AufgehobenKhora (Holy Mountain, 2008)

I’m a very patient listener, but I have my limits. When this record came out, I bought it on the strength of Aufgehoben’s previous album, Messidor, an album that was mistakenly placed in the “electronic” section of Other Music (NYC), and, since it looked like Autechre, I had some reservations about it. However, that was pretty damn good, in the same vein as MoHa!. None of that, however, prepared me for Khora. When I saw the song lengths, I asked myself if I could listen to a nearly 30 minute track of this. Truth be told, some of you might pass on that, at least for a long time. I did. In fact, I didn’t listen to that last track until this past month. I have no idea why I waited.

Khora is a special beast, especially this last track. Its mystery is how it can pack so much dynamism within a seemingly static song. That is, if you don’t just listen to it, just like some eai, it will sound completely arbitrary and uniform, but just like eai, it can actually be seen as radically different from moment to moment. This last track is so good, in fact, that I consider it the ultimate rock instrument generated noise track I’ve ever heard.

When I first listened to this, I was trawling through Tumblr and came across this picture:

This isn’t a commentary whatsoever about the specific contents of the picture, but rather a personal experience tied to listening to this music. The sounds in this last track are chaotic, aggressive, and when I encountered this picture, it added some sense to the music of despair. In other words, this noise can take on a sorrowful tone. Indeed, portions of this track, especially around the 17 minute mark, sound desperate, out of control… And these feelings stuck. While driving back from my radio show last Sunday, I waited until I had 27 minutes left until I got home, and I put this on. This music fit the landscape so well. Most Midwestern terrain is best suited to epic tracks, long developments, and a tinge of sadness. The track retained the sorrow I felt in first listening to it, and it took on the character of the nighttime, and the emptiness of my drive home.

While I’m confident that some of the tone will translate to your own experience, I understand many people can hear many things in this. But unless you make it 20 minutes in, don’t judge this. It is a powerful piece of art with its own personality, but it also has a way to seem sympathetic to your moods. It presents itself as a unified whole, but underneath the surface clipping is a great, dynamic energy. Don’t pass on this.


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