Review: Quannnic’s ‘Kenopsia’

Jackson Trotman, Staff

18-year-old artist quannnic released his first album “kenopsia” in early 2022. This album is considered to be “shoegaze,” which is a genre that relies on texture and music ambiance as its main goal. Some of Radiohead’s music falls into this genre. To accomplish this, artists can use insanely loud moments, along with digital clipping and tasteful distortion. Another hallmark is obscured vocals. Doing this artfully and with restraint can be one of the hardest challenges of digital music production.  

Some of these techniques really shine through in the album’s flagship track, “life imitates life.” The intro utilizes some clipping, but when the chorus comes through, it showcases the talent of production. Conveying the depressing feeling throughout the album while utilizing such high energy production techniques is impressive and something a lot of bands struggle with. The instrumental bed threatens to drown out the vocals just enough to make listeners pay attention to it. Meanwhile, the drums cut through the mix and really drive it forward. I would give “life imitates life” a 10/10, and this track would definitely be the high point of this album.  

Immediately following this track is, “what does this room look like.” This song invokes more of an electronic production rather than a traditional rock song throughout the beginning. While the production does shine through in this one, this song fails to reach the same emotional and musical heights that the previous song hits. After a heavenly bridge, this song utilizes more edm techniques and combines them with drowned out vocals. However, it still doesn’t hit the same mark and feels almost out of place after the last song. While a great song, I’d give it a 7/10. 

“snarky” is the seventh track in this album and is my next favorite. It invokes a depressing emotion while using heavily compressed rock drums and amazing production. The music is driving, wide, and nails the high energy, low emotional vibe that the album is going for. Whilst it doesn’t play with peaking or any other fancy tricks, it is of excellent production quality. This song is a solid 9. 

Song 8 is “soil”. This song features a great vocal melody in the chorus and driving electric guitar. This song has some of the most layering on the whole album. High clicks and presence in the high end along with mid and low content keep the listener entertained. My only complaint is that this song is too short, and the high moments don’t match some of the earlier album. I’d give this song an 8/10.  

The album finishes off with the track “gesture gesture gesture.” This song features interesting vocal harmonies and production. The dynamic contrast with the highs and lows throughout this song remains quannnic’s strength.  

After listening to all 10 songs on the album, there are clear strengths and weaknesses. I think this album does best when it embraces the obscured vocals and heavily distorted instruments. They convey both the emotional content and musical content the best. These highs are why “life imitates life” has done so well. Maintaining the depressive and melancholy while using such kicking drums and high energy instrumentals is what quannnic does best.  

When quannnic uses the heavier rock drumkit, the drums just slice through the heavy instrumental very well. The technique he uses to achieve this is most likely sidechaining, which can be heard through the ducking of certain instruments as the drums hit. It’s pretty noticeable, but it adds to the feeling of the piece rather than distracting the listener. However, in “what does this room look like” he opts for a more electronic set. This drum kit isn’t produced nearly as well as the rock kit and feels significantly out of place. While that might have been the intention, I think using the same rock kit he uses later in the song would have felt a lot less distracting.  

quannnic uses a lot of different production techniques to his advantage throughout this album, and his production is unmatched by a wide array of artists. His talent for making a bed for his vocals to float in is genuinely insane. His stereo image and song clarity are fairly impressive given the genre and instrumentation, and his songs convey a very pointed emotion. He uses layering and other skills to make specific textures for the high and low energy parts of his music.  

I would give this album a solid 8/10. I think that while there were absolute diamonds of songs in this album, nobody would be able to consistently beat those highs. The album was moderately emotionally cohesive and definitely listenable throughout the whole album. I think people interested in shoegaze should definitely give this a listen, and I am definitely putting some of these songs in my go-to playlist. These songs would also be great for working out and driving, as they give a great immersive soundscape to listen to. It does a great job of making you feel like the “main character.”