Within contemporary ambient music’s often texturally generic world, the work of Taylor Dupree carves a distinctive sound. Dupree is a master of assembling tableaus of small, delicate sounds suffused with noise to convey the aura of aged materials. The music conjures Yakisugi, the Japanese method of wood preservation through burning.
The best of Dupree’s music excels where other ambient musics fail: it draws your ear to multiple layers of simultaneous musical action. For example, on the track “rem” (2022) we hear a descending three note melody in c-sharp minor played twice, accompanied by a counterpoint line in a lower register (or maybe both lines are of the same part). As the melody and accompaniment phrase repeats, we also hear the resonance of a space (created with reverb and delay), a crackling white noise/ static, and the wobbling tape artifacts of what could be old magnetic tape. As we listen, we wonder how the music was assembled. Was it recorded onto cassette? Was it sonically “burned” in successive processing stages, like the Yakisugi method, to achieve its artifacts? However it was made, “rem” holds our attention through its distinctive layers rather than numbing our attention through a homogeneous wall of sound. The pitched and textural elements in the track seem to float, yet undergo subtle changes that are just enough to turn repetition into enchantment.