Quale Futuro? (What Future?) opens like a dystopian 1970s sci-fi film. You are waiting on a platform for the Mag-Train, there’s a barely intelligible announcement on Tannoy, the train pulls in, you board and then suddenly you are speeding at Mach 1, propelled by synthesisers and the anvil clangs of drums. This is the opening track, ‘Ikea Youth Pt.2’, and the fact that there is no Pt.1 gives the sense that you may experience some sensory discomfort on this journey.
Qlowski are London-based four-piece made up of Michele Tellarini on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Cecilia Corapi on keyboards, and vocals and Danny Smartt on bass, clarinet and Christian Billard on drums and percussion. Their edgy music fits in with other contemporary bands like Drahla, Roxy Girls, Ulrika Spacek and Deliluh, where dissonance crashes against tunefulness and creates a gratifying tension. Tracks like ‘Folk Song’ mix thunderous chords and urgent vocals and then fly off on a jetpack with tuneful solos, ‘A Woman’ is a grand clang of guitar supporting a fantastic tune, and when the guitar and vocals double up in the chorus the world seems a little brighter. Songs often descend into controlled chaos (‘Lentil Soup’) or mix the gentle thrum of bass and vocals before reaping the whirlwind of clashing sounds (‘To Be True’ and ‘Larry’s Hair Everywhere’).
This is a branch of the same family tree that contains The Cure, X-Ray Spex and even early Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and New Order. It’s a deft trick to go big and bold on tunes and deep on instrumentation; using bass, keyboards and guitars to their fullest, most powerful effect, but only the brave push the sonic envelope to near-breaking point and yet still maintain enough cohesion to keep from being thrown from the horse. Qlowski have brought us a present of post-punk brutalism wrapped up in a barbed-wire bow, it might draw blood when you unwrap it but it’s a small price to pay for the contents.
Quale Futuro? Is on the excellent Maple Death Records and I would advise checking out their catalogue. As well as this album.
Live: 4th June – Moth Club, London (headline record release show) / 14th August – No Man’s Land, Manchester
Review by Paul F Cook