|Studio album by|
Quique // is the debut album by British music group Seefeel and was released through Too Pure Records in December 1993. A predominantly instrumental recording which utilises elements of both rock and electronic music, it blends genres including techno, dream pop, ambient music, and dub. Guitarist Mark Clifford worked continuously on tracks while other members either completed them or provided component ideas.
The album was released in December 1993 in the United Kingdom where it received positive reviews from the British music critics. The album was followed up with the EP Starethrough on Warp in 1994. It was re-released in 2007 in a deluxe format that included unreleased, re-mixed tracks and other music that was only released on compilations. The album continued to receive praise on its re-issue.
Background and production
Mark Clifford formed Seefeel in 1992 after posting advertisements for potential group members. After performing a few shows and recording demos, Seefeel signed to the Too Pure Records label in late 1992. Too Pure's co-owner Richard Roberts stated that upon hearing Seefeel's demo "there was no obvious song for radio, but in my opinion it felt good. As we viewed ourselves as an experimental label that didn't want to be tied to a sound or a scene, it seemed to make sense to release something with the band." Seefeel chose Too Pure as they felt the label had respect for its artists, despite the low budget given to them to record Quique.
Clifford described the composition of the track as "messing around with a particular sound and then that sound would quite often just evoke a melody. Because the sounds we used were very much based around harmonics and stuff." The songs were completed before recording in the studio and many tracks had been performed live prior to the album's release. The only song written in the recording studio was "Charlotte's Mouth". All the songs on the album were completed in a way that would allow Seefeel to re-create their music in a live setting.
Quique was recorded in July 1993. During their time in the studio, Seefeel also recorded the EP More Like Space. Clifford felt that the tracks on More Like Space were simpler to create while those on Quique were more involved and took longer.
Daren Seymour stated that Clifford was "working on a constant basis. The other members of the band contributed either complete tracks or component ideas into the process – some where accepted or not as Mark acted as the editor, and quite rightly so at times!" After the album was mastered, the group had Too Pure remove a track from the album before it was released.
—Seefeel member Mark Clifford describing genres that critics applied to Quique on its release
The music on Quique is predominantly instrumental. Some tracks include wordless vocals from Seefeel's guitarist and vocalist Sarah Peacock. Peacock's vocals are low in the audio mix and are heard on the tracks "Industrious" and "Charlotte's Mouth". The tone of the album has been described as less dark than the group's follow-up albums Succour and CH-VOX.
The album's unusual blend of genres led critics to apply various different labels to Quique, associating it with styles such as dream pop, ambient techno, dub, intelligent dance music, and shoegaze. Critic Simon Reynolds described the group as "the best" of various dream pop bands who had "turned on to techno." Glenn Swan of AllMusic described the album's mixture of genres as "a sort of electronic hybrid that had listeners simultaneously scratching their heads", while Jess Harvell of Pitchfork stated that the audience will "hear the beginnings of a still-thriving genre that remains slippery and unnamed, purely electronic music with a strange, tangy rock aftertaste." Paste Magazine classified the album as a post-rock album in 2016, as did Simon Reynolds in his 2011 book Bring the Noise. AllMusic's John Bush described it as "an even colder document of ambient indie techno than the previous EPs had predicted," and noted that "[t]he album was hailed -- mostly in rock circles -- as a techno album which indie kids could listen to." Mark Richardson of Pitchfork located it on "the oceanic end of shoegaze.
Clifford was irritated by being placed within a genre by critics, stating that Seefeel "weren't trying to fit into any one of their scenes and it felt a little like we were almost having convention thrust upon us when that was the very thing we were reacting against." AllMusic compared the songs to ambient music by the Aphex Twin, while Exclaim! noted that "Quique follows a similar path as Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient work but with structures that a more rock-based band like Chapterhouse dreamed of matching." The members of Seefeel were fans of Aphex Twin and said after playing shows with him and Autechre that they felt "more affinity with them than many of the bands we'd met – Robin Guthrie and the Cocteau Twins excepted!"
"Climactic Phase #3" contains minimal percussion, a bass line that rises and falls that creates a faint pulse to guide it. Clifford described "Climactic Phase #3" as "an attempt to see how much juice I could squeeze out of a few repetitive loops." Both "Climatic Phase No. 3" and "Polyfusion" contain guitar feedback and drum machines. The vocals on "Polyfusion" were described by Sarah Peacock as not having lyrics, but vocalizations invented for their sonic value. Peacock said that she loved the song's "groovy and dubby" feel, but disliked the "pitchy vocals" "Imperial", "Climatic Phase #3" and "Plainsong" were made from what Clifford called "an obsession for sampling and sequencing. Very standard technology now, but at the time the ability to sample and shift and manipulate guitar sounds was fascinating to me." Clifford would later describe "Plainsong" as attempt to put "the vaguest hint of a song into the equation", having had difficulty with the rhythm of the song changing it continuously.
"Industrious" showcases ambiance and drums which anchor the mix. Clifford characterized the song as an audio experiment by processing drum machines through guitar effects. "Charlotte's Mouth", named after Charlotte Gainsbourg, contains guitar, bass and metallic percussion. The song began as a loop of Justin Fletcher's percussion which later had guitar and vocals added. "Through You" is the only Seefeel song to use a keyboard on Quique. Clifford composed it quickly, noting that it was made in "about two hours". "Filter Dub" was described by Clifford as heavily influenced by Jah Wobble. It does not feature a large amount of sampled guitars like other tracks on the album.
When asked how the group felt about the album in 2013, Clifford felt the album was "it holds up okay—some tracks more than others" and that he felt "mostly good about [the songs]" and "looked forward to playing certain tracks live". Peacock spoke positively about the album saying that since it was their first album, it "will always be the fondest".
Quique was released in the United Kingdom in December 1993 on Too Pure Records. In February 1994, Billboard announced that the American music label Astralwerks had recently signed Seefeel and were set to release their album in April 1994. Quique was released on compact disc and cassette by Astralwerks. On 10 June 1994, Astralwerks released "Plainsong" as a single, with two remixes of "Time to Find Me" by the Aphex Twin as b-sides. In 2003, Mark Clifford stated that Quique sold between sixteen or seventeen thousand copies. After the release of Quique, Seefeel left Too Pure Records and signed to the more electronic music oriented Warp. Warp released their follow-up EP Starethrough on 18 April 1994.
In 2007, Quique was re-released in a deluxe edition. This version of the album included a bonus disc containing unreleased tracks, re-mixes and songs that appeared on compilation albums. Quique was re-released on vinyl on 27 August 2013 through Light in the Attic Records and its Modern Classics Recordings series, in conjunction with Medical Records. It was released with a gate fold sleeve with 1000 copies printed on blue vinyl. In November 2018, the group performed the album in full at festivals in Barcelona and Utrecht in celebration of its 25th anniversary, under the heading "Seefeel performing 'Quique'".
Spin's Simon Reynolds gave Quique a positive review, stating that Seefeel has "struck a sublime groove between MBV's sensual tumult and Aphex Twin's ambient serenity". In his review for Melody Maker, Reynolds wrote that the group's album "sometimes need a bit more space in their sound, a bit of emptiness to punctuate the drone-swarm. Like [My Bloody Valentine] on Loveless, they're sometimes so blissed it's suffocating" and that "overall, Quique is consummate, a blanched canvas for the imagination, and a cracking debut." Jon Savage of Mojo gave a positive review of the album, stating that "throughout much of Quique, Seefeel achieve that spacious weightlessness hinted at by their titles: 'Climactic Phase #3', 'Filter Dub', 'Signals'"
In a review of the group's next album Succour, Select remarked negatively on Quique, opining that it "owed as much to My Bloody Valentine as Aphex, but never believably cemented the two influences." The Times commented on Quique in 1994, stating that the album "drew sighs of admiration from critics and the public alike" and that the album was "a beautiful document which has its roots in an experimentalism that began with La Monte Young and has, in recent years, been continued variously by Glenn Branca, the Swans and Spiritualised. The points of contact with any of the current crop of dance music-makers are minimal." In 1999, CMJ summarized the British critics' reception to Quique, stating that the album "earned Seefeel several months of adoration in the British music press and subsequent obscurity which usually follows such kudos". The Village Voice's Robert Christgau gave the album a "neither" rating, indicating that an album "may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't."
Later reviews have been positive. Jess Harvell of Pitchfork opined that Quique "still sounds timeless." Glenn Swan of AllMusic gave the album four and a half stars out of five, stating "this is Seefeel at their most ornate. They squint by staring into the geometric refractions of light and record the results." Jason Ferguson of Harp described Quique as "shimmered with a futuristic ethereality that was far more substantial than the electro-ambience of the era, but also much less assaultive than the shoegazers Seefeel was affiliated with early on." and that the 2007 re-issue was "a fitting tribute to a very unique sound." The Los Angeles Times described the album as "underrated" and "that even 20 years later sounds like nothing else." The Sunday Times gave the Redux edition a positive review, referring to Quique as the group's "finest moment" and "If you like music to have structure, Quique will drive you barmy; but if you consider the presence of the word "texture" in an album review to be a positive, you might well enjoy this languid landmark." Cam Lindsay wrote in Exclaim! that "While it doesn't feel like a timely release, the re-discovery of Seefeel (no word yet on a reunion) certainly verifies their relevance in today's music, especially in light of neo-gazers like Ulrich Schnauss and Tim Hecker." In 1999, critic Ned Raggett ranked the album at number 34 on his list of "The Top 136 or So Albums of the Nineties". In 2016, Pitchfork placed Quique at number 13 on its list of "The 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of All Time". Paste Magazine included it at number 8 on its list of "The 50 Best Post-Rock Albums."
All tracks are written by Mark Clifford except where otherwise noted.
|1.||"Climactic Phase #3"||Mark Clifford, Justin Fletcher||8:24|
|2.||"Polyfusion"||Clifford, Sarah Peacock||6:22|
|6.||"Charlotte's Mouth"||Clifford, Peacock, Daren Seymour, Fletcher||7:25|
|Redux Edition disc 2|
|10.||"Clique"||Peacock, Clifford, Seymour, Fletcher||5:28|
|11.||"Is It Now?"||Clifford, Seymour||4:23|
|12.||"Filter Dub (i-01 Mix)"||9:40|
|13.||"Come Alive (Climactic Phase #1)"||Clifford, Peacock, Seymour, Fletcher||5:41|
|14.||"Time to Find Me (Alternate Desk Mix)"||Peacock, Clifford, Seymour, Fletcher||5:20|
|15.||"Charlotte's Mouth (Avant Garde Mix)"||Clifford, Peacock, Seymour, Fletcher||7:27|
|16.||"My Super 20"||Clifford, Seefeel||6:31|
|17.||"Climactic Phase #3 (Overnight Mix)"||Clifford, Fletcher||8:31|
|18.||"Silent Pool"||Clifford, Peacock, Seymour, Fletcher||7:02|
Credits adapted from Quique Redux booklet.
Credits adapted from Quique 2013 vinyl release
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At their best, throughout much of Quique, Seefeel achieve that spacious weightlessness hinted at by their titles: 'Calimactic Phase #3', 'Filter Dub', 'Signals'.
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Seefeel had one foot in the My Bloody Valentine camp (stamping on a range of FX pedals, obviously), and Quique was their finest moment, a series of musical patterns that cycle round and round, then go away -but good ones, especially the mesmerising Filter Dub. If you like music to have structure, Quique will drive you barmy; but if you consider the presence of the word "texture" in an album review to be a positive, you might well enjoy this languid landmark.
- Raggett, Ned. "The Top 136 Or So Albums Of The Nineties". Freaky Trigger. Archived from the original on 20 January 2000. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- "The 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of All Time". Pitchfork. 24 October 2016. p. 4. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
- Ham, Robert. "The 50 Best Post-Rock Albums". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 13 December 2018.