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It's another warm Thursday night in Silverlake and Spaceland is another hole-in-the-wall bar not so coincidentally reminiscent of Swingers. (The film depicted the nightlife in the North Hollywood/Silverlake area.) All over the city some of the best bands in LA are out on the town, scraping for cash--partying hard, yet getting ready to wake up the next morning for their day job. They may not be heard on KROQ or any other "modern rock" radio station, but any night of the week in this town you're bound to hear something better than the latest 311 song. Enter Qui.
The two-man team of Matt Cronk and Paul Christiansen, Qui looks like a band stood up at rehearsal. To two members wait calmly, as if thinking, "where the hell is our bass player?" But just as calmly, with the nonchalance of rock stars, to be exact, their minds shift to the "fuck it, let's go" thought, and they strike their first chord.
Immediately the size of the band is forgotten as Spacelands walls are given a late night earthquake test. With two people Qui accomplishes what few four member bands can even imagine: a good, full sound, a cacophony so rich in volume, breaching both highs and lows on the symphonic scales that listeners not accustomed to this complete breach of musical ethics reach for earplugs to dampen their audio overload.
Yet far from a nuisance, Qui's brand of "hard art-rock" as Christiansen puts it, blends the instrumental madness of At the Drive In with solid, integrated vocals reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine and early Stone Temple Pilots. In one song Qui bombards the listener with repetition while in the next it seems as if no two measures have the same number of beats. The mind is confused, yet the ears are pleased, for once, they're hearing something different from the norm.
On guitar and vocals, Cronk stands tall and stolid, hair dangling in his face like a black shied protecting him from the curious stares of onlookers. His mop-head appearance fits perfectly with the music, a loud and abrasive look to compliment the sound of same description. Songs like "Queen of the Valley" deliver a gradual onslaught of power, pain, and intensity through guitar and vocal work, voice and electric strings complimenting each other to the fullest. He leads with neither. Vocals are simply another instrument, as he integrates his voice into slow metal progressions creating an eerily awesome artistic experience.
But that's only half the band.
Christiansen, on drums, refuses to be background support. His fury never ceases arms flailing with a mad passion, crashing endless symbols and high hat exchanges in odd time signatures. He too is another instrument equal to the others, not quite leading, but always heard. Intense. Bombastic. Potent. By the end it's as if he's been through an orgy: Christiansen's a sweaty mess, but thoroughly satisfied. So are we.
Too rough for some, Qui is a blizzard of beats and a flurry of feedback,
but if you can handle it, shoot your radio: Qui is everything you're looking for.