Quetico: Know You Are | ★★★★ | Self-released; Wednesday, Feb. 2
For most families, producing one tall, lanky drummer with polyrhythms in his hands and a sort of cosmic irony in his eyes would be plenty. But the facts show that the Westerlunds of Wisconsin have issued at least two.
Brothers Joe (Megafaun, Mandolin Orange) and Yan (Canine Heart Sounds, Bowerbirds), who once shared what must have been a very rackety room, have thoroughly infiltrated the Triangle’s indie bands over the last 13 years. They’ve also both emerged—and diverged—as composer-bandleaders. Joe’s music feels ancient, mystical, and fluid, whereas Yan’s, as Quetico, is retro, worldly, and pertly shaped.
His first album, Man Alone, was mostly a solo project that established Quetico’s eccentric crossroads of elaborately metered jazz, pitter-pattering techno, and glossy pop finishing. But on his new record, Know You Are, Yan is joined by Tim Sullivan and Bowerbirds’ Mark Paulson, among others, suffusing his percussion and electronic pads with fragrant woodwinds and synths. The songs are lush but run so clear that their challenging time signatures often hardly even register—they’re more special sauce than the main course, this time.
If Know You Are can be said to be any one thing, it’s a voyage through the grooviest, most sensuous parts of throwback FM radio. There are strains of symphonic 1970s soul (especially on the outstanding “Putnam Heights”), svelte ’80s R&B, and progressive soft rock. Canine Heart Sounds’ “Worship Team” is reworked as gospel-tinged electro-pop; “Awanas” makes minimalist sax ostinatos swoon; Sade would crush “Keith.”
The melodies form a bright, engaging carapace over the intricate gear work, and there is much you would linger on if it came up in a weekend block on Foxy 107, the lunchtime jazz program on WNCU 90.7, or the bridge of a Toto song on G105.
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