Review of Northern (Re-Issue) [12k2009]

Textura (.ORG)

Northern isn’t an entirely new production by Taylor Deupree but neither is it a mere reprint of the original 2006 release either. Though the 12k head initially intended to re-mix and re-master Northern before making the out-of-print recording again available for public consumption, he discovered upon returning to the files that various complications of one sort or another—sound file errors, missing plug-ins, etc.—had crept in, and so decided to re-shape the original into something still the same but subtly different too. The resultant “reissue,” which includes new sounds and altered endings, is exquisite on not only musical but also presentation grounds with its cardboard cover replete with debossed typography and enhanced by a mini-booklet of b&w photographs.

The music itself stylistically evolved in response to two separate impetuses: the first was Deupree’s relocation from his urban Brooklyn home to the tranquil forest climes of upstate New York (hence the title); the second was the nostalgic recollections the new setting re-awakened for his experiences with a teenage friend and their shared explorations in electronic music-making some twenty years earlier (hence the dedication to one Bryan Charles Strniste). Consistent with such background detail, Northern’s music emerges as a highly personalized portrait of long-form soundscaping that’s generally subtly elegiac and wistful in tone. The gentle pitter-patter, placid tones, field elements, and fragments of guitar, electric piano, and melodica that course through the six meditations suggest a peacefulness redolent of the slowed experience of time that re-acquaintance with nature often brings. It’s not as completely placid as one might think, however; jagged guitar stabs rub continually up against whistling flutter in “Shell Shell Bye,” for example, generating unease and disorientation. Northern as a whole feels perched midway between formally structured and improvised, with Deupree giving the material room to mutate and breathe without letting it lapse into waywardness. No doubt those who loved Landing, Deupree’s 2007 ROOM40 release, as much as we did should find Northern to be just as satisfying.

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