Corridor – Corridor/mdcccclxxxi

Corridor/mdcccclxxxi

Corridor/mdcccclxxxi

In an industry saturated by generic garbage and bands who repeat themselves because success is guaranteed regardless of quality, there are few true “artists” left. But if you dig deep enough, you’ll find them. Case in point: Corridor’s debut album Corridor/mdcccclxxxi. It’s a very diverse and imaginative record with ranging emotions that consistently appeals. However, the most amazing part is that this stellar first release was written, performed and produced by one man. Now that’s talent.

Michael Quinn, recording under the name Corridor, is a multi-instrumentalist now living in L.A. His influences come from 70s kraut-rock, Swans, Joy Division and Django Reinhart, and he calls his fast style of guitar playing “gypsy guitar.” Besides that, he’s a self-taught and admirable drummer, pianist and cellist. Corridors… has been summed up as “…lush, noise-drenched stories of passion, loss and coming of age in the modern world.”

“Demeter” is what would happen if Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) sang over quick, Middle Eastern guitar and pounding drums. Quinn’s vocals reveal an affective necessity which the dramatic, roaring music complements perfectly. It’s sort of a post-rock jam that’s more intriguing than most, and at over eight minutes long, that’s saying something. “Barricks” continues this style with its ominous opening of fast guitar lines and condemning melody. Honestly it seems that Quinn is playing so fast just to impress, but hey if he can pull it off, who cares? It’s safe to say that the Ravi Shankar style of sitar playing is an influence here. These two tracks are basically two halves of a whole, but things drastically change afterwards.

“Redux Doze” opens with a beautiful and heartbreaking cello collage (a theme that recurs). This is a wonderful surprise after two tracks of conventional rock instruments (which isn’t bad, but who the hell would expect just a cello and voice afterwards?). Never mind artists who reinvent themselves every album; Quinn totally changes styles after only two songs. This piece also proves that the simplest compositions can be incredible if they represent something much bigger in us. Those strings will stay with you forever.

“Books I Have Never Read” brings things back to normal, albeit it in a faster tempo and with a more focused and important melody than on the first two tracks. Quinn rocks out with himself very well and the timbres are always interesting. “Free Icon” opens unexpectedly with spacey chimes before diving head first into a perfect imitation of Tori Amos piano. If she and Keenan did a duet, it’d be this. Again, although his voice never really changes throughout Corridors…, his music does. This is one of the more memorable and engaging songs, with all the elements never leaving their lower octaves to provide any optimism.

“Undo” shifts between a continuous guitar loop that’s very hard to play (I imagine) and the heavy freak outs of Radiohead. Quinn uses dynamics well as he removes everything to introduce a tambourine before bringing it all back again. “T. and H” builds nicely from tribal drums and chanting vocals to finally incorporate the cello with the standard rock instruments. The energy dies out and then is revived several times as the experimentation continues. You’re never quite sure where the track is going, but it always has your attention. Most of all, it’s amazing that all of this is one man since even a traditional band would have trouble keeping everything so organized. The closer, “I’ve Felt,” juxtaposes noisy feedback with a soft acoustic guitar chords. Once the loudness fades away, the masterful guitarist is let loose again to overlap hypnotic lines as his voice guides us. The Indian influence is once again prevalent, and the track abruptly stops after only the single note riff that served as a metronome throughout is left.

Corridor’s debut album Corridor/mdcccclxxxi is a marvel. Written, performed and produced by a single man, it carries more diversity, appeal and surprise than it has any right to. Admittedly, Quinn’s songwriting and melodies could be more developed, but it’s only a debut record, and from a musical standpoint, it’s very impressive. He has many ideas to share and several genres to explore them with. Let’s hope than when he humbly performs his art live, people will listen.