May 29th, 2009 | Album reviews

Download: Corridor “Barricks”


(from the self-titled album out now on Manimal)

In theory, music made this way shouldn’t sound so original. Live, M. Quinn’s one-man band Corridor is a dark and beautiful experiment in multi-instrumental virtuosity. He doesn’t attack the guitar and cello so much as he conquers them. But I was unsure of whether the intensity of Corridor would translate to a whole album’s worth of songs that could just as easily be five musicians as one. Surprisingly it mostly does. Corridor avoids making ‘distortion’ equal ‘excitement.’ He uses it for build-up on a song or two, but rarely for sheer brutality, instead aiming to overcome your senses with clean notes one after another in a crazy but rhythmically orderly array. “Barracks” in particular is so ball-busting in its guitar picking, it could almost be Earl Scruggs playing, if I didn’t feel like the vampires were coming. This album aims between your synapses and between genres. His guitar tone gets almost jazzy, almost bright, but stops just short of the fusion-y experimentation of Nels Cline—and he plays in weird Lydian Lebanese scales, but avoids sounding like Eddie Bertrand or Dick Dale. And though it’s not gothic rock, there’s a painful fatalism in his voice, a tenor that evokes something between late-eighties Depeche Mode and early-eighties Spandau Ballet, with a little Lovage-era Mike Patton thrown in on those “Woodpecker From Mars” moments. There are one or two moments on this disc, like the piano ballad “Free Icon,” where I feel the songwriting pulls back a little bit from the beautiful precipice and approaches Garth Marenghi territory. But overall this album is like a cranberry martini—bitter, swirly, and a sign of great things to come in the near future.

—Dan Collins