as alternate soundtracks. This time, the story he has created a soundtrack for is particularly unsettling and, unfortunately, real. United States is the story of America over the past four years.

Aucoin's work has always been eclectic and experimental, though the overall feeling can change from album to album. Perhaps United States is his most thunderous work to date. Electrical storms involve bodies of air clashing into each other; friction creating lightning and thunder. This is the sensation that comes from listening to United States, where the heavy influences of soul and electronica crash. The choir's robust sound is juxtaposed with an electronic rhythm section. This points to the unignorable disparate solitudes within the United States — the music is not so much a fusion of genres as a collision.

In "How It Breaks," about the current US president, the lyrics "There is a ruler who wants all the power and it's gonna take all of our strength to stop them" is set against a clanging rhythm that jumps from background to foreground; while it should be detracting from the lyrics, it actually commands a more devoted listen.  In "Dopamine," the refrain "all we have right now is here" hearkens to gospel while backed by electronic music pulsing to a calculated beat.

On United States, beauty and sadness, hope and pain are shown not to be mutually exclusive — the album demonstrates a jolting acknowledgement of reality combines with an electrifying hope of what could be.
(Haven Sounds)

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