The Brian Jonestown Massacre “Aufheben” | A Records
“The Universe is in equilibrium; therefore He that is without it, though his force be but a feather, can overturn the Universe. Be not caught within that web, O child of Freedom! Be not entangled in the universal lie, O child of Truth!” –Aleister Crowley The Book Of Lies.
This happened to be a text I was reading while I was listening to The Jonestown’s latest release, “Aufheben”, and it seemed to fit perfectly with the context of its illustrious, near perfect soundscapes. Granted, I am biased of course because I am a huge fan of BJM and believe them to be, by a long shot, one of the best bands around. So that confession being said, I already went into the album expecting bliss and fruitful outcomes.
Since Anton’s departure (and no I do not wish to get into his personal life, to each is own) to Iceland and with such releases like “Smoking Acid” and “The One”, it seemed the core wheel of BJM had begun to explore the psychedelic mindscape of world music within his already incredibly well-crafted, legitimate rock ‘n’ roll legacy. Granted, Anton had dived into these styles (Listen to Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request). But Anton always seemed to want to branch of more into the work of Sitar’s and eastern influence than remaining in the opiate based, speed fading rock ‘n’ roll that made them so recognizable (and that, The Dandy Warhol’s failed to try and make into radio friendly music).
On Aufheben, the Jonestown are back with one of the year’s best releases. The flute work along with the sort of peace the album speaks tells a different version of Anton, than say, “And This Is Our Music”. As he says on “Waking Up To Hand Grenades”, “The waiting is over, the good times are here”. And really, that is how the album translates, leaving aside its incredibly heavy spiritual inclination. The album plays like a perfect, meditative daydream in some Eastern Kingdom where Rock’n’ Roll and Hindu gods get along way better than the Beatles ever did. And no, that wasn’t a hate on the Beatles but a mere explanation of how well these elements work on Aufheben. His voice, although still obviously pained, has a certain hope that seeps through much more than any despair. The drums sound incredibly good (something they played with on “Smoking Acid” as well). They are sort of big drop hip-hop drums, dusty yet atmospheric and they keep the tracks harmonic guitars, flute work and guitar/bass churning rockin’ riffs swaying within euphoric synth work.
I am astounded at their ability to consistently push out incredible, groundbreaking work while still not receiving the recognition that the sound calls for. It’s remarkable to me the praise other bands get compared to BJM. I don’t care about Anton’s personal life, listen to Aufheben and tell me that it doesn’t constitute something incredible and timeless. This album is relevant now, would have been incredibly relevant in the 60’s going on 70’s and will most likely be relevant in 60 years from now. I am happy to hear a sort of new found peace that is much deserved for the band.
“Aufheben” is German for “to lift up, or abolish”; I believe the Jonestown have done just that.