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Review

Nick Roseblade, Vital, no. 1277, March 22, 2021

Not everything you listen to can blow your socks off. There are times when you just aren’t feeling it. No matter how hard you try, it just isn’t working for you. I had this while listening to the latest Quasar album De souffles et de machines III. I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t doing a great deal to win me other. Then I heard the final track, construct-deconstruct and it all made sense. As soon as it finished, I went back and played the album again and I felt a greater affinity for the songs.

De souffles et de machines III really comes alive with the second track Interjections. Opening with what sounds like electronic loops, the sound of stringed instruments being plucked and a muffled horn section Interjections is a wonky piece of loveliness. Despite being the shortest track on the album, at no point do Quasar rush to get to the point. Around the final third there is a flurry of musicality. The melodies are there but hidden below layers of bellowing horns. What works here is how Quasar is incredibly proficient, yet only choose to show us in succinct blasts. This works in their favour. It undermines us, so when they have something to say or play, BAM we’re taken aback. And this is when they are, they’re most devastating.

Quasar has saved the most abrasive, and fully formed, track for last. construct-deconstruct is a brutalist nightmare. Opening quietly with blips and piercing tones construct-deconstruct meanders along nicely. The something click and BAM the tension is ramped up. Short, sharp, and fast, beats kick in while the saxophones squeak, run scales, and generally makes a delicious cacophony. Then as quickly as it starts, it stops. What sounds like field recordings or printers, modems and other electronic devices start to make up a disjointed, but enjoyable, soundscape. What Quasar is trying to say is unsure, but it does feel like living in the world of Blade Runner.

Overall De souffles et de machines III works well. Sharp angular sounds are combined with real-world atmospherics bleeding into the mix along with a hefty dollop of unsettling malaise. It’s kind of fun. There are sections where it all gets a bit too much and there isn’t enough musicality behind the ideas. Ultimately these moments aren’t that often but when they happen, they snap you out of what you are, and were, listening to and remind you that it was all in your head. You do eventually get swept back up with everything again, but it takes time. Saying that De souffles et de machines III is a pretty solid album that deserves time to try and work out what it’s all about, even if you don’t come up with any tangible conclusions.

De souffles et de machines III is a pretty solid album that deserves time…