The album jacket features the mission statement, "Destroying in order to create... creating in order to destroy," and the sentiment is certainly accurate. "Auricle/Bio/On 1" begins with the flourish of Tristano's improvised piano, jazzy and rippling, but von Oswald soon makes his presence felt with the addition of filters, echoes and delays, transforming the tone to something just a tad more alien. There are swirling electronic noises and deep bass humming in the background that may or may not be a treatment of the piano itself; without a score, it would be impossible to say for sure. As the track continues, the processing increases, the piano changing tone from bar to bar, gradually and with each passing measure becoming more and more unrecognizable, until by the 5:00 mark, the sound has fully transformed from organic to digital.
As subtle rhythms start to creep in, the piano continues to mutate, the beats become more and more pronounced, and anything that once sounded like a live instrument has long since disappeared, replaced by horror-movie screeches and synthetic tones. At 10 minutes in, a bass drum finally appears and the cacophony dies down a bit, as the piece finally tips into a full-on dub-techno rumble, equal parts freaked-up electronic noise and prime-time Berlin beatwork. From there on out, the "destroying/creating" aspect is in full flight, as the rhythms pummel, the crazed electronic notes get freakier and it becomes impossible to tell if things are building, decomposing or simultaneously doing both. At times, the piano shines through clearly again, a ray of sun poking through the massed storm clouds of electronic noise; at other times, it sounds like a genuine nightmare, all pounding beats and noises like fingernails on a blackboard in hell.
"Auricle/Bio/On 2" works itself in reverse, starting with the rhythmic density that part 1 left off with and eventually winding itself down into just Tristano's heavily treated piano once again. The two are not continuations of each other, but rather fractured mirror images. String noises are introduced early on (perhaps the insides of the piano being abused?), and a genuinely evil bass line hits at around 7:40 or so, but for the most part the formula remains the same—create, destroy, create, destroy and so on. It's difficult to determine exactly who did what on Auricle/Bio/On, but Tristano and von Oswald have achieved something entirely original and utterly remarkable here. You won't hear anything else like it this year.