This Quiet Army – Resurgence
As a package, this triple-gatefold two-CD release promises so much from the start. The wonderful illustrations by Mandi A Morgan display a marriage of precision and chaos. It suggests we will see the same from This Quiet Army, which is in reality Eric Quach, who is both a fully fledged mechanical engineer and prolific writer, performer and recorder of music. It’s now that I really wish I had gone for the vinyl, but there you go.
Removing the disc called ‘Resurgence’ reveals the lyrics of ‘Gone to the Unseen’, an adaptation, by Meryem Yildiz, of the wonderful Rumi poem. I look forward to hearing it. I’m intrigued by the extent to which Rumi, an early 13thcentury Persian poet and theologian among other things, is an influence on ‘Resurgence’. By extension, perhaps the record will embody the Sufist search for Fira, or perhaps some secular equivalent. After all drone and repetition is consistent with Sufism.
Or perhaps it’s simply a bunch of songs.
‘Rebirth’, ‘Revival’ and ‘Renaissance’ are the first three tracks, with almost synonymous titles. As I lean back the soft drone starts and before long a powerful, deep, fuzzy phrase begins as the drone becomes louder and yes, I can feel that something is breathing; something purposeful and determined. It is indeed a rebirth and I am easily swallowed up by the caressing tones. Some shrill effects dance around but they are the dolphins around an oil tanker, not the prima donna. This song is my friend, or at least not my enemy and I want to follow its journey alongside, and I hope it will let me stay.
Before I know it I am in to ‘Revival’ and it builds on those foundations, becoming more self-assured. The pulse now beats faster in the form of drums, but the heartbeat of the fuzzy driving guitar is back too. Now a tumbling, lighter guitar starts to take much of the limelight before passing the baton to more swirling effects. It’s as though this creature is swallowing the layers of sound, making itself stronger. I picture it in the context of Rumi-is Quach wanting me to feel the creature getting closer to its God?
But now I’m in ‘Renaissance’, and suddenly my deep drone has deserted me leaving stark drums and guitar. But after a minute of anxiety the comforting drone is back. The creature had just been regaining its strength and now it is more powerful than before. In a way these three tracks are a work in themselves, and I wonder where we go from here.
‘Birds, Ashes & Fire’ pulls the creature back into line. Perhaps it is wondering how to find enlightenment. The rich drone is still there and the pulse of the drums, as is the multitude of layers, but without the confidence I heard for the last 15 minutes, and the song ends by fading with some uncertainty.
‘Whispers in the Trees’ has an altogether different feel. With each listen I am no clearer if it is uplifting or depressing. It’s not that it doesn’t say anything, it’s just not clear to me what. I no longer feel connected to the first three songs and I wish I did. It’s a good track, but I’m lost.
‘Mechanical Heart’ is chillingly cold and sparse, with powerful beats and layers of noise. This is contrasted by the uplifting crescendo of ‘Whirring Brain’. ‘Summer Isolation’ is another sparse and this time joyless track, the last minute or so becoming quite intense before fading off.
The CD ends with the almost-13 minute long ‘Gone to the Unseen’. The build-up is slow and tinged with an improbable mixture of despair and achievement. I am lost in thoughts of death and failure and birth and hope. It’s when Meryim Yilditz’ hauntingly beautiful voice enters the picture that the record’s title seems most appropriate. She arrives to bring order and reason to the uncertainty of Quach’s song. Rather than the music being built around the words, it feels like she has daubed her impression of Rumi’s poem over the top. I have no idea which is the case, but it feels almost improvised and it works so well, with Rumi’s poem captured in a fitting end to the disc.
So looking back, was the record a collection of tracks or a complete story?
Reading interviews with Quach suggests he seeks to achieve what he wants in his own way, caring little for how others do things or how they think things should be done. Naturally you will hear familiar styles and sounds in this record; reviews of his work are full of the terms ambient, shoegaze, post-punk, krautrock, drone, industrial, effects, etc. But is it unique? Does it make the listener dream?
I wanted to hear a complete theme or story in this record. I’m not convinced I did, but neither is it a random collection of disparate tracks. There is a common feeling of Quach seeking to meet his own standards and visions in all the tracks, but this doesn’t mean they all sound the same or unoriginal.
With my eyes closed as I listened to the opening minutes of ‘Gone to the Unseen’, I recalled footage of the set of Jaques Tati’s ‘Playtimebeing’ pulled down against his wishes. I heard his story in the music. You should find it easy to become immersed in this record and there is enough there for everyone to hear it in your own way.
Released November 2011 OnDenovali
Echo Rating (((●●●•)))
Posted by Gilbert Potts
Tags: Denovali, Gilbert Potts, Resurgence, This Quiet Army