Intriguant – ‘Spirits’ review: dance music in a time of distance and solitude

On his third album, the Singapore-based DJ and producer makes reflective dance music that doesn't need to call the club home

For those who live in cities encumbered by concrete and steel, the dark offers a rare gift: the illusion of space. And with it comes possibilities.

Singapore-based DJ and producer Intriguant (real name Louis Quek) has exploited those possibilities to make spots such as an underground club feel like the only place that exists when the sun dips. The rest of the world disappears and there’s nothing left but joyful abandon.

Yet in a time of distance and solitude, the clubs have all shuttered. So, on his third album ‘Spirits’, Intriguant reimagines what he can do with the limitless potential of electronic music and how it’s free to reach anything and anyone.

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Intriguant communicates; not in words, but by facilitating connectivity through dance music that serves more than its immediate purpose. Beyond invoking the audience to actively participate – to move – ‘Spirits’ finds fulfilment in forging a connection to one’s self as much as to others.

This dextrous approach to electronic music manifests cohesively on the album, on which Intriguant builds a bridge between longing and living, movement and melancholy.

‘Spirits’ is, for the most part, a dance record in the traditional sense: it borrows generously from the irresistible repetition of house music, the bounce of UK garage and the nostalgic charm of a ’90s MTV Party To Go mix, with its breakbeats and pop inflections.

Tracks like ‘Cosway’, ‘Desandan’, and ‘How Abt Now’ (the latter featuring fellow Singaporean producer fzpz) do the most of the heavy lifting in this regard: they’re instinctive, rhythmic, bass-heavy, at times even flashy. One of the record’s most exciting moments is the beat switch on ‘How Abt Now’, which starts off with chic, layered synths and jazzy undertones that unravel midway into wobbles and glitches like a malfunctioning toy robot, culminating in a final act of cathartis.

Lead single ‘Your Love’ heavily incorporates organic textures such as gothic vocal samples (which also appear on ‘Desandan’), peppering them across house music’s four-on-the-floor pattern. They’re almost like an argument for life and not just proof of it.

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By reinforcing these human elements, whether incidentally or by design, Intriguant allows space for introspection. “Absence is an invitation – a prerequisite for possibility and blastoff,” reads the liner notes for the single. While answering the undeniable call of the dancefloor, ‘Your Love’ also imposes urgency in pace and rhythm that overwhelms the languid pull of longing.

The payoff even in the most dance-oriented tracks in ‘Spirits’ is subdued; Intriguant tends to focus more on scope than scale. His music’s framework has always been centred on exploring depth first, looking inward and then going back to the fundamentals.

“I wanted to go back to where I started. The underground club scene has always been family to me. I grew up from there,” he says of his 2019 experimental/IDM album, ‘Kindred’, a work that showcases his beginnings.

‘Spirits’, on the other hand, is more preoccupied with the present. It’s about how we maintain our relationship with the places where we found our sense of belonging and community – the club – especially at a time when such spaces are forced to be vacant.

The album’s more muted moments (‘Faraway’, ‘Siren’, ‘Spirits’) usher in much-needed pockets of respite, with longer and more layered sections that evoke mood rather than invoke action. Its most poignant minutes, however, are in the ambient ‘Hours’ and the minimally percussive ‘Wind’, the latter of which features the album’s lone vocals, courtesy of Singapore-based South Korean artist HYU.

Although the stuttering track sequence of ‘Spirits’ sometimes throws off the progress in building narratives (it’s disorienting to hop from a dance track to an ambient cut every other song), it’s another reminder of the cycles of life: that after a long day ends, night comes. And with the dark comes possibilities.

Details

intriguant spirits

  • Release date: November 20
  • Record label: TAV Records

 

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