NQ: Inscription

Inscription's opening track begins with showers of whirr and click before throbbing micro-beat rumble and understated glimmers of melody connect the dots. Sound familiar? Yep, Cologne-based artist Nils Quak (NQ) would appear to be a seeming Autechre devotee of long standing, given how strongly his twelve-track album evokes the Warp duo's Chiastic Slide-LP5-EP7 period. It's with the arrival of the third piece, “Sometimes I Feel Strange,” that the influence comes most nakedly to the fore, in particular when a minimal bass motif appears to anchor the electrical fluttering that restlessly billows around it. Inscription includes enough complex beats, intricate sound design, and silken synth melodies to keep fans of classic IDM and glitchy electronica listening, but Quak also wisely adds a few new colours to the genre palette—hints of soulfulness during “Silent Receiver,” for one, and a well-considered and balanced handling of the material, for another. “And On Some Other Night” imbues its mid-tempo languor with a dreamy hip-hop-styled swing that's seductive, no matter the genre category, while the breakbeat funk of “Cashier Desk” likewise proves ear-catching. While it may not win any awards for innovation or originality, Inscription nevertheless impresses as a well-shaped and satisfying example of its genre type. Intricate but not burdened by over-complexity, the album is tailor-made for fans of Spezialmaterial, Benbecula, and, of course, late-‘90s Warp .

July 2009