The Snake That Eats Itself by Aquarian
Cinematic and dynamic, a personal album depicting highs and lows of a restless mind
Nobody's saying that anyone can fart out a decent Techno track these days but this Canadian producer had been ploughing his furrow for a few years with, by his own admission, little discernable impact on the ground. Listening to some of his early releases, like Obsidian from 2012, you'll hear effective Techno.
The problem is, while it works, it's also clinically produced, formulaic even, to the point of ubiquity, certainly by today's standards. And Aquarian must have realised this. So with considerable technical nous and a hunger to distil a crazy list of influences, from Rave and Dubstep to low-end frequencies, film soundtracks and visual art, he set out on a road of (re)discovery. Splitting his time between Berlin and New York (eventually moving to the German electronic music capital permanently in 2018) proved to be pivotal in his bid to inject new blood, at once catalysing and consolidating his ideas. The long journey to The Snake That Eats Itself had begun, and long is the operative word here, this is an album that took many years to realise and even longer to release.
With low-impact club tracks littering his wake and a relationship breakdown recovery in process, Aquarian found a new talisman, one that would direct and inform his new work: the ancient symbol of the Ouroboros (a snake eating it's own tail); an appropriate metaphor for his own personal transformation.
We know from his earlier work that Jungle was a defining factor, and of the ten tracks that make up this album, his beloved breakbeats remain at the core, refined and inventive but never zealous. For example, the beat-less opening sequence of End Credits flows malevolently into the growling, nine-minute monster Blood Sugar, the tension building with floor-wrecking, sub-bass brongs and clean percussion, teasing and seducing until the last minute, erupting with dirty break-neck rhythms. What an opening statement! And it's this type of emotive hauling of the listener that typifies the album as a whole. Skipping to fourth track Ouroboros, bearing in mind this, as with most of the album, is now likely a few years old, it's a very fresh-sounding take on Techno, mashing together genres with scant regard other than to provoke and stimulate; his fine attention to detail perfectly drawing a stark contrast with his earlier work.
The Snake That Eats Itself is a well-balanced LP, heavy tracks that bludgeon are offset with compositions that soothe, like New York, An Eternity that precedes the album highlight Hate Is a Strong Word Pt 1. This use of dynamics perfectly suits the depiction of extreme personal highs and lows of the artist's mindset during the years of production. Inventive and surprising at every turn it constantly checks for your attention. There's even a vocal track near the end, camouflaged and delightful.
- Rating: 9/10
- Listens: 17
- Highlight: Hate Is a Strong Word Pt 1
- Label: Bedouin Records
- Release Date: 14th February 2020