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Quantum Fantay, Belgium

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Originally published September 15, 2012 and updated on June 29, 2014. Moving post forward to highlight their new album Dancing in Limbo

Flemish group Quantum Fantay, lead by synthesist Pieter Van den Broeck (Pete Mush), are from the latest crop of new bands to play in the post You era Gong style. Following in the footsteps of Ozric Tentacles, Hidria Spacefolk, and Korai Orom, Quantum Fantay are on the heavier side of the continuum. Like Ozric, they embrace the raucous Moog sequencing that is also prominent is some areas of electronica. But Quantum Fantay stop short of techno, and use regular rock structures and instruments, including real drums.

Quantum Fantay might be my favorite band today. They continue to improve and add much needed energy and innovation to the space rock genre - a genre that I'm prone to enjoy in any case. The name was intended to be Quantum Fantasy, but an early concert flyer had it misspelled - and so they just left it. Why not right?

Quantum Fantay – Agapanthusterra. 2005 Pete's Mushroomland (CD); 2007 Herzberg Verlag (Germany CD)
Quantum Fantay – Ugisiunsi. 2007 Pete's Mushroomland (CD)
Quantum Fantay - From Herzberg to Livingroom. 2008 Herzberg Verlag (Germany 2CD)
Quantum Fantay – Kaleidothrope. 2009 Shiver (CD+DVD)
Quantum Fantay – Bridges of Kukuriku. 2010 Bassick (CD)
Quantum Fantay - Bridges of the Old Fishingmine. 2011 Bassick (CD)
Quantum Fantay - Terragaia. 2014 Progressive Promotion (CD)
Quantum Fantay - Dancing in Limbo. 2015 Progressive Promotion (CD); 2016 Pete's Mushroomland (LP)

I have not heard the two live albums to date. Based on timings and reviews alone, they appear to be straightforward interpretations of the studio material. Generally I avoid live albums such as that, as I need more uniqueness to justify the time and expense. Though I suspect had I discovered the band via the live material first, my opinion would be the opposite.

----Agapanthusterra

Agapanthusterra is their most Ozric Tentacles-like album - right down to the reggae bits. That said, the compositions are entirely unique and offer one more perspective of an already great formula. On this debut, Quantum Fantay were a four piece with synthesizers, bass, drums and flute. Guitars were performed by a guest of the band (who would later join as a full time member on their 3rd album Kaleidothrope), but despite this designation his participation here remains a centerpiece to their overall sound. Best tracks are the heaviest rocking pieces 'Lantanasch' and 'Chase the Dragon'. Worth noting that the final track 'Amoevha' is hidden and not listed on the CD itself.

----Ugisiunsi

While the debut Agapanthusterra could be considered another Ozric album, the sophomore effort Ugisiunsi utilizes to a greater extent other music vehicles like flute (in more abundance than the debut), sequencer based electronics, and haunting wordless female voice, thus adding color to the usual guitar / keyboard rave-ups. The guitarist (from Srdjan 'Sergio' Vucic, in his only stint with the band) adds some metal crunch at times, recalling the Dutch group Kong. And the solos are Ed Wynne-esque in their intensity. Like Hidria Spacefolk (Finland), Quantum Fantay also display a penchant for progressive rock themes and complexities – something that Ozric did more frequently in their past with songs like ‘White Rhino Tea’. Tracks like 'Snowballs in Ghostlands' show Quantum Fantay were capable of writing beautiful melodies as well - moving beyond the usual "if you can't find it, grind it" mentality. At this point in their career, Quantum Fantay looked to be a major force in the space rock circuit. And as it turns out, they ended up being just that.

----Kaleidothrope

After the great success of Ugisiunsi, Quantum Fantay return with Kaleidothrope...  ...and serve notice that they are serious and are here to stay. The jumpy sequencers, fluttering flute, hyperactive rhythm section, and - best of all - pyrotechnical psychedelic guitar work, are here in abundance. All of this while never forgetting that melody is truly important to a great composition. Not to mention the constant shifting of themes, meters, and dynamics. Final track 'Telepathy' is a monster and needs to be heard by all. And to think they would actually improve on their next album. Wow! If there's a criticism of Quantum Fantay, it's that they veer too close to Ozric Tentacles. And while that may hold true, one should know that it's more like Ozric extract: All the good stuff is filtered in while leaving the chaff out. This one also comes with a bonus DVD that I have yet to watch (Still! As of July 2016)

----Bridges of Kukuriku

As you can see from the above, I've been a fan of Quantum Fantay since their first album. All are very good variations on the Ozric Tentacles sound. But I wasn't prepared for the greatness that is Bridges of Kukuriku. Everything about this album is exponentially better than prior efforts (and that's saying something). Whether it's the production (listen to the panning from speaker to speaker as if Dieter Dirks himself took the controls), the instrumental interplay (crisp and tight), the energy level (extremely kinetic) - or just the general exoticism surrounding the compositions. And this has real melodies, something you can actually latch onto and remember, rather than just a technical exercise in musical theory. The amazing transition from 'Follow the Star' (track 2) to 'Shiver Moments' (track 3) and the subsequent blitzkrieg of said track practically gave me a stroke. Music like this is truly exciting, as you never know what will happen next, and yet it still rocks hard in a psychedelic way. Ozric has never come close to fully realizing an album like this. We're in the rarefied territory of those Finnish groups Hidria Spacefolk and Taipuva Luotisuora. This album is absolutely brilliant and will most certainly be considered one of my personal favorite albums of the entire 2010 decade.

----Terragaia

So exactly how would Quantum Fantay follow up the brilliant Bridges of Kukuriku? It would take 4 years to find out, but the band has finally reappeared with Terragaia, and the CD (that's right - a CD - remember those?) is housed in a fine triple fold out digi-pak. I would say that Quantum Fantay have found themselves back to their roots of Ozric Tentacles' inspired space rock. Unfortunately, there aren't any of the hair raising, head turning moments of the last two albums to be found. However, let's not get carried away and start pointing fingers as if this is some kind of failed effort. Hardly. The music here is as brilliant as "Ugisiunsi", but with a distinct Middle Eastern and Chinese theme running throughout the melodies (and some snippets of Caribbean and Celtic music too). There's so much to admire about Quantum Fantay in the studio - and their variation of the Gong "You" era is as fine as anyone as ever realized, including Ozric Tentacles themselves. So what you have is the usual fiery guitar solos, flute overlays, bubbling synthesizers, and hyperactive rhythms that you expect - and want - from the genre. Quantum Fantay are money, man. I'm already looking forward to the next release!

----Dancing in Limbo

Quantum Fantay has always been a Masters Class course at the Ozric Tentacles University. And on their 6th studio effort, Dancing in Limbo, yet another thesis has been proposed and accepted. So much so, that the professor himself - one Ed Wynne - even guests on the album! If you're the sort that appreciates Ozric Tentacles most in full blown space rock mode with fiery guitar solos and fluttering flute, meanwhile constantly twisting and turning with jumpy rhythms, then Quantum Fantay will certainly blow your socks off. I'm of that sort, and my socks are missing. Dancing in Limbo earns Quantum Fantay yet another "A".

Comments

  1. Good as their tunes are, they lack of the most basic aspects of space rock: the jamming. I'm sure I could enjoy their Ozrics-meets-Camel style in a live context (theoretically) though.

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