Today I’m gonna kick off this review with a heartfelt confession: I’m terrified of deep water. Anytime I find myself looking down in a body of water without seeing its bottom, I get extremely uncomfortable. It’s not that I cannot swim, but comparing me to the immense world that exists beneath the surface of the oceans, seas and lakes makes me feel extremely vulnerable. The worst thing for me, is that this phobia is not completely an irrational suggestion. As humans, we actually know little of what lies in the depths of 70% of our Planet.
Apparently, while these things scare me off, they fascinated Subp Yao so much that he decided to create a full-length album as a tribute to that arcane ecosystem that exists parallel to ours. Infra Aqual is not just a muddle of water-themed titles and an alien-looking artwork, every single track is highly permeated with vivid imagery inspired by themes such as unimaginable depths, infinite darkness, undiscovered areas, and otherworldly species: basically, everything that I fear the most.
With Infra Aqual, the Dutch producer has conceived a true masterpiece, which transcends the boundaries of music and becomes a sensorial experience. Maybe it’s just because I’m extremely sensitive to the topic, but I strongly believe that no one can remain unmoved if they take the time to listen to the album properly (which includes no track skipping).
If you are anxious like me, brace yourselves, but if water is your element and your hearth craves the unknown, this is gonna be a memorable experience. Track after track you’ll find yourself probing into the endless ravines of the Mariane Trench (‘Chasm’, ‘Trenches’), fighting against the stormy northern seas (‘Wax and Wane’, ‘Hush’), admiring the sad desolation of the Ocean Trash Vortex (‘Filter Feeder’) and floating in the Gulf Stream’s warm clutch (‘Reelwitu’, ‘Lost’).
To convey these lucid sceneries, Subp Yao has worked on the album for two years. “While it was the appalling pollution clogging bodies of water across the globe that originally motivated me to create this work, it was what I discovered in my research for the record that really blew me away […] I wrote and recorded this project in my studio in Heerlen. Working with, and without intention, getting lost, finding focus, it was a real journey.”
This feeling clearly shines through the whole project. It’s so easy to lose yourself inside Infra Aqual. Thanks to a very homogenous and specific sound concept, mainly dominated by half-time basses, breakbeat and IDM atmospheres, most of the tracks blend hypnotically into one another. At the same time, however, regardless of how far you may travel within these 13 tunes, such a specific concept keeps you anchored within its borders and does not allow you to go further. After all, despite its vastness and mighty power, even the Ocean is a prisoner of the coasts.
Stream Infra Aqual below and buy the outstanding colored vinyl on Subp Yao’s Bandcamp. If you’re interested in getting YUKU’s releases months earlier or collect them in physical format, be sure to subscribe to the project here.