Some of us are old enough to remember the mid-late '90s. Back then, dance kids and rock kids did not happily throw down and get sweaty together as they currently do on any given night down at Holocene or Tube. The Asian-American group IQU (Kento Oiwa and Michiko Swiggs) was an early harbinger of this melting pot of genres and tastes.
IQU's spiffy 1998 debut, Chotto Matte A Moment, based around long since departed stand-up bassist Aaron Hartman's thick, jazzy playing, was a relentlessly happy record that melded Japanese pop, jam-jazz sounds, jet-setting international cocktail lounge music, breakbeats, indierock, and new wave.
Since then they've collaborated with Miranda July, played Coachella, and released a remix EP. But the Seattle-based duo hasn't exactly been setting land speed records. What took them so long? "Learning how to use Pro Tools to record the music ourselves--that took a long time!" Michiko explains.
Produced by Tony Lash, the new Sun Q has songs that are more solid, four-on-the-floor, and, unsurprisingly, more '80s, with vocoderized vocals and Yellow Magic Orchestra-ish synths all over alongside the trademark wail of a theremin (which Kento has mastered). Michiko's favorite tune is "Under the Cherry Blossom," which was inspired by "cherry blossom season, when all the trees are in bloom and you're standing beneath them, [with] the flower petals falling around you. You are in a soft pink universe, the most beautiful place, but you know that you only have this moment--because before long, all of the petals will fall off the tree."
A few petals have fallen off IQU's own tree--Sun Q is occasionally trite, but its main problem is that it lacks the manic, what-the-fuck intensity of their live act. Like fellow Seattle dance-pop sensations United States of Electronica, IQU just begs to be seen, and don't forget to wear shoes you can dance in.