Mark Templeton: Inland

First of all, a few things Mark Templeton's Inland isn't: it's not his third solo album for Anticipate but his second; more precisely, it's the follow-up to 2007's Standing on a Hummingbird, as the recent Acre Loss formally counts as an audio-visual collaboration with Aaron Munson. And though the reverb-drenched electric guitar shadings and drum eruptions that inaugurate the album in “At Your Feet” might suggest otherwise, Inland isn't epic and grandiose in design but intimate and down-home; in fact, the material exudes such a relaxed and explorative, even meandering vibe, one pictures Templeton sitting at his kitchen table surrounded by laptop, guitar, accordion, violin, and other instruments as he assembles his collages, occasionally interrupting the work with a lunch break or breath of fresh air. Interestingly, the material manages to be both restless and calm as it unfolds in organic and deceptively casual manner. Calling it “modern experimental campfire music,” as the accompanying info suggests, isn't far off the mark.

The album presents eleven succinct set-pieces that are perhaps song-like in length but only tangentially so in structure. Tracks such as “Oak,” “Under,” and “Seam” exemplify the collage-oriented character of Templeton's electroacoustic style by merging the countrified pluck of a banjo, bluesy guitar shadings, the rustic saw of a violin, and wordless murmur of his voice (typically heard in its upper register) with the speckled spatter and swarm of electronic effects. The acoustic folk elements humanize and offset the distancing impact the digital processing treatments can produce. Often scattered into tiny shards, the guitar in particular is liberally refracted, whether it's transformed into Klimek-like guitar stutter or heard as a writhing snarl as it is during the respective parts of “West of Fabric.” Though sonically a blurry, guitar-heavy track such as “Sleep In Front Of” exudes a shoegaze quality, Templeton's music is stylistically worlds away from the genre. Considerably more hermetic by comparison, Inland is the sound of Templeton opening up the window to his workspace and granting listeners a brief glimpse into his idiosyncratic world.

June 2009