Published Nov 14, 2014For every dozen or so questionable musical side projects by Hollywood stars — Jared Leto's Five Seconds to Mars, Billy Bob Thornton's Boxmasters, Steven Seagal's blues band — there's at least one professional movie person who has both the talent and the good taste to make some truly interesting music. No Wave Cinema pioneer Jim Jarmusch has definitely given us the latter with his SQÜRL project. The trio — also featuring Carter Logan and Shane Stoneback — trades in sludgy doom-rock, no doubt inspired by Jarmusch's fondness for drone behemoths like Boris and Sunn o))), that's occasionally coloured by a dusty twang. Jarmusch cranks up the volume on the sort of ambient-noise guitar work he contributed to two earlier collaborations with Only Lovers Left Alive composer Jozef Van Wissem, shaping the racket into what now amounts to a trio of EPs' worth of material.
The third, and most recent, of these mini releases is easily the most accomplished of the bunch, as the band have focussed their sound, dropping some of the unnecessarily experimental tendencies (spoken word, genre-bending tangents). The first three tunes on EP #3 are more or less straightforward doom-gaze, all gurgling distortion and sloth's pace drum beats, highlighted by the brooding main riff of "Black Swan" and the surprisingly catchy vocal melody of "Francine Says." But even the noise-drenched acoustic twang of closer "Should I Go or Should I Stay" doesn't feel out of place, thanks to an extra helping of feedback. For decades, Jarmusch's films have showcased his impeccable taste in tunes; the fact that SQÜRL's music fit so seamlessly into the score for Only Lovers Left Alive proves that the director is more than capable of putting his money where his record collection is. (ATP)