Agakus – IV III II I (Sygil Records, 2012)

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Hopefully you chosen few that read THKD haven’t yet tired of my constant praising of Indiana’s Sygil Records, a label that cultivates the finest in left-of-center doom, black metal, noise and beyond.  Sygil sent me a pretty sizable care package crammed with their releases a while back, and given that I’m constantly being bombarded with new music from all angles, it has naturally taken me quite some time to give each of them the attention they deserve.  After tackling two releases from the mighty Charnel House (here and here), as well as the sadly defunct Avakr, I decided to turn my attention to Agakus, a mysterious entity that creates some truly harrowing dark ambient/noise on IV III II I.

Agakus is far more abstract than the other bands on Sygil, delving full-on into a free-flowing, heavily atmospheric set of four tracks that are comprised of layers upon layers of synths, and buzzing distortion that could either be electric guitars or synths meant to sound like guitars.  But just because I’m throwing out terms like “free-flowing” and “abstract,” don’t be fooled into thinking that this is an amorphous pile of mush.  IV III II I is like a long lost alternate soundtrack to David Lynch’s Eraserhead, such is the utterly abrasive and alien yet cinematic landscape Agakus conjures by infusing the album with an uncanny sense of tension and foreboding.  The music here follows a distinct arc that’s very vivid and very unsettling, like laying eyes on your own mutant offspring for the first time.

Although IV III II I clocks in at an all-too-short thirty minutes, its disturbed sonics are immersive enough that you’ll have no problem losing yourself in Agakus’ world for the entirety of that horrifically bleak half hour.  A common thread amongst all Sygil’s releases (in spite of varying wildly in sound and style) is that these artists use their music to craft a total environment for the listener, and Agakus is no different; one can easily imagine floating down a volcanic river Styx into the maw of Hell’s obsidian abyss as IV III II I comes pouring out of the speakers like the aural equivalent of sulfurous fumes from a hydrothermal black smoker.

As always, Sygil has done a tremendous job with the presentation side of this release; the tape is bright red and comes packaged in a “fireworks” envelope that includes an Agakus sticker as well as a hand numbered insert so you know exactly which tape out of the limited edition of 100 you’re holding in your grubby little paws.  Another essential release from this up-and-coming label which is still available from their webshop, so grab it while you still can.

http://www.sygilrecords.org

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