Discovering Aurelia: A Review of
Augnos’ Gilded Sentience
Written By: Zack
Published On: June 23rd, 2023
Gilded Sentience by Augnos is one part concept album and one part jungle experience. There has been a resurgence in Y2K drum and bass from other notable acts, such as Pizza Hotline, and Vaporwave Drum & Bass from Jungle Fever. Just like how a large component of vaporwave is to look back upon and recontextualize the past, this new wave of Y2K dnb artists aims to revive the sounds of the PlayStation 1 era, a soundscape where early dnb dominated. Think back to notable games like Gran Turismo and Gran Theft Auto III.
While Augnos is no stranger to this sound with tracks like Daymare and Rewind, Gilded Sentinece is nothing like their other works. Firstly, this appears to be Augnos’ first LP, at least under this name. The description implies that what we are experiencing is the first step into some lost world, but will we stay long enough to uncover Aurelia’s secrets?
Our first clue towards this being a concept album was the description on the album’s Bandcamp which reads as follows:
Aurelia interactive console 6.23.88b
Greetings user, I am AICON
I serve as your guide to the depths of Aurelia’s history
Type your question to begin your interactive journey
corre@aicon62388b %what is the gilded sentience?%
Already, the listener is primed with a destination, a narrative, and a question. This album entices the listener with gorgeous artwork depicting a large structure reclaimed by nature. The dense foliage covers the architecture of some long-abandoned civilization and evokes some immediate questions. What happened here? How did this place get to such a state?
What could this album be hiding? Will the album provide the listener with answers? We are not sure. Coming in at just five tracks, this album is beyond lean. Typically, a concept album would boast a more extensive tracklist, often at least one that could support a three-act narrative, however, brevity is the soul of wit. Perhaps Augnos can tell us a lot with a little. Let’s dive into the tracks:
1. Chroma Trails (3.5/5) Starting off our journey is “Chroma Trails.” This chiptune-esque track starts off light, whimsical even, like the listener just put in an old NES cartridge to an obscure sci-fi/fantasy game. The driving synths blast to the forefront of this opening track and stay throughout the experience. The mixture of light atmospheric chimes and heavy 80s synths promise a lot; discovery, adventure even. It’s a strong start, but we felt it was hiding its power level a bit. If we’re on the brink of discovering a long-lost civilization we want that anticipation to be thrown right in our face.
Before the release of this album, Enraile dropped a remix of this track, which puts the jungle aspects further to the forefront. The remix houses far less chiptune, and a lot more chopped-up drum and jungle breakdowns, serving as a heavier version of the original. In keeping with the videogame-inspired motif, this remix would serve better as a bonus stage or as an opening to new game+.
2. Sunwell Terrace (4/5): We drop the synths and driving bass in exchange for some solarpunk staples; the sounds of nature. Here is where the journey for the listener begins in earnest. “Sunwell Terrace” gives us a glance at the undisturbed nature of Aurelia, at least that’s what we are led to believe. As stated above, the synth keys are replaced with a droning base while light piano and other MIDIs are used to mimic animal sounds. Paired well with a primal-trap beat and this track will instill the listener with a sense of adventure as if they are on the trail, hot on the heels of discovery.
3. ¡Corre! (3.5/5): We have reached the halfway point in our journey and the solar punk aesthetics begin to melt away into a proper jungle track. The sounds of nature take a back seat while an eerie soundscape of high-pitched keys and sweeping bass takes center stage. It puts the listener in unfamiliar territory, divorced from the familiar and pleasant into something that’s quite uncanny and mysterious.
4. Healing Atoms (4/5): We’ve found the healing station! In the penultimate track, we are given a light and airy boost in this dream-like soundscape. With samples and instrumentation that would fit well in an Equip x R23X collaboration, this track allows the listener to ascend to a new level of being.
5. Home Space (3/5): And just as we were about to head off on an otherworldly journey, it ends. All stories have to come to a close, but this track left us wanting more. The minimalist sound is pretty jarring after just coming off the heels of “Healing Atoms” and within the sonic narrative of the album, it’s unclear where the listener is supposed to go after this. The obvious answer is back to the beginning, but after listening to this track multiple times we were only left with a feeling of yearning. We yearn for a full experience.
Gilded Sentinece presents a lot of promise to the listener. With just five short tracks we explore a diverse array of sounds like chiptune, jungle dnb, synthpop, and solarpunk. However, the abrupt end of this album only brings out the fact that with more tracks this could be a full-blown concept EP. We’re unclear if that’s what the artist was going for, but if the chief critique of this album is “needs more” then what’s here is pretty substantive. Overall, Gilded Sentience is a short dip into a strange jungle soundscape that we hope to revisit one day.
Catch Gilded Sentience today on Pacific Plaza Records!