Review of In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes [12k2021]

Fluid Radio (UK)

Over its nearly 15 years of existence, Pound Ridge-based label 12k has been known to foster and nurture a diminutive roster of artists and support their collaborative endeavors, either between themselves or with ‘guest’ musicians. From the awkward object exchanges between Stephen Vitiello and Rutger Zuydervelt giving birth to the fascinating ‘Box Music’, to the near environmental documents ‘Two Lakes’ created in a log-cabin by Seaworthy and Matt Rosner, or the improvised gig by impromptu quartet M.O.S.S. in a church in San Jose, the collaborative albums released by the label have always widely varied in modes, methods and aesthetic outcomes, and yet they have been an essential part to the 12k catalogue, often exploring unexpected creative sideways. Label-head Taylor Deupree is himself constantly oscillating between his ever impressive solo projects and a monumental collaborative body of work, whose diversity is both extremely refreshing and fascinating.

It’s interesting to find him working alongside 12k relative newcomer Marcus Fischer, whose album ‘Monocoastal’ released in 2010 has been hailed by Deupree as an album he wished he’d written himself. Even if Deupree’s recent solo efforts ‘Weather & Worn’, ‘Snow (dusk, dawn) or ‘Shoals’ on one side, and Fischer’s ‘Monocoastal’ on the other side are completely different records altogether, they share related working methods and aesthetic visions. Both artists have indeed been quite open about their respective creative processes as of late: amorphic loops made of guitar, bells, small objects etc passed through arrays of effect pedals, ebbing and flowing in a seemingly loose and organic fashion to produce ethereal impressionistic sonic pictures of fragile beauty. In sharp contrast with past collaborations where Deupree’s contribution could often be clearly delineated (in the Post Piano series for instance), ‘In a Place of Such Graceful Shapes’ has more to do with the emergence of a singular creative entity whose constitutive individualities have slowly dissolved into new forms and shapes, thus allowing fascinating new creative insights to come to the fore.

Over the course of nearly 50 minutes, incidental micro-loops, bell-like sounds, worn-out guitars swells, decayed chord progressions, fragile melodic fragments and warm droning textures are carefully assembled, held suspended for a few seconds and immediately dissolved, only leaving evanescent traces of their past presence to create a very intimate and ephemeral landscape whose boundaries are uncertain and colours always changing. As the piece moves along, majestically unhurried, ice crystals form on the surface of grass blades, reflecting oblique rays of light in a sort of aural halation effect. Infinitesimal melodic movements and tiny timbral shifts conjure up the life of a microscopic ecosystem watched in slow-motion. The apparent yet deceptive stasis of the piece create a strong sense of place, akin to a spectral meadow at dawn or an hidden-away sunlit pond, whose aquatic inhabitants are still asleep. More than an elusive echo garden, it’s a sanctuary that Fischer and Deupree patiently creates, a magical place that requires care and protection but that also provides safety and comfort for the listener. The short two accompanying tracks ‘Blanketing’ and ‘Cloudline’, pressed on a separate 7” vinyl, sounds like miniature versions of that intimate place, as if recalled from hazy memories and condensed into a glistening glass ball – two numbers of exquisite and diminutive beauty that are the perfect companion to the nocturnal sleeplessness.

‘In a Place…’ is neither Fischer or Deupree, or a blend of the two but something completely new for both artists. The process at work is yet related to their recent projects but only used as a stepping stone to transcend their past work and access new creative summits altogether. It is not surprising that one of the black and white pictures (taken by both Deupree and Fischer) inside the booklet shows the two men blurred out so their respective identity is carefully concealed. In a way, it perfectly reflects the way this work has been created: less by two separate characters than by two strangers who quickly realized they’d seemingly known each other all their lives and decided to embark upon a journey beyond their own individualities. ‘In Pace of Such Graceful Shapes’ is an album whose beauty and intimacy transform music into a sheltered place where one wants to stay for a very long time.

– Pascal Savy for Fluid Radio

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