Genre: Noise / Drone / Ambient
Kvik is Simon Thibaudeau, a Canadian drone/industrial/noise/ambient artist, and this release offers three tracks of somewhat varied noise/drone music. Each of the lengthy tracks evokes a somewhat different feel; Thibaudeau recorded them under quite different conditions and with varying equipment.
My overall impression of this release one of immersion, particularly for the first two tracks. Each develops and unfolds gradually, allowing us to gently dissolve into Kvik’s world of sound. Drone/noise can often be very harsh on the ears but with this release the oscillating tones are gentler, more forgiving. Closer to a purring cat than a band saw. The first two tracks combine more or less constant central drones, which pulse like the meaty backbone of the music, with more transient and ephemeral sounds which whisper past the ears quite subtly. The deployment of the supportive tones and sounds is very cleverly done – Kvik succeeds in creating both a sense of stable, circular absorption and a sense of movement and progression. We find ourselves in vast spaces (track one, “Elks”, uses reverb-laden minimal percussion to great effect in this regard) yet we are moving too, exploring. Noise can easily become directionless and pointless because really it’s damn hard to create an engaging, immersive experience with a limited palette. Kvik manages to walk the tightrope confidently, building drone choirs and harbouring motifs of crackle, dissonance and delay to good effect. Tonality is manipulated skilfully enough that at times I almost want to laugh – there is a spirit of play at work in this darkly atmospheric conjuration and I greatly appreciate its smirking wit.
The shrieking noises that invite us into the realm of track two, “Slop”, create some marvellously edgy intervals and evoke the atmosphere of one of those eerie old school space or horror movies.
The third track, “Dam”, is unfortunately somewhat weaker than the first two. There is a recurring sample of what sounds like a telephone ring tone and while the resemblance might or might not be intentional I found it somewhat broke the spell for me. I think the other reason it lets the album down is that the other two tracks have very strong trajectories, building and manipulating intensity in a very considered way. It’s a little like being rolled by ocean waves, albeit not in the most violent swell.”Dam” on the other hand is less embodied and feels more skeletal and uncertain about its direction. It is, however, a lot more subtle and subliminal than the other tracks, particularly in its opening strains, and this at least is a welcome digression. I should emphasise that these critical moments are certainly insufficient to justify writing off the release as a whole. I’m really digging it and though I haven’t had a chance yet to try it I think it will be a fantastic experience with headphones in a pitch black room. Definitely a good release for those interested in exploring the astral or their own ‘inner space’ – and genuinely hypnotic.