Review of Northern [12k1037]

Rare Frequency (US)

As one of the early pioneers of ultra-minimal post techno (aka microsound), 12k founder Taylor Deupree has long focused on very small, very delicate sonic gestures. On Northern, which is his first solo album since 2004’s starkly beautiful January, he silences the last, lingering vestiges of the techno-inspired heartbeat that had long (however obliquely) structured his work, in favor of lightly chaotic rhythmic structures and relatively lush, unclinical sounds. Deupree sees this shift in his musical evolution as a reflection of his changed surroundings, the result of a recent move away from the urban bustle of Brooklyn to the ostensible tranquility of his childhood hometown in upstate New York. This rural relocation inspired Deupree to leave the carefully sculpted pinprick trebles and sub-bass pulses that were his trademark for so long for a more organic, acoustic palette that includes field recordings, piano, and acoustic guitar. But, thankfully, this is not a self-indulgent, fractured, folktronic jangle-fest. On the face of it, each of the six pieces on Northern is quite lovely and it’s easy to be entranced by their pleasant charm; however, there is always a whirlpool of quietly unceasing movement beneath the placid surface. Restless static-filled textures and dog-whistle sine tones both underpin and undermine the gentle melodic ebb and flow. Overall, it remains a serene, meditative CD, but one that harbors an interesting series of subterranean tensions. Fine stuff.

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