‘At times Jealous Heart feels like ambient music, working its way quietly through textures and shapes, but it has a tenacious ability to surprise, to resist sedation‘ – Ian Maleney on Mark Templeton‘s Jealous Heart.
Every now and again, an album pops up which feels out of place. Or like it came from no place at all. It feels complete in itself, without the usual baggage of obvious musical reference points or traditional touchstones. Jealous Heart is such an album, with Mark Templeton seeming to come at these sounds with nothing but his ears to guide him. Tape hisses and whirrs throughout, lending a warmth and presence to every snippet of manipulated sound. Through the haze, he winds together rich samples, underwater horns, odd rhythms and disconnected voices to create something dark and beautiful and exquisitely layered.
At times Jealous Heart feels like ambient music, working its way quietly through textures and shapes, but it has a tenacious ability to surprise, to resist sedation. It is impressionistic in its blurred, warm tones, conjuring an image or feeling more “real” than should be possible with an abstract collection of mostly unrecognisable samples. The only constant threads are the tape sounds and a particularly distant brass. It’s not quite nostalgic but it is romantic, with a sad but hopeful tint that only soft, mournful horns can really achieve.
It’s not all doleful ambient though, and tracks like ‘Kingdom Key‘ and ‘Jealous Horse‘ go somewhere else entirely, with a more musique concréte feel of distinct, looped and manipulated sounds rather than a painterly wash of texture. The longest track is ‘Flat 3‘, another looping piece that writhes and wriggles with competing rhythms and hints of melody. It slowly unfurls to fill the spectrum, managing to expertly walk that thin line between careful composition and a feeling of adventure, of looseness and unexpected turns.
This is the album’s strongest attribute, the knowledge that what you’re listening to has been carefully constructed and laid out yet never feeling like it is anything but natural. Combined with the genuinely timeless sounds that make up each song, Jealous Heart is a very difficult album to pin down or accurately describe. The blend of lo-fi sources with hi-fi structuring and layering places Templeton at the end of a long line of sampling composers, beginning perhaps with Pierre Schaeffer and best exemplified today by the liner-note contributing Ezekial Honig. Templeton’s music is close to Honig’s in its density and refinement, but its personality is all his own.