Album Review: The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Aufheben

30 April 2012 | 8:48 pm | Sebastian D'Alonzo

It is by far Newcombe’s most coherent work in recent times...

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On their 15th studio album, Anton Newcombe, the leader of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, proves he is still going strong with his prolific career. Currently working out of his studio in Berlin, the new material brings together some familiar players with original member Matt Hollywood and Will Carruthers of Spacemen 3, resulting in an album that shows some collaboration but ultimately is fresh from the mind of Newcombe.

Similar in some regards to recent material, Aufheben, like 2010's Who Killed Sgt Pepper?, works with droning world influences and non-English vocals amongst repetitive and hypnotic rhythms. This is the case with instrumental opener Panic In Babylon, layering eastern influences and the sound of kookaburras in the mix. It's followed by Viholliseni Maalla; featuring Finnish vocals, the track builds up to where Newcombe leaves room for his distinct guitar melodies. But not all material is on the stranger side – tracks such as Gaz Hilarant and the playfully titled I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand bring to mind the band's neo-psychedelic sound of jangly acoustic guitar and tambourine, while Stairway To The Best Party recalls the band's work of the late-'90s/early-2000s with its Rolling Stones vibe.

Whereas Who Killed Sgt Pepper? became unpredictable in its use of hard distortion and techno beats amongst its foreign influences, Aufheben comes across as much more of a relaxed listen, giving a mix of the band's recent experimentation and weirdness coupled with the collective's classic neo-psychedelic, shoegaze sound. It is by far Newcombe's most coherent work in recent times, and through the group's ups and downs, is a welcome return to order.