Another Day, Another Sludge
It was known to be coming down the pipeline, and here it is, EP #2 from the Jim Jarmusch project SQÜRL. Just mere months after its predecessor, #2 seeks to expand on the moods and aesthetics of its fore-bearer, mainly the penchant for being loud, brooding and not a little weird. However, since the first EP balanced some decently intriguing moments with some decidedly non-intriguing ones, there was clearly some room to grow for this sophomore release.
However, to be frank, it doesn’t. Working in modes very similar to those of the previous effort, there is no real sense of extension here, and merely feels like the two EPs were just a result of an hours long session and, at this point, the inspiration had begun to wear off. Instead of “Pink Dust,” which opened the last record, this one begins with “Purple Dust,” and inevitably rides in the same mode as its twin: fuzzy, foreboding groove, with some spliced in sound clips providing atmospherics. It’s not a bad track or bad opener per se, but it doesn’t kick you out of your seat.
“Tangier\’57” serves to occupy the admirable, but otherwise fairly useless experimental groove here, taking the baton from #1‘s tiring and self-explanatory, “Some Feedback For Jozef Van Wissem.” The middle two tracks here, “The Boat of Love” and a sludge through Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” are more put together, with the latter being a particular highlight, but fail to capture the imagination when one considers the promise which the best moments of the previous EP had suggested.
Clearly, this review is just as much a re-review of EP #1 as it is this one. However, this go-round, SQÜRL offers up less of what made the debut so auspicious, and more of the type of stuff that endless other bands pass off as experimental. There is cohesion between the two releases, and perhaps these two (and the rumored third EP) could have merely been combined as an LP for greater effect. As it stands, these little doses of SQÜRL, while interesting on their face, seem to becoming increasingly less so, and one hopes that the next release will erupt a little more rather than bubble under the surface.