Derek Piotr’s vast, confounding and miraculously strange discography has never quite had a sound like “Invisible Map (Single)”. For years he has crafted his own unique aural universe, one that has embraced glitch, drone, the avant-garde, classical, and a whole slew of other influences too numerous to list in full. With this particular outing he forgoes the experimental for the intimate. Rather than focus on a futuristic shimmering sheen of a sound, here he explores his roots and the origin of the voice through a deft understanding of folk traditions. Quite stunningly produced, there is an even greater closeness to him. Perhaps it is the way he sings (he does possess a fine voice) and perhaps it is the all-acoustic nature of these recordings but there is so much heart imbued within the two small pieces.
When I first met Derek Piotr on the L train headed to Bushwick, Brooklyn I did not know I would be making a friendship that would last almost an entire decade. I have watched and eagerly listened to his output since then, as his work has appeared on some of my favorite labels (Line for one) and has been nominated by the jury for Prix Ars Electronica. Oh, and he interned for Meredith Monk, in case those credentials needed any further burnishing. The way he deftly skips from album to album, always exploring new sounds and formats, is one of the reasons I continue to stay in touch with him, listening to him from afar. The only constant within his output is his deep devotion to exploring the human voice in every possible facet.
“Invisible Map” does just that, and in a way strips away a lot of that digital manipulation for a clean honest pure sound. The usage of a chamber folk arrangement further lends the piece a certain clarity, of the raw joy of feeling the wind against one’s cheeks on a crisp autumn morning. For the edit, he lets the whole of the arrangement unspool with such delicacy. His love of nature, another constant of his work, is laid completely bare on the second piece “Barby Allen (with Reuben Walton)”. With this second piece he lets the outside world into his own, for the hum of traffic intermingled with birdsong adds a certain majesty to the recording, as if their voices can carry them above the confines of the traffic din to achieve some variation on enlightenment.
I am deeply humbled to have heard this little stout “Invisible Map (Single)” and am excited for what this will bring from Derek Piotr next.