Fluid Radio reviews Between

Fluid Radio (UK) posted a nice review of Between this morning that touches upon a few important points of why I do what I do…


Among the outcomes of 12k’s tour of Japan in 2010 was the beautiful live album “Tasogare”, so when the label announced a return to the country for a number of shows last autumn, hopes were raised for the release of a similar souvenir. In this regard “Between” both is and is not what we were waiting for. Rather than excerpts of live sets, the record is a single long track that emerged from a live improvisation involving all five artists on the tour (Taylor Deupree, Marcus Fischer, Simon Scott, Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Date, the latter two touring together as Illuha), recorded at the Kinse Ryokan, Kyoto. It is somewhat unclear, then, whether the word “Between” is being used to name the album, a new 12k super-group, or an occasional and semi-formal collaborative project operated in keeping with the dispersed yet closely-knit nature of the label’s roster.

Anyone doubting the strong sense of camaraderie, indeed family, that characterises the label need only listen to “Between”, as it is all there in the music: it sounds like none of the artists involved so much as it sounds like all of them, an instantly recognisable 12k record that nonetheless could not easily be attributed to any of its individual contributors. (To be sure, there are others involved in the label who would no doubt gently push the sound in other directions, promising much for future Betweens.) It is ambient, it is drone, it is full of chimes and tape hiss and little fragments of melody — if anything it is even a little too synergistic and cohesive, a little too typically 12k. But it is hard to be critical when the music is this lovely, suffused with a tentative quietness that so strongly evokes a sense of reverence and of the sacred that I immediately assumed it had been recorded in a temple (it turns out that a ryokan is a kind of traditional Japanese version of a British bed and breakfast!). The gradually unfolding structural development that so impresses me in other long-form pieces by 12k artists — the realisation upon reaching the end of the track that you’ve ended up a long way from where you started, even though it felt like you were hardly moving — is also in evidence here: a hint, despite the air of stillness and contemplation, that the musicians are actually working damn hard throughout.

As a curator Taylor Deupree has been strict in limiting 12k’s catalogue to work that he felt in some way resonated with the identity and values of the label; it is in large part thanks to his vision and commitment that a project like “Between” is able to work as well as it does. But the meeting of like minds evident on the record goes beyond this, highlighting the sensitivity and openness to collaboration of all involved. For those still curious as to why 12k is as highly regarded as it is, both as a home to some great individual artists and as a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, I would recommend “Between” as an excellent place to start.

– Nathan Thomas for Fluid Radio