Qual - Techsick

It’s been a minute since we had new material from Qual, the even more misanthropic and miserablist side project of William Maybelline of Lebanon Hanover (not exactly the cheeriest fare itself), but a few seconds of Techsick‘s “Funeral Fashion” is all it takes to get reacquainted. Maybelline’s trademark bellow is here (the way he rhymes “sarcophagus” with “golden carcass” needs to be heard to be believed), along with the overdriven body music programming (mixed by no less a name than Rhys Fulber). Those core elements aside, there are some flourishes on Techsick‘s three original tracks which distinguish it from the stripped-down red-lining of Cybercare or the woozier Tenebris In Lux. The goth/metal guitar which drives opener “Dancing In Hell” is an unexpected turn, but one in keeping with the excess and full-bore drama which is Qual’s remit. By the time Maybelline finishes the title track hypnotized by the dead hum, pinched darkwave programming accompanying his Cronenberg-cum-Ballard stupor, the unblinking horror and estrangement of Qual feels uncannily comfortable, but still incredibly potent in small doses.


Berlin peace-punks CIERŃ impressed with their 2022 LP The Emperor RX, taking the classic bass-led melodic sound of the genre’s heyday and transplanting it to a contemporary context. Their 2024 EP Flawless takes that record’s concern with international politics and the broader social climate of our fraught era and turns inwards; if this is indeed the most anxious of eras, what effect does that have on any given individual? Tracks like “Double Beat” attack the subject directly, weaving lyrics that directly address the anxiety and uncertainty of our age, its angular guitar line pinging off the wall of cymbals and bass, mimicking the unease of constant fight or flight reactions to the everyday. Elsewhere, the title track takes on unrealistic beauty standards and their human cost, its ascending bass, blasts of guitar noise, and rumbling drums clearing the way for vocalist Devi Ant’s insistent cries of “Sick, sick!”. “Puppets” continues the theme of warped self-image to good effect, although the release’s standout is the raging “Disposable”, a rejection of wasteful consumerism and the cost of fast fashion, the band’s distain distilled into a sharp gallop through a sparse terrain whose halting bass and up-down guitar lick are punctuated by disembodied voices scattered through the stereo field. There’s a lot packed into the 4 track release, with the stridency of its lyrics well-matched to its charging attack.