Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: Inlets, Inter Arbiter

Inter Arbiter
 Artistic Merit: B+
Enjoyment After One Week Of Listening: D-
Enjoyment After Two Weeks Of Listening: B

At first glance, the album, Sebastien Krueger’s debut full-length Inter Arbiter, following up his critically acclaimed EP The Vestibule, looks like it will undoubtedly be amazing. Yes, physically looks. The inside cover of the album itself won me over, I was and still am tempted to figure out a way to wallpaper a room in this print. Further exploration of the album cover led me to the track details––and who should I see featured on Track 6 but Zach Condon, golden god of music behind Beirut, man of my heart? I was on board. I proceeded to play Inter Arbiter with only the highest expectations––but was, surprisingly enough, absolutely, overwhelmingly, sorely disappointed.

I spent a week’s time being absolutely vexed at how much buzz Inter Arbiter was getting while I was busy hating (yes, unfortunately hating) it. For a variety of reasons, Krueger’s dissonant, complex instrumental arrangements and husky croon just make me wholly uncomfortable. However, both conceptually and artistically, the album is fairly brilliant, I (grudgingly) must admit. These same off-putting, complex instrumental orchestrations speak for themselves, chapeau, Krueger, you multi-instrumentalist, you. Krueger also has some of the most amazing friends in music, and many of them are unsurprisingly featured on Inter Arbiter. Dirty Projectors
fans will note Angel Deradoorian’s appearance, a perfect fit in a world of dissonance. Lyrically, Krueger is lack-luster––he seems to be crooning every word out of the muffled corner of his mouth. Further on Krueger’s instrumental arrangements, I noticed on first listen (while I wasn’t busy squirming) that tracks such as “Bells and Whistles” (the track I tolerated best) sound similar to Andrew Bird or Owen Pallett's intricacy––key here is that these are both artists I coincidentally like very much. Going back to the album details that earlier left me flummoxed, however, “Bells and Whistles” is the track that features Zach Condon’s my taking to this track in particular of course made perfect sense. My dislike of the album, on the other hand, still does not, though an appreciation for this unique artist’s debut is unavoidable.

Tracks You’ll Like If You’re Not Named Fiona: Bright Orange Air, Bells and Whistles

-- Fiona Hanly
"Sweet 'n' Flo," Mondays 12-1 pm on WGTB

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