Monolith synths and sorrowful depths - the dark clad world of Qual's debut album "Sable"
Qual is the solo project of William Maybeline, one half of Lebanon Hanover, a coldwave/goth duo consisting of two romantic souls (interview can be accessed here). It seems that William was always responsible for the harsher part of the duo's music and in his solo effort he strips these elements to the core and introduces his own vision of stark and monolithic synth darkness. If Lebanon Hanover's romantic escapism was comforting in a way, Qual's pitch black sonics are a more radical, expressive, even aggressive exclamation of pain and sorrow coming from the depths of the heart. Even though "Sable" is a very consistent album, its minimalist pulsations, gritty synth elegance, and solid monotonous beats provide diverse musical settings for William's dark poetry.
Kicking off with the slow paced synth dirge "Sable", the release showcases the numerous facets of William's dark universe. "Spit on Me" has an even gloomier touch and sounds like a futuristic/synth version of a doom metal track. The album quickly shifts into a haunted minimal wave piece, "Flay", before jumping to "Benevolent Technologies", which has traits of rough and straightforward EBM from the genre’s the golden age, and draws parallels to the dark technologically infused hauntings of Clock DVA or Liaisons Dangereuses. In a similar way, the layers of monolithic-rhythm-entrapped analog darkness provide a solid backing for "O' Ornate Spade". "The Geometry of Wounds" and "Putrid Perfumes", with their more mellow synth lines and fast-paced beats, might as well be features on a Lebanon album. "Desolate Discotheque" reveals a somewhat more melancholic and “poppy” side to the release. At this point "Sable" moves closer to neon-lit dramatic synth pop and finally slows down with "Rip Doth Thy Scarlet Claws".
Even though the album is heavily preoccupied with dark moods and desolate atmospheres, it always manages to grab onto tight synth lines and catchy melodies. Tracks like "Benevolent Technologies" or "Desolate Discotheque" would do excellent work in any underground disco for neurotic and introverted souls. Yet it is a nice collection of classy goth/darkwave elements from the harsher fringes of the genre. Qual takes us on a truly valuable journey of synthetic brutalism, where powerful emotions meet an uncompromising synth madness. "Sable" is drenched in sorrow and painful imagery, but it also possesses a solid backbone of strength and power, which inspires the listener and even provides some hope.
02. Spit On Me
04. Benevolent Technologies
05. O' Ornate Spade
06. The Geometry Of Wounds
07. Luxurious Bleedings
08. Putrid Perfumes
09. Desolate Discotheque
10. Rip Doth Thy Scarlet Claws