Posted on Aug 10th 2009 12:37 am

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Stephan Mathieu + Taylor Deupree: Transcriptions

Spekk 2009
08 Tracks. 48mins53secs

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Neither Stephan Mathieu nor Taylor Deupree need any introduction, so extensive and emblematic their respective work is. While both are serial collaborative workers, this is the first time they have brought their sound worlds together and collaborated on a common project, quite a surprising fact if considered that they are united not only by a similar passion for sound, but also by a common interest in graphic design and photography.

The starting point of this project is Mathieu’s use of wax cylinders, an ancestor of the vinyl record, and 78s, playing the cylinders through two portable gramophones and recording them straight on the computer via a microphone, processing the recordings in real time. From there on, Deupree added guitar textures and old synthesizers to give the original sound sources a warmer glow. The resulting eight compositions are rich evocative sound worlds, with beautiful textural surfaces and absorbing depth.

Opening the proceedings is Nocturne, a magnificent piece where distant echoes of human voices and continuous waves that comes crashing upon a thick mat of crackles and noises in slow motion all peacefully lead to a sumptuous pastoral ending sequence, paving the way to Largo which follows. The mood is equally as peaceful there, a condition that is inherent to the whole record, but the constant reflux is given a much earthier feel here. There is also something quite autumnal in the tone of the piece, as if it was covered by a lingering fog, softening the edges of each sound used. Later, White Heaven develops over twelve minutes, rising from a cluster of distortions into a beautifully bright and warm sequence, which, as the distortions recede in its last section, reveals a stunning dreamy slant.

Solitude and Remain also seem shrouded in a thick cloud, rendering their respective landscapes through extremely soft brushes. The former occasionally recalls the contemplative tones of Dead Can Dance, especially as a distant bell tolls over an elegant layered drone, while the latter is ridden with crackles and interferences, giving it a thoroughly exquisite patina. The album then seems to take a turn toward much denser sound formations, especially on Andante, Genius and Solitude Of Spheres. On Andante, the pair create once again a majestic textured drone, which while appearing almost entirely static, actually progresses very slowly. Upon it, they add what sounds like wooden percussions, placing them in isolation deep into the mix. Genius is grainier, its surface flawed by a processed distorted electric guitar and punctuated with random percussive sounds once again. Solitude Of Spheres, which closes, has a more bucolic feel, reflecting upon the epic White Heaven before it, but once again there are some added textures here which give the piece a slight abrasive undertone, perhaps an illustration of the friction made by a needle on a record, until a lone acoustic guitar spells the end of this introspective journey.

This is a collaboration that has been expected for some time, and which doesn’t disappoint, Stephan Mathieu and Taylor Deupree’s partnership demonstrating strong symbiosis. Mathieu’s original work is perhaps the most prominent here, with Deupree restricting his contribution to enhancing the elements brought by his friend, yet this doesn’t create any uncomfortable equilibrium. Indeed, this actually serves the record and gives it its stunning consistency and tone.


Icon: arrow Stephan Mathieu | Taylor Deupree | Spekk
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