The meandering improvisation that makes Violent Squid's music so fascinating for brief, beautiful moments is the same characteristic that makes it so easily dismissed at other times.
The ever-evolving Denton collective, led by Ty Stamp, released nine albums or EPs in 2007, with two more already in the works. It would be hard to beat that output unless you just set up a jam box to record every time you and your band practiced—or even just got together with friends to goof off with instruments in someone's garage. In fact, some Violent Squid CDs sound like the latter is exactly what happened.
Of the Squid CDs I've heard, the instrumental IV is the most cohesive. Echoing, reverberating horns, sitars and hand drums drift in and out of songs such as "A Cosmic Serpent in The..." and "The Musical Speed of Breathing Rainbows." The latter, especially, would be a great soundtrack for a late-night drive through eerily unfamiliar desert terrain.
There's nothing like the weirdly catchy "Sassy Mink" (with the "Robots in the summertime" chorus) from their self-titled disc, but then again there's no god-awful beatboxing either. Fair trade.
Their willingness to record and sell anything that comes to mind makes it impossible to take Violent Squid too seriously. But a few hypnotic moments, like the back-and-forth sitar and cello on "...Rainbows," certainly make it tempting.