Review: QST – The Silent Cookbook

I don’t dance to this record. I run my hands across it falling in love with its beautiful slopes and paintwork sheen. I admire it from all sides, catching my reflection in the tinted windows, quietly excited by the elegant curvature and tiny symmetries. Using an interpretation of ambient house as its framework, The Silent Cookbook asserts itself as a celebration of simple design. Intricacy without excess. Synthesisers interlock like machine parts, frictionless as they pump and whirl. There is minimal processing here – some light delays, some gentle reverbs – and Frans De Waard leaves enough space between the textures so that I can pass in amongst them, examining the mechanism up close, watching how the melodies pulsate against eachother and push against the emptiness.

There is clearly an adoration for the ambient music of decades prior: back when the sounds of synthesisers matched perfectly with the sleek machines from whence they came, cold and displaced from analogue reality, rigorously adherent to the quantised thumps of the bass drum. Yet the distillation of the elements feels thoroughly modern. Instead of drowning in its own nostalgia, The Silent Cookbook pulls only the very essence of this sound into the present tense. Melodies centre on the alternation of two chords. Sections repeat long enough for me to scrutinise every little flicker of harmony and deft rhythmic intersection. It feels like a record for which subtraction plays an essential role, gradually removing tentative or surplus layers to leave a structure of beauty and function. And so, through this process of ruthlessly confronting every iota of human uncertainty, QST produces a work that vividly asserts its right to exist.