Being formulaic music, the success of a Sten track relies on two things: the inherent quality of the weave, and those moments where he hits on a stellar motif, such as on the superb ‘Faces’ from Sender’s Receiving Data… comp or ‘Back Four’ from the Eccentric EP released on Dial in 2003. For me, although all of the tracks on Squares are made out of typically Sten-quality material, two out of three fail to find that magical motif: only the third ‘Square’ (with a wobbling rising melodic line) comes close to former bests.
Squares is a formula with a groove worn deep into it, and it’s not Sten’s best. But as many a fan will tell you, Kersten’s ‘second best’ is still streets and swoons ahead of most. Where does that leave us? I listen to this, I like it, and I recommend it to you, along with everything Kersten does. But am I the only one who keeps wondering when Kersten is going to completely reinvent his sound, as he did so successfully after the slew of releases clustering around the debut Lawrence album? I love the patterns, but maybe it’s time for some new ones, for some thinking beyond the squares? In any case, Squares offers a nice way to while away the meantime.