Moody, mysterious, and ethereal, at once angry, driving and then passionately mournful, Squarewave’s A Tighter Knot belies easy comparisons to music that has come before. Moving seamlessly between folk-rock, psychedelic neo-grunge, prog-rock and buoyant pop—sometimes in the same song—the music is intense, complex and kaleidoscopic—a shimmering, densely woven tapestry of hooky chiming electric guitars, synthesizers and resounding, pleading and sometimes spooky, voices.
So says the description of Madison, WI psych-rock band Squarewave’s new release”A Tighter Knot” over at the Artisanal Records web site. Their own record label may be a biased source, but a preliminary sampling suggests that their audio genius has not subsided in the least.
Artisinal goes on to proclaim, “A Tighter Knot is filled with songs of love and regret, joy and tranquility, transcendence and rage. Like the looming forests and woodlands that surround Squarewave’s studio in Wautoma, the music is immutable, organic and quietly stands alone, as if it has been here forever.” This somewhat flowery language may sound far-fetched to those not acquainted with the work of Jeff Jagielo and Pat Connaughty, both former members of the legendary Ivory Library, but being familiar with the past three Squarewave masterpieces (all available through CDBaby or Itunes) I’m inclined to agree.
“It is hard to fully describe—and that’s the beauty and power of Squarewave. Upon each listening you hear something new, a guitar figure, a reverberating vocal, a synthesized sound wave you missed the first time through.” Their label knows them well.
Those familiar with the band’s Facebook page may have noticed a handful of demo recordings via Soundcloud over the past few years (many of which have mysteriously disappeared), and comparing notes confirms that most, if not all, ended up on A Tighter Knot in one form or another.
Anyway, the album can be purchased here in CD+digital form or download-only in a variety of lossless formats and the whole thing can even be streamed here.
“The new record blends layers of immersive sonic tapestries, hypnotic rhythms, and lush electronic soundscapes with ripened folk songwriting. It incorporates moody bits of the 1980s Paisley Underground movement and the entrancing qualities of Krautrock. However, beyond the songwriting, a big part of Squarewave’s sound comes from Jagielo’s audio engineering background (he worked at Smart Studios from 1995 to 1996) and Connaughty’s homebuilt instruments.” – Tone Madison
“Jeff Jagielo and Pat Connaughty are creating sophisticated and original, one-of-a-kind psychedelic folk-rock. I started working with Jeff at Smart Studios nearly 30 years ago as the producer of his then band Ivory Library. From the beginning the music was mysterious, ethereal, sometimes heartbreaking and instantly identifiable. A Tighter Knot updates that vision, it’s brilliantly recorded, with layered guitar playing and ambitious, near epic production.” – Butch Vig
Squarewave’s interstellar tremors race into an endless night hovering just past the hi-beams as love, freedom and release weave nomadic ballads between cataclysmic burn-outs dipped in dawn-breaking radiance and airless mechanics spinning molasses-wrapped melodies around storm-distorted chords. – Maximum Ink
A Tighter Knot all but bleeds standout tracks, including “Smoke for Air,” a shimmering pop song with a soaring chorus that belies a bummer lyrical bent. A Tighter Knot may have taken seven years to get here, but it’s worth the wait. – Isthmus