Thursday, December 21, 2017

Quique x 2

(Too Pure)
Melody Maker, December 1993

by Simon Reynolds

 As titles go "Quique" lies somewhere between mid-period Cocteaus and Aphex Twin's scientific arcana.  "Quique" is perfectly blank, utterly abstract: it looks nice on the page, feels nice in the mouth, and that's what counts. And as part of the post-rock, post-techno ambient thang, Seefeel are all about abstraction.  Just as the trajectory of abstract art involved the liberation of colour from line and figure, so the trajectory of psychedelia has involved the liberation of timbre / texture from the contours of song and riff.  So if A.R. Kane were late Matisse (oceanic
mysticism, blocs of garish colour) and MBV shift between action-painting chaos and Klee naivete, then Seefeel induce the same kind of serene exaltation of the soul as Rothko's lambent, blurry canvases.

    "Climactic Phase No. 3" is Seefeel as we've come to expect from "Plainsong" and "Time To Find Me": over a foetal-heartbeat bassline, billowing cirrus-swirls (Seefeel's methodology makes guitars sound like samples, the synth like a choir, and the human voice like a sequencer), weave
together to form a shimmering outerspace/innerspace wombscape. It's hard to say why some pieces feel like blissful suspension from reality, while others (the clangorous "Polyfusion") are like watching the proverbial Dulux dry. All the tracks are equally uneventful, sifting'n' shifting layers, ending arbitrarily and "inconsequentially".

     "Industrious" is almost urgent, its surging bass-drum axis swathed in striated guitar that hums like massed bombers on the horizon. But the female vocal sounds a tad too monastic (at times Seefeel lapse into being a mere techno-conscious Slowdive).  Then a track like "Imperial" follows to
chase away all reservations: squiggle-shivers of iridescence braid together to conjure a prolonged mind-spasm, like the brain being flooded with endorphins.  Pillowy, heaven-scented, soft as snow but warm inside, "Plainsong" demonstrates Seefeel's art of turning a pinnacle into a plateau.  "Charlotts Mouth" also aches, but with anguish not ecstasy.  Desolate dub bass, forlorn girl-vox, gently weeping
guitar: this is almost the blues they're oozing, but A.R. Kane style (harrowed by the terror of beauty, the way possession can be pierced through by the presentiment of loss).  "Through You" is like Aphex in alien mode: strange rubbery squeaks and glassy clinks offset by portentous crests
of sound building to a pitch of mournful majesty.

The last two tracks show Seefeel stretching out from their own formula, and that's a good augury.  On "Filter Dub", the way different threads (frayed guitar, lovesick whalesong etc) twine together, hitting a harmonic G-Spot every couple of bars, is like doowop orchestrated by drone-meister Terry Riley.  "Signals" is Seefeel at their most radical and radiant. Fuzzy harmonics, like a harp played
underwater, simply hang tremulously in the air: this really is Rothko'n'roll.

Seefeel sometimes need a bit more space in their sound, a bit of emptiness to punctuate the drone-swarm. Like MBV on "Loveless", they're sometimes so blissed it's suffocating, like drowning in mother's milk. But overall, "Quique" is consummate, a blanched canvas for the imagination, and a
cracking debut.

2017 NB: note early (pre-Bark Psychosis / Hex / Mojo) use of term "post-rock" 
Spin, June 1994
by Simon Reynolds

Whatever happened to "dream pop"? Well, the smartest of those bands have turned on to techno, and are mixing their lustrous guitar stuff with sampled pulses and sequenced hypno-rhythms.
My Bloody Valentine showed the way with 1991's Loveless, on which it looped its basslines and sampled its own feedback. The best of the new techno-affiliated dream-popsters, Seefeel, has struck a sublime groove midway between MBVs sensual tumult and Aphex Twin's ambient serenity.
At its most radical, Seefeel abandons songs and beats altogether, leaving a dyslexic shimmer of radiance that's like a musical equivalent of Op Art. With 'Imperial' and the purely ambient 'Signals', you squint your ear in order to bring the music into focus before giving up and basking in the gorgeous, amorphous flow.
Seefeel makes a sound like the pleasant ache of a post-orgasmic brain, like the dizzy drone-swarm of butterflies in the stomach. Quique should be subtitled "Songs For Swooning Lovers."

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