PREMIERE: QQQ - Vocoder Works

Laura Kerry

The only lyrics in QQQ’s new track “Definitely Dead” are, “I can’t define / How much I / Much need to die / Tonight.” The words unsettle, particularly when processed into a voice that sounds more alien-robot synthesis than human. But the music itself, with its pulsing dance bass, spurts of tinkling synth lines, and shuffling beat, is euphoric. Some symbolic deaths are a happy transcendence, like the act of losing oneself on the dance floor. As the first of his three tracks on Vocoder Works demonstrates, DJ/producer QQQ has made a name for himself in that transcendent territory.

Toeing the line between weird experimentalism and accessibility, QQQ builds soundscapes more worthy of being called compositions than songs. The artist uses analog synths, which generate a smooth and sometimes warm feeling, particularly on the liquid, alien-jazz second track, “Unreachable.” With its drones and tinny synth riff, though, “HoldMyHand.103b” enacts the joke of its title, approximating human sentiment in a harsh digital language. But after a glitchy build and a moment of silence, even this track shifts into a blissful and sunny final movement with a dance-inducing beat. On this third release, QQQ shows that for all of its lack of real human feeling, electronic music is often the genre that burrows the deepest by inciting the blood to flow, the body to move.