Nick Kuepfer: Rural Route No. 7
Standard Form

The seventh installment in Standard Form's Rural Route series clearly lives up to the name, with current Montreal resident Nick Kuepfer, armed with guitars (nylon string and electric) and looping and sampling gear, recording the material during a secluded week in a house deep in the Northern Ontario woods as well as at a cabin in Quebec's Gatineau region. Kuepfer squeezes in a generous range of styles and ideas into the three-inch disc's twenty-minute runing time: “A River” would register as a rumbling space drone of stark, cavernous warble were it not for the presence of bird calls and ambient hiss that lend the track its nature-based character, while “A Leg” flirts with a more conventional indie-styled approach by pairing an insistent guitar rhythm with makeshift beats. “A Thought” spotlights his rapid-fire acoustic picking, whereas “A Pursuit” plays like some experimental jam for drummer, acoustic bassist, and guitarist of the kind one might hear as part of a Constellation release. The most elaborate setting is “A Wave,” a collage that follows the sounds of goats (recorded in Switzerland), choir singing (featuring Kuepfer's parents) with a light-hearted acoustic guitar episode and wolf howls (recorded at the Aspden Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near Rousseau, Ontario).

It's hard to get a clear read on Kuepfer's style based on the work collected here, though one would be similarly challenged by any recording that presents a mere twenty minutes of material. Lessening even more the likelihood of that picture coming into clearer focus is the EP's stylistic diversity, with each piece offering a different sketch or side of the creator's personality. Such a result isn't out of keeping with the concept driving the Rural Route series, however, as to some degree it's designed to be an explorative forum that allows the artist free rein. For a more complete picture of Kuepfer's approach, one might also consider sampling the full-length solo record the current member of Hrsta and No Nature recently issued as part of Constellation Records' Musique Fragile series.

April 2011