This is the promo video for the new album by Konqistador, late of Melbourne and North America, now of Istanbul, and it’s the barest taste of the thoroughly entertaining Suada.Fortunately, they’ve kindly made audio tracks of the album available at YouTube so you can indulge before you buy (have a listen, name your price, download away at bandcamp).
I’ve been thrashing it lately — four days of writing have been conducted largely to this, Kidneythieves and Android Lust; Gary Numan’s Jagged can’t be far off — so here’s a guided tour:
Suada is an intriguing album. Emotional, transportative, at times meditative, others stirring, a real sine wave of sparse and dense.
‘Harcanan Kotu’ opens with a chop and change of percussion, bass and fuzz, borrowing a riff from ‘Evil Gotten Evil Spent’ on Konqistador’s ‘Courage Riot album which showed strong Middle Eastern influences.
There follows three tracks that are more obviously rock tunes: ‘Albastru’, gothic and seductive with a delicious hint of menace; ‘Suada’, showcasing the world music and electronic elements with a jaunty beat; and ‘Brancovan’, offering hints of poppy hair metal, a wonderful anthem that leaps from the speakers and demands attention.
There follows a more scenic second stretch, introduced by the low noise of ‘Izul’ that suggests a mysterious, perhaps spooky journey ahead. Wind noise and muted arabesque vocals further suggest a lost time or remoteness, slowly giving way to electro, almost SF, effects evoking the weird, the Gothic and the haunted. A superb introduction, it probably doesn’t stand alone as well as other pieces here.
This lends the album a feeling of being a collection of mini-landscapes, an anthology rather than a novel, and what an enjoyable journey it is.
Izul is followed by ‘With Eyes Shut’, a sweeping choral opening complemented by belly dance jangle and whispered lyrics, industrial sounds contrasting with the drums giving way to electric guitar-led cruise and some bursts of subdued electronica to provide some light and shade.
This is where I was most likely to drift off – not necessarily a bad thing – and ‘Rafqa’ pulled me back after the fade.
‘Rafqa’ bustles with percussion and vocals. It stands out for being a relatively straightforward song amidst the more atmospheric offerings of this section – a transition or perhaps demarcation between the more instrumental works?
The album jumps to ‘From the Ruins’, a comparatively sparse Greek guitar-and-synth instrumental that drops us back into a more desolate, though relatively pacific, landscape.
Dreamy ‘Keykubat’ is much more lush; it brings percussion to the fore, with ethereal vocals, synths and a gradual building of tension. It wouldn’t have been out of place on Trent Reznor’s soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It hits a lot of my buttons thanks to the vocals and synth textures.
‘Huzun’ offers a quiet fall away to keyboard/electronic instrumental with choir, an interlude that gives way to percussion and then changes gear with swelling requiem organ under a driving percussive beat and then into fade.
And finally we have the closer ‘O Yar Katit Darom’, resetting yet again with its quiet start. The vocals add to its meld of Arabia and India; quite a contrast to ‘Huzun’. It’s a particularly long piece at 13 minutes, caught in its percussive groove before again we have the swell, reminiscent of Ministry’s ‘Khyber Pass‘. The SF effects add contrast, a flying saucer landing in the middle of a bazaar, perhaps with a windstorm in effect, indicating the end of a musical wander through varied yet complementary sonic terrain.
IF something more retro is your style — say, ’80s dancey and all Depeche Mode-y / Human League-y — have a taste of Christopher Anton’s Spaceships and Dreamers (Part One). You have permission to boogie.