It will surprise nobody familiar with the long-standing Taylor Deupree/Marcus Fischer partnership to hear that this new collaboration is among the best ambient releases of the year so far.
Born in 1971, Deupree is a celebrated artist who has worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Stephan Mathieu, David Sylvian and others. Like a lot of composers in the genre, he's taken a deep interest in a mix of natural sounds and processed electronics; what sets him apart is his consistently flawless execution. Fischer, six years his junior, is very much equal to the challenge of the Deupree partnership. The two artists complement one another so gracefully that you'd be forgiven for thinking lowlands is a solo project.
The disc begins with its title track. "Lowlands" is a late-night beatless piece featuring gentle drones, a luxuriously paced guitar and a bit of distortion for good measure. "On Branches," another highlight, is rougher around the edges, its grittiness reminding us how influential these two have been in recent years. "Snow Slowed" offers one of the disc's most beautifully distorted bed tracks. The processing adds to its musicality, conjuring images of cyan-tinged photo albums and stacks of 78s, heavy with dust.
In fact, lowlands has both audio and visual components. An accompanying fine art book is also available, featuring the work of award-winning photographer Ester Vonplon. According to the album's notes, it was Vonplon's visit to the Arctic Ocean — ostensibly to shoot glaciers and melting ice in the summer of 2016 — that initiated the project. (IIKKI)