Taylor Deupree: Landing

eRikm (Luc Ferrari) & Thomas Lehn: Les Protorythmiques

My first listen to Taylor Deupree's Landing coincided with a walk through the countryside on a cool spring day with cumulous clouds drifting across expanses of blue sky. Though I wouldn't normally include such prosaic details in a review, in this case it bears mention simply because the placidity of Deupree's EP meshed so seamlessly with the experience, so much so I had to pull the headphones away a number of times to determine whether the bird chatter I was hearing was part of the CD's quiet constructions or environmental sounds merging with Deupree's pieces (the latter, it turns out). The delicate beauty of Landing's carefully modulated pieces makes for a wonderful listening experience. On the title piece especially, Deupree produces an hypnotic flow from minimal acoustic guitar accents, bell tinkles, and softly shimmering electronic touches that fully sustains itself despite the absence of any explicit rhythmic elements. It's as lovely and warm an example of electroacoustic construction as you're likely to hear; though I'm tempted to use the term ‘ambient' to describe it, I hesitate to do so to avoid a ‘background music' association. Rather, its becalmed character belies the gentle flurries of activity that occur throughout its nine minutes. The other, slightly more hermetic pieces are memorable too, in particular the second, “Seep,” where the plucked note of an acoustic guitar bleeds and then subtly disperses.

Les Protorythmiques, an half-hour recording taken from a May 2005 live concert at the Musique Action Festival in France, was originally intended to be presented by Luc Ferrari and eRikm but, when health problems forced Ferrari to cancel, analogue synthesizer player Thomas Lehn stepped in. A variegated, multi-layered electroacoustic field of audio samples and ‘musique concrete' that erikm developed with Luc Ferrari (gunfire, cowbells, rooster calls, engine noise, voices) restlessly mutates and stutters throughout, making for a challenging and draining listening experience. Drawing upon prepared sounds and parts that lend themselves to live substitutions and transformations, the ‘spontaneously composed' piece hardly conforms to conventional compositional form, but there are subtly contrasting episodes of intense activity and relative calm. Lehn's synthesizer makes its way through eRikm's fluctuating mass like a snake through the grass and the result, though thoroughly abstract and idiosyncratic, retains a strange logic and coherence.

June 2007