I don't know if you've noticed but I certainly have: it's been a time since AU last played in Portland. It's been so long, in fact, Luke Wyland can't remember when the band last took stage in their hometown.

"Years?," he wondered in an email to the Mercury.

During some of AU's extended break Wyland played in Sporting. I wrote about them towards the end of last year. Like AU, Sporting is a duo. It's an arrangement Wyland apparently loves. An excerpt from that interview:

"Two-pieces allow for a greater sense of intimacy and interplay. Essentially two people sitting down with the ability to let the conversation go wherever it leads them."

With virtuosic drummer Dana Valatka, the conversation in AU is grand, effervescent and supremely dynamic. At their best, AU are a mainline of utter musical joy. Orcestral swoops and crashing catharsis from just eight limbs, twenty dancing fingers and two brains deep in the mind-meld.

This show becomes all the more exciting as AU plan to trot out a number of new songs from their recently-finished record. According to Wyland, they just finished mastering. A 7-inch single is coming out in a "few months." Expect the full-length in early 2012.

That feels like a long time from now. Luckily, live is where I get the real fix. Don't miss it.

TONIGHT: AU w/ Operative & Archers @ Mississippi Studios, 9:00PM, $5.00 Advance / $7.00 Door