Christian Fennesz: AUN: The Beginning and the End of All Things
Ash International

AUN: The Beginning and the End of All Things is Christian Fennesz in soundtrack mode and operating at times in a mode closer in spirit to his collaborations with pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto (in fact, three of the album's fifteen pieces are Fennesz-Sakamoto pieces previously issued on 2007's Cendre) rather than the style captured on Endless Summer and Venice. As its full title makes clear, Austrian filmmaker Edgar Honetschläger's 100-minute work is epic and far-reaching in concept; thankfully, Fennesz's fifty-minute soundtrack opts for understatement, not bombast. It's oft-pretty music, very much designed to support the film imagery as opposed to compete with it or call too much attention to itself—which is not to suggest it doesn't hold up as rewarding listening material in its own right. That it does, even if the soundtrack concentrates, understandably, on Fennesz's atmospheric side.

Sakamoto drapes his sprinkles across a bed of industrial noise swirls during the brooding mood piece “Aware”; while the approach isn't dissimilar on “Haru,” the mood is hopeful by comparison, as the pianist's delicate playing drifts serenely atop a vaporous base generated by the guitarist. As it turns out, many of the tracks wouldn't sound out of place on a solo album, even if they're of shorter length than the Fennesz norm. “Sekai,” for instance, finds Fennesz offering a capsule version of his celebrated guitar-centric style, with processed melodies shuddering against a lush backdrop of granular textures. His talent for shaping chord progressions and textures into settings of haunting beauty is powerfully captured in pieces like “AUN40” and “Nemuru,” while becalmed meditations such as “Sasazuka” and “Nympha” paint hushed landscapes of micro-textural splendour. Shimmering pools of sound (“Himitsu”), miniature dronescapes (“Euclides”), and acoustic guitar-based explorations (“AUN80”) also appear. Though AUN isn't a solo album in the conventional sense, it's got Fennesz's indelible fingerprints all over it. No one else quite sounds like him, and the soundtrack material evidences all of the customary sensitivity he brings to his evocative work regardless of the setting or project.

October 2012