When I was a teenager, I frowned and shivered every time I heard the term “electronic music”. I did not like it, at all. I hated it, actually. Nowadays, well, it’s not that I’m a big fan, but I’ve come to appreciate certain music that has some electronic elements (not properly electronic music, though).
Perhaps my favourite electronic-ish band is Quantum Fantay, a Belgian band that was formed about ten years ago in Lokeren. Describing them is a quest worthy of being told in the most epic stories and timeless songs. The shortest way would be something like “have you ever listened to Ozric Tentacles? Yes? Well that’s it”. This is obviously not really true; although I’ve barely started listening to Ozric Tentacles, a band twenty years older, I can hear the differences (maybe the Ozric guys’ music sounds better when you’re high on mushrooms? Nah, joking, I can’t really explain), and for the moment, I prefer Quantum Fantay, although both are good.
The official term used is, I believe, “space rock”. It’s instrumental music and the lineup, in this specific case, is the classical rock one, except the synths (these are some heavy ones!) play a vital part, and you can occasionally hear a flute (if there’s a flute involved, it should be good). Ok wait, I’m wrong. There’s more stuff. The current lineup is the following: Pete Mush, synths and programming; Jaro, bass guitar, djembé, didgeridoo; Gino Bartolini; drums, djembé and other percussion; Dario Frodo, guitars. Then there are Tom Tas (guitars) and Charles Sla (flute) as guests. So as you can see, they use some cool percussion instruments, and let’s face it, who uses a didgeridoo in a rock band? Brilliant!
I’ve been surfing the net a bit to see if I find a proper description of their music style there, and I’d say the most accurate thing I’ve read is that “their music is sounding like a mixture of progressive rock, electronic music, groove, world music and most of all psychedelic rock, it also contains elements of reggae and dub”. I guess that works. Extremely original, don’t you think? I definitely find it that way, and my mind was blown when I started listening to their music. I feel like I am in some kind of science fiction movie, in a very distant planet, walking alone and discovering all sorts of weird plants and animals. And no, I don’t take any drugs while listening to Quantum Fantay (or anything else, ahem). In their facebook page, they list a number of influences, such as Ozric Tentacles (shocked), Hydria Spacefolk (I listened to a couple of their CDs and I didn’t find them that good, but the song Amos Ame is brilliant, like mixing Jethro Tull and psychodelia), Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree (I have to give those guys a proper listen very soon), Jethro Tull (smart people, these Quantum, yep) and some others. Going back to the beginning of the post, and if you listen to one or two songs, you’ll see this is not electronic music at all, but there are indeed strong electronic elements.
It’s easy to find different tempos and styles inside the same song, but I don’t really know how to differentiate the different albums between them. Excluding their first demo and their two live albums, which I haven’t really bothered to listen, they have five CDs. The first one is called Agapanthusterra, from 2005, which starts with the slow opener T.N.S.F.P. to put us in the mood for some trippy stuff. Lantanasch, Agapanthusterra and the slow and atmospheric Wintershades are simply amazing. I can't find the title track on youtube or grooveshark, sorry, and my laptop is getting old and windows movie maker makes it work like bovine excrement, so I don't think I'm uploading songs on youtube for a while.
Their second album, Ugisiunsi (2007) is my absolute favourite. Each and every single song there is outstanding, music full of imagination and skill, I can’t get enough of it. Ugisiunsi, Blocktail, Niek Shlut, March of the Buffelario, Autumn Landscapes (another atmospheric track)... damn, the other songs are also excellent. I suggest that if you’re considering listening to this band (I understand most people wouldn’t really like this, and I certainly would have despised it seven or eight years ago), you start with this album. Here's a playlist with the whole thing:
And here are links to March of the Buffelario and Niek Shlut anyway:
Kaleidothrope is their third album (2009), but I’ve just given it a couple of listens, and that was about a year ago. I’m not so thrilled about it, but it’s still good (especially the title track, The Spirit and Zwar Tsych Apy, and no sir, I have no idea of how they choose the names of the songs). Again, I couldn't find the title track on youtube or grooveshark... actually, if there's anyone crazy enough to like this stuff, I'm more than willing to send it by email.
Then there’s Bridges or Kukuriku (2010). Oh by the way, don’t ask me where Kukuriku is, I don’t know, although I guess it's a shop where they sell very good "special" mushrooms. Ok bad joke. The album consists of six relatively long songs (the shortest one is five minutes long, and then there’s another that runs for 7.54. The rest, eight or nine minutes each). As in Ugisiunsi, the whole album is very, very good, but anyway I’d like to highlight Follow The Star - Bridge Two (love the part starting at 4.04), Portable Forest - Bridge Four (amazing beginning, if clubs had that kind of music, I’d go much more often) and Counter Clockwise - Bridge Five, especially the section starting at 2.30.
Finally, there’s Terragaia, released this year. I downloaded it today and I just listened to the whole CD. I need more time to let this album grow on me, however I was surprised by the beginning (mostly the second minute) of Azu kéné déké lepé... I’ve never heard Quantum Fantay so play such... well, happy music. Also, some parts of Aargh sounds strangely folky for a band like Quantum Fantay. Yah Roste Fooroap has a cool reggae-ish beginning... and well, the album sounds cool but as I said I need more time, and anyway I don’t really know when I’ll listen to it again, so I think this is it for this post. The last song I mentioned is the only one from the new album that I could find on youtube, by the way.
And of course, here's the facebook page for the blog, there's not much activity but I still have the innocent hope of discussing music there!