Aquarius, Rene – “Blight” – [Utech Records]
Blight is the first solo album from drummer René Aquarius, of the Dutch free jazz duo Dead Neanderthals, and it’s another excellent addition to our collection of releases from Milwaukee’s Utech Records. The only instruments played on these eight pieces are drums and cymbals, but Aquarius uses closely placed microphones, reverb, and an equalizer to create a varied collection of dark, unusual sounds. We hear low drones, deep rumblings, metal meeting metal, metal catching light, a dying heartbeat, the long lingering after-echoes of a cymbal crash. Even through the effects and other technical tricks, the tactile feel of Aquarius’ playing remains, giving the tracks a rich quality that I usually associate with expertly recorded jazz albums. From this material, Aquarius crafts a quiet, slowly shifting air of mystery. The original concept and skillful execution make this an intriguing listen for those of us (all of us?) that are into dark ambient sounds.