Mark Templeton: Frail as Breath

If there's one word that describes Mark Templeton's 15-minute EP, it's auspicious. Merging processed sounds of guitar, mandolin, and banjo with electronics, samples, and field recordings, the Canadian electronic artist guides the listener through an accomplished travelogue of five connecting pieces that alternately calls to mind Fennesz and Greg Davis. In the impressive opener, “Not Alone Anymore,” blurry streams of static rise and fall as slippery slivers of hazy sound shuffle on either side. Though the sound is abstract and experimental, it isn't abrasive but inviting with melancholy warmth enveloping the dense clusters like mist in a forest. Hazy drones, choral whispers, and garbled voices dominate “Continue Later” while the wheeze of hydraulic machinery joins the chirping sounds of birds in “Drama Section” as blurry shards lurch like immense clouds across the sky. The clouds part in “Spring Breakup,” exposing the bucolic pluck of an acoustic guitar and some lovely saxophone playing by Tim Batke that's so soft it resembles a French Horn. There's no exaggeration in calling Frail as Breath masterfully realized; one next wonders whether Templeton can work the same magic in a full-length form.

December 2005