"Are people afraid of you, Beth?" inquires a psychiatrist in the middle of album opener "Practice," a melancholy piano piece drenched in reverb whose chilling melodies evoke something Eluvium would dream up in his cloud lair; the details that follow are fittingly gruesome and provide a chilling entrance into the twisted heart of Xhip Quim. The ten tracks following it delve deep into the unknown darkness of childhood, and they're an eclectic bunch, boasting influences ranging from glitch-hop ("Jack") to dance ("Contortions"), baroque ("Romantisme de la Souffrance"), and even tribal music ("Speaker, Speaker"); sometimes they're all of those things all at once. Two things patch this smorgasbord together: an equally diverse toolbox of instruments--synthesizers of all shapes and sizes, terrifying vocal samples, and some impressively intricate drum work--and Vanounderan's strong grasp of atmosphere. Xhip Quim may be characterized by a looming sense of dread, but Vanounderan counters the thunderclouds with bursts of hope, euphoria, and a surprisingly rich sense of empathy for his characters.
Once again, you can stream the entire album above and download it (along with all of ABSRDST's work) for free from his Bandcamp page.