Mark Templeton | Heart Trilogy’s Final Chapter


Mark Templeton – Gentle Heart
(Graphical, 2017)

Back from break and we at the Alcohol Seed have a bit of house keeping to do. As 2018’s scheduled releases approach we find ourselves amidst the familiar January lull. We think this is a good opportunity to shine a light on a few late discoveries from 2017 that were overlooked until recently. One of these overlooked albums was Mark Templeton’s Gentle Heart, the final chapter in his heart trilogy that’s now spanned seven years (The Scotch Heart EP from 2011 is especially worth your attention).  

Even from the perspective of someone with a broad base for atypical music, there remains nothing typical about Gentle Heart. The album’s 11 songs unfold by way of an idiosyncratic vision and execution, strung together like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces were never meant to fit together. The big picture, however, is achieved in the end, as Templeton smoothes the roughness out of his lilting tape loops, then shrouds them in acoustic embellishments. By now Templeton has learned how to get the most out of these instrumental additions without crowding the elements that lend the artist his unique voice.

It might be degradation that provides an easy pathway for nostalgia, but it’s Templeton’s shrewd steering of his found sound collages that gets him my vote over similar artists — see Jim Kirby (aka The Caretaker). It’s tempting to compare the experience of listening to Gentle Heart to that feeling of finding that gem of a song on the radio, but it’s more like the journey to that point. Turning the dial along the frequency band one’s ears are graced with white noise and snippets from various stations, everything rising and falling in and out of the moment like so many fleeting, microcosmic glimpses into alternate realities. Imagine the best possible combination of sounds you could experience along this frequency surf, and that’s hardly half of what Gentle Heart will do for you.

Like the best sampled / collage work I’ve heard, Templeton genre-bends on a dime. This is heard almost right away on opener “Burning Bush,” whose chaotic rhythms are graced by the slack-keyed sigh of a guitar that might as well have travelled across an ocean from Waikiki. It crops up again on “Range Road,” and from here the album never errs on the side of predictability, consistently keeping the engagement level high with an array of sonic curve balls. One is always left guessing what Templeton has in store around the corner, without ever feeling rushed to get there. This album is a delight.

Visit Graphical to grip your copy.


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