Mark Templeton: Scotch Heart
Sweat Lodge Guru

If anything, Mark Templeton's music would appear to have grown increasingly experimental, even fractured over the past half-decade or so. After transplanting himself to Montreal for a couple of years, Templeton is back in Edmonton toiling in his alchemical lab, intent on giving form to heavily processed and ghostly lullabies of the kind captured on his cassette release Scotch Heart.

Its four tracks careen down dusty corridors crowded with disembodied voices and dotted with duststorms of crackle and thrum. A wooziness pervades the material and gives its sounds and voices an undulating, waterlogged quality, an effect heard most pronouncedly when a singing voice slows to an indecipherable crawl during “Tailored Buildings”; in tandem with the vocal's croak, the inclusion of equally lugubrious guitar playing turns the funereal lament into a requiem of some diseased kind. “Organ Moods” ripples in slow-motion like time-lapse footage of a sickly sewage system within which decaying guitar shards and other murky materials float, occasionally bobbing to the surface before disappearing below. “Veiled Images” conjures a musty gothic cathedral filled with writhing noises, smeared abstractions, and layers of shuddering guitars, until a boy's choir emerges amidst static pops to bring the cathedral connection into sharper focus.

Scotch Heart clearly has more in common with Philip Jeck's submerged sound world than Fennesz's or that of any other axe-wielder, for that matter. On the basis of the cassette's material, it would seem that Templeton has travelled far and seen much since the guitar-based soundscaping of his full-length debut Standing on a Hummingbird (Anticipate) appeared four years ago.

June 2011