Taylor Deupree, Occur

Released: 2001

There are countless artists on countless labels on every continent creating music that is called "minimal," "glitch," "click and cut," or just plain "ambient." However, few of these artists have been creating this style of music longer than Taylor Deupree, few of those countless labels have been releasing this music for as long as Deupree's own 12k label, and (most importantly) few artists are as consistent and as consistently interesting as Deupree has been over the last ten years. Deupree's most recent solo release is Occur, which the 12k website describes as "a work of non-repetition and subdued melodic passages composed almost entirely by granular synthesis algorithms." Say what? Well, break it down (using my handy dictionary):

  • Granular: "Consisting of or resembling grains." (Duh)
  • Synthesis: "The combination of ideas into a complex whole."
  • Algorithms: "A precise rule specifying how to solve some problem."
  • After putting these terms together and focusing them around music, "granular synthesis algorithms" would suggest a system whereby small, evasive sounds are combined together to form complex wholes. That's a rather general concept, of course, but there's more to it than that. The 12k website again: "Initially inspired by the often quiet urban sounds outside of his studio in brooklyn, new york, the concept behind occur grew to become pieces about all things brief - glimpses, things that come and then are gone. these are singular occurrences in time, like the passing of a car or the blinking off of a street light at night. the brittle and sporadic granular tones crunch and crumble about the stereo field creating an implied urban soundscape." So, basically, the tracks on Occur project (in sound) glimpses of time--always different, always fleeting. The granular part comes in as a way to structure these seemingly unstructured glimpses into a composite whole (synthesis).

  • Interesting stuff--theoretically. But what's the end result? Well, Deupree's a great artist, and even when they are not fully successful, great artists are usually interesting. This disk is certainly interesting, and it is generally successful. There are points where tracks get a bit tiring, and there are even points where the sounds themselves become overtly repetitive (thereby calling into question the whole "glimpse" idea, in my mind). But, in all, this is a generally fascinating application of a theoretical concept.

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