Aufgang: Air On Fire

A forty-minute follow-up to Aufgang's recent debut album, Air On Fire presents three previously unreleased tracks, a makeover of an already issued piece, plus remixes by Sutehk and Krazy Baldhead. Once again, the unusual configuration—two pianists (Rami Khalifé and Francesco Tristano) and drummer (Aymeric Westrich)—helps set the group's sound apart, and the trio's fusion of classical, experimental, and dance music genres makes their music seem even more unique. The group's latest EP can be heard as a study in contrasts, with each of the six tracks showing a different side of the trio's electroacoustic sound.

First up is the EP's most captivating track, “Dulceria” (literally “candy store” in Spanish), which transfixes with an uplifting vibe and arresting blend of chopped voices, grandiose piano themes, creamy synth textures, and unstoppably percolating rhythms. In what must be considered one of the group's best pieces to date, “Dulceria” fuses sparkling electro, funk, and house into a ravishing seven-minute ride that one'll want to take again and again. Less melodically oriented is “Aufgang (Auricle Dub),” which revisits the previously released track, this time serving it up as a moody minimal house track designed clearly for the club. A driving pulse pushes the track forward, laying the ground for the pianists to spread atmospheric patterns across the ever-grooving base. Things turn noisier in the third track, “Douce Violence,” an uncompromising foray into electro-punk where aggressive piano patterns lock into position while drums pound and electronics squeal. More nuanced by comparison, the third new track, “Warm Snow,” is a ponderous rumination whose slow-motion tempo and steady stream of gentle piano chords invite reflection. In the remix department, Sutehk and Krazy Baldhead both tackle “Channel 7,” with the former giving the tune a typically rich and panoramic electronic overhaul that mutates organically through several episodes—Sutekh does call it, after all, a “233 Channels” remix—before gradually decompressing, while Krazy Baldhead turns it into a more straight-up electro-funk-techno banger that's no less satisfying.

Though they're credible enough, the remixes nevertheless feel like add-ons. The key tracks are the three unreleased originals, which are about as wildly contrasting as could be imagined, but without question the EP's high point is “Dulceria.” A whole album of material like it would be a wonderful thing indeed.

September 2010