Mark Templeton Gentle Heart

[Graphical; 2017]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: four-chambered music
Others: The Caretaker, Tim Hecker, Fennesz, D/P/I, yyu

My father’s family was originally Scotch-Irish, an ethnic group of Scots that settled in Ulster, Ireland and later emigrated Westward in droves. This is where my surname comes from. I quite literally have a Scotch Heart; my aortic valves stubbornly reach back before a time when “whiteness” meant something so ubiquitously insidious, before we had names for our aggressions but long after we started mapping and colonizing difference. Reflecting on this exodus that ultimately accounted for my present latitude is an exercise in imagining a time when “having heart” meant preserving one’s own values, hauling them around entrapped in a crest of flesh.

“It was a different time,” but it wasn’t really that different. We know now that people have been moving around for much longer than we had previously thought, trading innovations in geomancy and judgment. Jealousy had already been spotted in traces deep inside our hearts, given names, made disreputable, harnessed as a tool of oppression. Having a Jealous Heart has always meant being covetous of that which you do not have, and it’s a heart that grows as time reveals more and more of what is not ours. Growing older means standing down a longer horizon of unconquered land, and as time eventually corrupts vision, squinting at an asymptote that warps and shrinks regardless of moral vantage.

This is what nostalgia sounds like: a horizon sizzling and melting away, transubstantiating into knots of black plastic smoke; a steel string twanging in between notes of a dozen jumbled lullabies; a flugelhorn or a father’s voice beckoning across a field of soybeans; a heartstring buckling under its accumulated grime. A Jealous Heart weeps and grieves for rewind, but finding beauty in decay requires a Gentle Heart, one that keeps a steady pulse as a lonely child weeps inward, fearing a physics that dares allow for such dispassionate dissolution. A Gentle Heart appreciates a utopian’s sense of benevolent wonder, even as Utopia depreciates under barbaric eyes.

And yet, it’s any heart that’s beaten that resonates still — tuned as it were by pride, envy, and empathy — at this “Gentle Story,” one with no end but its beginnings, forever derailing off into nothingness with just enough push that its folds still smile when time ceases its absurd machinations. Play it again for good measure.

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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