Review of Faint [12k1073]

Textura (CA)

Faint takes as its conceptual starting point the fraction of time betwixt waking and sleep, those fading instants where the light of consciousness dims and one’s connection to ‘clock time’ slowly collapses. Deupree’s material convincingly simulates in musical form the slowed pulse of the body and overstimulated mind temporarily at rest. His sensitivity to the shaping of sound is on masterful display, his deep level of attunement to the unfolding sound evident at each moment. During “Shutter,” for example, a synthesizer texture emerges about six minutes into the piece, so subtly it verges on subliminal yet, in terms of the piece as a larger structure, so critical to its design and ultimate impact. Deupree’s connection to the sound of a given piece is so deep it’s as if he can hear minutes into the future as a piece is unfolding so as to determine exactly when a given even will need to occur.

A restful calm pervades the material that makes it music tailor-made for meditative immersion. Faint achieves a remarkably sustained balance between stasis and activity: each piece feels like an extended frozen moment of serenity while also being a continually evolving set-piece wherein myriad musical episodes occur. The album’s five tracks fold ambient textures and the real-world noises of field recordings in amongst electric piano, guitar, and synthesizers. Listing the elements in such manner obscures the fact that Deupree is more focused on shaping sound, no matter its originating form, into an overall whole whose impact is far greater than the sum of its parts. The languorous character of the material is reinforced by the running time accorded the individual pieces, with the shortest about nine minutes and the longest close to thirteen.

“Negative Snow” first establishes a dense, crackling mass as a base upon which Deupree overlays softly glimmering fragments and meandering bass tones that more allude to melodic form than explicitly voice it. Flickering accents evoke the flutter of fireflies against a backdrop of insect chirps on a warm summer night, an association that reinforces the hypnotic, even dreamlike spell cast by the material. “Dreams of Stairs” presents itself as time-suspending drift whose real-world textures Deupree augments with electric piano atmospheres, an occasional guitar strum, string-like figures, and the faint glow of synthetic textures; bathed in hiss, “Shutter” likewise drifts peacefully, its electric piano and guitar figures arising against a vaporous ambient-drone backdrop. Like consciousness fading, monotone textures in “Sundown” assume a more prominent position within the audio field, with the musical elements slightly receding from view. As the sun sets and the delicate tones overlap, it’s almost impossible not to think of Eno’s original ambient albums, Discreet Music and Music For Airports, in how they, too, achieve such a soothing state of calm and peacefulness. All reference points aside, Faint holds up as a beautiful and beguiling example of Deupree’s signature artistry.

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