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IQU



Hailing from Olympia, Washington, IQU (formerly known as ICU, though the pronunciation -- ee-koo -- remains the same) occupies a strange liminal world in which warm, quirky, live instrumentation meets engrossingly alien electronic music under the terms of a mutual agreement to embrace the openness of avant-jazz experimentation. It's a bit of an oversimplification to say that they make punk rock dance music, but they do take sounds from both of those worlds and meld them seamlessly. By using an eclectic array of sounds that includes standup bass, theremin, turntables, samples, drum loops, keyboards, and guitar, IQU are able to create songs that are authentic, intimate, and personal, yet disorienting, foreign, and sometimes even alarming. The music takes you out of your body, but returns you gently to it just before the experience of disembodiment becomes too much to handle. It's both hauntingly beautiful and engagingly strange.

The frenetic live drum and bass tune featured here, "Yopparai (A Drunkard Who Fell from Heaven)," comes from IQU's 1998 debut LP Chotto Matte A Moment, a remarkably unique record full of lo-fi improvisational punked out drum and bass and sound collages. Since putting out that release, IQU has toured relentlessly, lost a member, been forced to change their name (from ICU) and recorded a couple of EPs -- 1999's Girls on Dates and 2000's Teenage Dream. That latter release is actually a single ("Teenage Dream") accompanied by eight remixes by IQU's friends, including Looper the solo project of former Belle and Sebastian bassist Stuart Davis. His "Looper Mix," takes the gleeful weirdness of the singing Japanese children and upright bass featured in IQU's original, and adds early '90s Brit-rock guitar samples, heady beats, and bizarre sonic ornamentation.