Quantazelle is the musical project of Chicago-based busybody Liz McLean Knight. Get this: in addition to recording music, she also runs the label this CD came out on (not really that uncommon for an artist to also run a label), an online 'zine about the Chicago electronica scene, and a jewelry company, for which she might also actually make the jewelry. How does this woman find time to sleep?
Anyway, that said, i am all the more impressed with the fine
job she did on this album. Coaster is, and i do
not say this lightly, the best electronica album i have heard
since Aphex Twin's Drukqs. It combines an eclectic
feel using various different laptoptronic sounds with a sense
of melody and musicianship that is not often seen in the laptoptronic
world. Really, Quantazelle has a fine sense of melody and that
is what makes Coaster so impressive.
For example, at several times in the past few weeks i have
caught myself humming a tune while i cleaned up, did the dishes,
etc, and the tune that i keep humming is Pedwards, which
is on this album. When is the last time you unconsciously hummed
an IDM tune? Chances are never, because melody is subservient
to rhythm in this genre. Well, Quantazelle has some nice rhythm
on Pedwards in the form of scattered clanging metallic
sounds in adddition to something that sounds like old school
record scratching. But then she combines this with a high flute
riff and some staccato keyboards sounds that repeat a head bopping
riff over and over. Really an amazing tune, and i simply adore
it. And i hum it....
The album also displays an amazing knowledge of the recent
history of electronic music, in that many of the songs take
elements from other acts and re-combine them is new and interesting
ways. For example, Ping Query is constructed out of a
simple, very light keyboard riff with tinkling rhythms which
sound like something Autechre
might have used on Incunnabula. And Clue Minus
You features a thudding beat and prominent keyboard melody
that, at times, sounds almost like Underworld,
or mid-era Cabaret Voltaire. With the throbbing beat, i bet
this is popular on the dance floor. However, Quantazelle adds
some rather interesting IDMish sounds to the mix, making it
more than simple dance music. There is a similar throbbing beat
in Belmont Killa, but this beat reminds me more of Fluke,
and it is buried under layers of clanging sounds, piano, and
strange vocal samples. It's an uneasy song, and, despite the
throbbing beat, would not be a good club tune. It's interesting
listening, just not dance floor fodder.
But Quantazelle is also familiar with the mellower end of the
electronica spectrum. Vanity Knobs with Groove Grimace
is a nice mellow tune in the vein of Casino
vs. Japan, while It's Fizzbang takes those same luscious
keyboard drones and combines them with world beat percussion
a la Young American Primitive.
What i am trying to get at here is that Quantazelle displays some serious diversity in her music, and not that her music is derivative. Far from it. Although i hear echoes of many other bands, i think the combination of the sounds is pretty unique. And of course she adds her own little software-y flourishes to the music, as well as her sense of melody.
There is not a bad song on this album, and i am very impressed.
If you are interested in laptoptronica, then Quantazelle is
an artist to watch out for and Coaster is a "must