Review: Aquarian Sinks Into The Underworld Of Cyclical Birth & Death In ‘The Snake That Eats Itself’

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Aquarian | The Snake That Eats Itself | Bedouin Records

Release Date: 24 January, 2020

Best known for his bewitching dancefloor presence – with adrenaline fueled, rave-ready tracks; DJ and producer Aquarian has made a name for himself when it comes to mixing and mashing genres into a bold, eclectic personality and style. Showcasing an eagerness to break the boundaries of a single musical character, Aquarian stands out with cleverly paced production of ‘the dramatic’. 

Drawing inspiration from a variety of genres – whether it be electro, techno grime, IDM or jungle – the Berlin-based artist, originally hailing from Canada has released a myriad of records; breaking out on UNO NYC, featuring on Houndstooth and Bedouin Records under the moniker ‘AQXDM’ with a trio of EPs released in collaboration with producer Deapmash. Along such, the artist has further sculpted his own imprint entitled Hanger Management. Aquarian’s accolades extend even further with appearances at the iconic Berghain, Tresor and Unsound Festival.

With his first solo release since a 2016 mixtape – essentially, his debut LP – ‘The Snake That Eats Itself’ was recorded over an almost 5 year period – with the artist expressing a side that strays from the ‘typical‘ dancefloor sound; gleaming with a dark, theatrical atmosphere. ‘The Snake That Eats Itself’ presents itself more so as an ambitious score to an experimental film, intricate in a cleverly constructed narrative – an auditory exploration through a ghostly underworld. A direct reference to the Ouroboros, a mythical symbol widely known throughout history that depicts a circular serpent biting its own tail in a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth, the album is its auditory personification – and considering the artist’s drastically different character present in ‘The Snake That Eats Itself‘ written through a period of significant transformation – the title evidently holds this very intimate significance.

The thick, syrupy heartbeat that opens ‘Blood Sugar’ throbs as an ominous palpitation; a dark, viscous backbone as a solid foundation beneath the glitching percussion. A ghostly twilight of ambience envelops the track, layers of impermanent metallic textures and malfunctioning digital whirrs swelling into crescendo with the set purpose to break apart; the rhythmic anxiety of an experimental realm submerged in passages of droning, echoic shadows.

The introduction of ‘Ouroboros’ lodges in one’s chest with a dense, tenacious kick; with the marriage of an assertive bass gradually pounding within the rib-cage, alien dubs bouncing fervently between swelling extraterrestrial phantoms. A haunting ambience ebbs and flows amongst rhythmic claps; cyclical robotic synths increase in an anxious tempo, studding the track with eccentric, fluttering noise while growing more tense and abrasive – an overwhelming controlled chaos.

Waves of delay cry out in ‘Hate Is A Strong Word, Pt.1’ as metallic, industrial echoes call out into a sinister darkness, a droning void resonant as monsters hiding in the shadows; threatening – the low, otherworldly voices of apparitions chanting as the impending footsteps of a nightmare grow closer. The tone of the track growls in reminiscence of a psychological horror – the terror of the unknown waiting in every corner, the uncertainty of whether what lies beyond is but a shadowy apparition or a physical threat. The crescendo of the soundscape is all encompassing as the timbres build into a full entity, engulfing the listener in gloom.

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Rating: 8.5 / 10

Feature Image: Aquarian by Cecilia Corsano-Leopizzi