Aufgehoben - Anno Fauve
Auf Deutsch, Aufgehoben translates roughly as abolished, or annulled. The title of Anno Fauve, the group’s third CD, is a Latin homage to Fauvism, it appears, the French painting movement headed by Henri Matisse. Some heady background, seemingly, for such a noisy band…or is it? This group of UK experimentalists usually seem to be classified as rock deconstructionists of some variety, though what they’re doing seems to have more in common with the heavier side of contemporary improvisation than rock and roll’s language or mechanics…unless, of course, they’re dissected rock to the point at which it’s no longer identifiable, but what’s the fun in that?
If nothing else, Anno Fauve is a loud album. Even with volume levels minimized, the distorted fury of Aufgehoben’s improvisations seems to pour from speakers in an almost uncontrollable fashion. The guitar and drums force the electronics and sampling to the background, making for a powerful, albeit slightly unbalanced, sound. The implicit communication that develops between improvising musicians isn’t something Aufgehoben practice overtly, or at least not in a very traditional sense. There’s a fluidity between the guitar and drums, sometime explicit dueling, in a sense, but it’s rare that all three members of the band seem to be on the same page. Due to the chaotic tilt in Aufgehoben’s music, this surely isn’t a fatal flaw, as it magnifies the dissonance and uneasiness that lies underneath much of Anno Fauve. Still, as the jagged patter rises into an overdriven maelstrom, something’s missing, a connection or bond between the individual voices, no matter how disparate their sounds.
As far as the sheer, molten mass of their sound is concerned, Aufgehoben are hard to beat. The swelling masses of confusion, though, perhaps could use more basis in at ground level to give Anno Fauve more shape. If rock music was their original medium, now dismantled, then it’s been musically masticated to the point of disappearance, and these alternately subtle and brutal slabs of improv are all that remain.