Album Reviews

Richard Buckner – Surrounded (Merge)

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Richard Buckner SurroundedRichard Buckner seems to have experienced a lonely career path thus far. Despite the undeniable beauty inherent in his music, his dimly lit albums are often cast in melancholy and too often unappreciated. Surrounded doesn’t necessarily raise the stakes, given the subdued initial impression, but it is a lovely example of craft and creativity applied in equal measure, a gem of an album with exquisite appeal.

Drawn from Buckner’s original desire to create a series of short stories, the songs ruminate with introspection with the arrangements and ambiance pervading the hushed tones. Plying dense sonic textures and rich layers of guitars, treatments and harmonies, Buckner creates a seductive atmospheric sound that varies from a shimmer to a strum. The music is mostly of a mellower variety, allowing tracks like “Surrounded,” “Cut” and “Portrait” to provide a soothing embrace. Yet, the lack of percussion doesn’t undermine any tempos; indeed, songs such as “Fountain” and “Mood” are underscored by an insistent pulse that echoes darker designs.

Buckner’s penchant for underplaying his melodies will likely keep him confined below the radar, but that’s no reason for despair. Subtle yet supple, Surrounded brings with it a lingering impact.

– Lee Zimmerman

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