Just occasionally as a reviewer something lands unexpectedly in your inbox which completely alters the preconceptions of a genre or style of music that you thought you knew well. This is one of those albums…

Nils Quak is a soundartist and writer from Cologne in Germany who has released a number of albums and other sound related works since 2002 on labels such as Distance Recordings, Progressive Form, Kitty Yo or Audiobulb under the moniker NQ.

His latest album of experimental music is a break from the  more familiar beat orientated explorations of previous works and uses heavily processed field recordings, loops of found music, synthesized sine waves and granular synthesis techniques mixed with reverb and other effects as required.  

Bearing in mind the array of techniques listed and the experimental nature of the work I expected a familiar cacophany of found sounds and processed noise pushing the margins of my listening pleasure to the extreme. I wasn’t expecting subtlety, abstract beauty, engaging drone melodies and, by the end of the 30 minutes, a wholly joyous emotional experience.

Quand Meme is a single continuous track, but I could detect about four distinct parts to the music. We open with a gentle rumbling drone on the periphery of your hearing that builds and swells with the aid of whispered and distorted voice fragments and cavernous reverbed pulses, hisses and booms. This deep, dark abstracted world takes you to many places. You could be in some post apocalyptic landscape populated by sewer dwellers shambling around; you could be rattling around a derelict space station in some galactic backwater, its nuclear heart still beating, or you could be hearing the subliminal daily sounds of a city at work from the viewpoint of a profoundly deaf person. It is all about clever muted sounds blending harmoniously, no cacophany here!

The darker brooding intro moves into quiet processed sounds that blossom into sumptuous shifting drone melodies and sustained chords punctuated by processed firework explosions that sound bizarrely like a game of squash inside a huge cathedral space – the whole effect is quite uplifting, majestic and achingly beautiful.  This part breaks down with the intro of a mechanical rattling type sound, something akin to an old spinning wheel in action, that transforms into a resonant shifting drone interspersed with some of the gentlest static you could hope for.  Lush transcending drones and processed sounds then build and slowly wind down to a recording of a large fireworks display to celebrate the perfect ending of this sublime track.

Considering this track was recorded in separate events over the Summer and Autumn of 2010 it is mixed and produced seamlessly into a perfect whole.  Please listen to this album, it is utterly beautiful and engaging on all levels and it goes without saying that I recommend this album very highly.

Nils Quak – This once Silver Sky. Ripples Recordings RPL007. Released December 2010.

Nils Quak Website – http://nhlsqaik.com/nq_nhlsqaik_nils_quak/Home.html

Nils Quak Blog – http://www.resonantstrata.com/

Ripples Recordings – http://ripplesrecordings.webs.com/rpl007.htm

Soundcloud –  http://soundcloud.com/nq_nhlsqaik