John Aulich - Ambito Novum | Album Review | By Volume

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JohnAulich Ambito

John Aulich

Ambito Novum

An intriguing attempt at experimenting with electronic music, but ultimately a frustrating listen.

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Author: on January 13, 2014

I love the EP format. Between albums and singles, it screams flexibility, possibilities and potential. The EP is open to numerous ideas half-explored, considered but not delved into, without the vast vacuum of what-ifs that are left behind on albums that feel unfinished. It can even exist as a highlight reel, though only as good as its highlights and of course it isn’t necessarily easy to nail down to perfection. Coming from a composition background, John Aulich approaches Ambito Novum (roughly A New Ambition) with intention to experiment with several subsets of the electronic field, and Aulich does just that with each track having little to do with its neighbours. While this Ambito Novum never quite figures out what it is, Aulich’s method means the EP avoids settling into redundancy at least.

The lack of cohesiveness on Ambito Novum is most apparent in the transitions between tracks; in a highlight reel, this wouldn’t be an issue but Aulich attempts to mix numbers into their subsequent tune, and the attempts come off poorly. Take “For Jack”, which develops into a solid, Dettmann-esque minimal techno workout teetering along the edges of new depths — before Aulich packs up the gear up, shows over, and whips the tempo up in a move that bamboozles. As the glitch-break “Freedom of Spades” comes in, any adrenaline dissipates despite the fact that as it is, the tune stands as a decent soundtrack jam. Aulich explores breaks once more on the closing track to greater results, packing more punch with a slight industrial influence and unsettling sampling.

On Ambito Novum, the parts seem to outweigh their sum which results in an often frustrating listen as certain moments hint at so much more. “A Sickness Between Us” serves as the best moment on the EP as Aulich is at his most experimental, tearing, sawing and contorting a sinister minefield of sound, and it’s unfortunate that it is to end with an out of place, 16-bit meltdown, almost as a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s a far cry from the intro, which juxtaposes a crawling techno beat with jazz as Rodians kick the bar’s Bith band off-stage and do their own thing – yet once that’s over and the beat is all that remains, one feels cheated, as if the beat’s sole purpose was simply to usher in “For Jack” all along. The rudimentary shift comes across as an accidental Trojan horse more than anything, an early signal of how Ambito Novum is a bumpy ride for the wrong reasons. This EP wears its peaks on its sleeve, though they’re stained by the surrounding discord.

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