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Taylor Deupree — Stil.
(12k 1020, 2002, CD / DL)

Taylor Deupree — Sti.ll
(12k 2060, 2024, LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-06-16

Stil. Cover artSti.ll Cover art

Back in 2002, electronic musician Taylor Deupree released an album called Stil. (with the period as part of the title). It’s a beautiful work of experimental minimalism, full of shifting drones and quiet, glitchy noises, far removed from the mainstream of electronic music. I’m not familiar with Deupree’s work outside of this album, but his collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto seems quite apt, as Stil. does remind me of Sakamoto’s work with the Brazilian Morelenbaum duo. While the sounds appear to be entirely electronic, there is a very human quality to the music, with a lack of repeated patterns and a subtle emotional flow. The four pieces range from ten to 23 minutes in length, and are filled with a profound sense of (you guessed it) stillness, a feeling of suspended anticipation, like waiting for something that may or may not ever arrive, but you can just breathe and relax without disappointment. Listening to the music, it seems an unlikely candidate for arrangements with acoustic instruments, but just as Alarm Will Sound and others have tackled the electronic madness of Aphex Twin, Joseph Branciforte heard something in the album that prompted him to tackle the project. He took the drones, cycles, and glitches of Stil. and arranged them for various combinations of instruments: clarinets, flutes, vibraphones, cello, guitar, double bass, and percussion instruments appear on the new versions of the pieces, now released as Sti.ll. Not only is this a really fascinating musical endeavor, but it’s quite an enjoyable listen — in fact, I’d have to say I prefer it to the original. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a clarinet player can’t hold a note as long as a synthesizer, and both vibraphones and acoustic guitars have a natural decay to the notes. “Recur” is especially enjoyable, arranged for guitar, cello, double bass, flute, lap harp, and percussion — the largest ensemble of the four. Over its ten minutes, it builds from very quiet to almost frenzied, then drifts off to silence at the end. Sti.ll serves to highlight the conceptual closeness of ambient electronic music to modern minimalist composition, bridging two seemingly distant realms and sounding quite natural. Branciforte has accomplished something very special here, both conceptually fascinating and eminently listenable.

Filed under: New releases, 2002 releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Taylor Deupree

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