Barreca | Leimer: Premap
With some releases, you pretty much know what you're in for before hearing a second of its material—which isn't a damning thing, necessarily. A case in point is Premap, which, given that it's issued on Palace Of Lights and is an album-length collaboration between Marc Barreca and K. (Kerry) Leimer, offers a fairly clear foretaste of what one should expect. A subsequent scan of the materials used to generate the thirteen pieces—digital synthesis, sampled instruments, electric guitar and bass, audio treatments, signal reprocessing—further concretizes the image forming within the listener's mind prior to hearing the sixty-eight-minute collection.
But if certain expectations are confirmed by what's aurally presented, surprises occur as well, among them the degree of coherence exemplified by the finished product, work that could as easily pass for one by a single individual than two. The most surprising thing, however, is the emotional character evidenced by some pieces—not what one might expect from material one assumes was produced in accordance with a painstakingly methodical production approach (though perhaps not so methodical that randomness couldn't enter into it).
So if the fragmented sounds and slippery patterns of “All Known Musics” twitch and fidget in all of the expected ways and if the sitar-like glistenings of “Outlander” and “Upper Canopy” drift in dazed states of contemplation, “Submerged” exudes a placid peacefulness that's soothing in all the right ways. Even more affecting is “Interleaving Traps,” a minimal affair distinguished by the plaintive lament of gentle synth-like tones, and “A Bryars Hymn,” whose choral voices and strings slowly see-saw in presumed homage to the English composer.
A sense of tentative calm pervades the duo's electroacoustic material, despite the fact that it's marked by constant change and a restless shape-shifting quality. Instrument fragments and processed sounds flicker throughout these constructions but in a natural and unhurried manner. The sound design also varies from one piece to another, which likewise helps keep the listener engaged. Those conversant with 12k's recent output would recognize immediately what a comfortable fit Premap would be for Taylor Deupree's label, and, in fact, there are pieces on the release that easily could be mistaken for a production by him were one not to know otherwise. The fact that Deupree mastered the recording makes the connection all the harder to ignore.