ALBUM REVIEW: BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE – AUFHEBEN

The only rule the Brian Jonestown Massacre seem to follow is that there are no rules. The American group that started playing some 20 years ago today is like The Fall in that their only constant is their gruelling, vanguard-like front man and visionary. Anton Newcombe has seen two-dozen odd band members enter and exit the fold as they’ve tackled everything from shoegaze, psychedelia, Eastern-infused pop, blues, electronica and experimental music. It therefore goes without saying that their fifteenth studio album sees no great deviation from this formula, because they’ve done just about everything, right?

Titled, Aufheben, the name is an interesting little German word with several meanings. Consider: lift-up, preserve, abolish and transcend. In 2012 the payroll boasts original member, Matt Hollywood making a return after an 11 year absence plus Will Carruthers (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized), Constantine Karlis (Dimmer) and Thibault Pesenti (Rockcandys). This eclectic mix and line-up also sees Eliza Karmasalo make several appearances by singing in Finnish no less.

The 11 tracks were recorded at Newcombe’s studio in Berlin and is one trippy and languid ball of mystery. “Panic In Babylon” sees the weirdness begin with an instrumental number of more than four minutes. It boasts a funky-feel like the Happy Mondays and is combined with The Velvet Underground’s artful pause. It also has some chirping, crickets, Eastern flavours, old-gold weirdness and saxophone.

The dramatic fugue of the opener is carried through in to “Viholliseni Maalla” where Karmasalo contributes some sultry vocals to a rather dream-fuelled, pop sound. It therefore should come as no surprise that “Clouds Are Lies” also boasts the line: “Dreams will help us be friends”. It’s also pretty obvious that this group are happiest when they are freewheeling through time and continents. They nod at a myriad of styles and influences from the bright, flute-driven stomp of “Illuminomi” to “I Want to Hold Your Other Hand,” a pop tune that sounds like something Damon Albarn wrote.

“Face Down on the Moon” has lots of different textures and tapestries from the Jethro Tull-inspired flute to the Ravi Shankar-esque sitar. It’s a delightful meeting between the East and West through an acid tab and some propelling jams. It’s a jauntiness that continues into the wild and woolly, “Stairway to the Best Party”. And on “Seven Kinds Of Wonderful” the prominent feature is a warbling Aphrodite giving a poor man a come hitherto look and blowing smoke in his eyes while also maintaining a sweet and rich posture.

Then there’s the track with the best title of the year. “Blue Order New Monday” is a far cry from its namesake and is seven minutes of ethereal and grandiose fields just like the Sound Of Music. But this one’s soundtrack includes reverb, echoes, lasers, water, spacemen, buzzing chimes and a lotta mystery, much like the majority of this album.

For every engrossing musical note on this record there is also a void where some thoughtful lyrics would’ve helped. Instead, Newcombe has taken a backseat with his writing and this lends the proceedings a feel that is a lot like a cinema score. The majority of the numbers are either instrumental or in languages other than English and even when there are words these are easily forgotten amidst the peace, love and patchouli that envelopes the listener like it’s raining confetti with all those pretty colours.

Aufheben is less about pop hooks and more about the after-effects of a hookah. The eleven tracks are sprawling in their sounds of feedback, atmosphere, distortion, colourful drones and whirlpools of styles and jamming. It’s like being suspended between sleep and a dream that is full of weightlessness and optimism where the scenery is lush and pleasant. Aufheben is ultimately the kind of affair that is rewarded by repeat spins, if only to marvel at a little something you missed before. So close your eyes and groove away to another dimension because you’ll find it’s (a) happening.

Originally published on 10 May 2012 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/32509/Brian-Jonestown-Massacre–Aufheben

Visit Fasterlouder’s homepage at: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au

The only rule the Brian Jonestown Massacre seem to follow is that there are no rules. The American group that started playing some 20 years ago today is like The Fall in that their only constant is their gruelling, vanguard-like front man and visionary. Anton Newcombe has seen two-dozen odd band members enter and exit the fold as they’ve tackled everything from shoegaze, psychedelia, Eastern-infused pop, blues, electronica and experimental music. It therefore goes without saying that their fifteenth studio album sees no great deviation from this formula, because they’ve done just about everything, right?

Titled, Aufheben, the name is an interesting little German word with several meanings. Consider: lift-up, preserve, abolish and transcend. In 2012 the payroll boasts original member, Matt Hollywood making a return after an 11 year absence plus Will Carruthers (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized), Constantine Karlis (Dimmer) and Thibault Pesenti (Rockcandys). This eclectic mix and line-up also sees Eliza Karmasalo make several appearances by singing in Finnish no less.

The 11 tracks were recorded at Newcombe’s studio in Berlin and is one trippy and languid ball of mystery. “Panic In Babylon” sees the weirdness begin with an instrumental number of more than four minutes. It boasts a funky-feel like the Happy Mondays and is combined with The Velvet Underground’s artful pause. It also has some chirping, crickets, Eastern flavours, old-gold weirdness and saxophone.

The dramatic fugue of the opener is carried through in to “Viholliseni Maalla” where Karmasalo contributes some sultry vocals to a rather dream-fuelled, pop sound. It therefore should come as no surprise that “Clouds Are Lies” also boasts the line: “Dreams will help us be friends”. It’s also pretty obvious that this group are happiest when they are freewheeling through time and continents. They nod at a myriad of styles and influences from the bright, flute-driven stomp of “Illuminomi” to “I Want to Hold Your Other Hand,” a pop tune that sounds like something Damon Albarn wrote.

“Face Down on the Moon” has lots of different textures and tapestries from the Jethro Tull-inspired flute to the Ravi Shankar-esque sitar. It’s a delightful meeting between the East and West through an acid tab and some propelling jams. It’s a jauntiness that continues into the wild and woolly, “Stairway to the Best Party”. And on “Seven Kinds Of Wonderful” the prominent feature is a warbling Aphrodite giving a poor man a come hitherto look and blowing smoke in his eyes while also maintaining a sweet and rich posture.

Then there’s the track with the best title of the year. “Blue Order New Monday” is a far cry from its namesake and is seven minutes of ethereal and grandiose fields just like the Sound Of Music. But this one’s soundtrack includes reverb, echoes, lasers, water, spacemen, buzzing chimes and a lotta mystery, much like the majority of this album.

For every engrossing musical note on this record there is also a void where some thoughtful lyrics would’ve helped. Instead, Newcombe has taken a backseat with his writing and this lends the proceedings a feel that is a lot like a cinema score. The majority of the numbers are either instrumental or in languages other than English and even when there are words these are easily forgotten amidst the peace, love and patchouli that envelopes the listener like it’s raining confetti with all those pretty colours.

Aufheben is less about pop hooks and more about the after-effects of a hookah. The eleven tracks are sprawling in their sounds of feedback, atmosphere, distortion, colourful drones and whirlpools of styles and jamming. It’s like being suspended between sleep and a dream that is full of weightlessness and optimism where the scenery is lush and pleasant. Aufheben is ultimately the kind of affair that is rewarded by repeat spins, if only to marvel at a little something you missed before. So close your eyes and groove away to another dimension because you’ll find it’s (a) happening.

Originally published on 10 May 2012 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/32509/Brian-Jonestown-Massacre–Aufheben

Visit Fasterlouder’s homepage at: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/

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