It’s the first of many cold weekends in Columbus, Ohio. Next week is supposed to be frigid. With the cold comes the desire for peaceful, classy music.
Square Peg Round Hole is a band that I had a feeling would deliver on this desire when I pressed “play” on their new album Branches on Spotify. Only a couple of songs in I’m getting the feeling this band is one of seamless contrasts. Let me explain to you what I mean.
As I mentioned, I had the urge to sit down and listen to some classy music in a warm, relaxing environment. Square Peg Round Hole deliver, but they aren’t your cheesy 80s lounge and new age music. This isn’t Enya or Yanni. SPRH isn’t the sort of band that the average person looking for that classy mood would gravitate toward. They’re a musician’s band—something for people who know what they’re doing to marvel at. Yet, they’re an unlikely source of solace for the average Joe. I should say, they should be. By definition, an experimental instrumental percussion driven band doesn’t seem like it should be relaxing. Mention the concept of SPRH to someone on the street and if they’re older than 25 they might think of the stage show “Stomp”—a thrilling spectacle, but hardly calming.
Songs certainly have their storytelling moments, but it never gets too overwhelming. The ending of “Midnight” is the most aggressive part of the record, a climatic bit of bass-synth and bass drum “THUMP” that somehow in its execution is something more likely to make you give a subtle nod of satisfaction than pump your fist in the air. “He(a)r with Me Now” strays into Thom Yorke territory, a space that I have trouble defining, but I know it’s somewhere between his Radiohead and solo material—weird but enthralling. The song “Heart (Pounding)” sounds like it’s title, and even though that sound effect is usually used to induce suspense and anxiety in film, that’s not the vibe I get here.
When I say that SPRH is percussion driven, I mean that in almost every sense of the word. There are no words, as I mentioned. Listening to this album in particular reminds me of years ago when I was a sophomore in college, feverishly following video updates on the recording of MUTEMATH’s sophomore album. One video showed them banging on various surfaces in a home bathroom. I get the sense that SPRH is similarly experimental, and with everything mixed together as crisply and immaculately as my imperfect ears can tell, it flows together like this red wine is flowing down my throat (I apologize if that line was corny).
Oh, and speaking of MUTEMATH, Darren King mixed this record. I know, I know, I need to quit fanboying and let the music speak for itself. Just trust me when I say it does.