I want to take you down to the damned. Bear audio witness to a man screaming for salvation, amiss a world of misery. You may not exactly cry, but you will be scared, startled and oddly amused. This was once the world of David Yow’s Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard. Now it is the territory of a new breed of The Yow, called Qui (pronounced “key”). It may be a new world, but the demon inside does not stray too far away from the devil.
Love’s Miracle is the third album from a band that was started by the duo of Paul Christensen and Matt Cronk, who handle drums, guitar and vocals, respectively. The music does not feature a bass, but you won’t care, as it’s still plenty noisy and sonically appealing -- as, Yow did after all pick this band to come out of his retirement with. With a good near-decade between an LP of Yow, his first album for the band, we are treated to something that is different, but should not disappoint Yow fans; when Yow’s drunken yelps are featured is when the album is at its best.
Yet, before we get more into that, it must be said that when Yow isn’t howling at the mike, is when what seem to be Christensen’s and Cronk’s turn both vocally and lyrically to deploy. Now, I must admit that I could not find definite “credit” info outside of the scant “duty” list on the back of this album anywhere I looked. It simply credits all three with vocal work, but never clarifies who is doing what song. Obviously, I know Yow’s signature voice; yet, when it does not sound like Yow, I honestly have no idea who is singing.
This might sound irrelevant to the reader, but actually, this is also the source of Love's Miracle’s bad elements. Simply, when the album does not sound Yow-sized, both vocally and lyrically, it usually does not work. The exception, however, is the opening track, “Apartment,” which is oddly tuneful and knows when to have the vocals stop to let the instruments rock out. Yet the main song that bears the problem is above average, but crawling: “A #1.” This sixth track is moody, but too minimalist, and at 5:35 minutes long, “A #1” is the second-longest song on the album; it seems included just to pad the runtime, due to both being droning and without a sense of climax. The two other bummer spots are clearly sung by Yow. One, “Gash” is lovely demented, but also seems like it’s on a ferris wheel, in that you just stop at the same point in which you started. The other, “Belt” seems directionless as well.
Yet, often when Yow is at his old self is when Love’s Miracle comes on like gangbusters. The quick-footed rocker "Today Gestation” sounds like his earlier days, while “New Orleans” is nice 'n’ spacey, yet with a rockin’-out ethos; think Pink Floyd, just more ticked off.
With that said, Qui does, in fact, do a cover of Pink Floyd’s song, “Echoes,“ as the last track on this album. Although this music writer honestly has not heard the original, I know it has been heavily trimmed in this cover, and I have to think that it must be less epic, but more to-the-point. It’s a fine closer, indeed, still being atmospheric and dreamy. Qui also covers Frank Zappa’s "Willie the Pimp," and even, again, if I have honestly not heard the original, on this track I assume that this is much harder rocking and more ticked off.
The only song that has not been mentioned is the often well-received fourth track, "Freeze." By no means perfect, it is a fine definition of the album. It features Yow in his classic position of dirty-minded hellraiser, but at the same time, feature repetition at its, well, most repetitive.