Australia's Cornel Wilczek has been releasing music under the name Qua for several years now, but none of it has seen release inside the United States until Mush Records decided to remedy that situation by re-releasing a couple of his albums to hopefully introduce his music to a wider audience. While his debut Forgetabout from 2002 was a decent little release (that definitely still sounds like an artist who's trying to find his way), it's his follow-up of Painting Monsters On Clouds that really finds him stretching out and exploring some unique sounds.
The two-part album opening tracks of "Painting Monsters" and "On Clouds" are a perfect introduction to his sound as he explores rhythm, melody and texture in ways that call to mind a slew of different artists without sounding directly like any of them. The former track mixes soft waves of feedback, clicky percussion and billowy ambience into a nice introduction, while the latter mingles together ramshackle drumming, playful melodies (that include filtered harps and twangy guitars), and warm textures in a way that calls to mind Caribou or Four Tet.
From there, the album continues to play things light and loose, and "Luckybuster" mixes some pretty guitar melodies with soft keyboards and some rather hyper programming into a track that falls somewhere between The Books and melodic IDM. The middle of the release slows things down a bit with quieter tracks like "Watercolour" (that blends field recordings, warm melodica, and some nice programming) and "Happy Domestica," which mixes clean playful tones and organic instrumentation in a way that sounds a bit like Nobukazu Takemura or Motohiro Nakashima.
Also a multimedia artist, Wilczek really sounds as if he's literally taking small steps with each song on his albums. Painting Monsters On Clouds fittingly ends with two of the best tracks on the entire release, with "Output" finding quirky melodies dancing off more textural backdrops and some nice acoustic guitar while the closer of "Secret Space" builds from an intro that recalls Mum into a more band-like second section with muffled drums, bright guitars, chimes, and loads of electronics. Considering the nice leap he made from his first album to his second, and that this eleven song release originally came out in 2004, here's hoping for yet another chapter in the evolving sound of Qua in the near future.