An Eye for Music
It seems especially true nowadays, with the kind of access creative types have to different artistic mediums, that they are rarely satisfied with just one. This isn’t a crime in and of itself, of course, especially not if the endeavors into different artistic avenues prove successful. This being said, SQÜRL, the self-titled debut EP of a band featuring noted filmmaker and writer Jim Jarmusch, isn’t a crime. However, it is apparent in these four tracks— three and a half really, but more on that later—that he and his bandmates, Carter Logan and producer/engineer Shane Stoneback, aren’t afraid to push the same kind of buttons Jarmusch pushes within the confines of his films.
Jarmusch, who has written heavily on music in the past—as well as featuring musical heavyweights like Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Joe Strummer and Jack White in his films—has shown that he has an ear for quality, so it would make sense he’d have some pent-up rock bristling inside him somewhere. “Pink Dust” is as good an introduction you could probably ask for in that regard, as it brings the fuzz and quirk without much hesitation. With vocals comprised of some (likely obscure) sound clippings spoken in a woman’s slightly manic French accent, the backing spills in like some stoner rock lava waterfall, and just stews and stews around in almost labyrinth-like circles for its near seven-minute length.
It’s not aggressively interesting music, but it serves as an excellent example of how the way the music is played sometimes has a certain affect of transcending the actual notes. Thus, the almost too-slow volcanic jam acquires an enticing quality just in the nuance and care alone. In a different way, third track “Little Sister,” a slightly more spirited affair, bears similar affectations. Basically, by taking a simple blues riff that romps over a wobbly-stepped beat, aided by vocals that are at turns sweet and snide, SQÜRL have taken a formula not all too uncommon and put their own swing to it. It’s a nice little ditty that offers less quirk, but is played with enough crookedness to sit nicely amongst the others.
The other two tracks serve to showcase perhaps the other aspects of the entire picture. Sludging away a little darker than “Pink Dust,” “Dead Naked Hippies” offers some very Jarmusch-like visuals in the midst of its muck. The playing seems less focused than its fellow sludger, but offers some nice ideas, nevertheless. “Some Feedback For Jozef Van Wissem,” the album’s final track, scores some points for not mincing words—but that’s little consolation, otherwise. It’s more ethereal than the unforgiving waves of Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed, yet still something you really can’t say much about. All in all, it is an intriguing, if intentionally flawed, document of the music going around in Mr. Jarmusch’s head. And with word that this is only one of many future EPs planned, one suspects there are indeed some more gnarled tunes ahead.