Derek Piotr’s “East Tennessee” and “Perfect Matrimony” Re-Imagine Folk Music For A Post-Digital Age

What do Björk, Rene Hell, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Blind Willie McTell have in common? Derek Piotr answers that question on two fascinating new singles!

Back in January of this year, musician, folklorist, and researcher Derek Piotr hosted a show on Berlin’s NTS Radio featuring an hour of the influences for his new record, Divine Supplication. The playlist is deliciously, deliriously eclectic, including everybody from the medievalist polyphony of Le Roman de la Rose to the garbled digital glossolalia of Phonophani to the crushing, euphoric deconstructed club of Sebastian. But what on Earth does Renaissance music, brutalist techno, modern classical, lo-fi indie, and crushing noise have in common? Careful listening and intuitively connecting some dots reveal an on-going fascination with the human voice, the sound-sculpting capabilities of recording technology, and a curiosity around the meaning of folk music and culture in the Digital Age.

“East Tennessee” sounds nothing like what you’d expect from its name, for the most part. Instead, it blends what sounds like an early Folkways Records field recording of Islamic music with an absolutely pulverizing club beat, landing somewhere between the fourth world exoticism of Fatima al Qadiri, turn-of-the-century Tricky, and the crushing industrial techno of Regis or Surgeon. Traces of its namesake crack through like columbine cracking through abandoned asphalt with a crackling string loop playing the part of a lap dulcimer, as hypnotic and meditative and beautiful as a Henry Flynt mantra. It’s like mountain music as seen and heard on a CRT in the year 2667.

“Perfect Matrimony” is a more ethereal offering, emotional and lovely, with Piotr offering a glitched-out club vocal over a backdrop of dial-up modems, elegant house beats, and sci-fi organs. If The Postal Service got together with Wolfgang Voigt and the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it’d sound half as good as “Perfect Matrimony.”

“East Tennessee” and “Perfect Matrimony” are the first two singles off of Derek Piotr’s new record, Divine Supplication, which is out on May 10 on DPFA Records. It’s the result of several years working with his Fieldworks Archive project, documenting folk songs and oral histories, as well as a period of personal hardships. Instead of being a dark and depressing downer, Divine Supplication is an absolutely joyous exploration of the healing power of music. I’m lucky enough to have heard the whole thing already and, lemme tell ya, it’s an absolute scorcher. Do yrself a favor and pre-order a copy immediately!

Divine Supplication will be released on May 10 on DPFA Records.

Derek Piotr


Derek Piotr Bandcamp

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