10 September 2010

Squares On Both Sides - salt meadows (2010, Own)

If "Croquet" and "Dunaj" (his two first albums) were his caterpillar phase, "Indication" was more a type of chrysalis state where Daniel Bürkner's songwriting was in a process of transformation and still for some aspects with an unfinished status. "Salt Meadows" sees him now as both butterfly and moth.

Butterfly about how light, fresh air, vegetation and the world entered a secluded home. Moth for the darkness, the remaining melancholy and a sense of urgency and tension.
If on "Indication" he was measuring himself against songwriting archetypes  without surrendering himself totally, here he follows another direction, returns to the reduced qualities of his previous releases, and following their suggestive approach open it to something more melodic, but still intimate, reflexive and subtle. At times, you're not so far from artists like Havergal, Trouble Books, Empress or Talons'.

And the results are highly successful, introspective but with a real appeasement and much more playfulness than before. Maybe the fact if was recorded in a forest house, in southern Bavaria, gives an authentic atmosphere and you can  truly feel and imagine the pervading quietness of such an environment.

Acoustic guitar, piano, ukulele, melodica and electronics are used to elaborate symbolic moments transformed into songs with the help of the vocals. And if these ones, recorded in a studio were sometimes forced, or out of proportion on the previous album, here -, even if not perfect -, they fit nicely with his musical universe. They have more density and presence than before and all the tracks share instants of grace.

"Animal" is an austere and dark opening song but already things change on the utterly moving instrumental "Taking them to the heath" and with the fragile and melodic "Castles". The sadcore meanders of "Environment" are not far from Havergal, with their use of beats. "Engage" and "Chestnuts" are floating compositions à la Yuichiro Fujimoto following a semi-improvised path. "Russian Bread" is the most complex and advanced song of the album, an obvious single with a slowcore nature à la Idaho / Sun Kil Moon. On the last track, also title of the album, Daniel succeeds in an association of his different directions, an intimate folk melody, à la Appendix Out, whispered and completed with a subtle instrumentation, which one slowly dissolves itself and ends with field recordings of fireworks  

"Salt Meadows" is a great album, which shows an artist going forward while keeping intact the sincerity, the depth and the sensitivity of his art, of his soul.

<a href="http://ownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/salt-meadows">salt meadows by Own Records</a>

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