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Mark Templeton - Inland
Mark Templeton's debut for the then-fledgling Anticipate label was a glorious listening experience. More organic than most 'electronic' albums, it seemed to revel in its sound-sources - the primary source being Templeton's electric guitar. Obviously and probably correctly the album was compared to guitar/laptop pioneer Christian Fennesz, but with his sophomore effort 'Inland' Templeton sounds keen to distance himself from such easy analogies. Where Fennesz has moved towards more ambient and textured territory, since 'Standing on a Hummingbird' Templeton seems to have moved towards real songs. Across 'Inland' we hear fractured vocals, echoes of guitar lines and the distant rattle of drum kits. This is reductionist songwriting, and Templeton disassembles the song as we know it. The album is beautifully restrained to the point of minimalism, but never does it feel boring or stretched out; rather Templeton has the innate ability to reduce his songs to merely their key elements and keep a beating emotional heart at the surface. I could almost use Grouper as a comparison just as easily as Fennesz at this point - while the approach is very different, the two artists seem to share a similar love of real songs, and distorting their songs to the point of being barely heard. On each successive listen you strip something away, release another riff, another vocal line, and over time you can hear the album in its full, uncluttered beauty. In this way 'Inland' is like the gift that keeps on giving - like a box of very decadent chocolates covered in layers of very beautiful foil. Restful, melancholy and near-ambient at times, with this album Templeton has achieved what few electronic music producers manage - the perfect balance between the acoustic and the synthesized. Enjoy, and rest in peace. - Boomkat
The allure of Inland begins right away, as a twangy, reverb-ed electric guitar melody is bathed in cascading delays, creating a hypnotic pulse and textured sonic vistas. From there, this latest album by Canadian experimental artist Mark Templeton continues to document an insular yet inviting journey, the composer's hands-on, collage-like methods producing enigmatic mood shifts and plenty of textural surprise.
Templeton's approach seems obliquely rooted in both folk song and film soundtrack music: there's often a wide -open -spaces, lonely camp-fire vibe to his layered acoustic and electric guitars, his casually plunked-out banjo melodies. But these humble beginnings lead to complex sonic manipulations: cavernous reverbs; pulsing echoes and regenerations; fuzz and distortion; broken-sounding electronics; severe jump-cut edits.
Within these transiting events, other sounds are sometimes heard: static and hiss, accordion chords, gongs and deep-toned drums. All of this seems to occur organically, within tracks that preserve the relatively short duration and, somehow, the familiar narrative-like arc of folk or pop song structure. And while each piece seems to create its own voiceprint, there's also a seamless and mysteriously unified sense to to the way the record unfolds as a whole. This is decidedly not trance or drone music: moods and timbres shift and juxtapose quite quickly, sometimes cinematically.
Templeton's wordless, often gently falsetto vocals appear suddenly in quite a few places, and the effect of this is powerfully intimate and anchoring. Within all that sonic ebb and flow, all those arching views, we come upon the sound of someone singing to himself; helping us to experience, perhaps, the strangely comforting sense of sharing in another's engagingly hermetic creative world. - Dusted
Gently soaring drones, lifted higher with strong drums. Modified guitar chords interspersed with softened Aphex Twin twitches, and the wordless croons of Sigur Ros, the artist utilizing his voice as its own instrument to guide a song. Electro-acoustic ambient, fuzzy and warped, too warm to be called contemporary but without the faux-detachment of postmodern music. Quite beautiful at times, demanding your attention, each element somehow perfectly cohesive. The last track, "Beginnings," is really the strongest, giving the listener a dreamy, rattling send-off. - Foxy Digitalis
It was only two years ago when Mark Templeton dropped the flagship release for Ezekiel Honig's Anticipate label and, despite the insanely high grade of releases that have been released on Anticipate since, that release - Standing On A Hummingbird - has remained, for me, the very best. That is until now. Sometimes I wish I could just explode nonsense onto Forest Gospel for miles on end just to display the uselessness of conveying praise and adoration for a specific album with words. Trying to type out my excitement just becomes nonsense anyways. Run on sentences, fragments, spelling and grammar errors, repetitive, seemingly hyperbolic claims - it just feels flat in place of the music. And it is, but oh well. Here is to nonsense: Inland is a radiculously mesmerizing experience of intertwining guitar strings, violin patches and heaps of butchered, glitchy electronics. Templeton has upped his game considerably and Inland marks his second incredible release this year (the first being his gorgeous collaboration with Aaron Munson on Acre Loss). One of the major differences between Inland and Standing On A Hummingbird is Inland's density. For some reason, things just feel thicker, like Templeton has added more to the mix. Also, (and I'll have to go back to verify this) on Inland, Templeton has added some nonverbal vocals to the audio threading. So, in the end, what we have here is distinctly Templeton, just much more focused, more layered and simply heavier in its construct. Heavier might come off as the wrong word. We aren't dealing with any doom metal riffs here. Its just the feathery tones that persist in this release have been tied to some stones. Regardless of its weight, Templeton, as can be seen in all of his work, is the master creating a beautifully cohesive mess. For those who have been waiting for this release as long as I have, Templeton does not disappoint. Essential listening for 2009. - Forest Gospel
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 electro-acoustic 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. - Textura