Review of Upward, Broken, Always [12k2042]

Stationary Travels (BLOG)

Taylor Deupree and Corey Fuller are certainly no strangers to one another. Deupree is the founder of the 12k label on which Fuller has made numerous appearances as part of the duoIllluha with Tomoyoshi Date and, most recently, as a solo artist with the stunning ‘Break’ released earlier this year.  And, there have been collaborations they have been involved in together, perhaps most notably ’Perpetual’ (2015, 12k) along with legendary Japanese composer & musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.

During all this time, however, they had never worked on a full album together as a duo, that is until now with the debut of Ohio. The name of the project is dual reference to the US state where both artists were born as well as the first song they developed for it, a cover of the Damien Jurado indie classic.  Though they now live & work hemispheres apart (Deupree in New York & Fuller in Tokyo), the realization of their common birthplace yielded a clear point of departure and a shared vision for the conceptual road map to their beautifully drawn new album called ‘Upward, Broken, Always‘. And, while there are aspects of this record that will resonate with comforting familiarity to listeners of their other works, there is a bold presence and disarming directness here that feels quite new and refreshingly different.


LinksBandcamp  | 12k | Taylor Deupree | Corey Fuller

“With no lack of irony the project started with a playful cover of singer/songwriter Damien Jurado’s “Ohio.” Deeply loved by both Deupree and Fuller, covering this song liberated them from working in their traditional “ambient” comfort-zone, challengingthem with new structures and new directions…The project expanded from there and moved gradually as they very much felt working in the same physical space was important to its core. Writing, overdubbing, mixing and editing continued as the two found time to make the journeys between Tokyo and New York to share a studio. Each visit the songs would become more refined and be pushed into new and unexpected directions. A cathartic intensity found its way into the music echoing the intensity of life but at the same time remaining grounded.” – 12k

That “cathartic intensity” provides the album’s most breathtaking moments, especially on opening track “Apeiro” or when it blossoms forth two minutes into the melodic “Rows, Barns, Fields” creating a tidal surge of picturesque nostalgia. The more delicate moments are equally powerful however, albeit in a different way.  Take the idyllic finger-picked guitar lines and haunting vocals of “Frère” or the verdant pastoral impressionism of “Cherry Blue” and “Crépescule“.  The Jurado cover itself is utterly endearing with a remarkably faithful vocal rendering even as shuffling percussion, splayed guitar chords, and broken banjo and piano fragments subvert the brisk pace of the original.

There is a special aura to this record, the kind of which is ultimately hard to put into words, but which can be keenly felt in the listening – an emotional honesty and authenticity that seeps into and becomes inseparable from the music.  The liner notes of the album close with a dedication to the late Mark Hollis who once said his ultimate ambition was “to make music that doesn’t have a use by date, that goes beyond your own time” and Upward, Broken, Always feels very much like an album that will do just that.

Upward, Broken, Always has been released as a limited edition 2xLP with three sides of audio and an etching of a topographical map on the D-side (125 copies only).  Digital downloads are also available.

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