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Aufgehoben - Khora

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Artist: Aufgehoben

Album: Khora

Label: Holy Mountain

Review date: Jul. 11, 2008

Since the release of their fourth album Messidor in 2006, British quintet Aufgehoben has slowly started to peel back the musty shroud under which it has operated since 1999. Formerly known as a rather anonymous crew with an undetermined membership and a fondness for mud-caked, loosely bashed and tightly edited improvisations, the band has almost embraced a certain sense of forthrightness in the past two years, taking time to speak to the media on a couple of occasions while managing to play their first few shows.

While for some, those concessions hardly sound worthy of merit, for Aufgehoben it’s about 10,000 times as outgoing as they managed to be in the previous seven years combined. No surprise there, really, as their recordings are designed for and by introverts, each disc offering scant glimpses through near opaque glass that reveal only sound and a not a trace of the culprits responsible. The laborious post-production editing process to which each and every Aufgehoben recording is subjected, it would seem, strips the human element out completely.

And though you can now find pictures of these gents and read their carefully considered thoughts in a few places, none of that has had much of an impact on Khora, the group’s fifth full-length album and latest in an unbroken string of paradoxically sublime albums that somehow seem to disguise their meticulous editing more effortlessly each time out.

Comprised of four tracks, Khora again revels in a glorious muck. Opening with a couple of brief takes, the band more overtly tips their hand towards rock than they ever have before. Drums urgently push the rhythms on “Ignorance Oblivian Contempt” while guitarist Gary Smith gropes his strings to emit a furious clatter. Screeching sirens dive bomb throughout, almost as if to warn that these needles aren’t leaving the red anytime soon.

The percussion takes on menacing, mechanistic pulse throughout the short “Annex Organon,” its hammering persistence matching the grinding electronics, occasionally giving way to brief snatches of pure rhythmic thrust. “A Bastard Reasoning” opens on almost the same note, allowing the drums room to sound out against a steadily encroaching hum before an avalanche hits, ushering in blizzard winds full of mutating tones and swirling shifts in dynamics.

Most impressive here is “Jederfursich…,” a twenty-six minute depth charge that wastes little time in announcing its arrival. Percussion again surges to the front, here subjected to waves of distortion and crackling, mangled electronics that kick and claw their way forward. The pair push back and forth all throughout, sometimes allowing the percussion to ring almost clear, other times pushing the fills behind rusted heaps of junk shop parts. And as that prickly climax rises again and again across the track, it becomes blatantly obvious that the little bit of light Aufgehoben has shone into their workshop is indeed a bothersome beacon, and one that must be eradicated through blackened tones as grim as possible.

By Michael Crumsho

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