Fennesz: AUN: The Beginning & End of All Things

The title, we're asked to believe, means “the beginning and end of all things” -- which doesn't really mean anything. An alternate title might be "AUN: The End of your Otherwise Cheery Mood".


AUN: The Beginning & End of All Things

Label: Ash International
US Release Date: 2012-07-03
UK Release Date: 2012-07-03

In a certain sense writing a review about AUN: The Beginning & End of All Things by Christian Fennesz is a little like cracking a joke at a funeral. No matter how calmly or delicately your approach, it’ll come off as crass and indelicate. The sounds on this record swirl and rotate then rise and dissipate like rings of smoke. Describing it at all asks a gentle and guided hand. This is the soundtrack for the Austrian / Japanese co-produced film called AUN. The title, we're asked to believe, means “the beginning and end of all things” -- which doesn't really mean anything. An alternate title might be "AUN: The End of your Otherwise Cheery Mood".

I won’t go into detail about the film itself. Had I never known of the association I would still have called it cinematic. At times it's uncomfortable and inaccessible. At other times, it's compelling, melodic and comforting. I returned many times as it was perfect, in a very utilitarian sense, for concentrating or working. It’s the sort of sound you could enjoy alone, as a backdrop to some solitary activity. It's alien and disconnected, never coming close to melody enough to sound melodramatic or trite. Kae begins with the sound of friction which emerges as a theme. It’s not harsh friction but a light ambient scraping that resolves throughout the currents of urgent tones. The friction sometimes sounds like rain or static and later, the dragging of metal bristles on a concrete floor. At its most stark, the sound is a barely audible backdrop to piano keys and lush tones that appear sporadically in Aware and fade as the record goes on.

There is no direct need to see the film to appreciate the record for its own merits -- especially if hushed dark atmospheres and seemingly (but probably not) random key plinks are your thing. The mood so purposefully evoked here by Christian Fennesz will ensure that this film is never described as the feel-good movie of the year. The director Edgar Honetschläger once said in an interview about the film, "I am not interested in reality" -- so it’s fitting that Fennesz renders his vision in a suitably languid and often dreary progression. He succeeds in aurally representing emotional discord and intense loneliness. But he does it in a way that's almost sympathetic to the problems you didn't know you had. I wish I could tell you more but, [sigh] I just need to be by myself.


This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Blending a dazzling array of musical influences and directions for more than two decades now, Thievery Corporation have come to represent one of the 21st century's boldest bands in both genre-blending style and lyrical impact.

The Halloween season is in full effect on this crisp Sunday evening in San Francisco that precedes All Hallows Eve by two days. With the traditional holiday falling on a Tuesday, music fans are out for as much costumed fun as they can get as evidenced by the costumed revelers here at the Masonic in the Nob Hill area. Thievery Corporation is in town, and the Bay Area "thieves" as the band's fans are known are ready to let it all hang out with one of the few bands in the music industry that isn't shy on telling listeners the truth about what's going on in the world.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite the uninspired packaging in this complete series set, Friday Night Lights remains an outstanding TV show; one of the best in the current golden age of television.

There are few series that have earned such universal acclaim as Friday Night Lights (2006-2011). This show unreservedly deserves the praise -- and the well-earned Emmy. Ostensibly about a high school football team in Dillon, Texas—headed by a brand new coach—the series is more about community than sports. Though there's certainly plenty of football-related storylines, the heart of the show is the Taylor family, their personal relationships, and the relationships of those around them.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.