Standing on a Hummingbird is the debut full-length from Edmonton's Mark Templeton, and it also inaugurates the Anticipate label. Consisting exclusively of electro-acoustic experimentation utilizing stringed instruments (primarily banjo and acoustic guitar) and accordion as source material, the album both showcases the dynamic range of the instruments and demonstrates the widely varied manner by which the acoustic sources can be deconstructed and manipulated to create new sonic shapes and textures. The resulting majesty and melancholic intimacy of these ten tracks betray a background in musical theory, which suffuses Templeton's compositional technique with a decidedly postmodern flavor.
Templeton has a preternatural ability to isolate certain textural nuances of sound, stretching and re-shaping them as atmospheric works that reveal themselves gradually. Delicate guitar figures and arpeggiated chords decay into granular particles and re-assimilate as haunting, delicate fragments, each of which is part of a grander recombinant electronic soundscape. His manner is enhanced by the use of field recordings to augment these digital reconfigurations. The sound of fingers sliding along a guitar string, for instance, with the right amount of delay added, is layered atop a vague snatch of conversation and washes of fragile digital static to create a spare, microtonal track imbued with a staggering amount of emotional resonance.
The virtues of subtlety are manifest on Standing on a Hummingbird, as Templeton allows his pieces to unfold slowly without bombarding the listener with a needless cacophony of glitch and other electronic detritus. Far removed from the aseptic, mundane qualities that have begun to characterize the laptop-folk/electro-acoustic movement, this series of compositions is as inventive as it's abundant with sonorous tonal warmth. - Grooves
Edmonton, Alberta-based Mark Templeton garnered justifiable attention with his previous solo venture, the Frail as Breath EP, and the CD-DVD Fields Awake project, but his debut full-length Standing on a Hummingbird (also the inaugural release on Ezekiel Honig's Anticipate imprint) signifies a more public coming-out. The album features heavily-processed electro-acoustic meditations wherein the resonant pluck of acoustic guitars, an occasional banjo, and melancholic accordion tones rise to the surface and then, obscured by the dense haze of field elements (street sounds, water, birds) and granularized stutter, disappear from view. One might be tempted to liken his approach to that of Fennesz (and Oval, to a lesser extent) but Templeton's comparatively more intent on constructing contemplative blocks of sound and, furthermore, his axe of choice is acoustic, not electric. Many of his pieces exploit the tension between the contemplative languor of the acoustic guitar playing and the churning swirl of haze (especially prominent in "Pattern For a Pillow") that, in its smeary, prickly, rippling, and crackling diversity, becomes an instrument unto itself. In "Amidst Things Uncontrolled," Templeton juxtaposes acoustic tones and the bright hum of the accordion with ripples and fire-like crackle, while the dreamy "Across From Golden (Remix)" floats guitar lines over fragments that rapidly flutter like a hummingbird's wings. Standing on a Hummingbird offers a stellar collection of explorative and meditative sound sculpting. - Textura
Fuelled by the same opulent minimalism that has given Christian Fennesz such a colossal following, this debut album from Mark Templeton is executed with such effortless brilliance that on first listen we were convinced that it was the work of a seasoned master. Brimming with delicate acoustic instruments (banjo, guitar and accordion), "Standing On A Hummingbird" threatens to unfurl into a collection of traditional songs before Templeton works into them like clay, totally remoulding and redeveloping each and every note into a processed entity that's as fragile as it is enticing, allowing delicate subtleties and intricacies to flood out into the fore. This is of course not a new concept, and has most notably been mastered the aforementioned Fennesz, but Templeton injects his compositions with a late night grace that's exceptionally beautiful and almost impossible to ignore within moments of its palatial opening. Another good comparison to Templeton's sound would be NYC operatives Mountains who also manage to successfully imbue their academic excursions with an Eno-esque leaning towards the more pastoral sounds of life - but where Mountains rely on long passages of drifting ambience, Templeton instead harnesses his productions into short, perfect snapshots of beauty. Rarely does a track here go over the five-minute mark, lending proceedings here a bijou fragility that makes it almost impossible not to go back to the beginning as soon as the album comes to a close. Much like recent offerings from the Miasmah label (last week's stunning album from Rafael Anton Irissari and the hugely acclaimed debut from Greg Haines in particular), Ezekiel Honig's Anticipate label has here delivered a first release that's as breathtaking and important as any album of its ilk we've heard in recent years, making this a true classic in the making for all lovers of fragile music that pulls at the heartstrings while challenging accepted musical conventions. - Boomkat
Those familiar with the granular acoustics of Tim Hecker, Fennesz and Mitchell Akiyama will find safe harbour in this new label's introductory release. Albertan Mark Templeton's palette starts with the guitar, banjo and accordion, all of which quickly discorporate and gain a new digital eminence of colours. The edits are extreme in their detail yet an unhurried calm governs each track. Pieces like "Pigeon Hurt" and the title track make halting progress as each chord and string is made to stutter and backtrack before pushing on. Still, progress is always present in the ghostly pulse of song structures that send signals from various depths. Templeton is equally attentive to the digital overflow of accidents from over-amplification and dangling shards of trimmed noises. He skilfully folds these into the mix along with incidental room sounds to blur the inside computer/outside world distinctions. While comparisons to the above mentioned artists are easy to make, this work is seldom predictable. Templeton manages to create a record that follows feverish dream logic, with colours that brighten and suddenly fade, and details that transfigure without altering their basic character. A welcome addition to the canon. - Exclaim!
Canadian Mark Templeton's Standing On A Hummingbird is a stunning debut for Ezekiel Honig's new Anticipate label. Although reference points of Fennesz and fellow Canadians Tim Hecker and Mitchell Akiyama on Templeton's sound are evident, Templeton's tight digital editing and acoustic guitar processing is quite unique. Integrating field recordings into his processed sound adding texture and location to these works that oscillate between ambient solace and discomfort. The sound of mechanical gears on brooding and funereal 'Roots Growing' brings a tension and haste to the melodic drones, whilst on 'Pattern For A Pillow' processed feedback growls beneath guitar and cello. In amongst the digital clicks and processing haze on other tracks there is a distinctly human feel to much of the sound with the digital being humanized by other instrumentation and room recordings - the short snatch of accordion that emerges from the tail end of 'Pigeon Hurt' resolves the glitch it ripples through. Highly recommended. - Cyclic Defrost
Anticipate is a new label from the mind of Microcosm's Ezekiel Honig. It showcases his love for diverse, electronic-based music and doesn't restrict itself to any one particular style although it complements Microcosm in many respects. The inaugural release comes from Canadian Mark Templeton and is a fascinatingly rich collection of tracks. Using various combinations of sound sourcing and design his work comes across as warm, lush, beautifully produced and is full of engaging tones and textures. Predominantly beatless it could conceivably be called ambient, although with the sheer depth of sound involved that's not quite the right description. Organic influences (guitars and other such sounds) mingle effortlessly with the electronic elements to create a soothing and beautiful piece of work that will most certainly appeal to fans of 12k and Type. If this is the shape of things to come I'll be eagerly awaiting the next release! Highly recommended indeed. - Smallfish
Canadian electronic composer Mark Templeton's debut full-length also marks the first release from the experimental music label Anticipate. Templeton's art music is distinctly electro-acoustic, with microphone scratches, thick computer syrup and sporadic plucks on the acoustic guitar that blend the area between ambient and structured composition. Borrowing from the feather-light touch of Icelandic plinkety-plunkers Mum, the distorted beauty of Fennesz and the computerized frosting of Four Tet, Templeton fails to reach true sonic individuality, yet his maastery of musical environments cannot be denied. With every sound, he builds something compelling, beautiful and meticulously crafted. Standing on a Hummingbird is the kind of album you could live in. - Resonance