REVIEW: THE MILK FACTORY (UK)
Musician, sound artist, photographer, graphic designer… Taylor Deupree is above all an artist who uses a wide array of tools to document the world around him. He has collected part of his interpretations of it on several albums and countless EPs, published primarily on his own 12K imprint, but also on labels as diverse as Mille Plateaux, Spekk, Fällt, Plop, Room40 and Raster-Noton. Beside his solo projects, Deupree has also published a number of collaborative works with artists such as Christopher Willits, Kenneth Kirschner, Solo Andata, Savvas Ysatis or Stephane Mathieu. It has been three years since his last album, Northern
, was published, and although he has been far from inactive during that time (he has released a number of shorter formats), Shoals
is his first full length release since.
The project originates in an artist residency program Deupree was invited to undertake at the University of York Music Research Centre at the end of 2009, with the aim of conceiving a piece of work which he would not normally be able to create in his studio. Discovering the vast collection of Javanese and Balinese gamelan instruments, Deupree rapidly developed an interest in the sounds he could capture by using the whole instruments as source rather than documenting their natural use, and processing them using a specially developed looping program. Returning to his studio in Brooklyn, Deupree used these sources to create the four pieces collected on this record.
The result is a particularly textural and organic collection where surface noises and tiny sound particles dominate. Despite the processing that has taken place during and after the recordings, Shoals
is above all about acoustic components and ambience. This occasionally takes the shape of Deupree’s movements caught by the microphones used, or tape hiss, as noticeable on the title track. Like always in such case, these imperfections give the final recordings an element of vulnerability and render them extremely real. Each of the four tracks is built from one loop which is left to develop progressively from a basic setting into much more complex and layered forms.
Expectedly, the pace is very slow and the tone contemplative, but there is, like often in Deupree’s work, an underlying cinematic aspect which places this record on a different level to a purely ambient record. Here, he creates rather startlingly vast soundscapes which, at times, evoke the icy surroundings of polar expanses, and at others hectic microscopic life forms. There is also an unusually earthiness, possibly characterised by the materials the source instruments are made of (wood, skin essentially). This is tempered by occasional glittering bells and chimes, especially on "Falls Touching Grasses", which give the pieces a resonance which would otherwise be absent.
The electro-acoustic nature of Shoals
places it quite singularly in Taylor Deupree’s body of work. He has experimented with similar settings before, and has, in recent years, moved towards a more acoustic-based approach, but it takes here a very different connotation. Despite its introspective and contemplative tone, this album has an impressive stature which makes it one of Deupree’s best recordings to date.