Home Read Classic Album Review: Querkus | The Fire Behind Us

Classic Album Review: Querkus | The Fire Behind Us

The synth-pop duo create ethereal, richly textured soundscapes — & tape them live.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


I know what you’re thinking: If only, somewhere in this city, there existed a co-ed musical duo that played avant-garde electronic pop and sounded like a cross between Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Portishead, Trent Reznor and a Renaissance Fayre. Well, your dreams have finally come true.

Meet Querkus, the intriguingly unique pairing of singer-keyboardist Karen Dunham and guitarist-programmer Edgar Ozolins. Equipped with both their formidable natural abilities and banks of gear to compensate for their lack of actual bandmates, they create ethereal, richly textured soundscapes that are heavy with electronics but not totally dependent upon them. Strip away all the skittering drum machines, the lush loops and samples, and the layers of effects and you’ll find that Querkus’s songs are ultimately built upon the most traditional songwriting elements — strong melodies, organic instruments and Dunham’s melancholy, dulcet vocals. Even more impressive, most of their new hour-long album The Fire Behind Us was recorded live, meaning they know how to make all those machines do their bidding when it counts. Oh, but I know what else you’re thinking: There’s only one thing that could make this better — Johnny Cash. Well, Track 9 revamps The Man in Black’s Folsom Prison Blues into a tenebrous, menacing electro-dirge. Looks like today is your lucky day, boyo.


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