Album Appreciation: In Neutral by Qujaku

When it came to the end of last year one album stood out for me amongst all the brilliant releases that I had had the great fortune to hear. Obviously it made my ‘End of Year Review‘, and topped my Instagram list. Both the album and the band came from nowhere, something which made it doubly surprising the effect that superbly improvised set had on me.

I am pleased to say that the band are back with a new release, effectively an EP, consisting of two long tracks which for me cements their place as one of my favourite collectives going at the moment. What I like is that these two tracks are very different and, as a result, bring up different feelings as I listen to them.

Title track, ‘In Neutral’ begins slowly with a quiet riff presaging what you think is going to be some massive explosion into heavy guitar… instead what you get is a wonderfully lush sax which takes the track off into dreamland… a lustrous and sophisticated sound that, while far from much of last year’s album, certainly ticks many of the boxes for me at the moment. As the thirteen minute improvisation progresses you now feel assured that this laid back sound is going to continue. This deal is sealed when the vocal comes in at around four minutes and really melts the bits of your soul that haven’t already been liquified.

At around the half way mark there is a sort of free jazz bridge which heralds a change up in terms of pace, but not in terms of theme. The same patterns are maintained and although the track continues to build there is never the sense that it is going to get out of control….

By contrast ‘Gloria’ is a far more intense a fuzz-laden affair, something which the band set out from the first bar. You can tell that this is going to be a totally intense and out there experience as the whole thing crashes in after the first minute… there’s riffage a-plenty as the siren guitars kick off firing like lasers in many directions. This is chaos that only gets some order as the vocal kicks in, sounding like Thom Yorke in an air raid… struggling for space in the mix, yet also somehow leading it. This is full-fucking-on every bit as much as ‘In Neutral’ was laid back. Each side a ying to the other’s yang.

Things gradually settle down a bit into a mid-track hiatus in which the psychedelic beat is controlled but relentless, although you also get a sense that you are never far away from another blast into a full-on fuzz fest, which once again hits you like a train as the band take the track home in epic style.

Qujaku manage, in just two tracks, to set out why for me they are so good. This is a band that have many strings to their bow… their are a multi-dimensional unit which keep you guessing, and also keep you fed with their variety of improvised music which, for me, is never less than exemplary.

‘In Neutral’ is released as a 10″ EP on So I Buried Records on 26th July 2019.

The band are taking part in a short European Tour around the same time (I’m gutted to be on holiday then):

26th (Fri) Ghent, BE / Ghent Festival

27th (Sat) Lille, FR / L’Imposture

28th (Sun) Hamburg, DE / Die Schute

31st (Wed) Dublin, IE / The Sound House

2nd (Fri) London, UK / New River Studios

3rd (Sat) Braziers Park, UK / Supernormal Festival



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