Qn9nety is the latest artist to emerge from the shadows of the burgeoning Irish music scene. Occupying Space is a solid debut release from the Derry artist with promise shown in the lyrics and production, however, there are a few elements that need a little bit of tweaking.
There is something to be said for local acts that sing or rap with their own accents instead of trying to ‘Americanise’ themselves, kudos to Qn9nety as this is a big plus about the album. That said, despite the nice production ideas of echoed or delayed backing vocals/raps, this can be a bit irksome. The overuse of the term “wha?” whilst tolerable is the worst offender in this. The singing is a nice variation to the rapping, however on one of the standout tracks ‘My Life’ it is painfully sharp, while on another one of the highlights that features singing (‘Everyday’) could also go with the less is more approach.
Musically the songs are quite minimal, dark electronic, synth and drum-machine based, with a few tracks being more optimistic electronically. Away from the Rap or Hip-Hop genre, these would work well as a soundtrack to a sci-fi film and might particularly suit as a video game. At times some of the flourishes either musically or rap-wise are reminiscent of Orbital, The Prodigy, or Xzibit.
Production and recording wise, there is good variation in the techniques employed. There is plenty of enjoyment to be found in a lot of the more breathy, growly, atmospheric tracks, the track ‘Dark Thoughts’ being the best example of this. It works by alternating dark and brooding breathed verses with it’s Demonic fairground counterpart of haunting Clown-like laughs toasted over with rapping. It would work great in a Horror film soundtrack a la something like Saw.
Lyrically, it is clear that Qn9nety is passionate about mental health and the record as a whole is good at demonstrating the struggle and journey of dealing with this. While Occupying Space may sound aggressive and angry at times, it ultimately conveys the message that good will prevail eventually. Occasionally it could be demonstrated more succinctly in his choice of words, but that can be excused given how brutally honest Qn9nety is throughout.
An interesting and mostly enjoyable listen but one that ultimately sets a platform for future development. Indeed, given what we’ve heard so far it would be fascinated to see a future release delve deeper into Electronia, Trip Hop or even Industrial. We’d recommend you Watch This Space…