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Ain Soph – “Aurora” – [Old Europa Cafe]

copertinaainsoph

2012 reissue, with two bonus tracks tacked on the end, of the 8th release by the Roman post-industrial group. Originally out in 1992, ‘Aurora’ marked the completion of Ain Soph’s transition from the ritual industrial oeuvre of earlier works into a raucous folk/chanson/psych rock quartet. Although less well-known than their contemporaries, this band were shifting from industrial music to mystically-inclined antiquarian pop at around the same time as Current 93, Death in June and Ordo Equilibrio, placing them at the ground floor of the so-called ‘neofolk’ genre’s development. Without these guys there would certainly have been no Spiritual Front, Rome or Der Blutharsch (Albin Julius from the latter group once called Ain Soph his favorite band). Most songs feature strummed acoustic guitar, and t.s 5+8 have some psychedelic electric work. Electric organ and rich, stuttering piano also make frequent appearances. Other instrumentation includes accordion (t.s 2+9), harmonica (t.s 11+15) and feedback (t.13+15). Singer ‘Crucifige’ has an operatic, rough style which, though not technically superb, is fantastically expressive– I sometimes think limited vocal ability is a good fit for this type of music. He is joined by a female voice on t.15. The songs are mostly in Italian, but there are also lyrics in English (t.s 6+16), French (t.s 2, 5, 7, 8, 9+10) and Spanish (t.10, which adapts its words from Jorge Luis Borges and Guillaume Apollinaire). Ain Soph’s worldview is one of occult elitism, their biggest ideological influences being Aleister Crowley and Julius Evola. The subject matter of this album is a mixture of personal sentimentality and European historical themes. As you may have guessed, there is fascist imagery– e.g., references to automatic pistols left in Italy by ‘the Reich’ (t.3), ominous declarations of opposition to liberal society (t.11, t.14) and even, on t.1, a sample of ‘Giovinezza,’ but don’t worry– Ain Soph are far too intelligent for politics, as noted in the liner (where ‘Aurora’ is described as a record about “ethics”): “Honour, honesty, self-discipline, detachment: these are the foundations of life and– even once so– of magic. And when we seem to take a political position, we are just showing mundane and contradictory and maybe mistaken attempts, that however show inner perspectives.” If anything, the Left-baiting first track concerns the hypocrisy of Italian democratic society more than it does any nostalgia for the 30s. That said, I would still place Ain Soph to the Right– values to be found on this album include Anti-Communism, Anti-Catholicism, Stoicism, Anti-Materialism and Traditionalism. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether these qualities add up to ‘fascist’ or not, but I don’t think a bunch of Nazis would make music with this much jazz influence, or for that matter operate under a moniker derived from Qabbala. At any rate, ‘Aurora’ finds them not just fighting alongside the White Guard (t.6) and the French Foreign Legion (t.8) but also pining away with the young lovers of the city streets (t.10, 12, 13+14). Highlights include a poem by 11th-century Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam interpreted as a Serge Gainsbourg pastiche (t.5), a tender love ballad being eaten alive by harsh noise (t.13) and the malefic manifesto of t.14, complete with its loop of unhinged laughter. What we have here is drinking music for the aristocracy of the soul. Sorry Dave.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on November 26, 2013 at 10:28 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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