A Sustaining Adventure
Qui has been a unique animal from the start, having at one point counted David Yow amongst its ranks. However, it seems to be just in their essence that they propose quite the jarring listening experience. Their newest, Life, Water, Living proves to be no exception. Over the course of eleven songs, they touch on several moods and modes, some better and more listenable than others, with a certain flair that is undeniably charming.
This is not to say that their music has come out of a vacuum, as there are some touches of post-Fugazi post-punk/alternative influence that is reminiscent of a band like the mid-’90s DC act Shudder to Think, specifically with the dramatic vocal lines and playful interaction between instruments. This is especially prevalent on tracks like “The Kind of Jazz This Is” and “You’re a Girl.” There is a lot of tension strung into these tracks, but it’s the pleasant kind that provides some unique dynamics. On the same token, there is also straight-ahead fuzzed out rock on “Mucho Sex in America,” which rumbles like a Mission of Burma B-side and provides a much needed catharsis mid-way through the album.
This being said, the adventurous nature of the music that Life, Water, Living suggests inherently runs the risk of coming off too weird and wired for its own good. The excellently titled, though somewhat ponderously constructed, “Boogie Down Disappointment” seems to represent the line between too much and just enough, as there is a balance between enjoyment and intrigue, whereas the overly strange closer, “Ham Spray” falls on the lesser side of the continuum, and it jerks between a hammy (no pun intended… honestly) chorus section and a trudge-y verse section. Still, other tunes, such as the stand out title track, more commonly fall on the former side than the latter.
Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a listen from recent memory that is quite like Qui, and though there are certain touches from musics past, they seem to barrel along intrepidly into the great beyond, not shying away from any artistic inclination that tickles their fancy to provide one of the most unique listening experiences you will have had thus far in this young year.