by Angel S.
I’ve been hoping that, one day, Eric Quach—the sole mind behind thisquietarmy—would release a synthesizer-based album. To be honest, I was hoping that synths would be his one and only sound source because I was curious what would come from it. However, looking back at it now, it would probably be too big of a leap into the unknown, and frankly, in the end, who cares if thisquiestarmy’s music is created through only synths, only guitars, or only whatever? Quach’s latest album, Democracy of Dust, sees him experimenting with synthesizers while not leaving behind his trusty, patented, heavily processed guitar.
Democracy of Dust, released this past July by Midira Records, was started in 2016 at Dissenso Studio in São Paulo, Brazil. That’s where Quach tracked all the synths. Everything else was recorded between Montreal and Berlin half a year later. And here we are now, exploring the results of thisquietarmy’s first proper full-length flirtation with keyboards.
The album starts with ‘Welcome to Mendacity’. The whole piece is built over a fat Moog-esque bass sequence, which more or less loops during the entire track. Over top of it are layered minimalist acoustic drum patterns. Then comes the epic textural guitar work, which anyone familiar with thisquietarmy will already be well-accustomed to. This structure can generally be found across the entire album. Varying are the intensities of the guitars, the tonal dialog between the synthesized and guitar parts, and the persistence of the somewhat ritualistic and basic drumming.
The addition of these instruments has definitely done good things for the music of thisquietarmy. It has become richer and deeper. However, I’d have enjoyed it more if Quach has done all of his tone sculpturing processes to the synths so that you can no longer recognize the Korgs and Moogs scattered across the album, but get completely lost in what is what. Democracy of Dust is as edgy and loud as all things thisquietarmy have historically been thus far, but especially after the previous double-album Metamorphose, I think it could have been a bit unsafer and more dangerous.
Tracks like ‘A World Without Power’ and ‘New Home of Mind’, with their deep low ends and melancholic slow melodies, are definitely highlights among the record because the static synth loops are in perfect symbiosis with the rest of the music and definitely show the project from a new angle. Quach has done his job the best with the album’s closer, ‘Nobody’s Free Until Everyone’s Free’, which almost has a Ben Frost vibe and intensity to it. More of this, please!
Lastly, just speaking in strictly subjective terms, I love it so much when no programmed realistic drums are to be found on a thisquietarmy record that I cannot really fathom disliking this one. If you’re of a similar mindset, give this one a spin.