LISTEN TO THIS RELEASE VIA BANDCAMP BELOW
CD IN JEWEL CASE
1. Solar Ipse
What you’ll hear
trapped within this plastic jewel case, are the remains of three years
cutting up and piecing back together in their secret South coast bunker.
“Anno Fauve” sees the band collaborate once again with stereo guitar
virtuoso Gary Smith (Mass, Glass Cage, Powerfield etc) and once again
they’ve succeeded in stretching all known listening boundaries!
Every now and again a record comes along that defies you to ignore it, and here's one of them. This is the third album from Aufgehoben, an English outfit whose members like to remain anonymous (though it's known that improv guitarist Gary Smith likes to put in the odd guest appearance). The band never rehearse, meet only to improvise and then painstakingly edit and process the recordings of their efforts.
Let it be said, this is noisy stuff. Though there's a similarity to the distortionfests of Merzbow and the like, Aufgehoben are essentially a rock group. Their feral, faintly psychedelic assaults recall the fuzzed out meanderings of Faust or the acidic blast of Guru Guru, played back through a stereo system on the verge of collapse during an electric storm. Smith's trademark stereo electric guitar lurches from huge feedback sweeps to submarine blips or sheets of power (dis)chords. I've not found much to enjoy in Smith's previous work, but here the context seems just about right as Aufgehoben's twin drummers spar with each other or lock into monumental psych-rock patterns that Smith tries to force apart with jagged bursts of noise. Nice.
There are slivers of electronics too, but Aufgehoben's approach to the studio (which essentially means turning everything up to 11) makes it hard to tell who's doing what. It also makes for a deeply satisfying rush at times, particularly when their sludgy rock pulse is accelerated into viscous gobs of noise or howls of feedback. If you know what Francis Bacon did to Velazquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X, then you'll have some idea of what Aufgehoben are doing to rock music; reducing it to a violent, nightmarish smear of a thing. It's cathartic, ugly, beautiful and hard to ignore. You might not want to listen to it everyday, but there'll be times when nothing else will do. Nasty, brutish and short.
BBC.CO.UK (EXPERIMENTAL REVIEWS)
Who? Self-confessed 'difficult' and anonymous Brighton/London guitar noise collective
Sounds Like? Skullflower in a bad mood or Merzbow with a migraine.
Standout Track? The gathering storm clouds of 'Avant Primitiv'
Verdict? A blistering Racket that will take the enamel off your teeth. It Shreds.
"Recorded in one day, then processed over three years, here is an orgasmic maelstrom. Transmitting as much calm unease as bewildering force, Aufgehoben's third release is beautifully fleet-footed, intensely musical, tantalising ugly and almost tangibly sexual. As if a winged piledriver were coupling with a steel drum, in a furnace.
The dynamic of controlled rage and loose agility in these sounds allows distortion and crushing weight to convey structure (of sorts), suggest tension, power, struggle, and ecstacy. It's left for us, the listeners to decide when it is tender or violent, casually murderous or lovely. In the swirl, stutter and slam of twin drummers, electronics and guitar, I hear irritation, the layering of musical nacre, and formation of pearls. Surrendering to the implausible rhythm (it's pointless to tap your foot) allows for a strange relaxation to occur in the listener.
Far from creating contrived sterility, the three-year attention to detail pays off, with Aufgehoben appearing to never indulge in bloodless thrash or plodding wankery. No cliche distracts the listeners from organic engagement with the energy, sweetness and integrity of this music. Equally, they don't tip into a parody of extremity, and deserve to avoid attracting jaded evocations of darkness, evil, or aggression. Sure, at times the volume goes up to 11, but it's timed to perfection and a fine balance is undisturbed.
Like discussing past liaisons with a true love, it seems improper or gratuitous to liken "Anno Fauve" to past proponents of anything similar. Suffice to say, comparisons favor Aufgehoben's (mainly) unknown players. In truth, the identity mystery pleases me, probably more than it should. I listened to the CD and was gobsmacked. Apparently there is a different version with some changes in content, track order and packaging. Taking fetishism further, 200 are available (hand-numbered) in clear vinyl, for those who find that sexy. I must confess, I do.
“Anno Fauve” is
definitely one of the more gratifying crash and burn noise releases to
send needles spiking in the last six months. And Aufgehoben is not for
everyone. That being said, those who like their noise terror so
distorted that ears will bleed two blocks over will likely find much to
appreciate within this tangled sound web. Guitar, percussion and
electronics are the main weapons of choice, but that meager description
hardly prepares the listener for the aural brutality that is captured in
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