Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer – Lowlands.

The third release in Iikki’s audio/visual pairing comes from the musical duo of Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer paired with the photographs of Ester Vonplon.

Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer are well known names in the Ambient/Electronic community with the New York based Deupree running the highly respected 12k label as well as being an in demand masterer and musician himself and Fischer a regular collaborator with Deupree (“In a Place of such Graceful Shapes” and “Twine”) and the man behind the highly influential “Monocoastal” album. Ester Vonplon is a Berlin trained Swiss photographer who traveled to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean in summer 2016. She sailed the ice-clogged seas of the Arctic Ocean on a three-masted sailing vessel, to capture the impressions of the calving glaciers and melting ice.

This journey in the Arctic Ocean was the perfect beginning for Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer to compose and record Lowlands.

Iikki states Deupree music “emphasizes a hybrid of natural sounds and technological mediation, and shows a marked attention to the aesthetics of error and the imperfect beauty of nature, marked by a deep attention to stillness, to an almost desperate near-silence” while Fischer’s “work typically centers around memory, geography and the manipulation of physical audio recording mediums. Slowly unfolding melodies and warm tape saturated drones have become a trademark of his recordings.” Both these descriptions are evident in the music that makes up “Lowlands”.

“Lowlands” starts off with toy like piano, field recordings with a static haze quality to them, distant bells, occasional guitar. The track has a dreamy quality with a combination of muted sound and then a crystal clear guitar piece that gives the track depth. Its almost like the images contained in the book of something submerged and then being revealed. There is also the occasional warped sound as if something has been left to the environment has changed shape. There is a bass hum that comes towards the end if the track, that if listened to in a car has the power to vibrate the vehicle.

“On Branches” starts with what sounds like someone going off to record something and they are setting to their dictaphone. Bells chime, scratching sounds, detritus, old micro Caretaker like sounds are buried. Loops abound, but not obviously. The main feel is of decay, like something is breaking down, but the track loses most of the clattering sounds to a nice ambience at the end.

“Rides” Drones, glitchy tones, warped melodies, guitar plucks build as the track starts off slowly and picks up speed with a kaleidoscope of sound as if wheels are spinning towards a descent. Percussion, mostly cymbal sounds like and sticks clatter making the track denser. Towards the end most of the elements fall away.

“Migration” guitar leads off this track , with a warped sound, treated guitar sounds of shuffling or of sanding wood, light drones that give the affect of a clear sky. The memory of fellow 12k artist Seaworthy comes to mind with his fusion of sound and guitar.

“Sometimes” has a hint of an eerily still early morning with electrical buzz, ambient drones, chimes, occasional beats, but not in the traditional sense. Buried guitar slowly makes its was out of the background, while drones float. Some of the electrical like sounds remind me of recordings where people have recorded the natural environment and the sounds emitted by the earth.

“Snow Slowed” goes hauntilogical with buried sounds under a veneer of dust, with haunting drones, broken piano and a bright becoming harsh drone which sounds like an icy gale whipping around the environment.

“Cascaded” warped sounds caress effected guitar in a loop like fashion with an underbelly of crackling static and detritus. Tones flitter and break down, chimes generated from the guitar give a xylophone like tone. Slow drones, with a slight high tone hold the middle ground for the detritus underneath and chimes on top.

“Rivers” a violin drone cuts across the beginning, with melodic under play looping around, guitar is picked carefully, clattering field recordings, dark cello like drones which give ominous edge buzzsaw across, sounds which remind the listener of a childs jewelry box bump into each other and the sounds of a breeze swirling around are all included in this track which has the most clearest if sound palet on the album. It naturally finishes with recordings of water.

The obvious thing for musicians to do would be to make a heavily water based record with a glacial feel to it to emphasize both the coldness and the the slowness of glaciers calving and melting. To their credit Deupree and Fischer don’t, they follow the descriptions of their styles that the label stated above to a tee. The recordings made over the period of 2014-2017 come diverse areas such as Reykjavic and the duos own areas of Pound Ridge and Portland respectively. The recordings do have a feeling that they can be applied to other themes as they are not rooted in one sound. My only complaint would be use of warped sounds over several of the tracks. While it makes them share similar element, it appears to be slightly overused.

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