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The Aum Rifle – A Peal of Bells

I would like to start by saying that I think that The Aum Rifle has hit upon a great title for their new album, A Peal of Bells. Take a second and say it out-loud. Isn’t it a wonderful phrase? Now apply it to what you might expect from an album with such a title. Good, right? Admittedly, I was predisposed towards this album before even listening to it.


The Aum Rifle, comprised of Alex and Cari Ganowsky and John Thill, has a decidedly interesting approach towards making music. The album begins with the song “Wilt.” It is a rough recording of an acoustic guitar and punk-like vocals accompanied by tape noise. The song ends with the shaking of what sounds like a trash bag full of beer bottles (a sound I am very familiar with). This is followed by “Joseph Tyler,” a folksy song, played on the banjo. The departure from the norm on this track is something or someone making frog noises.

The band seems to enjoy pulling the listener back and forth. They go from slow and sad to a noisy racket. Often they make this transition during the same song. The group plays homemade instruments that cause you to wonder what exactly that sound comes from. The song “Kitchen” is a prime example of this. In the liner notes, they claim to have played trees. I am not sure how one would accomplish that, or what it would sound like.

If you enjoy having a quiet listening experience one minute, only to be startled the next by someone smashing frying pans together then this is the album for you. I would like to see The Aum Rifle do more of a straight album, with perhaps the occasional tree being played. They do simple folk songs very well, but I personally think that they take the experimental side of it too far. It just becomes too jarring at times. I like that they are stretching musical limits, and several of the songs are very good, they just need to rein it in at times.


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