Review of Shoals [12k1060]

Fluid Radio (UK)

After being invited to an artist residency program at the University of York Music Research Centre in 2009, Taylor Deupree was soon inspired to delve into their collection of Javanese and Balinese gamelan instruments. Deupree decided to restrict himself to using these instruments alone and set about using the Kyma programming language to develop his own looping program for use with the project… With the full weight of York University behind him, Deupree has utilised the vast array of instruments, recording techniques and staff at his disposal to make an album that could not have been realised at another studio. His first album in three years, Shoals, is an intelligent and inspiring body of work.

Opening track Shoals begins with ebow swells, looping chimes and static. Deupree is in no hurry to express himself and with the confidence that comes from a strong back catalogue of work, he sets about utilising every resource at his disposal. With so many layers of sound, the listener is compelled to sit back, relax and let the sonic bliss wash over oneself for almost eleven and a half minutes.

“Rusted Oak” begins slowly but with weight, like the rise of the tide. Evoking the passage of time and everlasting absolutes, the currents underpinning the tracks are forever shifting. Deupree never runs out of ideas and the ears never cease to delight in the sublime tones captured from such unfamiliar timbres. There’s an enthralling collision between warm organic instruments and sterile computerised noises anchored by looping drones, all of this invoking a feeling of serene beauty. “A Fading Found” begins with a little more structure than the previous tracks. As each subtle loop repeats, audio is chopped up and reversed and snippets of snatched voices are added to the mix. Every part complements each other perfectly and as the structure becomes more apparent, the piece develops and the result is enchanting. The fourth and final track, “Falls Touching Grasses” once again abandons all structure and with its dizzying drones, cascades and swells, this track provides a fitting close to this engrossing album. Scraping and tapping, broken instruments and strings, out of time, out of tune. Even incidental sounds such as Deupree’s movements around the studio captured on microphone are included. Nothing is wasted.

Released June 15th on 12K, Shoals is a slow burning feast of sound manipulation and proves once again that Taylor Deupree is an experimental music tour-de-force. – Review by Adam Williams for Fluid Radio

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