I don’t know much about Xqui, but I like what I hear. Despite being active only for a couple of years or so, according to their Bandcamp, they’ve racked up an impressive array of decent stuff, and this latest release ensures the quality level stays tip-top.
The Xqui aesthetic drifts between mysterious drone and enigmatic electroacoustic composition while keeping a respectful distance from each, thus avoiding the sterility that can blight too-faithful adherents of these musicks. ‘Lleisiau’ keeps faith with these brand values by offering up a series of cleverly processed sonic artefacts – found sounds, field recordings and samples, with the odd synthetic addition – manipulated enough to estrange them from everyday recognition, while retaining key identifiers that provide a link back to the material world.
Tracks such as ‘Pharynx’, with its clouds of growling whirrs, resonant clunks and barely discernable voices resemble psychic residues, dream visions rising from the dark to confront us with their warped and uncanny forms. The blurred sonics of ‘Heat’ are similarly nightmarish, its hisses and garbles criss-crossed with pained whines and synthetic blurts, like eerie phenomena caught on blank tape and offered up on ghost hunter message boards around the world as evidence of life beyond the veil. And ‘Porcelain’ swathes ceramic argy bargy in layers of atmospheric huff ‘n’ puff, raising what should be merely domestic clatter into the realms of spooky mischief.
Occasional departures from the style guide provide tonal interest and narrative dynamism. ‘ATM’ starts familiarly enough, with field recordings bent into slurred, echoing shapes. Then blank-eyed synths drill into the grey matter, their metallic structures floating through the murk with glowering dread. Yet they vanish as abruptly as they came, their mission as opaque as their gleaming surfaces, their presence not even a memory in the sleeper’s awakening mind.