What does QUINQUIS sound like?
Haunted and haunting ethereal electronica, showcasing a lesser-known language.
The review of “QUINQUIS – SEIM”
Part of the allure of QUINQUIS and her musical mystique is her use of Breton. It’s the only Celtic language still in active use on the European mainland today. You don’t hear the language sung very often and certainly not with such poetic tendrils of intrigue. “SEIM” is a hypnotic pulsating core of strange electronica and meditative vocals and QUINQUIS knows exactly how to draw you in.
A lot of the tracks on “SEIM” follow a bit of a Tangerine Dream heavy synth flow. Be it the arpeggiated blooms of plucky gurgles with rubbery bass on “Adkrog” or something more glassy, warped and ethereal with “Setu” – music is left to unwind in your ears like dripping candle wax. There is an ebb and flow to the synths as if they are pendulums swinging from note to note and QUINQUIS is watching from above. The production is also oddly satisfying. Synth bleeps reverb perfectly to the rhythmic flow of songs and vocally choral moments swirl, build and disperse with perfect glide paths. The attention to detail with the sound design throughout the album is phenomenal.
This translates vocally to QUINQUIS singing in a curious tone. I’ve listened to the album several times and it’s their tonal ambiguity that draws me in. Sometimes QUINQUIS takes the position of the comforter, other times it feels more malevolent or foreboding. This often aligns with the instrumentation too. “Mintin” is a beautifully understated acoustic guitar and quaint bleep led ballad. The vocals are drenched in a quivering water effect as if the sea is singing to you. Then “Estren” is a quietly cinematic neon punk evocation.
Mixed in with the colourful and rhythmic synths are organs, guitars, pianos and a few guest performances too. “Run” features a lush and smooth dream-pop ballad with Ólavur Jákupsson. Elsewhere “Og” offers up Yann Tiersen creating some theremin-moog styled synths. Other artists provide spoken monologues to create a spooky and uneasy atmosphere.
“SEIM” is the kind of dark, curious and understated album that deserves to grow into a cult hit. Quinquis has a deft hand at creating unusual and evocative songs that feel both understated and complex. It is a tricky mood to balance and Quinquis hits the target. It’s worthwhile noting that UNESCO has labelled Berton as a severely endangered language and so to be able to hear this tongue in full flow is a wonderful gift.
Recommended track: Adkrog
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