Quinimine – Like Pistons for Engines

Like Pistons for Engines

There’s been a lot of talk about the Montreal music scene, encompassing as much diversity as would include Broken Social Scene and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Qunimine, also from that fair city, doesn’t really fit in with either, but then again this could be a suitable band to draw those bands together.

Taking a slow-core approach similar to bands like Low or Ida, Quinimine features sparse but lovely instrumentation and the hushed vocals of Gary Jansz and Alice Cantine. The music has a nice reverby feel with some quiet layering, providing a bit more creativity than the sparseness of other slow-core projects. And the drumming of ex-Sofa member Keith Marchand helps keep the songs from being too somnambulistic.

The layering of vocals on the soft opener “Beauty Pills” is instantly appealing, as is the chiming instrumentation. The emphasis on organs and subtle guitar lines on “Filaments” adds a unique touch to the song, although it’s over seven-minute length tends to drag a bit. By contrast, the nine-plus-minute “That’s How We Learned to Dance” doesn’t bore me at all, floating along lightly and creatively like my favorite Low songs. Perhaps it’s Cantine’s lovely yet gentle voice that wins me over on this one. Certainly the washes of layered guitars and keys mid-way through the song elevate it to a whole new level.

“For Ribbons” sounds a bit too much like Low, even in vocal inflection, but fortunately the lengthy “Police Station Blues” reinvigorates the lush but subtle layering of sound again, while Jansz’s quiet voice and the slightly twangy guitar provide a unique, almost folky feel. On “Cold Monsoon,” the band gets its quietest, and here the lovely strings add the perfect touch of moodiness. Similarly, the strings – credited to the Angels of Mercy and Strings – and light xylophone of the closing instrumental “They Built Bridges to Build Skyscrapers” finds a soft spot in my heart. It’s the perfect closer, and had the whole album been this way, I’d fall even more in love with Quinimine.

Really, it’s the production that sets this album apart from the other bands creating sparse yet pretty music. The subtle layering of guitars, the mixture of organ and bass and contrabass, the way the vocals are quiet but merge nicely – it all helps make Quinimine a delightful if subtle listen. This is clearly intended for late-night or rainy-day listening.