Review of Northern [12k1037]

Mapsadaisical (US)

More microscopic minimalism from polymath Taylor Deupree, sound designer, graphic designer, interior designer, and founder of the 12k label. As you would expect, this is precision engineered stuff.

Given Taylor Deupree’s overlapping careers – and professed belief in the interlinking of sound, design, and surroundings – the choices of upstate New York for the recording, and of monochromatic leafless trees for the cover of Northern are instructive. Indeed, it is hardly possible to envisage a less urban electronic record. Like the forest, an outer appearance of quiet disorder belies the activity and structure within.

This contrast between the natural and synthetic can be heard in the title track, as a processed electronic piano near-melody plays over what sounds like someone scrabbling around the forest floor for berries. The conflict between the winter weather and the need to keep warm is another key element of the record, as in the bitter icy wind attempting to blow away the underlying warmth of “A Dead Yellow Carpet”, and in the way “November” stokes an electronic campfire with woozy, breathy mellotron. Sine waves colour spaces between sparse electronic rhythms before static falls like rain on leaves on “Everything’s Gone Grey”, before water is evoked further on “Shell Shell Bye”, rippling as wind fusses chimes and a guitar is strummed with the lack of purpose born of being miles from the city’s stress. “Haze It May Be” may be my favourite, as a gentle nagging electronic riff is chased through the woods and smothered by choral buzz.

I’ve been listening to this for a few weeks now, and have found it a thoroughly rewarding and most evocative experience, allowing me to experience such an array of contradictory feelings and emotions in an hour, in the fashion that only the greatest pieces of art can do. Northern is a record designed to live in. Bring warm clothes, mind.

View Release