It’s impossible not to be struck the peacefulness inherent in the work of 12K label boss and sound artist Taylor Deupree. Harbor is his 14th solo release to go alongside collaborations with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Stephan Mathieu, Stephen Vitiello, Marcus Fischer, Christopher Willits and numerous others. Not to take anything away from any of these collaborations, but when his artistic approach is unencumbered by the ideas of others something very special happens.
Harbor is serene. It’s an audio meditation. Much of it feels almost structureless, the fragments of synthesis or guitar (?) echoing the kind of randomised soothing nature of field recordings, like the sound of raindrops after a storm or mechanical drones gathered from far away. It’s beautiful and it stirs the soul.
Harbor is a collection of moods, gentle, unhurried, slightly seductive and within this space Deupree is endlessly curious, and the resulting explorations/improvisations are nothing short of sublime. It’s probably odd to say, but I view his music as some kind of ambient freejazz. Sometimes there’s structure and he dances around within it, at others it’s quite random and the coherence/ payoff comes from the adherence to mood. Surely this is freeing. It feels like Deupree has transcended the need for control, to be uniform or repetitive, and in a sense within this mood he can go absolutely nuts – admittedly in an incredibly gentle manner.
Enchanting delicate glockenspiel like notes ring out in space, or is it synthesizer? Or does it even matter? Tempo is pretty much nonexistent for the entirety of Harbor, it’s all about warmth, colour, feel. But it’s also quite diverse too, each of the eight pieces are worlds in themselves – despite clear links in timbre and approach. Who knew abstract could be so beautiful? This music is exploratory stillness. It stays centred but allows both you and Deupree to travel. I have no idea how he does it but its endlessly surprising and it does marvellous things for the soul.