Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Some things are a long time coming.

Querelle were formed in London by a trio of estranged Italians (singer and guitarist Gypsy, best friend Valentina on drums and originally Gypsy's sister Stef on bass, since replaced by Antonio, a former band mate of Gypsy and Val back in Italy) way back in 2001, but somehow the forthcoming self-titled mini-album, released on Sink and Stove Records at the end of July, is their debut. With many bands, this would have been an annoying wait; for Querelle fans, and one would assume the band themselves, this has been a period of interminable frustration.

Part of the reason for this delay could be put down to teething issues. As in the I'll tear you apart like Jaws in a pool of neon tetras kind of teething issues.

"We split up after a bunch of gigs as we were about to kill each other and we could not play our songs without bursting into tears. We got back together after six months with the same line up but we kept attempting homicide and sabotage."

So we find ourselves here, four years and two split-singles - one with the Dudley Corporation, the other with the Wow - later, finally cradling the album in our slightly sweaty, appreciative hands, clutching at it like some hard-fought treasure, hoping that our patience will be richly rewarded, grateful the motivating spur that keeps Querelle's flame flickering did not diminish with the passing of time.

"[These are] songs that need to come out, chords that need to exist, rhythms that need to rumble, houses that need to be bought down..."

Fortunately for us, and again you'd imagine for Querelle, the album is stunning. It's everything for which we could have hoped and, yes, as the cliché has it, so much more.

"Up and down the shanty town that you've become there's nothing to be found,
I rock'n'roll I twist and shout I scream out loud I don't make any sound,
I love myself like no one else,
But not enough it's just a little crush as such"

'Shanty Town'

From the opening cyclic riff of 'Shanty Town' to the closing refrain of 'Diverging', it's clear that this record is exactly as it should be: elegaic, full of natural grace and staggering poise, the precise realisation of a Querelle gig. In order to exist, everything in life needs to discover balance in order to survive, must find that point of equilibrium between creation and destruction, life and death, love and hate, love and lust. And in keeping with the greater themes in life, Querelle have found their philosophers stone, the fulcrum around which their world can revolve and evolve.

While their art-rock stylings (think Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead) and spazz-jazz poses (Theolonious Monk, Sun Ra) may flirt with the avant-garde, the melody and hooks of songs like 'Little Silly Things' show that they're more than happy to lick the tit of pop, aiming for, and often coming pretty to close to achieving, to attaining their dream of sonic perfection, and as both Pier Paolo Pasolini and Blonde Redhead have put it, finding a way to express the inexpressible.

"We all hope to live out the dream that we grew up with, which is not fame and money, but creative freedom and probably some recognition. The kind of parable that the biographies of our favourite bands show."

"It sneaks into your ribcage,
It sits upon your heart it tears your little silly dreams apart,
I hope it keeps you awake at night I hope it holds you tight,
I hope it hits you right between the eyes"

'Just A Song'

Such talk of perfection, brings us, as it was always destined to, to 'Sore'. While the other songs here more than justify the high expectations with which we approached the album, 'Sore' takes those suppositions, smashes them into little pieces and builds something new, magnificent and previously undreamt of from the scattered remnants.

It starts off like a long-lost relation of Sonic Youth's 'Expressway To Yr Skull', takes a lonely, melancholic guitar riff and turns into a work of art, an object of beauty. And just as the bridge tumbles in, it opens its heart to us, affording us glimpses of the childhood spent growing up listening to My Bloody Valentine and the early Ride EPs. And as with all the best songs by all the bands mentioned above, 'Sore' lifts you up with it as it reaches for the heavens. It's that song that, when you first hear it, fulfils everything that you wish it could. It's the song that is going to make you fall in love with Querelle. It's the song that most completely represents everything that they seem to symbolise.

"Heaven sent an angel just to let me know,
Let me feel what blooming flowers feel when they fuck the concrete on the pavement"


Some things are a long time coming. And some things, it turns out, are well worth the wait