DJ Q: Ineffable
Local Action

To an uncommonly successful degree, Ineffable, the debut DJ Q full-length from Huddersfield producer Shollen Quarshie, straddles a fine line between accessibility and experimentalism. It wouldn't be beyond imagining to hear at least a few of its more pop-inclined cuts on mainstream radio; at the same time, other songs would sound perfectly at home on an underground station dedicated to more esoteric fare. Diversity considerations aside, there are tracks on Ineffable that are straight-up fabulous and argue more than a little strongly on behalf of their creator's gifts.

Quarshie infuses his fresh, club-styled pop with garage, bassline house, funk, drum'n'bass, and grime on the eleven-track collection. He receives critical support in that regard from a number of vocal guests, among them regular collaborator Louise Williams, Kassandra, Kai Ryder, and Discarda & Jayjayborn2sing. The opening “Get Over You” offers a good example of a track that's instantly accessible whilst also being sophisticated in sound design. Animated by a high-spirited bounce, the sleek tune soars breezily, buoyed by a dizzying vocal arrangement that sees micro-edits spinning wildly alongside a bright piano motif and luscious synth pads. Subsequent tracks also show DJ Q pursuing his experimental side in the way he boldly manipulates a song's vocal elements, a move that reaches its zenith in the closing cuts, “Notice Me” and “Be Mine,” both of which feature light-speed vocal edits that are, in a word, dazzling.

On the more mainstream tip, there's “Let the Music Play,” which finds Williams contributing an ebullient vocal to an irrepressible funk track that's equally joyous on instrumental grounds. Even more rapturous is Williams's performance in “Through the Night,” which sees her voice soaring acrobatically over an exultant drum'n'bass base. Williams impresses once again on the swinging stepper “Trust Again,” while Kassandra leaves a memorable mark of her own on the jubilant “Closer” (not a cover of the Tegan and Sara hit, by the way, even if the songs are similar in mood). Dramatically different by comparison is “Lassie,” which boasts a robust vocal turn by cult grime MC Discarda.

If there's a downside to such eclecticism, it's that Ineffable is at times less cohesive than one might prefer; that is, it sometimes comes across like a compilation of stylistically diverse tracks by a handful of different producers rather than the work of a single artist. Even so, the forty-five-minute album is unquestionably high-quality and offers no small amount of listening pleasure.

April 2014