Boomkat Product Review:
Elle Andrews & Jon K’s MAL label pushes left with FOQL’s new album of polyrhythmic sidewinders and blacklit electronics, edging into crankier spaces on a tense flux somewhere between Raime's blasted-earth topographies and Anthony Manning's crystalline FM sequences.
Hailing from Łódź, Poland, Justyna Banaszczyk aka FOQL was raised in the post-industrial decay of the city beloved by David Lynch for its abundant, knackered architecture (think ‘Eraserhead’, or run go check his warehouse photo studies). ‘Wehikuł’ translating to ‘Vehicle’, echoes its provenance and dark surreality across eight cuts of intricate post-techno pulses webbed with brooding synths that lend a fine new stripe of influence to MAL’s unpredictable ‘Rebel Music’ agenda, perfectly in step with its off-road vectors.
Banaszczyk has been a part of her country's grassroots underground for many years at this point, making music with a diverse cast of collaborators, co-founding the Oramics Collective and Radio Kapitał, running the Ignorantka space in Łódź, and helming the Pointless Geometry label. She brings this wide-ranging expertise and boundless motivation to her music, charging through her undulating productions with a rare sense of urgency and intensity.
FOQL patently has a taste for the tang of metallic tones too, coupled with a keen proprioceptive awareness of dubbed-out reverb in wide, vertiginous industrial space that manifests in her ductile, spatialised production. 'Myrhh' is a gummy introduction to her distinctive sound, a ruffled clash of bell-like synthesised sequences that harmonise with Anthony Manning's brilliant (and still underrated) "Islets in Pink Polypropylene". But Banaszczyk really lets rip with 'Escapist Dubbbbb Machine', building up from spliced drum hits into vaporous synth textures and pulsating electronics. Escapist dub is a good descriptor, finding a malleable mid-point that touches Tackhead to Sandwell District without treading into overused “dark" tropes. Her influences coalesce on the album's title track, adding tense strings to jerky acidic dub, refining the rhythm into a disorientating, convulsive gallop.
From here, Banaszczyk's compositions hover around a similar thematic locale, interpreting her sense of turmoil but driving through it regardless with a relentless sense of purpose. 'Twój Mózg' adds fractal synth sequences over rolling loops and paranoid vocal snatches; 'Shhhshh' steps into the warehouse, syncopating industrial drums with a voice that's begging for mental quietude; and 'Divine Horseman' dispenses with the rhythm altogether, connecting with Banaszczyk's DIY noise roots and serrated foghorns over tape-saturated, microtonal rounds. Grim but not suffocating, "Wehikuł" is a flaming torch through inky black territory.