Taylor Deupree – Mur (Dauw, 2021)

There’s something in quietude and closeness that changes us, changes the way we speak and listen and think. Hushed tones and whispers, sounds drawn in close so as to not break the unspoken rules of the space. The mind and ear bend in to meet them instead, adaptive and receptive, narrowing focus on the mumbling patter of voices in the crowd, the lips poised beside us in the dark.

The paradox to these moments is that, despite there being so little to them, something else fills in the macroscopic gaps, feelings and complications expanding out beyond the confines of the mumbled and murmuring. They possess their own gravity, extended fractal roots to bridge the space between selves.

Deupree’s Mur is born from these interactions, and as it progresses and evolves, the minimalistic atmospheres become progressively more complex, more intimate, more something. Opener “Mir” establishes the idiosyncratic core of the record, incorporeal twinklings of isolated piano set adrift against a delicate hum of gentle cassette fuzz. The initial sparsity has cracked somewhat by sophomore “Mor”, and whilst the chords seem initially thinner somehow, the early melancholia is effortlessly dissolved. Keys tumble gently in the emulsion, suspended within themselves, lit by a soft glow that permeates with internal radiance.

It crests in interior “Mer”, who’s fluxion hums like a delicate starfield of glimmering tones and textures, soft swashes of sound turning the ear with the Doppler of passing cars heard from the backseat. And something starts to change, the perception of distance begins to grow, the sense that life is moving on and these close moments are drawing to a close.

“(murmur)” begins to lose itself to an indistinct thrumming, the piano now lightly dancing on the breeze of some distant industrial moan; an aircon unit perhaps, or a substation. The unwanted intrusion of modernity as it squeezes into every human space it can, breaking the notions of personal space and reminding us constantly of the artificiality we have surrounded ourselves with.

Closing “Mar” then strikes at the nadir, shifting into dark ambient and synthesised rumblings and slashes. What remnant piano brushes the senses is undone by a digital foam that consumes from the background, a corrosive, distant squeaking and squealing that frays the final acoustic sensitivities. The spell is broken, atomised, and we’re dragged back to the macroscopic, lost and confused.

Mur is a fragile listen, but Deupree’s effortlessly minimal sonic environments reward with each new listen and close examination, exuding a scope that far exceeds the quiescent stature of its stripped back constructions.