Entertainment Magazine

Slow Dakota’s Honest, Moving Sound [stream]

Posted on the 13 February 2013 by Thewildhoneypie @thewildhoneypie


Slow Dakota – Our Indian Boy

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Sometimes, the most moving, meaningful art is produced in the aftermath of a significant situation, good or bad, and this is exactly how Slow Dakota’s Our Indian Boy came to exist. PJ Sauerteig, aka Slow Dakota, could never have guessed that his volunteer trip to India would go the way it did — the culture shock, extreme heat, and living conditions were overwhelming, causing him to return to the US. After arriving back home, Sauerteig began processing what had transpired and decided to make nine of the dates in his travel journal into songs (the titles of the songs are all dates). His stories and musicianship combine for an engrossing listen.

Slow Dakota sounds like Sufjan Stevens fathered a child with Ben Folds, but sometimes people wonder (but never say out loud) whether or not Perfume Genius may actually be the biological dad. We’ll never know, but what we do know is that Slow Dakota is an eccentric and appealing brand of neo-classical, experimental electrofolk.

Our Indian Boy is an extremely calculated record centered around the number three. Sauerteig explains, “It’s comprised of three clumps of three songs (the first two with words, the last only instrumental). Even on a smaller scale, three is important: on May 30 & 31, for example, the three instrumental interludes (two of them having trumpets, but none are exactly the same) each represent one of the forms of death described in the song: suicide, natural death, and murder.” There are also three main “instruments” that share the spotlight equally: vocals, piano, and the ukulele. The lyrics turn everyday details into colorful tales and odd poetry. Take, for example, in “June 4” when Sauerteig sings, “Called my daddy late this evening, breaking in my parody. Breathing has become like wrapping arms around sequoia trees.” His vocal style is simple and straightforward, so much so that it may cause some to overlook the genius within the compositions.

One of the most attractive characteristics of the record is that Sauerteig allows it to be a human work of art — flawed and honest. He states, “The album is full of mistakes and dissonance – a voice crack, my mother’s voice in the background, notes sung off-key. But it also has its moments of elation and loveliness. I find that the way music is headed today is more and more towards dissonance and “ugliness” – and we’re a little bit late to the game, I think, as lovers and photography or painting have long grown tired of pictures of pretty vases or perfectly rendered landscapes. The album has never answered any questions that I’ve asked it. It is deeply imperfect, but how could I expect it not to be, given the less-than-picturesque circumstances that gave the album its conception?” I don’t know about you, but I do sometimes grow tired of pretty vases and perfect landscapes, and Slow Dakota is a welcome change of scenery.

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