Aquadora is the pseudonym of a Burlington musician known simply as Jonny. His sci-fi, lo-fi home recordings occasionally make their way into the world in EP form; Into Light in the Tracks represents his most recent efforts. While by no means perfect, the disc showcases an iconoclastic artist whose creations are tough to define in conventional terms.
Like most lo-fi acts, Aquadora's music is more than a little rough around the edges. Initially recorded on a four-track, Into Light was eventually completed using computer music software. This duct-tape-to-digital approach has resulted in a swarm of fuzz, echo and raw emotion that doesn't sound like anything else out there.
Aquadora's strengths lie in his ability to coax density out of spare guitar, drums and bass arrangements. He prefers a soporific haze to cleanly delineated riffs and rhythms; overall, his disc plays like a subliminal call to cold-medicine abuse.
Opener "A Raw Open Core" is a mournful number built around a simple, chordal bass line. Swirls of delayed guitars drift peripherally as Jonny coos his busted-up lullaby. The tune is as gut-wrenchingly vulnerable as its title suggests: a frail, indie-rock psalm.
"Simple Sonic Waves" begins with a noisy U2-esque guitar figure, backed up by a ragged drum beat and subsonic bass line. With so many effects, however, it's tough to tell what Jonny's singing about. Judging from the rest of the tracks, it's probably something cosmic, sentimental or both.
Although the clamoring guitar distortion on "Wide Eyed Broken Hearted" is enveloping, Jonny's vocals leave something to be desired. Pouring himself into the performance with obvious abandon, he constantly sings out of his range. The result is quasi-melodic bleating that undermines an otherwise decent rocker.
"Spinning Our Cocoons" contains what might be my favorite opening lines in recent memory. "I dropped out of college and took a lot of drugs," Jonny melodiously mumbles. "I had to escape the zoo of Christian fear I was born into." Word.
"Home/None" is a delirious little number that sounds a bit like Hƒsker Dƒ in zero gravity, while closing track "The Clock Stops" makes good use of acoustic guitar and ambient sounds. It's tough to tell who will get the most out of Into Light in the Tracks -- fans of shoegazer rock or lo-fi enthusiasts. One thing's for sure: Aquadora's sprawling, heartfelt handiwork is in a class of its own.