If you think you know Mark Templeton, guess again. The artist does not have a signature sound; he changes palettes from album to album. His promising electronic debut, Standing on a Hummingbird, was followed by the more vocal Inland and then by the more ambient Acre Loss, a collaboration with visual artist aA Munson and his crowning achievement to date. But even those familiar with these albums may be caught off guard by Jealous Heart, a plunderphonic album that sounds more like the early works of The Caretaker than anything Templeton has yet recorded. The new album is not as sprawling as his contribution to the Mort Aux Vaches series, although it is of similar tone; it helps to have ten tracks to play with so that the ideas can be varied, and the range of sounds here is remarkable.
Once one gets over the initial shock (slow horns and vinyl manipulation on “Buffalo Coulee”), one begins to gain an appreciation for the timbre. Ezekiel Honig calls it the sound of “a jazz club under the sea”, which makes us rather jealous because that may be the most evocative phrase that anyone writes about the production. Of course this makes one think of the Titanic band, somehow sinking but not drowning, playing still, waiting for some new generation to discover them in an oxygen deficient, aneurysm inducing deep dive. The clanks and knocks that haunt the record echo like the settling of cutlery or the settling of waterlogged wood. Submerged as these sounds may be, they continue to demonstrate motion. The past refuses to stay buried, disturbing the silt from below.
Guitar, electronics and sullen strings continue to dot these vast soundscapes; Jealous Heart is not completely different from Templeton’s previous work, although his works are linked by extremely thin tendrils. The only question that remains is, “Where will he head next?” After four noticeably different albums, might Templeton settle on a single approach? The clear benefit would be instant identifiability; the detriment would be experimental curbing. At this point, we trust that the artist will lead us to a place we’ll want to go, even if we’re not quite sure where it is. (Richard Allen)