The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Aufheben

03 September, 2012

By Harry Dam


The Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM) attained cult status and notoriety in 2004 through Dig!, a movie/documentary that looked into their feud with the Dandy Warhols and (perhaps unfairly) highlighted the band's own disfunctionality, including on stage fight scenes. Autocratic band leader and songwriter Anton Newcombe certainly knows how to spark controversy, however the eclecticism of his music and his industriousness have been widely acknowledged. The BJM have produced great psych rock records like "Take It from The Man!" and "Their Satanic Majesties Second Request" in the past and although Anton somehow lacks in consistency his originality and love for the music do sparkle at times.


The BJM are back after 2010's mildly disappointing "Who Killed Sgt Pepper", and they are in fine form in Aufheben. Anton currently resides in Berlin, hence the Hegelian German title with the ambiguous meaning ("to lift up/to preserve/to abolish"). The return of original band member Matt Hollywood and the influence of Will Carruthers, Spacemen 3 bassist, are certainly a plus.


The album opens with Panic in Babylon, a trippy instrumental with some sitar spice, and carries on strongly with Stereolab-esque Viholliseni Maalla, beautifully sung in Finnish by Eliza Karmasalo. Gaz Hilarant and I Want to Hold Your Other Hand are in familiar BJM territory, while in Illuminomi (French vocals by Thibault Pesenti) guitar and flute match perfectly. Moving on, instrumental Face Down On the Moon takes an almost pastoral direction (pan pipes and all), which in my opinion does not suit the band. Clouds Are Lies is much closer to the BJM element with the Velvet Underground (or the Black Angels'?) influence more prominent. In Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe and Seven Kinds of Wonderful the eastern effect proves a bit hypnotic, and not in a good way. Aufheben makes up for it with final track Blue Order/New Monday, which apart from the inventive title offers a blissful repetitive string section.


In short, Aufheben is a robust record and a strong statement of the BJM's versatility. The first part is frenetic. The second part of the LP does not quite live up to the expectations as the flute and the sitar are slightly over the top in certain songs.







Primary Genre: Rock


Subgenre: Garage Rock


Release Date: 30 April 2012


LabelA Records


Influences:  The Rolling Stones, Ravi Shankar, Donovan


Like This And You'll Probably Also LikeSpacemen 3, Black Angels, The Dandy Warhols (not!)


Album Highlights:  Viholliseni Maalla, Illuminomi, Blue Order/New Monday



















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Contributor mini-profile

Harry Dam

Harry Dam

8 Fluffy Reviews
"That second hand living it just won't do"
Mini bio
A sucker for Primaverasound festival, the Guardian, Larry David, Mad Men. Old enough to have seen PJ Harvey in Rodon back in, ahemm, 1995. Martial arts hopeful, kiteboarding trainee, ex-banker, havouza-maker, professional procrastinator.  
Favourite Bands / Artists
Yo La Tengo
My Bloody Valentine
Leonard Cohen
The Magnetic Fields