04 September 2010

Squares On Both Sides - indication (2009, Own)

Third album for Daniel Buerkner, with a cleaner, richer production for his minimalist introspective songwriting. But if it's still his voice, his intonation, vocals are more in front here and with a kind of studio plasticity and gloss which leaves me sometimes hesitant as a listener.

About the vocals - I think they were recorded in a studio after the songs were finished -, this third Squares on Both Sides seems sometimes somewhat disconnected with the music, like coexisting phases on a same entity. It almost sounds like if he was singing without the music creating a superstructure laid on a ground of music, but both fit perfectly like designed pieces of an object created in different places and brought together finally.

In a similar manner the use of field recordings from a temple market in Kyoto are not directly related to the intimacy of the context even if they once again harmonize perfectly.

If I compare this record with his two first albums, there is then something more conventional in the technical realization of "Indication" and I can't get rid of it totally while listening, I always feel the vocals with their hesitations and whispered qualities were more intimate, more true, and emotional, more natural, before than they are now with their assurance and mastery. There is a strange contrast between the dryness of the music and the folk opulence of his singings, i wish they were more bittersweet. The strange part is that they sound really better on live recordings.

Drawing links with the works of The Books, Havergal, Mark Hollis, Idaho or Gastr Del Sol is not totally pertinent because Daniel is merely doing his own thing, follows his own steps and that's what make his records so interesting, so unique. If you don't listen to him, you're clearly missing something you won't find somewhere else.

Each of his compositions are objects of a strange beauty where your attention is required, delicate introspective exercises of minimalism, silence and tension, with subtle percussions, thrifty guitar works. "Pripyat", "The Lines we seize" and "Kitsune" are just perfect into this perspective as much folk songs resumed to dotted lines as installations where every added elements makes sense and serves as trampolines for melancholic emotions.

Built on a strange loop later stopped manually, "Temples 1" offers bitter ascetic feelings, this minute when you feel tears could emerge but no it ends with an unfocused keyboard melody. "Cantaloupes " starts a capella with only traces of sound later, and nowhere else than here the vocals are irritating. "Temples 2" sounds like a sudden rainfall in autumn when you look through the window at the trees losing their leaves, shaken by the wind. 
Piano, guitar and voice for the really austere "Presence" with a collage structure of connected parts, maybe yes, here, it's not that far from "Camoufleur" era's Gastr Del Sol. On "Author" the separation between voice and melody seems to have disappeared, it sounds peaceful, optimist, sunny, like when spring returns and the nature is green again, an hopeful melody to forget the bad days.

An instrumental breathing, "The Photographic Gun", and the title track, "Indication" starts with a music box and field recordings of birds in a quiet and empty area, then the guitar and piano starts with the vocals plagued once again by unexpected clarity and aplomb. 

The last track is a collaboration with Yasuhiko Fukuzono (who releases music as Aus and is behind the Flau label). I particularly like the sunnier ambiance of the second part.

Even if not as convincing as his two first albums, due to what he tried about recording the vocals, "Indication" is still a very good and recommended album.    

Squares On Both Sides from Glimworm on Vimeo.


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