Sunday, March 29, 2009

Indication - Squares On Both Sides


Squares On Both Sides
Own Records.

SCQ Rating: 66%

There’s an intimacy to Squares On Both Sides (aka Daniel Buerkner)’s approach that contests and nearly overrides his compositions. Much to his credit, his voice sounds as if he were singing right next to you, and single piano notes recorded sound as resonant as if you were toying with them alone in your parent’s livingroom. Similarly, Indication is an album just as curious; one that spends much of its running-time pinpointing lovely chord progressions then using repetition to bore them into our heads. Whether a few songs idly miss their mark is hardly important, not only because those tracks manage to act as mini lead-ins to another song’s payoff but because Buerkner always comes out unscathed, unaffected. As if those songs in question were designed to sidestep perfection, as if Buerkner was aiming for a humble collapse.

Luckily for Indication, most of these eleven stripped-down, acoustic songs deliver when aired during a dedicated silence. Yes, despite its folk-based songwriting, this is environmental listening on par with most ambient records. The pauses between verse in ‘Pripyat’ – as integral to its mood as any bare-boned presence of guitar and piano – appear throughout, highlighting ‘Cantaloupes’ vocal refrain and some sparse percussion on ‘The Lines We Seize’. That said, Indication’s best moments are those that buffer out the cracks of his fractured pop, revealing understated gems like ‘Author’ and ‘Kitsune’; both highlights being the result of Buerkner combining his fine ear for melody with potent songwriting. While few tracks ascend to such touching heights, this fourth release is a contained reverie of discreet details, soft and slightly unstable. Between his sterile production and splintered English, Squares On Both Sides could be an excellent opening act for the Notwist’s next tour… ; the material is quietly engaging yet, due to its continuously low-key mood, best heard in small doses.

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