January 17, 2007

Review: Sam Skarstad | Serkus [MP3]

Sam Skarstad -- SerkusAlthough it has already gotten props in more widely trafficked blogs, we're just turning on to Sam Skarstad's solo record Serkus. Mr. Skarstad, who is also one-half of the synth pop duo Snakes Say Hiss, has concocted an engaging folktronica record surprising in its focus and depth. Surprising because, if the SSH MySpace igloo is to be believed, Mr. Skarstad is a college student but 20 years old who possesses a voice and panoramic vision not unlike Okkervil River's Will Sheff.

Skarstad describes his solo effort as a "reaction" to SSH's competent jams, "more natural and organic." It is a reaction we can certainly get behind. The meditative and eerie songs on Serkus buzz with the energy of a fever dream and flow into one another like estuaries. It is music based on sounds and not necessarily hooks, although the chorus of standout track "Sharks" is certainly memorable, even hummable, particularly at the lyric, "...and the shapes that slide beneath my feet are sharks." "Ice Cave" suggests an affinity for Animal Collective, and listeners elsewhere will encounter evocative imagery similar to that of -- and we know this opens a can of worms for a lot of people -- Neutral Milk Hotel. Not bad for a record primarily crafted in a college dorm room and a private residence in Connecticut. Anyway, Skarstad will be outside the U.S. for much of the first half of the year, so don't expect to see him perform live any time soon. But do make a point to explore the world he has created in Serkus. Here's an MP3 of "Sharks" to get you started.

Sam Skarstad -- "Sharks" -- Serkus
[just click]

Buy the record here.

Sam Skarstad: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr.

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