Photo: Sara Driver
Before his landmark feature Stranger Than Paradise etched his name into the indie-cinema firmament, Jim Jarmusch was a student and a musician in NYC during that crucial late-‘70s period that incubated punk and No-Wave, and spent part of the early ‘80s playing in the Del-Byzanteens, and in Dark Day with fellow Ohio expat and DNA founder Robin Crutchfield. In recent years, Jarmusch has returned to active music making, releasing the albums Concerning the Entrance into Eternity, The Mystery of Heaven, and Apokatastasis in collaboration with minimalist composer and lute player Jozef van Wissem.
Jarmusch has also been playing rock guitar as a member of SQÜRL, with producer/composer Carter Logan on drums, and sound engineer Shane Stoneback creating loops and arrangements. Fittingly, their music is often cinematically spacious, with droning passages that most readily recall bands like Earth, Growing, and Boris. Originally named Bad Rabbit, the band was formed to contribute music to Jarmusch’s film The Limits of Control. Their 2009 EP of the same title was the band’s first release, and after changing the name to SQÜRL, they continued to release EPs almost exclusively—a good idea for this kind of music, really, the shorter format keeps excesses in check. Jarmusch had this to say on the matter four years ago in The Quietus:
We like EPs because the length of a 33rpm 12” LP is an arbitrary thing that was developed by commercial concerns. How much can fit on that piece of vinyl. In a way, that’s becoming as out of date as feature-length films, which were also arbitrarily designed for a certain number of screenings in a theater per day. So it was 90 minutes to 120 minutes, the average for a while. Those things are now gone in the digital age. They’re passé. I don’t think in the future people are going to care if a film is 10 minutes or four hours. It’s going to be what is it that they’re interested in. Feature-length films and LPs are still a nice form, but they were kind of arbitrary.
Having released EPs with the get-to-the-point titles EP #1, EP #2, and EP #3, SQÜRL released Only Lovers Left Alive in 2014, another collaboration with Van Wissem, and another Jarmusch film related release. Last year saw Live at Third Man Records, a full-length that included surprising covers of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Elvis’ “Little Sister.” Today, they’re announcing the forthcoming release of yet another EP, featuring three new compositions, and two remixes—one each by Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe and Föllakzoid. The title is EP #260. When we asked “Huh?”, Jarmusch provided us with this:
Contradictions embraced: Although SQÜRL’s music is anti-mathematic, SQÜRL loves mathematics. We love the Fibonacci numbers. And magic numbers. Perfect numbers. Bell numbers. Catalan numbers. 260 is none of these. It isn’t a perfect number, and not factional of any number. It’s not even a regular number. 260, though, is the number of days in all Mesoamerican calendars. The Mayan calendar. The Tzolkin calendar. 260 is also the number of days of human gestation. (Orangutans also). 260 also has an elliptical connection to the dark rift; a series of molecular dust clouds located between our solar system and the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way. And although not a magic number, 260 is the magic constant of the magic square investigated by Benjamin Franklin, and part of the solution to a famous chess problem; the n-queens problem for n=8. 260 is also the country code for Zambia. And the US area code for Fort Wayne, Indiana.
It’s Dangerous Minds’ pleasure today to debut the first track to be released from EP #260, “The Dark Rift.”