Review of Weather & Worn [12k2012]

Resident Advisor (.NET)

It’s true that Taylor Deupree hasn’t shied from the glitch, the drone or the odd skipping disc. Even so, his recordings have long offered refuge to traceable, tactile sounds. Whether looped field recordings, fragmented vocals or “live” incorporation of traditional instruments, there are usually at least a couple of clear, discernible elements amidst the gauze of process. As such, it probably won’t surprise anyone who’s tracked Deupree’s course over the past decade to learn that he’s just released an all-acoustic record.

It all began on a “particularly cold and rainy winter day,” Deupree explains in a candid label statement (candid, because he also admits to having a cat named “Pixel”). Reaching for a guitar, some looping pedals and a handful of other instruments, he set out to distill that familiar balance of warm, insular indoors and a damp, dreary outdoors. It was either that, or knit a scarf.

“Weather” is a creaking wheel of wispy drones, melancholy piano, murmuring voices, and scratchy artifacts. Absent, almost post-rock guitar appears at the midpoint, breaking up the static nature of the loops while inviting still deeper reverie. “Worn” is built from similar components, but has a cozier, more cottony quality. There’s a touch of the familiar, too, with a looped bit of guitar recalling Music for Airports, and a recurring guitar warm-up that seems a direct reference to Talk Talk’s “Ascension Day.” (The resemblances may be coincidental, but the ancestry’s certain.)

In addition to housing Deupree’s first all-acoustic tracks, Weather & Worn also marks the first vinyl product of 12k’s twelve-year history, inaugurating a new 7-inch line. The new sounds and new format take to one another swimmingly, the recordings practically painting a still-life of weathered, worn old 45s. And yet, I’d have liked a little more engaging of the limits imposed and opportunities afforded by this format, the matter of length, in particular. Confined to four minutes, the music pleads for a little more time. The vinyl attempts to alleviate this with run-out grooves on each side, but there’s still a sense of unfinished business.

Perhaps a concession to the brevity issue, a digital bonus track gets it exactly right. A 23-minute, slowed-down work-over of “Worn” clears some elbow room to fully capitalize on an even sleepier pattern of repetition. Featuring more prominent post-recording treatments, it’s fittingly dubbed the “Still Mix,” and draws a straighter line connecting these new works to back catalog highlights like Stil: It revisits the tricks his fans came to love, but still asserts a continued interest in more organic directions.

View Release