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Taylor Deupree / K. Leimer / Pod Tune

Taylor Deupree Fallen

This one has has landed squarely in my best-of-2018 list. Why? Why not: minimal piano interludes are glazed with filtered reverb and stretched over a luscious space that’ll entice fans of Harold Budd’s higher-altitude flights. Sometimes there’s a bit more glitch than I’d ordinarily prefer, but Deupree’s measured (yet sometimes untethered) aesthetic and tastefully entrancing use of repetition more than validates the result.

This is music for fog and dusk, for mist and melancholy. It’s alternately ghostly and lovely, often at the same time, and is the most perfect background music I’ve heard in ages… but it also stands up to close examination, if you’re into that sort of thing.

K. Leimer Mitteltöner

(Full disclosure: I was the distributor label manager for Kerry Leimer’s Palace of Lights label until January of this year. I was not on the Palace of Lights payroll then or now).

Mr. Leimer has been quietly releasing music on his Palace of Lights label since the early 80s. A series of reissues and new releases on PoL and a well-received compilation of previously-unreleased archive material on RVNG over the past four years has inspired renewed (and new) interest in Leimer’s work, past and present. Mitteltöner is his first release on the Origin Peoples label and it presents material he’s been working on over the past couple years.

The approach here is more rhythmic than most of Leimer’s output. Where before there was drift and ether, now there is added drive; the pace is faster and more focused. The tracks aren’t really songs, per se; they’re of the tone-poem realm where mood and momentum and vibe are as important as any narrative journey. There’s propulsive krautrock / kosmiche homages here, sure, but, while the phrase “a toe-tapping experience” might not’ve been inappropriate in describing some of Kerry’s past work, this new one is actually relatively catchy — without sacrificing any aspect of his characteristic explorative inclinations.

Some of the more gleaming excursions have a certain similar feel to David Byrne’s Songs from the Catherine Wheel period, and some of the incidental effects and synth motifs might similarly engage fans of Brian Eno’s Music For Films work. I can’t deny that “German Defaults” and “London Interiors”, in particular, provoked pleasant flashbacks to Eno’s “R.A.F.” single.

This album sounds wonderful on headphones, but to benefit from the full effect of Leimer’s instrumentation and mixes, also listen to it (preferably the vinyl) on speakers — at moderate (or, hell, high) volume. A track such as “As Long Ago As This”, especially, shines distinctly in the space of a room.

Among much stellar material, the two closers are my favorites: “Berlin Preset” and “Low Lustre”. These two make for great driving music. Mitteltöner would not be out of place in your vehicle (or your home, for that matter); one or two listens and you’ll discover it to be a noble companion for journeys both within and without the home.

Various Artists Pod Tune

This 2017 release benefits several marine charities, including The Whalesong Project and Ocean Alliance.

When I think of whales and music, I think of the intro Kate Bush’s “Moving”. That’s not far off, except the music on Pod Tunes is mostly ambient or experimental.

The concept: electronic musicians donate a new track that incorporates whale sounds. Featured artists include Christina Vantzou, Scott Morgan (Loscil), William Basinski, Mikael Jorgensen (Wilco), Jacob Kirkegaard There are separate downloadable versions of the release. The CD and LP are out of print, but obtainable via Discogs and Amazon, as well as a 14-track version on iTunes.

This really is a lovely album on several levels, and would be worth your time even if it wasn’t a benefit.