If you’ve paid any close attention to our ramblings here at this site, you know we’re pretty into the album experience. Sinking in to one piece that will take you captive and pull you through a journey is something we absolutely relish, and the more pieces like that to dot our meager collection, the better.
“Aquarius” the second record from Chicago-based noise technicians Oakeater falls into that category. Spread over six tracks come claustrophobic trauma, atmospheric weirdness, and sharp bludgeoning that could take off your head. It’s a record ideally experienced from front to back, with no breaks in between to disrupt the momentum. If you absorb it in that manner, you’ll find yourself on a black cinematic ride, with the walls shaking around you and the earth seemingly ready to swallow you whole. The band pulls you in all kinds of directions, which isn’t a shock coming from a band whose name is “loosely influenced by Norse mythology and an industrial shredder.” That is as close as I can think to describe the band’s approach, which is mashing and abrasive.
Comprised of Alex Barnett, Seth Sher, and Jeremiah Fisher, this band’s first full-length in four years pulls you through metallic noise, strange cyclones of mesmerizing chaos, and fierce cries that jar your system and rip you from whatever state you were in before tackling the music. Fisher explains that the sounds you hear are a form of catharsis, the result of a self-stimulated panic attack that causes him to create in havoc and explode with violent imagery. The feral cries you hear are all a part of that experience, as he wails about dead deer and, as strange as this sounds, false memories of imprisonment at the hands of bloody Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. No wonder this sounds so bloody terrifying.
“Wishful Beginnings” starts with grim noise unfurling and the atmosphere in a deep fry. The sounds keep looping and dizzying, with dark drops and haze, scrapes moaning and wailing, and the track slowly bleeding away. “All That Is Sacred” opens with cymbals splashing and test lab-style percussion rumbling, pushing in toward woodsier sentiments. Voices swirl and surround you, making it seem like the heights of a drug dream, before harsh growls tear away and cause immediate fright. From there, the fury builds, with industrial fuzz welling up, and weird knocking sending chills in the middle of an electrical storm. “Hatchet” is a shorter one, but no less unnerving. It sounds like someone dragging their leg through the woods and shoveling rocks, with strings bending, the sounds going into trippy corners, and the music bubbling over.
“MAPS” begins with sounds rumbling and vibrating, with wild shrieks erupting and sending jolts, and the body feeling like it’s being summoned into outer space. The wailing begins anew, with weird, rough playing piercing, and the terror dissolving. The title track strikes slowly at the start, with doomy transmissions galloping, drowned yells lurking under the blankets of clouds, and the rhythmic rattling setting off anxiety. Darkness hovers overhead, while the charging keeps wafting and the sounds threatening. Closer “Respite” unleashes doom calls, with the vocals gasping and rapid-fire strikes drawing blood. At times, it feels like a programmed machine gun pelting the walls, while the tension builds and keeps pummeling right to the end.
Oakeater’s approach likely won’t soothe the nerves of those dealing with heaping anxiety, unless those people can align with the madness and take it as a form of brutality therapy. “Aquarius” is a jarring, throttling experience that won’t be understood easily by the masses, who are not ready for such a display. But those who see the path ahead and are unafraid to take it, this is one of those experiences you won’t soon forget.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Oakeater-248563928505272/
To buy the album, go here: http://sige.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://sigerecords.blogspot.com/