Review of Low Flying Owls [12k1099]

Futurism Restated (US)

What is Between? The 12k label calls it “a rotating collective,” but its output is rare enough, the lineup so inconsistent, that it feels less like a group than an idea, an attempt to distill 12k’s aesthetic into an extended stream of sound. The quintet of Taylor Deupree, Marcus Fisher, Corey Fuller, Simon Scott, and Tomoyoshi Date first assembled in 2012, in Japan, to record its self-titled debut, a 38-minute hush that conjures the same sense of stillness as the final panel of Goodnight Moon, fire crackling and stars twinkling and blanket soft against the rabbit’s chin. It reconvened in 2022 (this time Deupree and Fuller along with Stephen Vitiello, Molly Berg, Michael Grigoni, and Federico Durand) with the similarly sedate prelude (00.00), for Longform Editions.

The same group, plus original Betweener Fisher, is responsible for Low Flying Owls, which was recorded remotely and woven together between Florida, Tokyo, Portland, Argentina, North Carolina, Richmond, and rural New York. (Fisher also crafted a series of handmade collages for an accompanying 46-page book.) The hush maintains, but it feels deeper and more multidimensional than ever, synth and piano and field recording fleshed out with lap steel, clarinet, and what are identified in the credits as bamboo whisk, seashells, and “small objects.” There are shades of ECM in its spaces and shadows, but as it gets going (though broken into nine tracks, it feels like one long piece), it comes to resemble Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock in its ink-in-water swirls and brushed drumming. 12k has a reputation for minimalism, but what strikes me about Low Flying Owls is its fullness—of color, texture, and feeling. If this is minimalism, it’s the fathomless simplicity of the sky at daybreak.

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