inlets inter arbiter
    • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2010

    • Posted by:

    Inter Arbiter, the long awaited debut album from Sebastian Krueger (as Inlets), is a puzzle of attraction, infinitely fragmented and tragically beautiful (if you can put the pieces together). Krueger has taken his respectable resume (playing for My Brightest Diamond, Osso String Quartet, DM Stith, etc) and, building on a mysterious foundation (2006's Vestibule), has painted a stormy, yet compelling picture. I didn't even notice his supposed all-star list of guest stars here, because they don't matter in the grand schematic. Krueger is the focal point, practically blacking out the sun with his intensity. The opulence of quirky, yet dreary melodies begs the question: where do all these dark dreams come from? And how does Krueger recreate them so efficiently with swiveling guitar riffs and creepy harmonies? And why do I love it so much?

    It has to be some sort of cathartic delight to have minor-key pop that plays like getting punched in the face repeatedly, because this record is a stroke of glowing brilliance, despite the "leaving your closet open at night" aesthetic. Obviously "Bright Orange Air" is just the tip of the iceberg, even with its topsy-turvy chord progression and unpredictable melody. "Air" dips into a more optimistic place than the rest of the cuts. I actually prefer the more spooky numbers, like the gloomy parapets of backup voices in "Maspeth" or the swift-footed "Canteen". But that is the beauty (and the curse) of Inter Arbiter. There is no choosing... the tracks all draw you in, like the undertoe, out to sea, never to return.

    Perhaps the draw can be attributed to a thirst for the oddities of modern pop music. Radiohead and their disciples became a success because of their ability to melt darkness into something radiant, and Inlets does something similar here (although Krueger skipped a few drug-addled steps). He is obviously a talented arranger/composer on top of just writing nightmare pop, as evidenced by the strange/wonderful opener "[]", which makes absolutely no sense/is the best lead-in ever.

    Inlets had me at "gratuitous use of a bass clarinet", of course. But in all seriousness, the songs are some sort of haunting masterpiece, weaving in and out of consciousness like a restless night's sleep. Best of all, in a landscape of throwbacks and backwards thought, Inter Arbiter is just the opposite. A unique lucidity, far from an anachronism. And for all it's dark corners, Inter Arbiter is still much more a dream than a nightmare. -joe puglisi

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