EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Nils Quak: Ad Interim
Nils Quak dons his space explorer outfit for this six-track set of modular synthesizer improvisations. In contrast to some of Quak's noisier releases, Ad Interim, issued by the Denmark label Phinery in an edition of seventy-five cassettes, cleanses the palate with material that exudes a pronouncedly introspective character. Though the producer himself has rather bemusedly described Ad Interim as an experience “not unlike staring into your TV's static for approximately six hours,” the forty-minute recording is a whole lot more musical and stimulating than that; furthermore, changes occur from one moment to the next and between tracks, rendering the result anything but uneventful.
I'm loathe to mention Eno, not due to any personal distaste for the composer (far from it) but simply because of the staggering number of times his name appears in each day's sum-total of ambient-electronic reviews, but it's hard not to do so when Quak's “Fragile” conjures a kind of subdued electronic terrain that would sound comfortably at home on 1978's Music For Films. In like manner, it's hard not to think of Steve Reich when “Im Garten” animates its sputter and burble with insistent undercurrents of pulsation and machine rhythms.
Puncturing the unearthly stillness, amplified speckles of granular dust seem to scatter across sandy planetary surfaces during “Westbound.” True to its title, the softly shimmering “We Will Never Fade Away” exhales for a full ten minutes; “Hades,” on the other hand, features as much convulsive noise as one might expect from something so named, but its sound design is surprisingly more soothing than abrasive. Quak isn't without a sense of humour, either: whereas interludes are typically short, his “Interlude,” a patiently unfolding exercise in glacial, sublunar dronescaping, is at eleven minutes the longest of the release's settings. Improvisations they might be, but Ad Interim's pieces don't lack for interest. And as abstract and alien-sounding as these instrumentals are, they also register as very personal expressions on the part of their creator.