thisquietarmy: Métamorphose
Grains of Sand

As a representative portrait of Eric Quach's thisquietarmy project, Métamorphose presents an excellent point-of-entry for new recruits as well as an encompassing package sure to satisfy long-time listeners. Issued as a two-CD set on Grains of Sand and in digital form on his own TQA Records, the twelve-track collection, which was recorded in Montreal, Quach's home town, between 2014 and 2016, documents the unaccompanied guitarist in improvised drone mode, and, with ten of the twelve pieces nine minutes or longer, granting his material ample time and space to develop.

In classic thisquietarmy manner, “Le temps, la lumière” builds slowly, blossoming from a slow-burning space-drone in its opening minutes to a molten roar that feels like it could immolate an entire city block or two if the full power of the music were unleashed. While other tracks might replicate the general trajectory of that opener, they're not redundant variations on a theme as Quach uses various treatments and references other genres to keep things interesting. Elements of industrial, black metal, shoegaze, and space rock surface within these expansive, all-consuming dronescapes, and an occasional detour into Frippertronics is part of the itinerary, too.

Some tracks match the threat level of “Le temps, la lumière”: “Toujours ce rappel de l'éphémère,” for example, lashes out in isolated moments with violent intent during its unearthly pulsations, while the intensity level in “Ce corps ne te sera jamais étranger” is so pronounced, it feels like it could singlehandedly sever limbs. To achieve balance, Quach wisely includes quieter settings, among them the subdued drone “Puisque tu t'y familiarises au fur et à mesure qu'il se transforme” and gently chiming “Tu aimerais parfois te retirer de ta matière,” and though it only lasts five minutes, the latter's soft shimmer does much to alleviate the pressure of the aggressive material.

Elsewhere, the disturbing creep of “Après un certain temps, tu rapatrierais tes formes” would make it a perfect candidate for horror soundtrack material, especially when Quach folds synth- and organ-like timbres into its presentation. Interestingly, as powerful as the louder pieces are, it's the softer settings that might actually leave the stronger impression, especially when they're executed with the degree of finesse and control evidenced by “Tu manierais ta peau afin de l'attendrir,” which Quach holds to a dream-like, congealing simmer for twelve engrossing minutes. And just in case you were wondering, the track titles, credited to Meryem Yildiz, form a poem when assembled into a twelve-line stanza.

February 2017