Square Peg Round Hole owes its birth to the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. There, three percussionists, Evan Chapman, Sean M. Gill, and Carlos Pacheco-Perez, decided to try make music using instruments aside from just the standard guitar and drums. Bells, pipes, bottles, children's toys and more are all at work in Corners, the intriguing debut EP from the Bloomington, Indiana trio.
Enthusiast of the musically unusual will immediately fall in love with Corners, which does not fall easily into any particular genre. Tinkling percussive rhythms suddenly give way to belching synthesizers, like on "Culturalist," or lightly played piano melodies provide additional color for a simple 1-2 drum pattern, like on "Falling Giants." Truncated beats, delicate glass notes giving way to louder percussive blasts…Corners is unusual to say the least.
The easiest, though not entirely telling, comparison is to call the album a blend of Tortoise's TNT and Ratatat's early stuff. The songs do exhibit the quiet but quick jazz tempos of the former, and the beats, at times, sound like they could've been lifted from Ratatat. Sometimes this is all done on the same song. The album is predominantly instrumental, but there is a vocal surprise, like on "Cheyenne." After a few spread out piano triplets, we hear someone singing "I found a garden in my backyard / with flowers full of life and purpose / I wished just for one day that I could be, be just like one of them / I’d be free."
Square Peg Round Hole always sounds clean but they never really play it safe. "Skipping Stones" uses erratic synth beats while industrial activity claps off in the background, and "Starshine" explores Brian Eno spaces of ambient quiet that is both soothing and off-putting. Overall, the debut is a cool blend of contemporary jazz, instrumental hip-hop and electric math rock that vies for your attention with some truly cool musical experiments. Corners is highly recommended.
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