Quivver – Revelate (Bedrock Records)
It’s almost a crime that John Graham AKA Quivver is not as well-known as he is. Amongst scene followers, serious music buyers, producers and DJ’s, John is legendary. His other aliases Skanna, Stoneproof, Space Manoeuvres and his association with Tilt has earned him cult-like status, and an enviable, yet deserved, reputation for talent. He has one of the sharpest ears on the production planet. Quivver, however, remains distinctly underground, his work revered but unmolested from a commercial perspective.
His album ‘Revelate’, 10 tracks of blissful electronica, spanning ambient, through breaks to house and back is, in parts, so unmistakably ‘Quivverish’ you could confidently pick it out of a line-up and take it down. Guilty as charged.
But this isn’t an accusation, nor a bad thing. Quivver’s sound is unique and distinct, it oozes quality with the hallmark of a musician that isn’t just naturally talented but has honed his craft over decades.
Hence the levels of excitement around the release of ‘Revelate’, on John Digweed’s revered Bedrock label, were extremely high as were the expectations. Yet the market that music is received into has changed. The album format is molested, the appetite for the listener to digest a body of work is diminished.
What Quivver has done with this ten-track long-player is to take the listener on the traditional album journey, something notoriously difficult for electronic music artists – especially those with an underground bent.
The album starts with ‘Moonlight Pools’, a dark and emotive ambient opener. The keen-eared amongst you will spot a touch of the ‘Stage One’, just a sprinkling. ‘Horizons’ picks up the pace with a low-slung, smouldering, house chugger. It’s filmic, like taking a journey through the city and staring out the window as the landscape slides by.
Things get interesting with ‘Nothin’ New to Feel’, starring a pop-like vocal laid bare on a deep bed of progressive house. The lush pads and sumptuous melody are strong and emotive, the ambients are unusual but somehow familiar. The production here is a tour-de-force, a masterclass in the selection of sounds and arranging them with space and texture. I was left needing more vocal and the uneasy feeling that if this was the album starter, the album journey might be more successful.
‘Atomised’ is a pure-deep soundscape, something that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of John Digweed’s own sets. As fast as you’re settling into the deep journey, ‘Funkily’ shoots you an accusing look and elbows you hard. “This is how it is”, it says; funky yes, but quirky, uneasy and edgy. Punchy toms, nagging bass, vocal snippets and spiralling effects. When the ethereal strings kick in, like a raging shepard tone, and that hoover bass, and then that spooky melody – wowzers it’s just something else.
This is the sort of tune you hear at 5am dancing hard to the sunrise and still talk about ten years later.
‘Altered’ is a hard-funk journey with a growling house framework and a queasy Pixie-esque sample and ‘Shine’, a modern-sounding breaks track.
‘Hold’ puts you back on that deep and dreamy journey and ‘5AM’ lays bare that deep backroom experience, with its repetitive, driving nature you can almost see the strobes flashing in the background.
As if the end of the night has finally arrived ‘Crystals’ closes the album with an exuberant flourish of breaks, sub-bass and wonderful melody. The quality not so much trickles but gushes. It is literally a showstopper of a tune. It’s hard to imagine a more Quivver sounding track here, it’s light-touch everything, almost subtle in its approach but heavy-hitting on its exit. The choice of sounds, the balance and the placement of sounds are truly special. At nearly four minutes it’s an almost perfect set-closer, an album crown and an accomplished piece of work, yet I need more. ‘Crystals’ could be an album on its own and it wouldn’t disappoint.
And there is the problem with this album. It’s a journey, it’s a club, it’s a festival but it doesn’t quite gel to be the ‘experience’ I know it’s capable of. I want more ‘Crystals’, ‘Funkily’, and ‘Nothin’ New To Feel’. I want more of those outpourings because they are truly full of fireworks. Instead, it’s an album that is very good with some sublime moments.
Despite its imperfections, ‘Revelate’ has been on repeat, in the house, the studio, the car and pretty much everywhere. Check out ‘Revelate’, but more importantly, check out Quivver, he is one of the talents of our electronic generation.
‘Revelate’ can be bought as part of a 4 album boxset alongside Satoshie Fumi, Lopezhouse and Captain Mustache.