In Physics, a quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter, particles that combines to form protons and neutrons. There are six different types of quarks, which the scientists, in an unusual exercise of pragmatism, have denominated as following: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. It is impossible to find isolated quarks in nature, for they are always forming groups.
Take this short note about Physics as an excuse to introduce Chilean band Quarks, which makes its debut with Elemental, an album with which they pay hommage to the six types of particle. And to more things, as we are going to see.
The ensemble is formed by three people (it would be therefore a baryon, that is, a hadron or set of three quarks): Ricardo Riadi on synthesizers and effects, Alamiro Arias playing guitars (both electric and acoustic) and Claudio Momberg also on keyboards. Although Elemental is Quarks' first album, they all have a long career in electronic and progressive music. Thus, Riadi is also member of Scope, a tribute band dedicated to play covers from classics like Jean Michel Jarre or Vangelis; Momberg took part in three albums with Subterra and keeps other solo projects, like Taurus or Seti, and Arias is vocalist and plays guitar in the pop/rock band Signuz.
But music is also Physics, so let's go with that.
First thing that attracts attention in Elemental's music is the selection of sounds. Far from the crystaline sounds of northern downtempo, or the glitch experiments, the Chileans recover (if they were ever dead) the analog sounds of past decades. It's a sure bet based on heavy basses, phaser-filtered pads and powerful sequences over which settles the electric guitar. If themes titles refer to elementary particles, the music refers to elementary names of electronic music: Jean Michel Jarre from Oxygène (1976) and Equinoxe (1978), or Tangerine Dream from Rubycon (1975) or Stratosfear (1976).
With this wickers put Quarks their instant music together: long instrumental suites within which the typically space-music atmospheric moments transform into powerful rythmic passages over sequences in the most pure school of Berlin style. It is not easy to make themes like 'Top' or 'Bottom' evolve within themselves without abrupt changes. However, and maybe because of the member's experience in the genre, the three in Quarks manage to keep the music to flow smoothly. Even in the more dynamic parts, the dialogs between guitars and synthesizers keep harmony intact and the warmth of analog sounds is never lost.
It has to be accepted that Elemental does not take any risk and places itself placidly in a confort zone from earlier styles. It moves safely within it. It doesn't open any new spaces, but knows how to use the available resources. Because not every album has to look towards an uncertain or risky forward, but sometimes it is a good thing to look back, to the roots. Listening to this album is like letting go floating through a well known universe, visiting old musical corners and recognising old friends. But, is it not that a good emotion?