Aquarian Foundation, Silent Teaching EP

[Going Good]

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There isn’t much information floating around regarding Aquarian Foundation, a trio from Vancouver. Besides a couple of sold-out cassettes on Mood Hut or some short YouTube clips of masked live performances, their identities remain fairly anonymous, and their almost hieroglyphic aesthetic pervades all levels of their creative output, both auditory and graphic. Contrary to what you might expect from a three-piece with a knack for enigmatic linguistics playing house music, there’s nothing particularly gimmicky about them: their records seem to be a sincere by-product of fruitful live sessions, dedicated exercises in improvisation which they capture and later edit. Often, the end results sound almost as if they couldn’t have been made on the spot, and perhaps that’s what makes Silent Teaching EP, their highly sought-after vinyl debut on Brixton’s Going Good, so compelling. It contains five analog meditations in this manner — deceptively simple in execution, but nonetheless extremely seductive.

Side A opener, “Mystery Track,” starts off with a booming, dominant kick-drum pulse which, in unison with a corroded funky bass line, establishes the skeleton of the track. The trio develop a lively call-and-response interplay between two keyboard sections, the grainy percussion successfully complementing the watercolored dub-techno theme. The overall arrangement somehow manages to sound archaic and futuristic at the same time, and the same goes for the next composition, “Caravan of Dreams.” Executed with metronomic rhythmic precision, it might be the most obviously gymnastic of the bunch as the immediacy of Aquarian Foundation’s live setting really shines through: Almost every component part is modulated instantaneously, whether as droplets of sound or as unpredictable explosions, dragging you closer to them with each appearance, refusing to simply drift by. There’s much work put in striking the tight balance between chaos and control in this music; the slow-fast “Hardtalk,” shows how a more leisurely approach quickly leads to surprisingly disentangled results. Its bass and keys feel almost totally detached from the tune’s core pulse, slip-sliding and panning around the sparse elliptical beat that just about to manages to pin them in place, merely reminiscent of a pale Drexciyan postcard.

So in that sense, the Silent Teaching EP plays games on the margins of what works on the dance floor, deliberately crossing these lines on the B-Side, as well. “Fountain” may well be the most club-ready track of the entire collection, but its tough beat and grimy bass line get quickly eroded by celestial Sun Ra glissandi, ambivalently oozing and flowing around, leaving an almost vacuum pulsation through rich drones and tingly layers of crystal petals. “Dream of the Red Chamber,” though, is the one I’d be betting my money on: it gives the impression of a feverish sum of all previous efforts on the EP, ensuring a certain primordial coherence of sound, especially when the mechanical veneer cracks. Its bass line becomes distorted and trembles, triggering a percussive ritual workout; amplified buzz and signal dropout are perniciously swallowed by muddied flute melodies, as if the entire beat were entrapped in a nightmarish Alamut scenario. Frequent slippages in rhythm will remind you that you’re still listening to a live outfit, and by the end of this last track, the frame of reference Aquarian Foundation enclose within their first 12″ will appear enviably broad. Their debut opens more questions than it actually answers, and perhaps that’s its exact purpose. I know I’ll be watching these Mood Hut affiliates closely from now on.

Patolomeus  on October 15, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Stunning twelve. This is sold out by now but Going Good just repressed Moon B’s “Entropic Feelings EP” (check it out if you haven’t) so i hope they will do the same for “Silent Teaching”. And don’t make a mistake and sleep on Aquarian Foundation’s “Language Of The Hand” which is out on Mood Hut now. Great music.

steve kerr  on October 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

love mood hut


Essays - For the Enjoyment - Kittysneezes  on October 15, 2013 at 2:15 PM

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