Brian Jonestown Massacre : Aufheben

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Brian Jonestown Massacre : Aufheben


Perish the thought that Anton Newcombe – a man for whom psychological turmoil is the natural muse for artistic creativity – could be in the midst of a period of inner contentment. But listening to the latest Brian Jonesstown Massacre record, Aufheben – a German term that apparently may variously be translated as ‘to lift up’, ‘abolish’ or even ‘transcend’ – and there’s a sense that Newcombe has moved into a new phase of his notoriously tumultuous personal and musical existence.

The opening track, Panic In Babylon is drenched in the eastern raga sounds Brian Jonestown Massacre dabbled in last time around ; this time, however, it’s a journey with purpose and direction, held together with a beat as hypnotic as the prevailing musical aesthetic is enlightening. On Viholliseni Maala we’re transported to a coastal road of unbridled beauty; Gaz Hilarant is dark around the edges, and as spiritually enlivening in the centre as a night lost in the company of Spaceman 3.

And what to say about the elegance of Illuminomi, surely one of the most beautiful sonicscapes ever constructed by Newcombe and his travelling psychedelic cast? When Face Down On The Moon appears – replete with Dungen-esque rural folk styling, the moment is lush, and saturated with child-like wonder (later on, Waking Up To Hand Grenades takes further steps in the same direction). On Stairway To The Best Party, Newcombe leads the band back into the Rolling Stones’ darkest psychedelic territory; Seven Kinds of Wonderful exhibits shades of Ofra Haza in its quest for contentment. And then there’s the concluding electro-iconoclasm of Blue Order New Monday, with all its pun-filled brilliance.

Some years ago, observing the Brian Jonestown Massacre was to witness a train barely on the rails, hurtling around corners with deranged abandon.  These days, Newcombe’s train is gliding through scenic sonic landscapes only the truly talented understand. Long may it travel safely.




Best Track: Illuminomi

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In A Word: Spiritual