Folks, here’s yet another example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover: a tasty hidden gem of an album baptised with a dubious nod to COVID-19 and emblazoned with the grainy image of a nearly finished toilet paper roll. I am pleased to present a positive review for an album I suspected might be a dud. Quarantronic, released last April by L.A. electronica whiz Ks, is all you’ll need to funk up your isolation nest with tasty instrumental indie goodness.
I won’t dwell on the disastrous packaging of this music; at the end of the day, it’s a captivating and enjoyable listen, and that’s what really matters. The latest of four albums by KS, Quarantronic blends the best of trip-hop and funk with a good dose of 80’s pop and industrial music into an instrumental tapestry that manages to toe the line between chill and upbeat, while maintaining a pleasurable sonic diversity and dynamic range.
KS is the brainchild of Jose Zambrano Cassella, who is first and foremost an acclaimed film industry veteran, of all things! After being awarded for his work on The Derailers (2019), The Sacred (2009) and Mina (2008), it comes as no surprise that his talent extends to music as well. The line between what Jose is actually playing and what he is sampling is blurry, but he has a distinct knack for arrangement. Even after a few listens, Quarantronic doesn’t lull or jar. In fact, this record feels much shorter than half an hour, even though it clocks in at 31 minutes.
Whether through the hypnotic two-chord drone “Cazzo,” the disco ambiance of “Porta Potty” or the porn-music-meets-video-game “Kraken,” Jose finds a way to keep his listener interested and entertained. He also displays excellent craftsmanship with well-arranged and mixed tracks and excellent musicianship. I am once again reminded of massively influential acts like Portishead, Morcheeba and RJD2 when listening to KS. It’s not the first time I’ve compared those three names to an artist I’m reviewing on Bucketlist, but the unique blend of chill, electronic sounds mixed with funky beats is too specific to look over.
This one may have to stay in rotation for a bit!
Written by Henri Brillon
*Edited by Dominic Abate