Eye of Newt: Heart of Darkness


Eye Of Newt
INSUBORDINATIONS [insubcd09] CD (2013)

Quiexas is a live action, black ambient/electroacoustic trio of Swiss/Portuguese extraction, consisting of guitar, laptop and assorted sources of rhythm, now in its fourth year of operation. The group’s mission statement articulates an abandonment of ‘ego in favor of a tight, homogeneous, construction, where human gestures and mechanical interchanged without distinction nor reasons’ (sic), which is a sufficient summary of their unhuman utterances: in this instance, a triad of achingly slow, low-frequency lumberings that really put the speakers through their paces.

The sorrowful, metallic grind of opener ‘An Yll Wynde That Blowth No Man To Good’ calls to mind many things, but chiefly for me, Faxed Head’s dark ambient interludes (‘The Sickroom of Delivery’, certainly), except this one stretches itself to nearly ten minutes. The piece is recorded live, illustrating an intentional penetration of the sounds found, and while there is little dramatic variation in the overall product, a number of minutely varied timbres are evoked, explored and exchanged to satisfying effect.

The trembling depth of ‘Yll Wynde’ bottoms out into absolute blackness in ‘Stow The Croze’, from which emerges a long, winding, wine glass whine, and the kind of high-register tones that make dogs look concerned. At times it resembles a stripped down take on Jim O’Rourke’s ‘Despite the Water Supply’. The wavering bass frequencies really hit the depths at times, working the eardrums to the point of near-discomfort, leaving me to assume the performers arrived equipped with earplugs on the night in question.

The group hits its slow-mo stride in the 20-minute ‘Everybody Out’, escaping the fathomless, abysmal abyss to establish a backdrop consisting of a distant, thumping rumble, which is held at bay by a piercing electric whine, and covered by a patina of assorted metal-on-metal interactions. Rewarding the loyal listener with a regular earful of high-tone feedback is a tactic that actually works in Quiexas’ favour, and the sound expands to accommodate numerous clicks, grinds and occasional percussive intrusions that cumulatively consolidate the piece’s uneasy atmosphere.

The label’s description of this recording as ‘not an imaginary landscape, but a materialised presence’ seems to suggest the arrival of an unspeakable, Lovecraftian elder, which could well have arisen from the many tense encounters between rough surfaces found here. Quiexas’ is the sound of amplified abrasion infused with an expansive field of firm feedback, and is a proper resting place for noise fans in search of something more low-key than another blast of power electronics. This is more Christian Cosmos than Prurient, let’s say.

Insubordinations netlabel

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