AUFGANG: Aufgang (InFiné)


Posted on Nov 16th 2009 01:06 am

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Aufgang: Aufgang

InFiné 2009
09 Tracks. 60mins07secs

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Aufgang is a formation like no other. Formed of classically trained pianists Rami Khalifé and Francesco Tristano, who met ten years ago while they were studying at the world-renowned Julliard School in New York, who, beside sharing a common interest in their study, also enjoyed the club scene that the city had to offer, and drummer Aymeric Westrich, also a classically trained musician who studied percussions at the Conservatoire de Boulogne in France, Aufgang became a proper entity in 2005 when they played at the Sonar festival in Barcelona. It took a further four years for the trio to record together and document their unusual sound, resulting in a debut EP, entitled Sonar, released earlier this year on French imprint InFiné, and now followed by their self-titled debut album.

Both world class classical pianists, Rami Khalifé, born in Beirut, Lebanon, and Francesco Tristano, who hails from Luxemburg, have released a number of classical records since leaving Julliard. The latter has also collaborated with a number of electronic musicians over the years, most notably with Murcof, Carl Craig or Moritz von Oswald, who contributed to Tristano’s Auricle On/Off album released last year. French drummer Aymeric Westrich has, for his part, been seen playing with the likes of Phoenix or Cassius in recent years.

Album opener and current single Channel 7 is a surprisingly subdued piece in comparison to the rest of record, but it serves as an introduction to the concept devised by Aufgang, as pretty classic techno sounds are confronted with rich flowing drapes of pianos, punctuated by the drums in the background. Things heat up fairly rapidly though with the more ambitious Channel 8, which appears built around a similar idea of the previous piece but is expanded to epic proportion. Here, the pianos dominate the piece, first in the lower register, as they draw sombre ominous lines, then in beautiful cascades of lighter notes, placed over an atmospheric drone while the drums delineate the various sections of the piece.

Aufgang occasionally remain pretty close to traditional straightforward dance forms, especially on Aufgang, which combines interesting broken melodies with a techno groove, or on Sonar, which after a slightly formulaic first half becomes totally hypnotic and fascinating in its second. This album however works best when Aufgang favour abstract melodies and complex piano formations, which are then given a totally new edge by the addition of electronics and drums. With exquisite interlocking whirlwinds of pianos thrown over a somewhat discreet rhythmic section and occasional electronics, Barock is a heady piece of music, while on 3 Vitesses later, the extremely syncopated melody and busy backdrop give the illusion of an ever changing structure while it actually remains pretty uniform from start to finish. On Prélude Du Passé and, later on closing piece Soumission, the trio slow the pace right down, but while the former is a pretty gentle ballad, the latter shows a much more experimental approach, where all sounds are sourced from the pianos themselves, whether it is through traditional means or through the body of the instruments, used as a vehicle to create percussive sounds.

On paper, what Aufgang propose sounds too much of a radical idea to work, yet, Rami Khalifé, Francesco Tristano and Aymeric Westrich have created with this debut album a totally unique and captivating piece of work. Undeniably, the sum of the musicianship here contributes to make Aufgang unforgettable, but it is also the trio’s thorough understanding of two very different musical movements which gives this record its sharp edge.


Icon: arrow Aufgang (MySpace) | InFiné
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Aufgang from discograph on Vimeo.

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  3. […] Juilliard student and pianist Rami Khalifé and drummer Aymeric Westrich. The trio released their self-titled debut album last […]