DISTORTED TOURIST | REVIEWS
A bizarre, bold and beautiful new release from Mark Templeton on Graphical Recordings. Distorted Tourist is a 5 flexi-disc and 106 page photo/written book that winds through a succession of weekdays in the form of a unique, semi-fictional long poem. Starting on a Tuesday and ending on a Saturday (technically a Thursday, but I don’t want to give too much away), the story unfolds as a first person account of a character’s never-ending expedition to visit a dying loved one. Written as personal diary entries, author Ryan Diduck subjects his protagonist to the Kalfkaesque perils of a world where things don’t ever seem to go right.
Peppered throughout the story are pages of Mark Templeton’s photographs, his lens turned toward the minutiae of urban and industrial decay. The story and photos bear correlation, but their link is anything but clearly defined. However, the two complement each other well, along with the music (which I’ll get to). I like to think of the images as scenes from the story, areas our protagonist may have hobbled through while seeking the car they’ve misplaced, all the while cursing a soaked-through shoe from stepping in a puddle. As the travelogue unfolds, our protagonist’s grip on reality does also, to the extent that by the tale’s end the reader cannot be entirely sure of what experiences actually took place and what ones were acted out only within the complex neural networks of the brain.
Templeton’s contributions are equally dream-like, his music’s obfuscated, hypnotic textures blurring a similar line between an accurate sonic depiction of geography and one conceived entirely from imagination. The tracks are site-specific works that come in the form of flexi-discs that are slotted between the book’s pages at the beginning of each day. Each one is a short composition created from augmented field recordings captured at each mentioned location: Alland, Rosen, Coro, Tyre, and Gira. I sit here now and imagine the different realities any individual might dream up if cast into the belly of these same places, and wonder if any could tap into the romantic liminality that makes Distorted Tourist such a delight. It’s not a query I’ll ever likely have answered, which is fine, as the lure of this release is plenty enough for now. - The Alcohol Seed - July 2018
If you’re familiar with the work of Mark Templeton, you’ll know he likes to miniaturise and extemporise a context on top. In terms of musical chops, he chooses sounds that fit the rustic ambient palette, and uses contextual signposts to impression something deeper out of the material. This is what academics mean by extemporising, as far as this layman knows – what I do know is that “Distorted Tourist”, a fifteen-minute travelogue into the realms of Herzogian theoretics, is a mighty fine artefact to have, here presented as a book stroke disc operation, and without all the philosophical asides, stands without inebriation.
On its own steam the music could dissolve into the aether too quickly, but this is Templeton’s knack: he manages to surfeit the purpose of a worthy riff to continue and bubble-build throughout each recording, so that by the end of each phase, we’re left with a general happiness about how things have been going, hearing, et cetera and so on. The music is impossible to pin down to a certain few elements, always evolving without nascent unease, and always purposeful. This is the key strength of the release, whereas other producers might leave less brush daubs on the material, and let the potential decelerate into an arcadian decay.
Stylistically Templeton has always been in the same sort of cache as modern composition composers, such as Deaf Center and James Leyland Kirby (The Caretaker). But there’s greater urgency to his work than those artists and a revolvent absorbancy on the factors that can make musique concrete so delectable (see Michael Chion, Trevor Wishart, etc). The fact that over the course of five tracks so much is communicated – without the rusticness becoming chokingly soft – this is the compositional genius. I genuinely think this EP, call it that if you must, deserves to be heard by everyone, and if you were a fan of 2008’s “Standing On A Hummingbird” LP. Likewise, it’s a superb little nugget. - Fluid Radio - June 2018
While visiting family for the holidays during the winter of 2016, my friend, the artist Mark Templeton, told me over a few beers about aimless drives he began taking around the industrial district near his house in Edmonton. Templeton would take the car and randomly turn right, then left, then left, then right, in attempts to get lost in an area that he knew all too well — to make the familiar once again strange. He started to photograph the places he discovered, documenting the changing look and feel of these odd spaces of neglect and decline. Soon, a soundscape came, too.
Templeton’s experiments in psychogeography resonated with me. I understood the drive to dérive: what the French philosopher Guy Debord defined as “a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.” These sorts of excursions are not merely regulated by chance. No. Rules of attraction — the tourist’s prize — govern them. “The randomness of a dérive,” wrote Debord, “is fundamentally different from that of the stroll, but also that the first psychogeographical attractions discovered by dérivers may tend to fixate them around new habitual axes, to which they will constantly be drawn back.” -Cult Montreal - June 2018
Sound designer and ambient artist Mark Templeton has announced Distorted Tourist, a new book that collects photos, writing, art and music into one multimedia project on Graphical Recordings.
Distorted Tourist features photos taken by Templeton while driving through commercial industrial areas near his home. Paired with the photos are diary entries written by author Ryan Diduck and musical recordings by Templeton, included on five one-sided Flexidiscs.
“Each photograph captures, mid-fall, the familiar and uncanny spaces of dislocated urban decay — monuments to the failures of modernity,” a statement from the label reads. “Rather than attractions, the tourist here bears witness to the inevitability of moths and rust.”
Distorted Tourist follows Templeton’s 2017 album Gentle Heart, which closed the Canadian musician’s ongoing Heart Trilogy and was included in our Best Of Bandcamp column. -FACT - April 2018
If you think you can count on Canadian sound curator Mark Templeton to deliver the mundane, predictable, straight-forward goods, you would be (thankfully) wrong. This is a man who insists on following his heart into fantastic spheres to create sounds that massage the mind and soothe the ear. This time around, Templeton traveled physically into industrial and commercial neighborhoods close to home for inspiration. The resulting excursions can be seen and heard in his forthcoming Distorted Tourist photobook + flexi disc package.
Past works have come out on labels like Anticipate, Silentes, Staalplaat, Sweat Lodge Guru, and Under the Spire; but Distorted Tourist is coming out on Templeton’s own Graphical imprint, which has issued his most recent solo recordings and collaborations, such as his Marshall McLuhan-inspired one with like-minded audio-visual artist Kyle Armstrong.
Distorted Tourist is out on June 20 and is available in two editions: 1. a first-edition of 100 copies includes the softcover, perfect bound photobook on uncoated paper, with five one-sided flexi records and a digital download of the photobook and audio, and 2. the basic version, which includes five one-sided flexi records in a printed, folded uncoated paper sleeve, and a digital download of the photobook and audio. The photobook is a 7.25” x 7.25”, 106-pager that includes 44 color images and text by Ryan Diduck.
Now, make like a good little distorted tourist yourself, and roam over here to check out those images and to pre-order the package when it becomes available. Then, check out a few excerpts and the cover art and tracklisting down below. Good luck out there. -Tiny Mix Tapes - April 2018