w/the Emergency, the Victor Mature, Ape City R&B
Thurs Feb 24, Fun House, 9:30 pm, $5.

Stumble down Aqui's rabbit hole, and enter a domicile where metal's roots are torn from the core and littered among a trajectory of macabre electro punk, echo-jamming synth theatrics, and cascading no-wave bass lines. Operatic frontwoman Stephonik X is equal parts Ida No (Glass Candy), Rob Halford, and Pris from Blade Runner, a futuristic fembot flinging art-rock arias and feline falsettos like Chinese stars, puncturing various points of her goth-metal targets with stray caterwauling. She's the Brooklyn band's siren seductress, bawling through the ballads, cooing through the codas, and clawing her way across the headier speed-metal barrages. Live, the lanky singer looks like she's applied her makeup with a squeegee, black paint melting down her face. Her shredded clothing, stenciled, and restitched into place, further cements the notion that this band is in no way rooted to terrestrial formulas.

Instrumentally, Aqui dwell in the same volatile underground as Veronica Lipgloss and the Evil Eyes, Mars Volta, and Racebannon--bands that refract genre trappings but still coat themselves in a certain wickedly dark aesthetic. Aqui's in good company, then, on Ace Fu Records, the eclectic label that's released everything from Oneida's stoner hallucinations to An Albatross' Iggy Pop hardcore collisions, Ex-Models' static-electric post punk, and the Dears' dramatic pop. On Aqui's debut CD, The First Trip Out, the emphasis is on the last two words of the title, as the quartet slinks around cauldrons of bubbling feedback, doom-heavy guitar riffs, and a couple of double-tracked, epileptic dance anthems. "Under the Wake" clears the firestorm to make way for a tender, wailing outpouring, but otherwise there are few respites from the manic mélange of styles (one song even includes the sounds of a 747 flying overhead). Aqui's is a murky approach, throwing a little of everything together and rarely waiting for opposing styles to blend before they break off a piece of something new and add it to the mix. The dense results may not be instantly pretty, but the music's bruised beauty is in its unique intensity--one Aqui call all their own.

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