Album Review: The Brian Jonestown Massacre

11 April 2012 | 2:37 pm | Chris Yates

A solid album which reveals itself slowly, Aufheben is a successful exercise in BJM’s typical tuneful weirdness.

More The Brian Jonestown Massacre More The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The title for the new album from Anton Newcombe and his band is one of those German words that's hard to translate into English, but it means something like destroying things in order to make it possible for them to be rebuilt. This might suggest that we're gonna get something completely different from the BJM, but what would that even be? He's pretty much done it all over the last 20 years.

If anything, Aufheben plays it kind of safe by Newcombe's standards. The songs are all built from the ground up, with layers of droning noise being placed almost delicately on top of solid, driving drum rhythms. The beats don't deviate too much from track to track, but it's the subtle differences with instrumentation and arrangement that provide some pleasant surprises. Panic In Babylon fades in with the beginning of the big beats, with a drone of Middle Eastern sounds thickening out the instrumental, and ends with the sound of sampled and looped kookaburras. Similar exotic sounds patter around on the folky Face Down On The Moon, another instrumental with a lead flute line carrying the tune. A distorted guitar riff handles the foreground of Stairway To The Best Party – it's one of only a few occasions where the guitar is not primarily acoustic. One of the strongest tracks on the record, Waking Up To Hand Grenades, could almost pass as The Stone Roses, at nearly ten minutes long, it starts as a medieval lute number which descends into a slow party shuffle.

A solid album which reveals itself slowly, Aufheben is a successful exercise in BJM's typical tuneful weirdness.