With his full-length debut, 2007’s Standing on a Hummingbird, Montreal’s Mark Templeton made a considerable splash amongst those in thrall to the hazily melodic drone stylings made famous by Christian Fennesz. Like Fennesz, Templeton mixed guitar with copious amounts of thick electronic textures. Simultaneously noisy and unabashedly pretty; noise shorn of its teeth.
This time around Templeton pairs up with filmmaker Aaron Munson to create ten audio visual pieces that again lean heavy on the bleary-eyed atmospherics in both the music and the film. But the various instruments – guitar, banjo, accordion, etc. – are not fully submerged in the pools of static and field recordings (including a cameo by some lovely chirping birds). Melodies and instrumental motifs don’t so much peak out periodically, but rather exist on the same plane as the processed textural elements. With all of its crystalline guitar playing, Acre Loss is eerily akin to early records by the Swedish trio, Tape, but its ethereal, dreamlike vibe even more strongly recalls the vapor-haze murmurings of Grouper sans vocals.
The pleasantly muddied folkiness of many of the pieces is well matched by Munson’s grainy super 8 and 16mm film footage – Munson and Templeton apparently collaborated closely throughout the making of the album. For all the processing one imagines went into the making of these tracks, there’s an underlying structural simplicity to its swirl and drift. Likewise, though Munson uses contemporary HD processes, often it’s the ragged and rough elements of the film stock that catch your attention, adding that extra organic feel to images of trees, the horizon line, whirling clouds, water bubbles and the like. It’s all very seductively oneiric and gracefully constructed, but somehow its elegance is almost a point against the music. Its finest moments, such as the gently relentless guitar piece “Safer” or the gorgeous opening piece “aTest” are its most rough-hewn, providing a little more grit to grab onto.