Review of Northern [12k1037]

Smallfish (UK)

I think it’s fair to say that Taylor Deupree is one of the most highly regarded electronic composers currently involved in the world of minimal, textural and contemporary soundscape music. Rightly so as he has a wonderful back catalogue on labels such as, Raster Noton, Sub Rosa, Spekk, Noble and plenty of others.

His recent penchant for collaborative work has seen him engaging in musical companionship with artists such as Kenneth Kirschner, Eisi and Christopher Willits, and whilst these are all beautiful examples of how to work together as a unit, there’s something exceedingly special about a solo Deupree release – particularly when you consider the last thing he released on his own 12k imprint was the classic Stil. in 2002.

The anticipation for Northern has been nothing short of rabid, to put it mildly.

To break this piece of work down into its constituent tracks and sounds would be to do it a serious injustice as it seems to have been conceived as a complete work from the very outset. Whether that’s the correct assumption or not, I’m not sure, but the tracks on this 51-minute work of sheer brilliance seem to hang together in such a coherent way that it seems impossible to imagine them any other way.

Deupree’s work is concerned with the simple, beautiful way that machines can convey an atmosphere or emotion and his well-known love of minimalism is clearly a vehicle for this souful machine-style music – you will always find an element of beauty in his work regardless of whether it’s a stripped-down, rhythmic piece or a more texture based, hypnotic work. That’s part of the beauty, I always find… the deconstruction of sound and the reorganization that gives every tone its own unique nuance.

Northern takes the processed manipulations of his previous work and, in my opinion, steps it up a gear with a wonderful infusion of the synthetic with the quite overtly organic.

From the first notes of “Everything’s Gone Grey” to the final notes of the stupendous “November” you are treated to a lush, cleverly constructed symphony of sound that feels at once familiar, yet completely refreshing in every way.
Deep, lilting, melodic elements sit happily with drifting textures and slowly evolving digital sounds, creating a sense of timeless beauty and emotional warmth. Lone guitar strums punctuate the sense of melancholy and even the wood flute sounds seem to have a certain mysticism about them. Northern is without doubt Deupree’s most musical work to date and, at times, has an almost traditional style to the sounds… something it shares in common with S├ębastien Roux’s Songs or Sawako’s Hum, albeit in a very different guise.

The snowy cover artwork perfectly reflects the feelings the album invokes with its heartwarming sound and evocative tones and he’s clearly been inspired by his new surroundings as you can genuinely imagine slowly meandering streams and stark forests full of depth and a fragile iciness whilst experiencing the music. It’s definitely a world away from the bustle of his old stomping ground in Brooklyn!

Ultimately you need to hear this CD for yourself to appreciate just why it’s such an essential and important release. And it merely cements the reputation of one of our most important modern musicians even further.

One of the best releases of the year without a single doubt.

View Release