| NQ | Inscription
Time: June 09
Media: Digital Download
Info: Inscription documents NQs response to the frenetic
experience of life within a capatalist society. A restless
structure containing buried melodies, data models and
intricate technical beats.
Artist site: www.nhlsqaik.com
PDF Press Release: Download
| QUESTIONS | NQ
Who are you?
My name is Nils Quak. I'm a laptop-musician and
freelance writer in the early 30s. At the moment i'm living
in cologne, germany.
Why do you write music?
To be honest, i don't know. it just happened. i was doing
things, which are generally considered creative, since i
got into highschool. whether it was writing, painting or
making music. i really do enjoy the process. and working
with sound is really rewarding, because it offers nearly
instant gratification: You turn a knob and you hear a
difference in sound. but the definite reason why i stuck
with music is beyond me. Although i can say i really do
enjoy sounds in general. the way the intercom at my
apartment sounds, when there is just background
noise, the humming of my tv-set, the moments when
i take a walk outside and listen to music on my
headphones and the outside noises match the music i
listen to and form different new mixtures, little dialogue-
snippets i overhear when i pass by strangers, the
mumbling and whispers i can sense behind the
windows, when i walk the streets in the evening. may
this be the reason? i don't know…
How would you describe your music?
Different sounds with various frequencies and changing
rhythmical intervals. it's hard to describe. They are
sounds i stumble upon while working with different
pieces of software. i normally have a really deep interest
in rhythm, so most of the music is based on rhythmic
events. the moment you have your hard disc crash on
you, while you are listening to your favourite songs on
the computer, that would be my absolute dream-track to
What does this album mean to you?
I made this album, while i was working at a job, which
nearly consumed all my time and energy. Between
working overtime and keeping a long distance
relationship it was really hard, focusing on music and
finding time for working on pieces. it reflects this year
quite well, although i didn't realize that, when i was
writing the tracks. it's just became apparent in
retrospective. so it pretty much is the subconscious
diary of my last year.
Can you elaborate on some of your creative
My work relies heavily on resampling. I take finished bits,
process them further in other application, put them back
in, make them blend with the original material. Later on,
i will again take other pieces, reassemble them, process
them further, until i find something that i'm satisfied with.
Working on music for me, is most of time more like
sculpting, than actual composing. I start with bits and
pieces, process them, arrange them, bring them in
shape. The track itself evolves in that process. Normally
i don't know where it takes me, when i start a piece.
Even if there's some sort of concept in the beginning,
chances are i that i will abandon it and go on on
What are your future plans?
i'm already working on a new album. i also plan on
playing live a little bit more often. that's a thing i neglected
quite a bit in the last two years and i really miss that.
getting around, meeting new people and see places i've
never been before, that's a huge bonus, when making
music. plus i really need to eat more fruits.
|REVIEWS | Inscription
NQ’s „Inscription“ is an almost perfect example for laptop experiments between Click’n’Cuts, Ambient and Hip
Hop. NQ’s instrumental pieces combine state-of-the-art soundesign, splintered breakbeats, sunny pads and
noisy fieldrecordings with such an organic quality, that the listener is left speechless. It’s nearly a little sad,
that „Inscription“ which is release by the sheffield-based experimental label Audiobulb is only available as a
digital-download-only album, as it deserves all possible interest. It shows, that laptop nerd music isn’t per se
something for the emotionally depraved – the contrary.
sound 10 out of 10 / music 10 out of 10
NQ is Nils Quak and his sound landscapes. Crackles, brooding drones, that end up in ecstatic rave happiness
and melancholic sunrises in solitude. This is musical onomatiopoesis, that sounds like a reflection of somebody’s
fucked up everyday life. It sounds like trying to break out of this structures, by assembling pieces that genuinely
allow to escape those surroundings. An escape into sound, a jungle of scattered noise. I’m touched.
Last seen on the Progressive Form album, NQ now donates some skillfully pieced together electronica for the
Audiobulb label. Inscription gets underway with a fairly low key beginning, sculpting some nebulous ambience
on 'Glonn' before scalpel-like incisions carve out precise micro-beats during 'Sentomin'. You can hear the legacy
of classic IDM stalwarts feeding into this material, and the sound designs of 'Ferrum Velvet' in particular make
for a pretty convincing replication of the sort of complex noises Funkstorung were conjuring up during their
prime. Similarly, 'Silent Receiver' is masterfully produced and a real spa treatment for the ears of anyone who
still gives LP5 and Chiastic Slide regular spins.
NQ - INSCRIPTION (CD by Audiobulb)
YVAT - GLIAE (CD by +/-G6PD Records)
Two new albums from two different labels, proves that the post-Autechre-era is still going strong. First album
comes from the Cologne-based artist Niels Quak operating under the obvious project-name NQ. Present album is
the first on UK-label Audiobulb, but a few releases from the artist has come out on labels such as Kitty Yo and
Progressive Form. The album titled "Inscription" is a very satisfying work drifting somewhere between ambient,
IDM and glitch-textures. The compositions are often built on noisy sub-layers of clicking microbeats meanwhile
the upper layers have been occupied by atmospheric and quite beautiful soundspheres. Sometimes more
conventional breakbeat-textures, adding a nice dynamism in the music, shines through. Despite the quite personal
approach to the clicks'n'cuts-style, associations towards Autechre, circa the "Chiastic slide"-period, appears on
the album. A very nice combination of rhythmic complexity and melodic soundscapes on this album. Next album
comes in a very nice package. The album is released as a limited edition in a milky white Stiplex CD-case. On the
musical side we find ourselves in similar spheres as the aforementioned album, meaning abstract IDM and clicks
'n'cuts. Compared to the work of NQ the Israel-based artist Yvat, finds himself in even stranger and less listen-
friendly soundspheres compared to the aforementioned NQ-project, but never the less a quite interesting sound
experience. Melody is almost non-existing on the album titled "Gliae". The emphasis are put on hypercomplex
rhyhtmic textures and wide ranging spectres of strange sounds bouncing in and out. Staying in the comparison
to the sound of Autechre-vein, the album from Yvat has more associations pointing towards the earliest period
around "Amber" and "Incunabula". Interesting album, though people searching for the more melodic and listen-
friendly approach to the abstract glitch-scene should go for the NQ-release.
Inscription's opening track begins with showers of whirr and click before throbbing micro-beat rumble and
understated glimmers of melody connect the dots. Sound familiar? Yep, Cologne-based artist Nils Quak (NQ)
would appear to be a seeming Autechre devotee of long standing, given how strongly his twelve-track album
evokes the Warp duo's Chiastic Slide-LP5-EP7 period. It's with the arrival of the third piece, “Sometimes I Feel
Strange,” that the influence comes most nakedly to the fore, in particular when a minimal bass motif appears to
anchor the electrical fluttering that restlessly billows around it. Inscription includes enough complex beats,
intricate sound design, and silken synth melodies to keep fans of classic IDM and glitchy electronica listening,
but Quak also wisely adds a few new colours to the genre palette—hints of soulfulness during “Silent Receiver,”
for one, and a well-considered and balanced handling of the material, for another. “And On Some Other Night”
imbues its mid-tempo languor with a dreamy hip-hop-styled swing that's seductive, no matter the genre category,
while the breakbeat funk of “Cashier Desk” likewise proves ear-catching. While it may not win any awards for
innovation or originality, Inscription nevertheless impresses as a well-shaped and satisfying example of its genre
type. Intricate but not burdened by over-complexity, the album is tailor-made for fans of Spezial Material,
Benbecula, and, of course, late-‘90s Warp.
THE SILENT BALLET
NQ is the alias of Nils Quak, an electronic artist from Cologne, Germany, who, like many of his contemporaries,
wields the potent processing forces in the unlikeliest of musical instruments: the laptop. After a period of label
drifting, Quak now resides at the Sheffield-based electronica-focused Audiobulb where he hosts his new LP,
Inscription. Quak is partial to the practice of resampling, running samples and processed bits through his laptop
and churning them out in newly synthesized arrangements and patterns. Fiddling with layer after layer of computer
-processed sonic impressions, Quak through Inscription sets out to identify and exemplify the many facets of one
stylised subset of electronica.
As with most other electronic artists, Quak places the bulk of his focus on the assemblage and arrangement of
samples over authoring melodic inputs, but the overemphasis and overworking of this criterion forms an imbalance
that leaves an almost improvised finish to the end result. The tones, clicks, whirrs and glitches all assume the
starring role on Inscription, rendering each piece a simple variation on the matter of how and in what rhythmic
matter they choose to be present. The blatant IDM textures generated by Quak make frequent descriptive
references to the Warp family inevitable, but somehow Inscription struggles to live up to the provocative artistic
punch of a Boards of Canada or Autechre work. While a comparison to such giants isn’t particularly fair and
perhaps sees Quak out of his depth, it is still suitably indicative of his rough whereabouts on the radar.
Opener “Sentomin” serves as a good example of Quak lining up a trajectory that is slowly approaching some
serious Boards of Canada territory, as does the later “Ferrum Velvet”. “Sometimes I Feet Strange” strings together
the clicks and clacks in a more thumping arrangement, while “Silent Receiver” has warm, fluctuating albeit oddly-
placed tones that really provide a contrast to the prevalent glitchy effects of the sound work. “And On Some Other
Night” carries a steady-paced beat that melodically retains a clickity timbre but arranges it into a piece befitting of
the hip hop spectrum. The remainder of Inscription pretty much falls comfortably—perhaps even too comfortably
—within the bounds of precedent club-friendly IDM arrangements, with the exception of “Calw” which comes
close to setting itself apart to be of higher maturity.
A key gimmick Quak professes about his music is the art of incorporating everyday mundane sounds into a
sonically aesthetic context, but somehow these efforts fall a little flat, at best seemingly fascinating and at worst
only mildly stimulating. The thought of sampling various re-appropriated un-music-like sounds to undertake an
artistic purpose is intriguing, but putting this into practice on Inscription, there is a feeling that Quak may have
over processed a lot of these inputs, some just a tad and some beyond recognition. The samples are lost within
a sea of computerized effects, with perhaps the closer “Some Times” being the only real discernible delve into
the mission statement of sample re-appropriation. They are lost quite willfully in a rhythmic display, allowing a
pleasant transcendence to take place but still yearning for a sense of natural instinct.
Quak occasionally flirts his IDM shenanigans with hints of sound art, but the more accessible, borderline-club
beats are never really left out of the picture. In fact, the prominent IDM textural backdrop tends to neglect any
sign of a truly intuitive liberated sensibility. Quak appears a little too predisposed with the practical applications
of working the samples and refining the sonic constructions that along the way, he loses a chunk of ambient
electronica’s connectedness and intuition. While Inscription is a fair and versatile effort from Quak in illuminating
his skills in piecing together rhythms from effects, it ultimately falls short of being anything artistically remarkable.
Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists.
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