The first FRKTL release, Atom, popped up on a Soundcloud stream one day about five years ago and immediately stood out as a work of excruciating beauty. Highly processed electro-acoustic material is rarely crafted as finely, and the album felt as if it had been spun from the most delicate threads. A little digging revealed it as the output of Sarah Badr, a young Anglo-Eygptian artist immersed in the digital stream of the 21st century.
It has been a long wait, but FRKTL is back with Qualia. Named for the categories of subjective experience associated with perception, the new album is like a collection of spices: exotic tones from the East mingle with rhythms from Western dancefloors, while piquant signals from pianos merge with ambient loops. The flavours come together in “Leviathan Wakes,” a drum-and-pad driven track that wouldn’t be out of place in a Richard H. Kirk anthology:
Things even get a little Chris & Cosey on “March of the Danaides,” which incorporates processed voice:
Qualia is a solid second album from FRKTL, and just the kind of material to cut through the darkness and damp of an English winter.