Bourbonese Qualk :: Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1987 (Mannequin)

This aural document (remastered by the Dutch musician Rude 66) is well worth picking up by BQ fans as well as adherents of quintessential industrial music of the era or anyone looking for some good old noisy 80’s art music a la Coil or Throbbing Gristle.

Bourbonese Qualk :: Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1987

Bourbonese Qualk were as difficult as their name suggests: abrasive, uncompromising, highly conceptual and devoted to specific ideals. As one of the early original industrial bands from the UK emerging in the tumultuous wasteland of Thatcher’s England, BQ would influence many other bands to follow. They were politically active as a musical entity as well as a theatre group. Their music was harsh and often unbearable though it got more listenable and accessible as they shed members until there was just Simon Crab.

But it’s aged well especially as a document of late 20th century England. Overall it’s suffused with a defiantly lo-fi quality. Their songs vary from abrasive funk to tape collages to all out noise. Despite the more electronic edge to the later music the earlier tracks have a life of their own, clearly from the early 80’s industrial goulash but unique as well. While they have their roots firmly in the industrial ethos several songs break into beautiful even pleasant sounding territory.

“To Hell With The Consequences,” “Gag” and “Shutdown” are highly reminiscent of Mix-Up era Cabaret Voltaire, sounding as if it were recorded on a crisp wrapper found on the floor. Alternately, “Qualk Street” sounds crisp and clean with a snaking delayed drum kit and simple guitar chords (not unlike Red Snapper) but ends in a sizzling tape loop. “Invocation” drives along with kludgy bass and tribal drums in a pseudo-Arabic groove under the murky, echoing lyrics of singer Tristan Stanza. “Head Stop” might easily be confused for an early Test Department track with the pulsating synth bass and drum machine. “Black Madonna” breaks the run of noise completely with Spanish guitar and a ghostly chorus before morphing into more tribal drums and screaming, echoing vocals.

“Suburb City” begins as synth pop but slowly devolves into middle-eastern violin playing over 8th note arpeggios from a burbling synthesizer while voices chant on in strange, unknown tongues. “Pogrom” opens with an 808 beat that sounds as if it were played through tinfoil speakers as a bass grumbles out a rough framework with the drums under more sephardic violin work. “Deadbeat” drones on with metallic drums and a driving, single-note baseline while feedback guitars slither over the surface like a snake across an oil slick puddle.

“Return To Order” has a kind of fragile beauty to it, with strummed guitars, soprano saxophone and New Order style bass accompanying snarled vocals and background drones. “Outcry” starts out sounding as if it will grow into yet another menacing piece but becomes surprisingly beautiful and almost conventional with guitar, bass and drums plus saxophone playing a gentle groove almost like watching a sunset from council estate tower blocks.

This aural document (remastered by the Dutch musician Rude 66) is well worth picking up by BQ fans as well as adherents of quintessential industrial music of the era or anyone looking for some good old noisy 80’s art music a la Coil or Throbbing Gristle.

Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1987 is available on Mannequin.

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