Straddling genres can be a difficult task. It's not difficult to make great music, mind you, but it can be very difficult to find an audience for that music. sq, aka Speed Queen, is an improvising duo. But instead of drawing from clear roots in the jazz or euro scene, the duo uses sound textures more common in noise and electronic bands. Interestingly, sq doesn’t fall into many of those genre traps either. Credit Speed Queens Marc Faris and Joe Tunis for having the wits to come up with their own path.
The eight tracks are varied, not at all programmatic, yet one can make narrative associations with many. Even their titles are atypical; jazzers tend to short titles, and the laptoppers seem to prefer abbreviations. The first track here is “:thank you k for space harmonics body hearING, NG, NGNGNG:” The percussion rattles, and speeds up like a train; then there’s a switch, a shift.
In a sense this is pure music: It’s often difficult to tell which instruments are playing. John Cage would probably approve. Percussion and guitar, surely. Bowed bass? There are major shifts in dynamic range, then silences where you think the disc may have ended. Imagine Captain Beefheart’s “Kandy Korn” or “Mirror Man” horn squawks, but with no rhythm track at all.