Catalog Number: PM13
Release Date: June 14th, 2022
Formats: Digital, Cassette
Tape loops, ARP 2600 and glockenspiel twirl through filtered light, exposing different facets to the sun. — A Closer Listen
Small Winters uses minimal means for expanding ends, and glows with the sounds of growth and possibilities. More than just an album, the release is a collaboration between Taylor Deupree and Puremagnetik chief Micah Frank, who developed a plugin— called Small Winters —that was fundamental to making the music.
Don't be misled by the title, Small Winters has a warmth that feels more like the stirring of earth and sky than it does the stasis of winters. But small it is, at least in components, as Deupree crafted the music out of a minimal set of tools: an ARP 2600 synthesizer, a glockenspiel, cassette loops, and the Small Winters plugin.
Small Winters brought Deupree to Small Winters. As Frank explains, “Taylor suggested that a custom device might be an interesting way to constrain the album's sonic palette. We bounced some ideas back and forth and came up with this concept of a broken Tascam 4-track from the future.” Small Winters is a 3-track recorder, looper, and splicer, with unlimited overdubbing on each track, and the audio on each track can further be processed on a granular and virtual tape effect bus (the plugin comes in AU/VST/VST3 for use on multiple platforms and in multiple DAWs for any listener who makes their own music).
The crackling, saturated sound of the album glows, it's the source of that warmth, a diffused sonic back-lighting that surrounds the chiming notes, the sonic equivalent of dust motes floating in a sunbeam. This is a sound that comes out of Deupree's interest in sonic “degradation.” He says, “I’m interested in a sort of melancholic and ‘pretty’ (for lack of a better term) sound,” one that he likes to take “to the edge of fragility ... to sound like it could break at any moment, like walking on a beautiful but questionably frozen lake.”
That metaphor is the winter of Small Winters, especially as heard on the substantial side-A track, “Long Winter.” The balance between the air suffused through the album and the modest musical details is what Deupree says creates “tension in my music ... and this is what I’m using the imperfections for and what I’m listening for, the moment when I feel the balance between the two sides is right.”
The Small Winters plugin helped create that tension and balance, as did what Deupree describes as guitar pedals and “some cassette tapes.” The context transforms the classic sounds of the ARP 2600 and the metallic chiming of the glockenspiel into floating, glowing sonic objects, with the tactile surface feeling of gauze and burlap. In “Long Winter,” these sounds drift like a mobile, while in the series of shorter tracks on side-B, they form pulses and rhythms like dance tunes imagined in daydreams.
Through delicate tracks like “air” and “elm,” the music shimmers into existence and then loops around itself. The patterns repeat and build deep impressions and complex rhythms, one pattern against others. Deupree says these sound like “polymetrics ... loops of differing lengths that combine to form non-repeating patterns.” He adds that “starting out as a drummer, rhythm is important for me, so I’m always listening, if not for precise rhythm, then for timing and durations.”
String those together, put them into order, and pulse and rhythm appear. Sequence patterns, play percussion, and degrade that, and warm, complex sound appears. Assemble all these elements in Small Winters, and an album like Small Winters emerges.
All Tracks by Taylor Deupree
Mastered by Taylor Deupree
Artwork by John Whitlock