Review of Twine [12k1084]

Dalston Sound (BLOG)

Twine continues a creative partnership that debuted on record with In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes in 2011 – an album recorded in four days of close collaboration using guitar pedals, looping boxes, analog synths, tape recorders, found objects and percussion instruments. Since its release, as press notes say, Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer “have toured, photographed, and written music together at every opportunity, wherever they find themselves.”

Fischer, from Oregon, originally worked as a drummer, but has since evolved a minimalist practice involving field recordings, acoustic, often DIY instrumentation, and complementary visual art – notably photography and video, but also printmaking. Deupree has parallel careers in photography and sound art, the latter evolving from arthouse techno to a limpid minimalism based on transmuted natural sounds. The duo have shared interests in recording technologies and an aesthetics of imperfection, and both have recorded prolifically for Deupree’s 12k label.

The inspiration for Twine was apparently fortuitous. After a day of (presumably unrewarding) work in the studio, 12k says: “the two sat in tired silence contemplating the next day’s approach. Playing quietly in the background was a mono tape loop Fischer had made earlier. …”

So inspired, Fischer and Deupree made one mono tape loop apiece of differing lengths, and recorded their asynchronous playback on reel-to-reel machines, capturing the output of the built-in speakers using room mics. Onto these recordings the duo layered electric piano, bells, and stringed instruments.

The album title Twine comes from the notion of: “the two tape loops as knots, as physical media, combining to form a single, more complex, piece.”

Taking William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops as a reference point, Twine has similar sonic qualities. But where Basinski’s re-recordings capture an entropic dissolution of static time and matter, Twine encapsulates an inconstant and unpredictable present. There’s a similar muzzy, cocooning warmth to the sound of each body of work, but in place of Basinski’s subtractive revelation, Twine offers abstraction and reverie through drift and dérive.

That said, the album has been impeccably sequenced. Flutter and feathery tape frictions on lead track “Draw”are illuminated by glowworm electric piano, casting a hypnotic spell, and once captured the ear is attuned to the subtlety of the Twine‘s progressions.

There’s a wavering, trace melody that undulates through “Bell” that’s echoed by sounds suggestive of buoy gongs gently sounding through sea mist. The next piece is actually titled “Buoy”, and achieves a similar effect through sonic creaks and settlements, along with a constant lamina of what might be nocturnal insect sounds.

“Telegraph” achieves a similar effect with more obvious string preparations, while “Kern” features long, tremulous, shimmering bowed sounds, and “Sailmaker” has an ingrained tracery of folk music – elements even more pronounced on the last piece “Wake”. So there’s development of sorts, but it’s so gradual as to be almost outside time. If Deupree and Fischer spun Twine at much greater length, their last, least static efforts might almost resemble the most ambient output of Tape.

Each of these brief but beguiling time-stretched soundscapes, experientially slowed down, end on fadeouts that come as ineluctably as sleep.

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