Technology and imperfection. The raw and the processed. Curator and curated. Solo explorer and gregarious collaborator. The life and work of Taylor Deupree are less a study in contradictions than a portrait of the multidisciplinary artist in a still-young century.
Deupree is an accomplished sound artist whose recordings, rich with abstract atmospherics, have appeared on numerous record labels, and well as in site-specific installations at such institutions as the ICC (Tokyo, Japan) and the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (Yamaguchi, Japan). He started out, in the 1990s, making new noises that edged outward toward the fringes of techno, and in time he found his own path to follow. His music today emphasizes a hybrid of natural sounds and technological mediation. It’s marked by a deep attention to stillness, to an almost desperate near-silence. His passion for the studio as a recording instrument is paramount in his work, but there is no hint of digital idolatry. If anything, his music shows a marked attention to the aesthetics of error and the imperfect beauty of nature, to the short circuits not only in technological systems but in human perception.
And though there is an aura of insularity to Depuree’s work, he is a prolific collaborator, having collaborated with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Christian Fennesz, Ichiko Aoba, S. Carey, Stephan Mathieu, Stephen Vitiello, Marcus Fischer, Arovane, Federico Durand, Christopher Willits, Frank Bretschneider, and Tetsu Inoue just to name a few.
Deupree dedicates as much time to other people’s music as he does to his own. In 1997 he founded the record label 12k, which since then has released over 150 recordings by some of the most accomplished musicians and modern sound artists of our time. Many share with Deupree an interest in stark minimalism, but the label has also found room for, located a common ground with, the acoustic avant-garde, the instrumental derivations of post-rock, and the synthetic extremes of techno.
He has also spent much of the past 10 years as a full-time mastering engineer working not only in the realm of experimental and ambient music but across many modern genres with an ear for both the technical and artistic.
And collectively, the cover jackets to the 12k album releases have served as an ongoing exhibit of Deupree’s photography, its lofi aesthetic, with an emphasis on damage and wear and antiquated tech, closely paralleling his music. (His photos have also graced numerous books, design anthologies, and other recordings and projects.)
Deupree continues to evolve his sound with an ambition and drive that is masked by his music’s inherent quietude. He approaches each project with an expectation of new directions, new processes, and new junctures.
Photo by Marcus Fischer
A Small Morning Garden
In 2020 Ryuichi gifted me an upright piano he was no longer using. It imbues our house with his spirit. I thought it fitting to create a piece in his memory using only his piano in a way he would like to hear me doing. It is a small meditation on 5 loops using handheld recorders and built-in speakers. I think Ryuichi would appreciate the quiet nature of the song.