Spoken-word artist Equinox returns with his third album, the follow-up to 2019’s critically acclaimed Correction. In a shift from his last album and the debut, It’s Hard To Be Happy When Your Head Is Full Of Sin, there is a shift from guest musical collaborators on each track to just one – Xqui.
Xqui has blazed a trail of experimental noise and sounds since his emergence in 2018 and already has the likes of Vince Clarke and Neil Arthur as admirers. As mysterious as he is prolific, he sits on the boundaries of time and space, creating sound worlds from a variety of other-worldly sources. An innovator, feted by the indie-electronica press, Xqui’s output and scope is vast, engaging, ambient and brilliant in equal measure.
With External Combustion Tension, Equinox not only recites but also contributes large swathes of sound to this project, giving him a freedom that maybe didn’t exist on his previous albums: “whilst I’m incredibly proud of my first two albums, the co-ordination involved in investigating artists to contribute and the anxiety in pulling the whole thing together was immense”.
The pair first crossed paths when Equinox was invited to remix Spark, a track from the debut Xqui album Dragon, for the Wyrmling EP. The favour was then returned on Correction when Xqui provided the backing to a ‘duet’ of spoken voices between Equinox and poet Lynn Gerrard (aka The Grumbling Gargoyle) on the haunting and disturbing Broken.
Equinox had little intention of a third album but was persuaded to join forces with Xqui, and External Combustion Tension was the resulting work. On his debut album, Equinox enlisted the help of legendary synth genius Vince Clarke on Goodnight Vienna and has now acknowledged the honour with a cover of Yazoo’s Too Pieces, which originally appeared on the album Upstairs At Eric’s. Clarke describes the cover as simply “very cool”.
There is also a nod of approval to synth-pop stalwarts Blancmange in their cover of That’s Love That It Is, which also features vocals from Kat Five of Feral Five with whom Equinox had a BBC 6 Recommends choice from Gideon Coe with Kiss: “it draws you in and then slaps you in the head – brilliantly done”.
Pickpocket and Rapidly Becoming/Result Day bring a dark haunting to the proceedings and The Box exudes tension and horror. A further influence is acknowledged to Welsh improv artist Ash Cooke (Chow Mwng, Pulco, Derrero) on the simply-titled Ash Cooke Changed My Life. “Ash was a huge influence on both Xqui and myself and released both our debuts on his own label, there’s a lot that we have to be thankful for and a name check was the least we could do”.
External Combustion Tension releases on 5 November via Wormhole World and is available on CD and digital download.
Equinox can be found via Bandcamp Facebook or Twitter where he tweets as @SoundsOfEquinox
The Xqui Bandcamp page is here and you can follow on Twitter as @XquiMusic.
All words via Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop and you can follow him on Twitter as @hiapop, and on Facebook here.