The Snake That Eats Itself

BY Kevin PressPublished Feb 6, 2020

Any artist capable of creating music that elicits a physical response beyond emotion deserves our consideration. It is no small thing to produce that kind of effect on listeners. For this reason, Canadian beatmaker Aquarian's debut full-length must be considered a significant addition to the soundsystem/techno scene.
But beware: the physical reaction you may well experience during some of this album's 48 minutes is nausea. Aquarian's sound palette includes frequencies that appear to be designed to produce a headache. Some pieces are, depending on the quality of your speakers, genuinely difficult to listen to.
Thankfully, the album is not all shuddering bass lines. We're offered a wide assortment of beats, and layer-upon-layer of dark ambient synth. It is no surprise to hear that the project was five years in development. Aquarian is bursting with ideas, none of which seem to have been left on the cutting room floor.
But for all his range and creative compositional style, the disc lacks subtlety. As the music careens from idea to idea, it's difficult to settle in and be absorbed by the work. Its complexity has the unintended consequence of producing a somewhat meta experience. It's virtually impossible to listen to the album without thinking about why you've chosen to listen to the album.
It is both unforgettable and unlikely to receive frequent listens. It is a documentation of the extremes of modern-day electronic music more than it is a cool record. It is a thing to behold. But it is no great pleasure.

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