AUN, subtitled “a soundtrack”, conveys music recorded for the Austrian/Japanese co-production AUN – The Beginning and End of all Things, a meditation on Shintoism and the anthropological essays of Claude Levi-Strauss. The film apparently “envisions a future world where life will be nothing but sensual”. To which other than Touch recordings, particularly those of Fennesz, might the inhabitants of such a world be subjected, or perhaps choose to listen?
Three of the album’s fifteen mostly brief tracks were originally released on the Fennesz Sakamoto album Cendre (Touch, 2007). Many of the original pieces are cut from the same cloth: washes of brooding, oscillatory electronics dappled with dark, lugubrious, or simply wistfully mournful piano melodies.
Some of the new tracks, such as “Kae”, “Sekai”, and “Mori” are mere fragments. “Sekai” introduces the tremulous processed guitar sound that so enraptured listeners who first heard it on Endless Summer, but the sun has long since set on Christian Fennesz, whose music is now unremittingly crepuscular. Even the lightest pieces – “Trace”, for instance, parts of which sound like postmodern Satie in the rain – seem to convey a sense of enervation and despondency.
Some tracks begin well, with interesting ambient juxtapositions – “Euclides”, say, its wormhole whorl of dark ambience blossoming into an enveloping void – only to fade away without being fully developed. Perhaps AUN is best taken as a suggestive scrapbook of themes for shifting moods.
The richer the sonic collage, the more I like this music. “AUN40” is an inspired hint of melody subsumed within a billow of frayed electro-acoustic sonorities. Unlike many of the AUN tracks, here’s a subtle dramaturgy hinting at an evolving psychology at work. Fennesz often coasts on autopilot; tracks like these remind us what a keen ear he has, and what subtleties he’s capable of.
“AUN80” and “Nympha” introduce stark blends of acoustic guitar and complementary electronic haze to enliven proceedings before the concluding “Shinu” and “Hikari” respectively return to the deep ambient aesthetics of bell-like resonance and symphonious atmospherics.
AUN is on the Ash International label. For details of AUN the film, stills from which comprise the bulk of the CD booklet, visit www.aun-film.com
Thomas Köner: Novaya Zemlya
Oren Ambarchi: Audience of One
Touch: Spire at St Botolph without Aldgate, with Philip Jeck, Charles Matthews, BJ Nilsen, Marcus Davidson, John Beaumont
Oren Ambarchi, Charlemagne Palestine, Daniel Menche, and BJ Nilsen at Cafe Oto, April 2012