Hyperbole is the rake, man. And I’m guilty of using it to show how clever I am, or whatever this music tells me to write about it. It’s pretty easy to say “this record is like getting thrown around in a shipping container, rolling down an endless hill, filled with big metal springs and sheets of glass, that occasionally has crippling blasts of electricity run through it” but really, how would any of us know? And if we did, would that be something we’d want audio documentation of?
Fortunately, none of us can make that claim. And that’s why we can approach Aufgehoben exclusively in terms of action, as that is almost all that they exist to offer. The secretive British group works to solve a lot of the problems with the monotony of noise/power electronics, because they know there is no one quick fix that can break a cycle like that. They start from an acoustic background (two drum kits are the backbone of the lineup, and on a few tracks they move up to three), and work in a splashy, kinetic medium of electronics, contact mics, amplified strings, real-time signal processing, and treatment of “metal, drills, blocks, pillars, slabs and beams” to bring a dominant, additive force that can feel like the jumpoff between a hard free improv session, and the opening of a portal to Hell, buffeted by the atmosphere of industrial material refinement and heavy-duty manufacturing. Fragments feels like the record where these guys can step back a little and create energy in the smaller, quieter passages wherever they may fall, and in doing so have found a hidden strength in the maximal blowouts that follow. By the halfway point of “Ethicsisanoptics(TI23)” I was grinning ear to ear at where they’d taken these captured sounds, how fully over the top and wonderfully ridiculous it all seemed, but the power in these pieces is not to be diminished by how they wield it. That smile would leave my face as more solemn, studied moments (like the evenly spaced explosions of beat in “CuriosityVanityExpediency” would offer), but it would come back by the full-on scrum chunder of the tracks that followed. Aufgehoben can sit comfortably as the masters of their own domain, but it is equally important that the group rarely repeats itself. In a time when so many musical acts cling to established notions, these folks continue to strain muscles and dilate their pupils all the way, beating out completely new and exciting dimensions out of a fixed setup. (http://www.holymountain.com)