CD, Dying Culture, 2002
After “A Gothic Novel” and “La Belle Epoque” contributed to bringing XPQ-21 to the public attention, “Chi” is their latest offering. Marketed as another dance-floor smash-hit, it delivers the dance-floor goodness it promises but, somehow, I have a feeling it could be somewhat better and that something is amiss.
This is a straight for the dance-floor album and XPQ-21 don’t try to hide it. Pretty much every song in this album is geared towards inducing body movement. The music, combining elements from techno, EBM, with a darkwave touch and the occasional synthpop sensibility, is raw and mechanical, extremely beat-driven and even the melodic work frequently feels rhythmical. The vocals are nothing to die for, more spoken than sung, but adequately complement the raw and (sometimes) mechanical structures of the songs. Lyrically, the songs combine a feeling of cockiness and a definite touch of nocturnal sleaze, adding an interesting human touch to the music, making it somehow more realistic.
“Beautiful”, “White and Alive”, “Superstar” come to mind as the catchier (and dance-friendly) tracks in this album. Also interesting is “Silent Words” with its touch of kitsch romantic tragicness making it an almost gothic track, a dark-techno-dance-ballad, if you will. The end track “After All” is an interesting touch in ending an album that is quite energetic and dance-floor oriented, in the way that it is the “party’s over” song, conveying that (sometimes) dreaded feeling caused by the lights being turned on, drunkenness (or whatever one was on) fading, everyone else leaving and you finding yourself alone in the middle of a cold street.
— Miguel de Sousa