Tim Healey and Mark Allen met while they were both DJing at Return To The Source in London. Healey had previously worked for Sony Records and began writing and co-producing trance after a visit to a Pagan party in the early 90s. He subsequently released material under a number of names, notably the Unconscious Collective and his solo projects Squid and Sephalopod, for such labels as Aquatec, Blue Room Released, Flying Rhino Records and Phantasm. As DJ Squid, Healey began to play in the chill-out at Return To The Source in the mid-90s. Quirk’s first release was ‘Cognitive Dissidents/Dimension Disco’ for Krembo Records in 1996, followed by the track ‘Robotised’, written for the Matsuri compilationTruth Of Communication in the same year. Rather than continue to release singles, Allen and Healey concentrated on writing enough material for an album, Machina Electra & Fornax Chemica, which arrived at the beginning of 1998 along with the EP Dance With The Devil. Conscious of the formulaic nature of much trance of the time, Allen and Healey aimed to challenge listeners’ preconceptions, commenting that they wanted ‘to keep people dancing and keep them guessing - the quirkier the better’. To promote the album the pair embarked on a tour of Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, presenting highly imaginative, improvised performances of their material in which Allen DJed pre-recorded material from CDs while Healey controlled samples and synthesizers. On stage Quirk were joined by Marcus Conrad, who accompanied the music with visual sequences made from black-and-white pictures that he manipulated with various analogue and digital effects to create colours and patterns. Later the same year they released the Dark Matter EP. Healey continued to DJ with Return To The Source and a variety of other parties and collaborated with others on projects, including Mr Resister (for Aquatec) and Filthy Beasts (Phantasm).
Much of Quirk’s music is highly abstract in a melodic sense, with only one or two riffs ever present at one time as Allen and Healey have instead concentrated on original, often pitchless sound sources. Each track is characterized by Quirk’s detailed production and eccentric samples, which include operatic singing (‘Lo-Fi Sci-Fi’), a table tennis match (‘Ping’) and telephone conversations (‘Spy vs Spy’). While ‘Ping’, ‘Spy vs Spy’ and ‘Lo-Fi Sci-Fi’ present familiar four-on-the-floor beats, ‘Institute’ follows no recognized stylistic patterns and instead creates a challenging, fragmented piece of abstract sounds.