Temptress – By Aarnav Bos

A new LP by Berlin-based Auroville youth

One person’s paradise can be another’s prison. Conceptually this is a very simple idea to wrap one’s head around, but a surprisingly difficult one to accept and integrate fully. Wine and music is one thing, but beauty? Values?

            “We must draw the line somewhere…”

            Others might argue differently, and Auroville youth and Berlin-based electronic musician Aarnav Bos would certainly be one of them. His new LP Temptress chronicles the emergence and realization of a creativity that owes as much of its newness to frustration as to tranquillity; yet this manages to make it one of the most honest pieces of contemporary music your reporter has subjected his ears to in many months. Bos and myself caught up with all this as best we could in a late-night interview fuelled largely by cigarettes and the spoils of my listening obsessively to the album over the course of the past 24 hours.

            “Is this a Berlin album or an international one?” This is the one question that’s been hanging over my head like an omen the whole day, because I truly can’t answer it; Aarnav’s answer, predictably, sets up the rest of the conversation.

            “Well, all composition is derivation. I can’t say Auroville didn’t have an impact on it because it did. There are experiences and sounds derived from both Berlin and Auroville combined in these songs.” He pauses. “Wouldn’t really be mine if there weren’t.”

            I ask him for an example. “You take ‘My Tourist Dystopia’, for instance- that’s just about the innate disrespect of modern tourism. And where to experience that better than Auroville? Most of the tourists barely even know where they are, let alone why they’re there. When I saw it in that light- as an invasion in which both sides are actually losing- I felt too strongly about it not to try and make something out of it.”

            A damn fine something it is, too. “How else have your musical ideas been influenced by location?”

            “Well, this idea of live music being a catalyst for something was only really first exposed to me in Berlin. You get a different idea of how music sounds in different environments, how people respond to various elements… For example, I had always felt many of my compositions were missing something. Almost as soon as I heard this kind of music, electronic body music, being played in a club, I realized my music needed vocals. Then of course, finding a vocalist with whom there was just a- click– chemistry… That was a huge catalyst, to find somebody with whom there was enough synergy to do a maximum of three takes. And we’d usually end up using the first or second.”

            Always a good sign, I think to myself… Artistically, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse sin than repeating yourself. “Nothing worse than repeating yourself,” says I, in the process of ashing a cigarette on myself for the fifth time today. “Did she change the direction of the project, in a sense?”

            “In a sense, yeah, every new element you add changes the direction. But this was collaborative in a sense, she was contributing lyrical ideas, melodic inflections… Direction of a particular track is one thing, but this actually changed the aesthetic of what we were doing, which was very specific before. Actually working with someone else was a different process, an additive one instead of subtractive. Instead of refining an idea until it’s polished, one person has a rough idea, then the other improves upon it in an empathetic way, and the process goes on until you agree it’s gone as far as it needs to.” I hear the sound of a glass bottle on a wooden table. “This album was technically written three times. And each time was a sort of evolution, a reinvention of a basic idea.”

            Now, Aarnav, to friends and acquaintances, is not always known as the sort of fellow who takes criticism lightly. So naturally, I want to get to the bottom of this intensely collaborative spirit.

            “Where the hell is all this coming from?”


            “Everyone who challenged my own assumptions and idealism was a contributor to my work. When I sent a first ‘draft’ of music to Zanias from Fleisch Records, what I got wasn’t your run-of-the-mill rejection. She said she heard something unique, but she felt that I could take it further.”

            I almost light myself on fire again while imagining how quickly I’d pack my bags if Manfred Eicher sent me an email like this.

            “And in that whole process of reinvention, adding vocals, etc., I just let go of a lot of the assumptions I’d been carrying around with me, almost out of necessity. It required a kind of passiveness that I had to build up, and that had a huge impact on the music- letting go of any kind of perfectionism, per sé, and learning to accept boundaries to further one’s vision.

            Is this album political?

            “‘Temptress’ is rage against both stagnation and longing, which is more of a personal politics. I think that’s the only kind we can write music about. Other than that, not directly, no.”

            How about spiritual then?


            Moving on… “We haven’t yet delved into your influences.”

            “My main idea for the album was something pretty removed from the mainstream techno scene, more of a shadowy, vague kind of sound. Certain sounds, the way they reflect in different ways can conjure up a whole range of emotions, just from reverb. So this approach of using reflection instead of FX to create a more organic method was pretty central to the album. A lot of dread, different emotions… More shades of grey than most techno or even EBM, I feel. The genesis for the album was basically- ‘how to speak clearly without talking?’ And I just took it from there.”

            “These reflections you talk about… I mean, a reflective atmosphere is kind of rare in this music, isn’t it?”

            “Yeah. That’s sort of the point, really. I was listening to very different music during the pandemic, a lot of goth and post-punk and shoegaze. So, naturally, the old itch to play guitar came back- I bought one and started messing around on it again. I think that’s partially what gives the album a more complete sound, but not homogenous… because so much of it was envisioned with guitar.” He pauses again. “You know, so much music is escapist, in various ways- it lets you forget about your troubles for a few minutes. That’s fine, but I never wanted that from my own stuff. For me, music is supposed to help you admit whatever it is you don’t want to admit.”

            I scribble it down to digest later. “This focus on ‘organic’ sound, though… It seems kind of out of step with whatever I know of the electronic scene. So I’m still hung up on it- where did that come from?”     

“Living in the middle of nowhere, I spent a lot of time digging for music, hunting for interesting sounds. I’ve been down several rabbit holes. Having discovered music like Clan of Xymox, Zanias, Years of Denial, Cocteau Twins- it provoked this fascination for reflective, ‘organic’ sound sources… Their approach to making sound just really resonated with me.”

            And, just like that, it clicks for me too now. This is music for the club inside your head, where the lights never go out and the mirrors force you to see from all angles.

By Dhani Muniz           

Listen to the music here:

Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N6K_O3s5QA

Full album:  https://permanentdaylightberlin.bandcamp.com/?fbclid=IwAR0ZKpdCRluMBOO49fs0DQMWa_NfLAIYtwB34IMWEY_tp_X5vDNW8FEkbOM