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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.