QUELL “Angel’s Ladder” (Review)

QUELL keep innovating and pushing the limits of their sound. “Angel’s Ladder” is a whole new experience, even for fans of the talented quartet.

Title: SQ QUELL RE:START series vol.3 QUELL
Label: Tsukipro/Movic
Release date: 30/11/2018
Genre: Hip-hop/Soul/Disco


1 - Angel's Ladder
2 - Angel's Ladder (off vocal)

Track analysis:

1 – Angel’s Ladder

QUELL‘s 3rd entry in the RE:START series is ambitious. Angel’s Ladder takes the quartet out of their comfort zone by introducing hip-hop and soul elements in both the instrumental as well as the vocals. Fans can still expect the group’s trademark minimalistic electronic sound to be present however, it was highly upgraded. There’s the addition of strings, tasteful disco-inspired brass melodies, groovy and deep bass lines as well as jazzy piano melodies. Those additions made this song bustle with life.

The verses are groovy, instantly inviting the listener to the dancefloor, and the chorus is one of the best among songs released this year. It has disco’s boogie and hip-hop’s groove, as well as a progression that seems to have been inspired by 70’s disco – bringing those delicate strings and funky brass -, making it an instant hit.

Elements of soul, hip-hop, jazz, funk, synthwave, disco and R&B are found on this tune but it takes more than one listen to full grasp every layer, influence and detail this song has. Nowadays G-Funk is seldom embraced or at least incorporated in music. It was surprising to find it’s essence in Angel’s Ladder old school beat.

As it is expected of any QUELL song, the quality is high and there’s virtually nothing in the instrumental that takes the attention away from the vocals, the centerpiece to this song.

QUELL are in one of their best moments. The group sounds as tight as ever before and there have been several noticeable improvements on the vocal end for most of the members. With Koutaro Nishiyama continuously improving, QUELL‘s performances have turned into one smooth ride from start to finish. Whether rapping or singing, Nishiyama was in the groove, even having a better overall performance than the powerful duo Nogami-Nakamura. Sho Nogami and Shugo Nakamura, that usually stand out, were found rather quiet in this song, mostly because there was no need for their trademark high notes. This isn’t necessarily bad, as it is a nice change of pace to have a group sharing the spotlight once in a while. Even if the spotlight wasn’t on them, they still managed to deliver a powerful performance, especially when it came to ad-libs and harmonies. Strangely enough, Shunsuke Takeuchi showed some inconsistencies in this performance. While his low notes are sweet and the perfect fit for this groovy tune, he’s rather inconsistent with his falsetto – at times sounding heavenly good and others like he’s struggling to hit the notes -, although that doesn’t hinder his overall performance, is still something worth mentioning. Rap felt natural and his ad-libs took this song to a whole other level.

All in all, Angel’s Ladder is an ode to the early 90’s G-Funk and 70’s soul/Disco. It was flawlessly pulled off and while it seemed that the instrumental wouldn’t fit QUELL‘s theme for this RE:START series – natural phenomenon/phenomena – it was a unique take that will surely impress. Rich instrumentals, stunning vocals and the overall feel make this song a must listen as well as one of the quartet’s best songs.

Final rating:

SQ QUELL [RE:START] Series (3) is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

SQ QUELL [RE:START] Series / QUELL (Shunsuke Takeuchi, Kotaro Nishiyama, Shugo Nakamura, Sho Nogami)
QUELL (Shunsuke Takeuchi, Kotaro Nishiyama, Shugo Nakamura, Sho Nogami)