Review of Northern [12k1037]

Lost At Sea (UK)

Taylor Deupree, both as an artist and as the man behind the dapper 12k label, has well and truly wedged himself into a niche over the last few years. As 12k continues to give life to the minimalist electronica “sound”, Deupree adds his two cents with his solo recordings and sporadic collaborative works, and the two separate entities appear to work together, albeit in parallel. He has since upheld his reputation as a remarkably single-minded presence in the field of electronics; he’s absorbed his musical background, and he knows where he’s going.

Stil., originally released in 2002, remains Deupree’s most identifiable album. In relation to the Deupree/12k context, it emerged as a mechanical piece of music, as if very little had been left to chance, and instead systematically looped to create an air of hypnotism. Given Deupree’s relocation from the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn to rural upstate New York, Northern’s distinction is noticeable from the onset. Opening track “Everything’s Gone Grey” doesn’t possess the density of the Stil. material – instead it is granted a spacious production in which a pair of crystalline sine waves surface and fold into to a random composition of sparse electric piano tones. It is kept very light and tranquil, whereby any hint of static or interruption remains subtle. Northern awakens to a dawn of electronic rustles ahead of a loosely-formed structure of piano chimes that swing in and out of a series of slow-moving swells.

Though Deupree tends to play on repetition, he manages to garner his compositions a degree of subtle urgency with light showers of surface texture. His technique serves to weave light instances of noise in and around the passages of sound, which adds to Northern‘s sense of randomness. His instrumental capacity is expanded into guitar recordings in the case of “Shell Shell Bye” and melodica with “November.” “Shell Shell Bye” sways independently of itself, providing an aural equivalent to Northerns winter-embracing cover photograph, whereas “November” possesses an unmatched sparseness, noticed particularly on the heels of the relative clamour of “Haze It May Be.” Nonetheless, Deupree’s trademark serenity and attention to detail is retained throughout the course of the album, and Northern justifies itself as a fitting instalment in Taylor Deupree’s – and 12k’s – credible discography.

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