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Fennesz - AUN: The Beginning and the End of All Things

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Artist: Fennesz

Album: AUN: The Beginning and the End of All Things

Label: Ash International

Review date: Sep. 6, 2012

It’s surprising that it’s taken so long to happen. Christian Fennesz has been making soundtrack-ready music for some time, and his solo releases have become more overtly lyrical of late. But it’s Edgar Honetschläger’s AUN: The Beginning and End of All Things that gets the honor of being Fennesz’s first full-length film score. From what can be gleaned from the trailer, the pairing of Fennesz with Honetschläger’s poetic, apocalyptic tale is a good one, and that’s important, since I have a suspicion that AUN is a better soundtrack than a standalone album.

Fennesz won’t win an Oscar for AUN. In fact, he can’t: AUN features three tracks that previously appeared on Cendre, the first album from the self-titled collaboration between Fennesz and pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto. “Aware,” “Haru,” and “Trace” get a punch of pathos from Sakamoto’s downcast wanderings, and the trio are the album’s most obvious signals that perhaps AUN isn’t an especially cheery movie. A tranquil melancholy pervades the soundtrack, and the music moves at a glacial pace, with each track settling in like a slowly building fog. The music is some of Fennesz’s gentlest, full of hazy tones and pacific harmonies. Even the obligatory glitches are usually round-edged and polite, serving largely as textural garnish rather than interrupting the music’s flow. It seems obvious that the soundtrack was composed to live in the background; I imagine it works as a sensual mood setter that doesn’t vie with visuals for the viewer’s attention. It’s hard, then, to complain if AUN, beautiful as it is, can be a bit of a snooze.

Fennesz’s score isn’t likely to be placed on a pedestal among his best work. It’s almost devoid of gristle, a collection of like-minded tracks that can sound pretty much the same over the course of 53 minutes, save for the Fennesz-Sakamoto selections and a few with more prominent acoustic guitar. But there’s a utility to the album that can’t be ignored. The judgment of a soundtrack is never complete unless it’s experienced in context, along with the movie that it’s meant to accompany. Though AUN isn’t always interesting, it is a cohesive collection, and I don’t doubt for a moment its suitability as the score for Honetschläger’s film.

By Adam Strohm

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