Zeroes QC

In the depths of Montreal they lurk, concocting a menacing alchemy of droning post-punk, electronic crackles and synth protopunk; creatures scavenging through the leftfield parts of the past 40 years of alternative music and moulding their found debris into new shapes and forms. Echoes of Suicide, Cabaret Voltaire and Can filter through their puzzle book of sounds, like odd frequencies jutting through the white noise of a transistor radio. For the most, though, this is a forward thinking sound: a dark, menacing presence that refuses to keep within its veneers, and instead rumbles around from paradigm to paradigm like a restlessly moving amalgamation. Oh, and there’s also some bits that sound like Led Zeppelin.

So goes the slightly paradoxical nature of Canadian four-piece Suuns. There’s nothing wholly untrue in that first paragraph when concerning this, their debut LP. They’ve tracks like ‘Pie IX’ and ‘Up Past The Nursery’ that slither along on their bellies, all awkward-sounding low-bass-murmurs and isolated, skittering percussion while the group’s vocalist Ben Shemie coldly utters lexical non-entities over the top. Then there’s the seven-minute-long electronic respiration of ‘Sweet Nothing’, a constant pulsing that feeds not on emotion but on adrenaline, riding along on a crescendo of swarming sirens and out of sync guitars. However, for all their slowly unfurling rewards, it’s not these tracks that leave the lingering impressions of Zeroes QC.

It’s the other part, the ‘Zeppelin bit. We’re not used to seeing our industrial-leaning art rockers brim with brazen rock & roll swagger; certainly in this country our current cream of the crop, Factory Floor, possess more of an introverted confidence that sees them sit stoically behind their behemoth layers of motorik. With Suuns, though, there’s an overpowering sense of brash self-assuredness – footage of their shows at last year’s CMJ Conference showed a band performing with a knowing self-belief, holding the crowd like any self-respecting rock band should.

On record this cocky demeanour shoves itself right up in your face as soon as they grow impatient with the cod-calculated calm of the introduction to ‘Armed For Peace’. Tossing the rudimentary sounding synthetic keys aside, Shemie and fellow guitarist Joe Yarmush launch into the sort of crunching guitar riff that should come with wide-legged stance and greasy hair as a pre-requisite. They continue this disarmingly rugged approach into ‘Gaze’, a collar-up, strutting peacock of a track that the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have been flailing around for 10 years trying to make. Even on third track ‘Arena’ they can’t settle on its sedative electro-pop, axes cutting through the metronome beat with raw abrasion, leaving the song’s carcass writhing on the floor in their wake. So when the group then proceed to head towards the nocturnal evocations and more avant-garde alleyways that make up the bulk of the rest of the album, they can’t quite arrest your attention from that initial onslaught, that opening testosterone-fuelled fire and brimstone.

This makes Zeroes QC a not wholly compatible listen, something made more apparent when Suuns’ change gear again by slowing everything down and stripping it all back on two minute cut ‘Fear’ before finishing on the droning dream-pop of ‘Organ Blues’. While the four-piece nourish their vying heads well, trying to acquiesce them both proves a tougher task, and the opening blasts of cacophony – and supporting later salvo of ‘PVC’ – blind their more calculated and explorative manoeuvres. Yet let that not detract from an ambitious debut; Suuns are clearly capable of something quite special, and at their best here they capture atmospheres of a potent hue. Don’t expect them to be coy about it, though. This is no hiding away in the underground, but instead a thundering statement of intent in broad daylight. They just need to work out what the focus of that intent is.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today