Qua – ‘Silver Red’
August 31, 2008 § Leave a comment
Published: The Vine, August 27, 2008.
There’s no other artist who sounds even remotely like Melbourne-based composer, instrumentalist and laptop extraordinaire Cornel Wilczek. His densely fragmented, hyper-melodic sound worlds whir and buzz and glimmer with a rare, startling sense of dichotomy – they resonated with intimate proximity; they echo with sprawling spaciousness.
While the post-millennium electronic community grappled with such reductive notions as ‘Folktronica’, over two masterful records as Qua – 2002’s stunningly fragile Forgetabout debut and 2004’s wondrous Painting Monsters on Clouds – Wilczek forged his own utterly unique, skittering sonic vernacular. New mini-album Silver Red – the first of two Qua records to be released this year – is equally ambitious, though all the more fleeting in its scope.
Over four extended tracks Wilczek plies flutters of instrumental motif and live percussion (courtesy of Pivot’s Laurence Pike) to a burbling underlay of electronic texture and rhythm. It’s a gorgeous shift. Where previous works found their central bearing in micro-melody and beautifully disjointed laptop beats, Silver Red is all about flow, drawing its character from nuance, repetition and gently oscillating rhythm. There’s a looseness here, an improvisational quality. Rather than four individual vignettes, this feels very much like a singular work; it comes as little surprise that the opening three cuts (‘Silver Red 1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’) were recorded in three live passes.
It’s an intriguing sensibility. While these works feel less abstract in an aesthetic sense, their structure and various ebbs and flows also make them less definable and less obviously striking. Their poignancy arrives via their gradual resonance. The opening ‘Silver Red’ suite takes some listening to fathom the extent of its flourishing, psyche-riddled span. Final track ‘One Second’ is the exception, its blocky rhythm and blinking, string-plucked melody making for an immediately vivid finale.
It may only be four songs and 24 minutes in length, but Silver Red is another enthralling oeuvre from Cornel Wilczek. He has ditched micro-management for well-informed fieldwork. It equals yet another stirring chapter in the canon that can only be known as Qua.