Dante Augustus Scarlatti & Agakus – Brainwave Saturation

4 out of 5

Label: Auris Apothecary

Produced by: Agakus; Mike Bridavsky (recorded by)

The description of Auris Apothecary albums always freak me out.  “A blackened affair in all realms,” … “…two artists devoted wholly to the bleak and abrasive.”  I read these blurbs on their website or bandcamp, and gird my ears for something that will murder my sanity.  I know they’re capable of it: some stuff from Auris, and Dante Augustus Scarlatti, is absolute noise terror.  The label does weird things like issuing Texas Chainsaw Massacre – like, the movie – on audio cassette.  Some records are purposefully rendered physically unlistenable.  I feel I should be scared!

But just as often, I find my fears curtailed by interest, and by something not nearly as ear-breaking as I would have assumed.  Brainwave Saturation definitely does its fair share of doom-y ambience, comprised of walls of guitar distortion all blended together and waves of electronics and voice, but the presentation – recorded all mushed up onto recycled cassettes – gives it a fascinatingly cavernous sound, underlined by a drone-ish strumming or beat that occurs often throughout the three tracks: 40 minutes, and two 20 minute pieces.  Drone is probably a more relevant descriptor here than any fright-tinged affectations, as more often than not – between some interruptions of sound – our brainwaves are, indeed, attempted to be saturated by mesmerizingly plodding beats of garbled, gong-like noise.

Side One (dated 08.05.11) and the second track on Side Two (08.12.11) disrupt the immersion of the product by each halting at about their halfway points to drop the drone and go static-y and somewhat random, until again building back to their starting points.  I always find it puzzling when artists do this, and consider it /title it a single track, as it comes across as two separate feeling halves, to me, but I also accept that this is all rather improvised, and so what happens, happens.

Another interesting exploration of noise and space from AA and DAS, that’s a bit more welcoming (y’know, relative to the world of minimalist noise) than its marketing may make it seem.